Library Of Alexandria

most famous library in history

The fondest dream of the information age is to create an archive of all knowledge. You might call it the Alexandrian fantasy, after the great library founded by Ptolemy I in 286 BC. Through centuries of aggressive acquisition, the librarians of Alexandria, Egypt, collected hundreds of thousands of texts. None survives. During a final wave of destruction, in AD 641, invaders fed the bound volumes and papyrus scrolls into the furnaces of the public baths, where they are said to have burned for six months. "The lesson," says Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, "is to keep more than one copy.",1294,60948,00.html

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mystery of burning

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In reality, the Library and its community of scholars not only flourished during the Hellenistic era of the Ptolemies, but continued to survive through the Roman Empire and the incessant turbulence of the Empire's most volatile and valuable city.

At the same time, task forces commissioned to acquire books were scouring the Mediterranean. Books were even confiscated from ships moored in Alexandria's harbor, copied and then restored to their owners. The scriptorium where the copies were made also served as a Book Store, creating a lucrative enterprise with an international clientele.$12.html

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