Timbuktu


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Timbuktu

(tĭm'bŭkto͞o`, tĭmbŭk`to͞o), city (1987 pop. 31,925), central Mali, near the Niger River. Connected with the Niger by a series of canals, Timbuktu is served by the small river port of Kabara. Its salt trade and handicraft industries make it an important meeting place for the nomadic people of the Sahara.

Timbuktu was founded (11th cent.) by the TuaregTuareg
or Touareg
, Berbers of the Sahara, numbering c.2 million. They have preserved their ancient alphabet, which is related to that used by ancient Libyans.
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 as a seasonal camp. By the 14th cent., when it was part of the Mali empire (see History under MaliMali
, officially Republic of Mali, independent republic (2015 est. pop. 17,468,000), 478,764 sq mi (1,240,000 sq km), the largest country in W Africa. Mali is bordered on the north by Algeria, on the east and southeast by Niger, on the south by Burkina Faso and Côte
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), it had become one of the major commercial centers of the W Sudan region, famous for its gold trade. Under the SonghaiSonghai
or Songhay
, largest of the former empires in the western Sudan region of N Africa. The state was founded (c.700) by Berbers on the Middle Niger, in what is now central Mali. The rulers accepted Islam c.1000.
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 empire (15th and 16th cent.) the city was a great Muslim educational center, with more than 100 Qur'anic schools and a university centered at the Sankoré mosque, one of three great mosques there that are outstanding examples of local earthen buildings.

Timbuktu was sacked in 1593 by invaders from Morocco and never again recovered its leading position. It was repeatedly conquered by neighboring peoples until it was captured (1894) by the French. In recent years it has been threatened by the desertification of the surrounding region, and in 2012–13 it and the rest of N Mali was seized by Tuareg and Islamist rebels. After the Islamists gained ascendancy over their Tuareg allies, they destroyed city shrines to local Sufi saints (later rebuilt) as well as some of the city's ancient manuscripts.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Timbuktu

 

(also Tombouctou), a city in Mali, on the left bank of the Niger River. Population, 10,400 (1969). Timbuktu is a junction of caravan routes and a center for trade in salt, dates, and tobacco. The city was founded in the 11th or 12th century as a transfer point for caravan trade. In the 13th through 15th centuries Timbuktu was the most important economic and cultural center of the medieval state of Mali and, at the turn of the 16th century, of the Songhai kingdom. In 1893 the French seized Timbuktu. Its economic significance declined in the 20th century.

Timbuktu’s architectural monuments include numerous tombs and several important mosques—Dyingueré Ber (begun in the 13th century and rebuilt several times; it contains a series of courtyards and halls divided by columns), Sankoré (begun in the 14th century and rebuilt from the 16th through 18th centuries), and Sidi-Yahia (built circa 1440 and later restored). Timbuktu also has a museum of local lore.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Timbuktu

fabled land of wealth and splendor. [Eur. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1084]

Timbuktu

figuratively, the end of the earth. [Am. Usage: NCE, 2749]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Timbuktu

a town in central Mali, on the River Niger: terminus of a trans-Saharan caravan route; a great Muslim centre (14th--16th centuries). Pop.: 31 925 (latest est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Timbuktu

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References in periodicals archive ?
The great Arab historian Abd Al Sadi in his chronicle, Tarik Al Sudan, traces the foundation of Timbuktu to AD1100.
Recognizing its significance as a site of African architecture and of its scholarly past, UNESCO declared Timbuktu a World Heritage Site in 1990.
(2) In the thirteenth century, Timbuktu became a way station at the heart of Saharan commerce.
A museum guard displays a burnt ancient manuscript at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu
Ansar Dine destroyed several Unesco World Heritage-listed mausoleums in Timbuktu and set the library's ancient manuscripts on fire.
Prosecutors said Mahdi was a member of Ansar Dine, an Islamist group that occupied Timbuktu for months.
His topics include the growth and political economy of Islamic scholarship in the Bilad al-Sudan, the rise of clerical lineages in the Sahara and the Bilad al-Sudan, Islamic education and the colonial encounter, modern Islamic institutions of higher learning, Arabophones triumphant: Timbuktu under Islamic rule.
A military source in Timbuktu said the base was home to a Nigerian contingent.
She had been living in Timbuktu for several years, according to reports, and refused to leave when Ansar al-Dine took control of the city in April 2012.
Their stringent, intolerant vision of Islam seemed particularly heavy-handed in Timbuktu, the ancient center of Muslim learning noted for its tolerance.
TUNIS, (TAP) - Dramatic film "Timbuktu" directed by Mauritanian Abderrahmane Sissako was awarded on Friday night the "Cesar for Best Film" at the 40th ceremony of the Cesars in Paris.