Friday 23 June 2023


The city of Timbutku was founded in the 4th century CE around a well owned by an old woman known as Buktu. This later gave the city its name; place of Buktu... Tim-buktu.

Timbuktu had a 14th century CE population of 115,000 - five times larger than medieval London(Londonium under the Romans in the 2nd century CE). Mansa Musa built the Djinguerebere mosque in the 14th century. The city had paved road, orderly road networks, properly channelled liquid waste system and organized architecture. 

Sankore university was about the 3rd ever university in the world after Alexanderia, and had 25,000 students from Africa and across the Mediterranean (Timbuktu university had thousands of people from Europe as students. In modern times a research was done by a French university and it was discovered  that the mathematics taught to beginners at the University then is the same taught to second year students in universities in France today), learning from orators like Sidi Yayia. 

There were several libraries that contained centuries of volumes in alchemy, science, agriculture, medicine, medieval African architecture, mathematics etc, at a time when oxford was not yet founded. Timbuktu libraries were first burnt down by King Sunni Ali, who disliked scholars and later by Judar Pasha who was hired by the Morrocan crown to loot the city in the late 16th century. Judar Pasha was successful. He used the power of the musket to plunder Gao, Djenne and Timbutku. He was rewarded with 30 camels of gold looted from Songhai empire when he returned to Morroco, successful, in 1599 CE, haven set out in 1590.

London in contrast (for a better analogical understanding) had a population of 20,000 people, without paved main streets nor public water system, public baths or libraries before the 16th century CE.

Most medieval Europeans thought of the city of Timbutku as a myth, like an el dorado or Atlantis according to research by Paul Cooper. Ibn Battuta, a 14th century Morrocan explorer who recorded his journeys across most of Africa, Europa and Asia at that time described the city according to the myth that surrounded most discussions of Timbutku in Europe of that time... "In Africa, gold grows in the sand like carrots do and the natives pick it at dawn". Timbutku was west African centre of learning... trade and gold merchants.

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