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 The University of Sankoré, or Sankore Masjid is one of three ancient centers of learning located in TimbuktuMaliWest Africa. The three mosques of Sankoré, Djinguereber Mosque and Sidi Yahya compose the famous University of Timbuktu. During the 14th -16th century, Sankore University enrolled more foreigen students than New York University today. 

The Mali Empire gained direct control over the city of Timbuktu in 1324 during the reign of Mansa Kankou Musa also known as Musa I “King of Kings”. He designed and saw the construction of one of Sankore’s first great mosques and the Jingeray Ber Masjid in 1327.The foundations of the previous structure were laid around 988 A.D. on the orders of the city’s chief judge Al-Qadi Aqib ibn Mahmud ibn Umar. A local mandinka lady, esteemed for her wealth, financed his plans to turn Sankoré into a world class learning institution. 

By the end of Mansa Musa’s reign (early 14th century CE), the Sankoré Masjid had been converted into a fully staffed Madrassa (Islamic school or in this case university) with the largest collections of books in Africa since the Library of Alexandria. The level of learning at Timbuktu’s Sankoré University was superior to that of all other Islamic centers in the world. The Sankoré Masjid was capable of housing 25,000 students and had one of the largest libraries in the world with between 400,000 to 700,000 manuscripts.

Today, the intellectual legacy of Timbuktu is neglected in historical discourse. These pages of WORLD history tend to get ripped out.   

Learn more about the surviving manuscripts of the library of Timbuktu and its fate here.


Kitchen Tender being Rowed. Egyptian, ca. 1981–1975 B.C., from the Tomb of Meketre.

Many outings of Egyptian nobles culminated in a picnic. On the menu for Meketre’s boat trip were roasted fowl, dried beef, bread, beer, and some kind of soup. Meat and bread were carried on another model of a tender, now in Cairo. Here, the beer is prepared and the soup cooked. A blackened trough may have contained burning coal for roasting the fowl. A man tends a stove on which soup simmers. On either side, a woman grinds grain. Brewers inside the cabin are shaping bread loaves, then working them through sieves into large vats. One brewer stands in another vat, where he tramples the dates that provide the sugar for the fermentation of the beer. The oars of this boat are fixed to the sides; to avoid damaging the oars while the boats were transported and deposited in the model chamber, all oars of Meketre’s boats were secured in this manner. (met)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections20.3.3.


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