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Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Timbuktu

Evening Program (Session 3 of 4-Session Course) on Zoom

Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0091C
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Clockwise; Roman and other ruins at Palmyra, Syria, Bamiyan Buddha ruins, Afghanistan; Great Mosque of Djenné, Timbuktu, Mali; Stony Coral Colony and soldier fish Great Barrier Reef Australia

Save $20 when you purchase all 4 sessions of the Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites course!


There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Each of them offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of complex civilizations, empires, and religions. Some, however, are facing an existential crisis. This series offers an in-depth overview of four UNESCO World Heritage sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. Each lavishly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience by incorporating the insights of the latest scholarship and research.  

Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, is the author of several books, including The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures. He is currently producing a 24-episode series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites for The Great Courses.

Session Information


Though it is often considered a remote, mysterious, and even imaginary place in the Western imagination, Timbuktu was at the center of the Islamic world in the 15th and 16th centuries. Profiting off the wealth accumulated from its position on an important sub-Saharan trade route, Timbuktu quickly became a seat of Muslim learning and helped facilitate the early Islamization of much of northern Africa. Jacobs pays particular attention to the tens of thousands of ancient Arabic manuscripts that have emerged from private collections over the past half century, with the goal of understanding how Timbuktu has become a new site of ideological contestation in our own era.

Additional Sessions

If you are interested in additional Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites sessions this spring, view the upcoming schedule:

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