Traveling Far and Wide to Timbuktu

Take a visit to the Sahara Desert and you’ll quickly notice there are not many trees to be had. With a limited ability to build houses out of wood, the inhabitants of northern Africa have histor- ically preferred mud as the primary construction material. Mud bricks are easy to make: mix dirt, water, and straw together, then let it harden in the hot African sun. Just because mud bricks aren’t as ornate as concrete and steel, however, doesn’t mean that they aren’t prac- tical. The ancient city of Timbuktu in Mali pays homage to the great value and resil- iency of mud-brick buildings, because many that were constructed centuries ago still stand. Perhaps the most famous building in Timbuktu is the Djinguereber Mosque. Con- structed in 1327, it is one of the oldest centers of learn- ing and culture in the Islamic world. Built by the Mali em- peror Mansa Musa (consid- ered to be perhaps the richest man to ever live), the mosque today is a World Heritage Site.

The Djinguereber Mosque in Timbuktu was constructed in 1327 and is one of the oldest centers of learning and culture in the Islamic world.

It looks quite different from other mosques of the Middle East, with a flat roof rather than a dome and outside staircases rather than interior staircases. What’s more, bundles of sticks from palm trees poke out at almost every angle, serving as permanent scaffolding whenever it is necessary to make repairs to the struc-



Made with FlippingBook HTML5