Home of the prestigious Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas , Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its three great mosques, Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia, recall Timbuktu's golden age. Although continuously restored, these monuments are today under threat from desertification .
At its zenith in the middle of the 15th Century Timbuktu was known all over the world as a repository for all sorts of knowledge, including Arabic Islamic writing, science, maths and history. What is so important about Timbuktu's literary patrimony is that it is a challenge to Western ideas that Africa is a land of song and dance and oral tradition. It reveals a continent with an immensely rich literary and scientific heritage.