A museum guard with boxes of ancient manuscripts partially damaged by Islamists in Timbuktu in January. Zoom

REUTERS

A museum guard with boxes of ancient manuscripts partially damaged by Islamists in Timbuktu in January.

More than 80 percent of Timbuktu’s priceless manuscripts were smuggled out of the ancient city before Islamists began to attack its cultural heritage, SPIEGEL has learned. Many were driven by car to the Malian capital of Bamako.

Far more of Timbuktu’s priceless ancient manuscripts were saved from Islamist attacks than previosly thought, according to information from the German Foreign Ministry.

 

ANZEIGE

More than 200,000 of the documents, or about 80 percent of them, were smuggled to safety, says the ministry, which aided in the operation.

The ministry said many of the manuscripts, some of which date back to the 13th century, were driven out of Timbuktu in private vehicles and taken to the Malian capital, Bamako. Some of them were hidden under lettuce and fruit in an operation led by the head of the Mamma Haidara Memorial Library, Abdel Kader Haidara.

The German embassy paid for the fuel and procured archival boxes to store 4,000 of the manuscripts. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the priority now was to catalogue the manuscripts and preserve them for posterity.

“We are ready to support the reconstruction of the library in Timbuktu,” said Westerwelle.

 

Read Full Article Here