Exploring Africa

Introduction | Island 1 | Island 2 | Island 3 | Island 4 | Island 5 | References

Leo Africanus's Description of Timbuktu
 

Tombuto is so called of a certaine Towne so called, which (they say) King Mense Suleiman founded in the yeere of the Hegeira610, and it is situate within twelve miles of a certaine branch ofNiger, all the houses whereof are now changed into Cottages built of Chalke, and covered with Thatch. Howbeit, there is a most stately Temple to be seene, the walles whereof are made of stone and lime; and a Princely Palace also built by a most excellent workeman of Granada. Heere are many shops of Artificers, and Merchants, and especially of such as weave Linnen or Cotten cloth. And hither doe the Barbarie Merchants bring cloth of Europe. All the women of this Region except Maid-servants goe with their faces covered, and sell all necessary victuals. The Inhabitants, and especially strangers there residing, are exceeding rich, insomuch, that the King that now is, married both his daughters unto two rich Merchants. Heere are many welles, containing most sweet water; and so often as the River Niger ouerfloweth, they conveigh the water thereof by certaine sluces into the Towen. Corne, Cattell, Milke, and Butter, this Region yeeldeth in great abundance: but salt is very scarce heere; for it is brought hither by land from Tegaza, which is five hundred miles distant. When I my selfe was heere, I saw one Camels load of Salt sold for eightie Duckats. The rich King of Tombuta hath many Plates and Scepters of Gold, some whereof weigh one thousand and three hundred pounds: and he keepes a magnificent and well furnished Court.

 

Introduction | Island 1 | Island 2 | Island 3 | Island 4 | Island 5 | References

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