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<email@example.com> A little while ago, I replied to Ralph Austen regarding Arabic documentation in the Southern Sahara and mentioned that I thought Tim Cleavland had turned up similar materials to those I knew of. He has responded with the following, giving permission to circulate the information on H-NET. For those of you who don't know Tim, he has completed a fascinating thesis on Walata (currently under revision for publication) and has tales to tell of a year spend living there which are of great interest. He is currently at the University of FLorida. He writes: Although the Walata archives are private family libraries, and only three have been partially organized and made available to scholars-- I have seen documents in them that date to the seventeenth century. For example there was one particularly interesting late seventeenth-century treatise on the legality of tribute payments exacted by local nomadic groups. However, shorter documents dealing with property or property transations, often a single page in length, are usually not dated. For nineteenth-century documents approximate dates can be deduced from references to the (apparent) individuals named in the text. For the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries this technique is considerably more difficult. Judging by the number of substantial religious, legal, and historical manuscripts in Walata and Timbuktu that clearly date to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries-- it seems likely that more than a few of the dusty, single-page property documents in these archives belong to the eighteenth century. I would add that since my last note, I have heard from a student of mine, Mohamed Nouhi, who has been working in Mauritanita both on written documents (in the Adrar and Tagant) and collecting hassaniyya poetry. An earlier submission mentioned poetry as the most likely medium in which to find early written materials; I suspect Mohamed will be able to comment more fully on that when he returns to Canada. My sense is that many of them were not written. However, as poetry is the principal means by which Saharans in most of Mauritania and Mali record history (history as defined as events as distinguished from geneaology), I strongly suspect the observation is an accurate one, the exceptions not withstanding.