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The Ancient Astronomers of Timbuktu

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Guided by astrophysicist, Dr Thebe Medupe, a group of modern scientists engage in the first exploration of the scientific contents of the manuscript archives of Timbuktu. The film reveals the painstaking work done by conservators and manuscript owners who face the daunting task of conserving the brittle and damaged manuscripts before this valuable history is lost forever in the sands of the Sahara.

Dr Medupe works together with Islamic Science Historian Dr Petra Schmidl on deciphering the meaning and significance of these fascinating papers. With comment from Islamic Science Historians Prof George Saliba and Dr John Steele we reveal the historical background to the information found in the manuscripts and the relevance of Timbuktu’s Islamic history. Throughout the documentary recreations of life in medieval Timbuktu illustrate and enhance discoveries – bringing to life the ancient work of these African academics.  By using modern ‘state of the art’ digital technology we reveal the cosmology of an ancient time bringing the archives from sandy obscurity to global cyber access.

The DVD version of The Ancient Astronomers of Timbuktu is available through the website or from the Johannesburg Planetarium. The DVD contains extra interview sections from researchers and has Arabic and French sub titles.  The film is being shown at the following festivals in  2010: International Science Film  Festival 2010 – Athens,  Greece Science Film Festival 2010 – A Coruna,  Galicia, Spain (Galician sub titles),Africa on Screen Film Festival 2010 –  shown in Johannesburg during the Soccer World Cup.

The Ancient  Astronomers of Timbuktu has been bought by the following broadcasters:   
Al Jazeera Northern Africa and Middle East: Arabic  speaking
Foxtel Management Australia - New Zealand/Australia  
Namibian Broadcasting Corporation - Namibia  
IRIB Islamic Rep. of Iran Broadcast –  Iran


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