Scholars meet in Mali to save Timbuktu’s remaining manuscripts

The Art Newspaper | Gareth Harris:


Three-day symposium is supported by the UK government

A conference co-organised by Unesco focusing on the long-term conservation of Mali’s ancient manuscript collections is due to start in the country’s capital, Bamako, today, 28 January.

A burnt ancient manuscript at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu © UNESCO/Lazare-Eloundou

The three-day symposium at the National Conference Centre, entitled “Ancient manuscripts facing modern-day challenges”, is part funded by the UK ministerial department, the Foreign & Commonwealth office, and the European Union. The Malian Ministry of Culture, Crafts and Tourism is also behind the event. 

“Cultural heritage, including manuscripts, suffered severe damage during the occupation of northern parts of the country by armed groups in 2012 and 2013, and the insurgents burned or stole 4,203 manuscripts held at the Ahmed Baba Institute [in Timbuktu],” says a Unesco press statement. The Islamist rebels also destroyed shrines they considered idolatrous and torched a number of libraries in Timbuktu during their retreat…


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