Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Crumbling Ancient Texts That May Hold Life-Saving Cures

image credit: Leslie Lewis

Seven hundred years ago, Timbuktu was a dream destination for scholars, traders, and religious men. At the southern edge of the Sahara desert in what is now Mali, travelers met in the bygone metropolis to exchange gold, salt, and ideas. Timbuktu is also know for its large number of historically important manuscripts that have been preserved for centuries in private households.

Bundled in camel skin, goat skin, and calf leather, the manuscripts remaining from Timbuktu's heyday come in an array of sizes. Subjects in the collections, spanning the 13th through 17th century, include the Koran, Sufism, philosophy, law, medicine, astronomy, and more. The books might also contain information about cures for maladies that persist today.

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