Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

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Located in the Sahara, the medieval village of Chinguetti in Mauritania is a stunning jewel of Berber culture.

Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Located in the Sahara, the medieval village of Chinguetti in Mauritania is a stunning jewel of Berber culture. Once a significant outpost on trade and pilgrimage routes, the desert village contains wonderful examples of Berber Saharan architecture. It’s also an important center of learning thanks to its desert libraries, that are filled with scientific and Qur’ anic texts dating back to the Middle Ages.


The village was established in 777 CE. It was quickly built up due to the steady stream of traders and pilgrims that passed through on the way to Mecca. That also pushed the creation of the desert libraries, privately-owned book repositories where pilgrims could educate themselves on astronomy, mathematics, law, and religion. Until the 1950s, over 30 of the family-owned libraries were open to the public, but a drought dropped this number significantly. The five remaining libraries in Chinguetti now contain thousands of texts, that are still preserved and handled according to tradition.


Alas, although Chinguetti was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, these precious texts are at risk. Librarians are continually battling the sands and dry air of the Sahara Desert, while a lack of tourism because of security concerns has caused three of the libraries not to open regularly. Though the state has tried to intervene in the preservation of the manuscripts, they have found it challenging to break thousands of years of tradition upon which the libraries are passed from generation to generation.


Fortunately, increased security measures in this area mean that some tourists are returning to view those precious materials. Many people combine a visit to Chinguetti with the other surrounding UNESCO sites of Tichitt, Oualata, and Ouadane in the dunes of the Sahara.


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

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Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Eric Valenne geostory/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Senderistas/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Homo Cosmicos/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Eric Valenne geostory/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Lena Ha/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Eric Valenne geostory/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Senderistas/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Intertourist/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Eric Valenne geostory/Shutterstock


Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries

Intertourist/Shutterstock

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Thinking Humanity: Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries
Chinguetti, A Saharan Village Houses Thousands Of Ancient Texts Preserved In Desert Libraries
Located in the Sahara, the medieval village of Chinguetti in Mauritania is a stunning jewel of Berber culture.
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