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A Moroccan army defeated the Songhai in 1591, and made Timbuktu, rather than Gao, their capital.
After a shift in trading routes, Timbuktu flourished from the trade in salt, gold, ivory and slaves.
Timbuktu is located on the southern edge of the Sahara 15 km (9 mi) north of the main channel of the River Niger.
The town is surrounded by sand dunes and the streets are covered in sand.
The results suggest that the site was first occupied during the 5th century BC, thrived throughout the second half of the 1st millennium AD and eventually collapsed sometime during the late 10th or early 11th century AD.
Timbuktu was a regional trade centre in medieval times, where caravans met to exchange salt from the Sahara Desert for gold, ivory, and slaves from the Sahel, which could be reached via the nearby Niger River.