Alchemy, as an expression of an 'abstract' and 'popular' culture, practised in the underworlds of professionals (craftsmen, magicians, healers, pharmacists, etc.), has not drawn yet much attention of African scholars. The aim of the paper is to show the importance of alchemy in the history of Africa to the South of the Sahara. Data from written sources and information collected on the mystical knowledge will be analysed to show the practice of alchemy and the techniques of development of the magic formulas. As to the source of the doctrines it is certain that alchemy, being of divine essence, proceeds from the knowledge of the prophets who hold the keys to them and communicate them to their followers. Like their Eastern and Maghrebian colleagues, West African alchemists, while Islamising and Arabising themselves, enriched the practice of alchemy with knowledge coming from the different civilisations. The aim is to identify old and current spiritual perspectives for these magic-syncretistic practices constituting the common heritage of the religious culture.
This article describes Timbuktu manuscript condition. Timbuktu, Mali is the legendary city founded as a commercial centre in West Africa nine hundred years ago. Dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, the ancient manuscripts presented in this article cover every aspect of human endeavour and are indicative of the high level of civilization attained by West Africans during the Middle Ages and the pre-colonial period. The manuscripts are written in various styles of the Arabic script. These styles were developed in Timbuktu and the surrounding regions of Mali and West Africa. The chain of the manuscript redraws the creation process of the manuscripts in the respect of the materials, which make it up. The article suggests that the rehabilitation of the workshops of the scribes for the conservation and the restoration of the manuscripts.