Where Books Live: Ancient Libraries of the Sahara

In our “Where Books Live” series, we will be posting pictures of libraries and bookstores, some inspiring or historic, others imaginative and original, or just ordinary.

Impressive buildings, tiny hutches, animals and vehicles of all sorts, and people with knowledge, all play a part in the broadest  definition of how we keep and share books.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

About 2,000 years ago the world’s greatest public library was the Library of Alexandria in Egypt.  Today, in almost the same location, is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina with its distinct sun-shaped roof and walls of Aswan granite on which are inscribed 120 of the world’s known writing systems.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Credit: Ibrahim Nafie / Bibliotheca Alexandrina

 

The Bibliotheques of Chinguetti, Mauritania

Chinguetti, in Mauritania, was a flourishing town centuries ago, along the camel caravan trade routes across the Sahara desert.  The manuscripts of Chinguetti, preserved in such desert libraries, might be up to 600 or 700 years old:

 

Families in Chinguetti have maintained these valuable manuscript libraries, some containing books and documents with fine calligraphy.

 

Photo Credit: Olivier Blaise

Boy reading ancient manuscripts in Chinguetti.

via rosemarysheel.com

 

The Libraries of Timbuctu

Private and public libraries contain books and manuscripts dating from as far back as the 12th century when Timbuctu was a famous center of learning and commerce.

Timbuctu Manuscript Library, Mali

via: fotolibra.com

via: Pulitzercenter.org

The new Ahmed Baba Institute is a state-of-the-art archive, named after a famous Timbuctu scholar, to house, restore and preserve 30,000 manuscripts.

Interior view of the Ahmed Baba Institute Library in Timbuktu, Mali

Via dhk.co.za/Iwan Baan

 

You can participate in preserving the priceless books of the Sahara!  Sponsor a manuscript.

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