- "Scholars are the heirs of the prophets, for the prophets did not leave behind a legacy of wealth but that of knowledge."
- –Musnad al-Bazzar 10/68
The main benefit of building the University of Sankore is +2 Science for every Trade Route sent to the city with this Wonder. Although players may be worried that other civilizations receive extra Gold and Science when doing so, that bonus provides crucial incentives for other players to send Trade Routes to this city; otherwise opponents, especially human opponents, will just ignore it considering they know how much it benefits you in the long run. Furthermore, despite granting bonuses for both ends of the Trade Route, the bonus is lopsided, benefiting the receiver more, so don't mistakenly believe this Wonder helps your enemies and hesitate to build it when you can.
Of course, the most reliable way to fully exploit this bonus is to send domestic Trade Routes. It is further enhanced by the Faith bonus to domestic Trade Routes. Since the weakness of domestic Trade Routes is that they do not grant much Gold, sending too many domestic Trade Routes can limit your economic growth. Therefore, this Wonder most benefits civilizations and leaders that can either reliably generate Gold independent from Trade Routes or have Gold or other bonuses to domestic Trade Routes significant enough to justify lower Gold income, including Persia, Poland, Poundmaker, Mali and Mansa Musa, and Pachacuti. You should also consider combining this Wonder with Policy Cards that grant Gold, like Caravansaries or Triangular Trade, to offset this weakness of running too many domestic Trade Routes. Seeking the Great Merchant Raja Todar Mal will also enhance domestic trade routes, especially if the city with the University of Sankore has multiple Districts.
Located within and around the pyramidal Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, Sankore Madrasah was an ancient higher learning center that became especially prominent during the reign of Mansa Musa.
The university operated differently than most modern universities today – instead of a central administration, the school was made up of independent schools with their own professors, and classes would take place outside in the courtyards or private homes. Though this may seem a bit more casual than what modern students experience, the University of Sankore was a renowned Islamic learning center. Curricula included Qur'anic studies of course, but also secular studies such as medicine, geography, physics, history, and art. The university offered four tiered degrees followed by graduation ceremonies during which students wore traditional turbans to represent their great accomplishments.
In the 1590s, the Moroccan invasion of Mali pushed many scholars to leave – some were deported, while others fled – and much of the work of the university was destroyed.