The ancient desert town of Chinguetti, in Mauritania, on the western edge of the Sahara, has changed little since it was founded more than twelve centuries ago. The houses are still built of reddish dry-stone and mud, with flat roofs made of timber panels from palm trees. The stone walls are punctured with tiny windows and hand-hewn doors cut from massive ancient acacia trees, which have long disappeared from the surrounding area. Many of these houses now lie in ruins, abandoned by their owners to escape the encroaching sand of the vast Sahara. Once a thriving metropolis of 200,000, Chinguetti now has only a few thousand residents left. As the town slowly disappears under the sand, some of the last remaining families cling desperately to their precious treasure — one of the finest collection of ancient Islamic manuscripts.