Cave paintings from the Stone Age found near Chinguetti, depict the region as a lush grassland where wildlife once flourished.
This was once a prosperous medieval metropolis, home to 20,000 residents and a centre for scholars of science, religion, law, medicine, mathematics and astronomy in West Africa. A principal gathering place for pilgrims on their way to Mecca, it even became known as a holy city in its own right and over time, it was recognized as the seventh holy city of Islam, the “City of Libraries”.
The sands of the Sahara have all but swallowed Chinguetti, a near ghost town found at the end of a harsh desert road in Mauritania, West Africa. Its majority of abandoned houses are open to the elements, lost to the dunes of a desert aggressively expanding southward at a rate of 30 miles per year.
[B]ehind these walls sleep 6,000 books, some kept intact since the 9th century in the dry desert air. Today there remains less than ten libraries in the old town, catering to scholars that occasionally visit the isolated town.
Via Messy Nessy Chic for the full article and many more photos.