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Trapezoids in Timbuktu
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In the African nation of Mali, an ancient city rests, surrounded by desert. During the Middle Ages, Timbuktu was a center of trade, religion, and education. The local builders constructed fantastic mosques out of mud, clay, and wood. Today, the trapezoid mosques and tombs of Timbuktu are famous around the world.

Scholars and Saints

The golden age of Timbuktu lasted for several centuries. The city supported a famed Islamic university. Wealthy traders spent their money to build large mosques and elaborate tombs. Many of these buildings have outer walls that are shaped like trapezoids. These landmarks combine Islamic culture with African architecture. People travel from around the world to visit Timbuktu.

The United Nations has declared Timbuktu a World Heritage Site. Scholars are especially interested in how Timbuktu helped spread Islam throughout Northwestern Africa. In addition, the city houses many rare manuscripts and books from the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, Timbuktu is at risk. In 2012, militants took over the city. They attempted to burn the library. They destroyed 6 of the 13 most historical buildings in the city. While the militants were later expelled, they’ve vowed to return and finish their work of destruction.

See for yourself: http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/assignment-discovery-shorts-ii-timbuktu.htm

Explore More

Journey to Timbuktu with Hidden Planet in the following video. Then read the article below to learn about efforts to restore the city's mud shrines.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/rock-center/45973190#45973190

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324144304578621784204683870.html

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