Library of Alexandria
In the shadow of the Lighthouse of Alexandria stood the
Library of Alexandria, a center of knowledge of the time.
The Ancient Library of Alexandria is the great library built
around the 3rd century BC, when successors of Alexander wanted to make the
city the commercial and intellectual capital of the world. It vanished
almost 1600 years ago.
The library "arranged" for passing ships to be hijacked and
relieved of any manu-scripts on board and legend has it that its backers'
avowed aim was to own all the books in the world.
Soon the library would contain more than 700,000 papyrus
scrolls and secured a reputation attracting scholars from all over the
It is said that Archimedes worked at the library and that Herophilus carried out the first
dissection of a human body there. Hipparchus is thought to have begun the science of astronomy there while it is
believed that geometry and the idea of cataloguing were also developed at the library, by Euclid and Callimachus
Disaster struck in 48BC when part of the library was demolished by fire during Julius Caesar's
occupation of the city. Soon after, Cleopatra had the library rebuilt with the help of her lover Mark Antony, who
is said to have provided 200,000 manuscripts with which to rebuild the collection.
More than three centuries later, tragedy revisited, again in the form of fire, when it was
destroyed during a civil war, under the reign of the Roman emperor Aurelian.
However, some historians insist that the library was not finally destroyed until the seventh
century, when an Arab general ordered that the manuscripts be burned to heat the public baths.
Some believe that the loss of the Library of Alexandria set back the development of science and
technology by hundreds of years.
Engraving of Ancient Library of