LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE DESTROYED MAUSOLEUMS OF TIMBUKTU, MALI
In 2012, the mausoleums of Timbuktu were destroyed by members of the armed forces occupying the North of Mali. After liberation in January 2013, a joint process was launched by the Ministry of Culture of Mali, UNESCO, and the local stakeholders for the gradual reconstruction of these mausoleums, completed in 2016. This has been a long process for heritage structures which, at first glance, appear rather simple and small. However, based on the observations made during the first evaluation mission undertaken in May 2013, it appeared that this question is quite complex. In fact, most of the mausoleums – some at least five hundred years old – had been subjected to numerous changes during their history. This provided a large amount of very interesting new information on the mausoleums, leading to a complete revision of the interpretation of their physical nature and that of their surroundings, as well as of their associated intangible heritage and values. This has also led to numerous questions and discussions concerning the way they should be re-built, including the argument that some of the building techniques had not been used for several decades, and there was a potential need for regular maintenance in the long term. After the description of the process, and discussing the findings and decisions made in the various phases, this paper presents a series of lessons learnt before concluding with some remaining questions.