Greek: Βιβλιοθηκη της Αλεξανδρειας
What: The Library of Alexandria was one of the most significant libraries of the ancient world.
Built: 4th century B.C.
Destroyed: 391 A.D.
Located: Alexandria, Egypt
Manuscripts: 700,000 at its height
The Library of Alexandria was one of the greatest libraries of the Ancient World and held an extensive archive of books and manuscripts from all of the known World. It was built by Ptolemy after Alexander the Great had conquered Egypt and founded the city of Alexandria. The books located in the library were aboutmathematics, astronomy, sciences, literature and other subjects created by phiosophers, scientists and poets. It was not only a library but a place where intellectuals would go to learn and socialize. Alexandria, at the time, was a Greek city that was an international hub for trade and therefore had travellers from all over the known World.
The library collected books by searching all the boats that entered the Alexandria harbour and byattending book fairs from Athens and Rhodes. They would make copies of these books to send back to their original owners while keeping the original ones. Copies were also made for other scholars, royalty and wealthy bibliophilies bringing income to the library.
The destruction of the library isn’t well documented or known. It is believed that it was destroyed in 391 A.D. when Emperor Theodosius I made paganism illegal. The library happened to be in the enclosement of pagan temples and was therefore ransacked by the Christians of Alexandria. The great library of Alexandria is still a mystery to historians. We do not know what it looked like, and where the exact location of it is since no trace of it has survived, but we do know that it had an lasting imprent on the World. It helped pass on important works from ancient scholars and people and helped toprogress our knowledge on mathematics, science and astronomy. Today the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is commemorated to the library of Alexandria.
Carl Sagan on the Great Library of Alexandria: