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How Timbuktu Flourished During the Golden Age of Islam

For centuries, the city of Timbuktu, located in the center of present-day Mali in Western Africa, thrived as one of the bustling centers of culture and learning during the Golden Age of Islam.

The region’s legacy as an intellectual destination begins with the Epic of Sundiata. According to the 13th-century epic poem, the Mandinka prince of the Kangaba state, organized a successful resistance against the harsh Sosso king Sumaoro Kanté—and a new empire was born.

The Mali Empire on the upper Niger River then grew in power and prestige. When the powerful Malian king, Mansa Musa I, peacefully annexed the city of Timbuktu in 1324 after returning from his pilgrimage to Mecca, the empire became a hub of exceptional learning, culture and architecture.

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