Now that islamist fundamentalists have been driven from Timbuktu, accounts are emerging about the ingenious ways that ancient documents were saved from destruction by the extremists.
Many historic mausoleums had already been destroyed in the UNESCO heritage site.
To save as many documents as possible, the head of one private collection hid a consignment in a load of laundry and sent them to safety down the river.
At the vast public Ahmed Baba library, staff member Hassiny explained how after being threatened over and over, his boss sent money to buy sacks of rice where they hid more historic documents.
Despite the efforts to protect them, around 3,000 ancient documents perished.
UNESCO has promised 7.5 million euros to help rebuild Timbuktu’s heritage.