Many of the buildings in Timbuktu have been made out of mud bricks. These types of buildings are recognizable throughout the center where some shops are located, in addition to some small villages.

ture. Nevertheless, it remains functional and still serves as a center of prayer and learning nearly 700 years after its construction. Most of the buildings in Timbuktu have been built out of mud bricks, due to the ease of collecting the materials and their ability to withstand heat and sand- storms. These buildings, from houses to mausoleums, have survived through decades or even centuries, thanks to the hot, dry climate of the Sahara, which preserves the materials. This is the same reason that the pyramids of Egypt still stand thousands of years after their construction. All Roads Lead to Timbuktu Why built a big city like Timbuktu in the middle of the desert? Timbuktu was settled in the medieval era as a waypoint for caravan travelers who traded a variety of goods found through the Sahara—most notably gold, salt, elephant ivory, and peppers—with cities on the Mediterranean coastline. Timbuktu was an important stopover because of its access to the Niger River, as well as to nearby gold and salt mines. The introduction of the camel about 1,500 years ago (camels are native to Asia, not Africa) sped up the caravan routes and made Timbuktu very wealthy. However, the city today has lost much of its historical wealth and power and has a population of only 50,000 people.



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