Timbuktu was established by the Taureg, a nomadic group, in the tenth- eleventh century along the caravan routes that were along the west coast of Africa (New World Encyclopedia 2007). Timbuktu was in a good spot for trade but not for defending against attacks, and Timbuktu was constantly attacked by Taureg raiders (New World Encyclopedia 2007). Timbuktu was never able to grow due to the raids, but Gao, Timbuktu’s neighboring city grew to be the political capital (New World Encyclopedia 2007).
As Timbuktu developed and became a city that traded gold, ivory, slaves, and salt Timbuktu became immensely wealthy (New World Encyclopedia 2007). Since Timbuktu was so wealthy it was a target for many European empires seeking wealth (New World Encyclopedia 2007). It started to decline in the 16th century by the Portuguese traders choosing to send the goods upriver instead of down river (New World Encyclopedia 2007). As Timbuktu developed into a more intellectual center in the early 15th century it became known for its religious study of Islam (New World Encyclopedia 2007). While Islam was the main religion of Timbuktu, most of the rural population were non-Muslim traditionalists (New World Encyclopedia 2007). The University of Sankore, also known as the most prominent Islamic institution, was established in 1581 C.E. and taught mostly centered around the Qur’an (New World Encyclopedia 2007). In Timbuktu there were more than 120 library’s in which housed millions of books, and some of which have not been found yet (New World Encyclopedia 2007).
As stories of Timbuktu’s wealth reached Europe many explorers journeyed downward into Africa to have their own taste of the wealth (Timbuktu: The El Dorado of Africa 2013). As countless European explorers journeyed to Timbuktu and never returned The Geographic Society of Paris offered a reward to whatever explorer that could make it there and 2
back and live to tell the tale (Timbuktu: The El Dorado of Africa 2013). The first...
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