July 28, 2003 Library To Offer Tours of Timbuktu Exhibition

Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

Library of Congress specialists will conduct group tours of "Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu," on view through Sept. 3, in the South Gallery of the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. To arrange a tour for groups of 10 or more, call (202) 707-7937.

The manuscripts on display address a wide range of subjects such as mathematics, physics, astronomy, secular literature and Koranic teachings. Written primarily in Arabic, the majority of the works are privately held, often by descendants of the original scholars. The manuscripts in the exhibition are from two of the most noteworthy private collections in the region - the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library and the Library of Cheick Zayni Baye of Boujbeha.

Though known to African communities for generations, the recognition of these texts by Western academics has created a breakthrough in recent scholarship. Once believed to be solely based on oral tradition, African culture also has been passed down through a rich literary tradition as evidenced by the existence of these manuscripts.

"Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu" is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Selections from the exhibition are also available on the Library’s Web site at www.loc.gov/exhibits.


PR 03-130
ISSN 0731-3527