ALDONA SABALIS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALDONA SABALIS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sankore Mosque mihrab, Timbuktu, Mali. The mihrab, here a pyramidal tower, is a structure indicating the direction of Mecca. This one is made from dried sand and mud, with wooden supports. The mosque was first built in the 15th century when the Mali Empire ruled the area. The architectural style of the mihrab is Sahelian, a style named after this region (Sahelia) that lies south of the Sahara. The walls of the mosque are seen on either side. The mosque is most famous for being a centre of Islamic study in the 16th century, the so- called University of Sankore. This period ended with the Moroccan invasion in the 1590s and the deportation of many of the scholars.
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