Timbuktu Timeline

by Larry Brook, author of Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Timbuktu

copyright 1999 by Runestone Press of Lerner Publishing Group www.lernerbooks.com


Origins: 40,000 B.C. – A.D. 1330


40,000 B.C. --- Ancient Homo sapiens hunt elephants and lions in the forests of what would become

the Sahara Desert. They catch fish in the large lakes.

A.D. 640 ------- Muslim armies enter Africa.

A.D. 1009 ----- King of Songhai people accepts the religion of Islam.

A.D. 1076 ----- Ghana Empire falls.

A.D. 1100 ----- Tuareg settlers camp along the Niger River. The camping area becomes Timbuktu.

A.D. 1312 ----- Mansa Musa becomes King of Mali.

A.D. 1324 ----- Mansa Musa makes a pilgrimage to Mecca.


Golden Age: A.D. 1330 – 1591


A.D. 1330 ----- Mansa Musa returns to Timbuktu with Al-Saheli, an architect, who builds a Palace and large Mosque.

A.D. 1353 ----- Ibn Battutah, a Moroccan traveler, visits Timbuktu and describes its wealth and security.

A.D. 1375 ----- Abraham Cresques creates the earliest map of West Africa that shows Timbuktu.

A.D. 1433 ----- The Tuareg capture Timbuktu.

A.D. 1464 ----- Sonni Ali becomes King of Songhai.

A.D. 1468 ----- Sonni Ali captures Timbuktu.

A.D. 1492 ----- Sonni Ali dies.

A.D. 1493 ----- Askia Mihammad comes to power and rebuilds Timbuktu to its greatest height as a center of trade

and Islamic scholarship.

A.D. 1510 ----- Leo Africanus visits Timbuktu and describes it as an exceedingly rich city.


Decline and Rebirth: A.D. 1591 – 1805

A.D. 1591 ----- Moroccan army crosses the Sahara and seizes Timbuktu, burning most of its libraries.


Colonization: A.D. 1805 – 1960


A.D. 1805 ----- Mungo Park becomes the first European to visit Timbuktu.

A.D. 1826 ----- Alexander Gordon Laing travels to Timbuktu but is murdered on his way back to Europe.

A.D. 1828 ----- Rene-August Caillie arrives in Timbuktu and lives to tell his story.

A.D. 1894 ----- French gunboats sail up the Niger River and take over Timbuktu. A small French army, traveling

through the desert, arrives soon afterward. France annexes most of the region.


Modern Timbuktu: A.D. 1960 – Present


A.D. 1960 ----- Mali gains independence. Timbuktu becomes part of the new Republic of Mali.

A.D. 1970s ---- Severe drought destroys the nomadic lifestyle of many Tuareg.

A.D. 1980s ---- War occurs between the Tuareg and armies from Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger.

A.D. 1992 ----- The government of Mali and the Tuareg coalition sign a peace agreement.

A.D. 1990s ---- Tourists and scholars continue to visit Timbuktu. (See Page "Timbuktu 2003")


to be continued...