The ancient town of Chinguetti lies at the end of a 600km road from Nouakchott at the edge of the vast, trackless Sahara desert. Further northeast lies Ouadane, an even smaller and more remote town, also boasting ancient libraries of its own.
The Chinguetti Manuscripts are a collection of ancient Islamic manuscripts considered to be one of the most important cultural and historical treasures of Mauritania. Here are some interesting facts about them:
- Age: The Chinguetti Manuscripts date back to the 9th century and are among the oldest surviving Islamic manuscripts in the world.
- Content: The manuscripts cover a wide range of topics, including Islamic law, theology, grammar, astronomy, and medicine.
3. Preservation: The manuscripts have been carefully preserved by the people of Chinguetti for centuries. They were kept in special libraries known as “libraries of the desert” which were built underground to protect them from the harsh desert climate.
4. Significance: The scrolls are important not only for their historical and cultural value, but also for their religious significance. They are a testament to the rich intellectual and cultural heritage of the Islamic world.
5. Recognition: In 1996, the Manuscripts were recognised by UNESCO as a “Memory of the World,” which is a program designed to preserve and promote documentary heritage around the world.
Above all, the Chinguetti scrolls remain a crucial component of the cultural and intellectual heritage of the Islamic world, showcasing the remarkable ingenuity and creativity of humankind throughout the ages.
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