The city of Timbuktu in modern Mali has been a destination of legend for centuries, ever since the days when camel caravans made epic journeys across the Sahara to trade in salt, gold and slaves in its markets. Less well known is that by the mid-1400s the city was a major centre of Islamic learning and scholarship in the heart of Africa. Today the town is home to a series of collections of extraordinary historic books and manuscripts. Beautifully graphic, vividly evocative, these exquisite treasures reveal great craftsmanship as well as learning, and they form the lavish visual heart of this book. It confirms the manuscripts of Timbuktu as extraordinary treasures: invaluable historical documents; objects of tremendous beauty; and a testament to a great centre of learning and civilization.