Let’s take a ride to a historical library of Egypt, one of the largest ancient library containing works of some phenomenal thinkers, writers, and artists, popularly known as The Great Library of Alexandria.
The library is a vast source of knowledge in itself. One such a royal library was present in the Egypt known for its classical antiquity. It was one of the largest and the most significant library at that time. This library was dedicated to the Greek goddesses Muses. She was a symbol of art and culture for the people there. Library flourished under the supervision of the Ptolemy dynasty.
One of the seven wonders of the ancient world Alexandria was founded by Alexander the great in 330 BC. Thus the city was named after the emperor just similar to the other cities in the empire. Alexander’s empire was left in the hands of the general Ptolemy who took over the Egypt after Alexander’s death and made Alexandria as his capital.
He turned the city into a great center for intellectuals and culture lovers. People from all over the world come to visit Alexandria.
This library which was constructed by Alexander The Great and was taken forward by Ptolemy I Soter, one of his successor. This library was a part of the research institution known as Museum of Alexandria. It was a place to study the various ancient civilizations and dynasties by the great thinkers and the writers of the era. The library consisted mostly of papyrus scrolls although the exact amount of scrolls are not mentioned according to the estimation, it consisted of 40,000 to 4,00,000 papyrus scrolls.
According to ancient sources, the library had some reading rooms, dining room, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and garden. The shelves in the hall contain the collection of papyrus scrolls. An inscription was written over the shelves stating it to be a place for the “Cure Of The Soul”.
The library was built as a modern university campus as it was a part of a large research institution, Museum of Alexandria. Apart from the library, the institute had places for the study of anatomy, astronomy, and even zoo’s exotic species.
The great mathematician, physician, scientist, astronomer, engineer, geographer and much more studied, experimented and did a thorough research here. The list includes great thinkers like Euclid, Archimedes, Pappus, Theon, Aedesia, Herophilus, Aristarchus of Samos, Eratosthenes, Erasistratus, Hypatia, Hipparchus and more came to Egypt to study and exchange ideas.
Nobody could give the exact size of the collection as it was not possible for anyone to determine it in any of the eras with certainty. Although, Ptolemy had near about 5,00,000 papyrus scrolls and even Mark Antony gave 2,00,000 papyrus scrolls to Cleopatra as a wedding gift, but this was regarded as the propagandist claim by some historians.
According to estimation library contained half a million papyrus scrolls which were huge to for storage. It had a large and diverse collection of different scrolls. As a research Institute, the library contains the stacks filled with mathematics, science, physics, astronomy, geometry, geography and much more.
Various rumours circulated in the world that in order to increase the length of the library Ptolemy had adopted a method in which they used to search the ships and if they get any book they used to create a copy of that and hand over the copied book to the owner and keep the original one with them to place it in the library.
Another story which was revealed by the historians is that the books which were kept in the Athens were prohibited from the people all over the world. But the king somehow was able to persuade the governor saying they need the original book to make a copy of it and would return it back. But the king kept the original with them and gave copies to the Athens with silver deposits.
Apart from Greek literature the library also contained works from the other nation. Buddhist writings were also incorporated in the library.
Chaldean Priest Babylon became the most famous book among the Greeks. Hermippus in Alexandria wrote the book on Zoroastrians. The books and papyrus were found in Hebrew, Septuagint and much more. Alexandria’s library had an abundance of research material making it one of the largest libraries in the world.
The mysterious fate of the Library of Alexandria has always remained a controversial issue with no evidence which can show the world about the library whether it existed till the Arab conquest Alexandria or it turned into ashes before. According to some historians, the library was destroyed by the Julius Caesar in the agony to make the enemy realize that he is not afraid of the Ptolemy arm force which landed near the harbor. But one of the great symbols of knowledge was destroyed in the fire.
Many other historians claim different things regarding the demise of the world's largest ancient library. But the reality which ended the library remains a mystery among the people till today.(8.1)
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