Next we visited the Al Habott Library which
is the best known and most thoroughly catalogued. Established in the 18th century by Sidi Muhammad Ould Habot (1784–1869), a descendant of Islam's first caliph, Abu Bakr, it grew through wholesale acquisitions of libraries elsewhere in North Africa as well as by copying locally available books. Now holding some 2000 manuscripts, the collection spans the period from the year 1088. Although it will take many years, we were told that a start has been made on converting these manuscripts to computerised digital formats.
As of the end of 13th century, Chinguetti, seventh Holy City of Islam, attracted the well-read men of the Moslem world. Philosophical monks, poets, doctors, lawyers
and mathematicians all converged on Chinguetti, for research, to gain knowledge, study and write. Its religious and commercial influence spread as far as the Maghreb, Sudan and the borders of The Orient. Chinguetti
was known as the 'Sorbonne of the Desert', protecting manuscripts of the poet Ould Ragza, the jurisconsult Ould Belamach and the scientist Sheik Ould Hammoni.
shown some of the manuscripts by the Habot father and son who carry on this precious work, and were treated to explanations and long lists of dates, but photography was not allowed. A much more informative and
accurate account than I could write about this and other libraries in Chinguetti, with the background of Chinguetti's ancient history,
can be found here.