"This is a treasure trove of unthinkable value, nobody quite knows what's hidden in these chests”
Dr Michael Hanssler Gerda Henkel Foundation
With approval from 35 key families, Haidara went in search of funding, which he secured from the Prince Claus Foundation in the Netherlands and the German Foreign Office, among others.
As the situation in the north remained volatile, however, the rescue operation continued for three months after the rebel withdrawal, until 2,400 metal boxes containing an estimated 285,000 manuscripts had been delivered to private homes in the capital.
Timbuktu's written heritage
- Some documents date back to the 12th Century
- Some were written locally, others in Africa, Europe and the Middle East then taken to Timbuktu by pilgrims
- Subjects include religious studies, mathematics, medicine, astronomy and music
- 300,000 manuscripts estimated to have been in circulation in the wider Timbuktu area
- State-run Ahmed Baba institute is the biggest library with 30,000 manuscripts - others are held by private libraries and in private homes