Skip to comments.Library of Alexandria discovered
Posted on 05/17/2004 10:10:51 AM PDT by presidio9
Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the site of the Library of Alexandria, often described as the world's first major seat of learning. A Polish-Egyptian team has excavated parts of the Bruchion region of the Mediterranean city and discovered what look like lecture halls or auditoria.
Two thousand years ago, the library housed works by the greatest thinkers and writers of the ancient world.
Works by Plato and Socrates and many others were later destroyed in a fire.
Announcing their discovery at a conference being held at the University of California, Zahi Hawass, president of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the 13 lecture halls uncovered could house as many as 5,000 students in total.
A conspicuous feature of the rooms, he said, was a central elevated podium for the lecturer to stand on.
"It is the first time ever that such a complex of lecture halls has been uncovered on any Greco-Roman site in the whole Mediterranean area," he added.
"It is perhaps the oldest university in the world."
Professor Wileke Wendrich, of the University of California, told BBC News Online that the discovery was incredibly impressive.
Alexandria was a major seat of learning in ancient times and regarded by some as the birthplace of western science.
Birthplace of geometry
It was a tiny fishing village on the Nile delta called Rhakotis when Alexander the Great chose it as the site of the new capital of his empire.
It was made Egypt's capital in 320 BC and soon became the most powerful and influential city in the region.
Its rulers built a massive lighthouse at Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the famed Library of Alexandria.
It was at the library that Archimedes invented the screw-shaped water pump that is still in use today.
At Alexandria Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the Earth, and Euclid discovered the rules of geometry.
Ptolemy wrote the Almagest at Alexandria. It was the most influential scientific book about the nature of the Universe for 1,500 years.
The library was later destroyed, possibly by Julius Caesar who had it burned as part of his campaign to conquer the city.
Because thinking about burning the local library down is easier than complaining to the ALA and/or asking to be removed from their mailing list.
Some people like to be upset.
I've been under the impression that Socrates left no writings. If so, that name should have been Aristotle, some of whose works are known to have been lost.
The Muslim conquerer of Egypt in the 7th century did burn the reconstructed libary of Alexandria, and apparently did so without remorse.
"It was not the only fire - and what ever was left of the library was done in by the Arabs - they used the books to heat their baths for months."
Since when do Arabs bathe?? ;)
I assume you're not familiar with the ALA's refusal to condemn Castro's imprisonment of the Cuban librarians, their press releases decrying the supporters of Robert Kent's Cuban Librarian organization as "right wing" (and therefore, wrong), and their love of everything socialist.
Sheesh. What's with all the dumping on Julius Caesar lately?
The library might have been damaged when Caesar's troops got caught up in the nasty little civil war between Cleopatra and her little brother. But there are historical references to it beyond that time, so it wasn't destroyed until later.
If they hadn't burned down this library, we would probably know the location of Atlantis today.
This is very exciting news!
The Arabs did have possession of many ancient texts which were translated from Greek into Arabic, carried across North Africa to the real gem in their empire, Andalusian Spain, and then translated again into Latin. This was the source of Europe's exposure to Plato's and Aristotle's writings during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. But the point is that during a time when any manuscript, scroll, or book was priceless the (First?) Library of Alexandria was a genuine treasure house.
well, except that whole 1 Euclid 5 thing.
If you're going to talk about someone it is courteous to ping them.
I have no idea what you're talking about.
I have always wondered how much more scientific, medical and technological information the world would now posses if it had not been for the Alexandria Fire.
Without Question the Fire was one of the World's greatest tragedies.
I cannot imagine how much further technological and scientific progress we could have achieved if it had not been for the Alexandria Fire.
And some people - who obviously don't work in a library and deal with the ALA on an almost daily basis - should keep their mouth shut.
People should not call for the burning down of public buildings.
That's what those we are fighting wish to do, and I would like to think that we are better than that.
If you don't like the ALA, the ask to be removed from their mailing list.
If you don't like working in a library , than quite or work to have it changed so you do like it. Don't support their destruciton.
I believe you are correct. The Caliph's "reasoning" was that if a book agreed with the Koran, it was superfluous, if it disagreed, it was heretical. You only need 12 billion copies of one book.
I understood that it happened when Cesar was in Egypt, making time with Cleopatra, and there was an uprising within his legions. Caesar burned his fleet to prevent the insurgents from capturing them, and therefore being able to use them against Cesar, and unfortunately much of the library also caught on fire.It wasn't. In 391 AD, the Roman Emperor Theodosius, a Christian zealot, permitted the Patriarch of Alexandia, another zealot, to burn the "pagan" materials in the Library.
However I am not positive if that was the only fire that ever occurred at the Alexandria library.
In 646 AD the Muslims burned what was left of the Library for similar reasons.
China went through a revolution in ancient times in which nearly all books were destroyed. Someone built hollow walls in a house and save a bunch. Otherwise we'd know even less about the history of China.
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