Lesson 5: Trekking to Timbuktu: Timbuktu's Golden Age of Scholarship (Student Version)

Timbuktu reached its peak as a center of Islamic culture and scholarship in the 16th century. This was its Golden Age. It was now a major city in the Songhai Empire. Of the city's population of nearly 100,000, a quarter were students and scholars. Many of these came from other parts of the Islamic world to study or teach at the cities many madrasas (Islamic schools) and its three universities, the most renowned being that associated with the Sankore Mosque.

You've traveled through time to the 16th century. You're in Timbuktu, disguised as a student from Cairo. You've come to study with a scholar at Sankore. You true task is to learn why and how Timbuktu became a great center of Islamic scholarship. You can take notes

on the sheets of papyrus you've picked up in Egypt.

Guiding Questions

Timbuktu reached its peak as a center of Islamic culture and scholarship in the 16th century. This was its Golden Age. It was now a major city in the Songhai Empire. Of the city's population of nearly 100,000, a quarter were students and scholars. Many of these came from other parts of the Islamic world to study or teach at the cities many madrasas (Islamic schools) and its three universities, the most renowned being that associated with the Sankore Mosque.

You've traveled through time to the 16th century. You're in Timbuktu, disguised as a student from Cairo. You've come to study with a scholar at Sankore. You true task is to learn why and how Timbuktu became a great center of Islamic scholarship. As you prepare for this adventure, bear the following questions in mind:

What was the Songhai Empire?

What factors made Timbuktu a spiritual and intellectual center of Islam?

What were the schools there like?

What books were used?

Learning Objectives

Your long-term goal is the report you will prepare for the producers of Globe Trekker that will convince them that Timbuktu is the perfect spot for an upcoming episode. Since you've visiting the city in its Golden Age, you should find a lot of really important data. Once you're done with this segment, you should be able to: Identify the empire of Songhai and describe Timbuktu's role in its economy

Understand how Timbuktu became an important spiritual and intellectual center of Islam

Describe the Islamic schools of Timbuktu

Understand how manuscripts were produced and used in Timbuktu