May 6, 2013
A Precious History Preserved
How scholars in Timbuktu protected medieval texts under an Islamist occupation
Daniel Seckman for The Chronicle
Sidi Lamine gently opens the creaky wooden door that leads to his collection of manuscripts. Housed in a dark, windowless room, hundreds of medieval texts line handsome wooden bookshelves that reach to the ceiling. A musty smell lingers over everything. On an ornate table under dusty glass rest the rarest books in his collection, several of which he quietly mentions were written in 1010.
"I haven't visited this room in more than 10 months," he says,