*Includes pictures depicting important people, places, and events.
*Includes ancient accounts about the Library of Alexandria and its destruction.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
"When I wrote 'The Alexandria Link, ' I discovered that we are only aware of about 10 percent of the knowledge of the ancient world. In the ancient world, most of the knowledge was destroyed." - Steve Berry
In the modern world, libraries are taken for granted by most people, perhaps because their presence is ubiquitous. Every school has a library, large libraries can be found in every major city, and even most small towns have public libraries. However, the omnipresent nature of libraries is a fairly recent historical phenomenon, because libraries were still few and far between before the 19th century. For centuries in the Western world, during what is known as the Middle Ages, written knowledge was guarded closely and hidden away in private repositories, usually by the religious classes, and hidden away in private repositories.
The lack of libraries in the West has helped contribute to the popular imagination of the ancient Library at Alexandria, and all the myths and legends that have come to be associated with it, but the Library of Alexandria deserves its reputation. Before the Middle Ages, Greek scholars carefully collected and inventoried books and other written materials in the Library of Alexandria, which truly made it a sort of precursor to all modern libraries. In fact, the Library of Alexandria proved to be one of the greatest institutions created in the ancient world because it influenced the minds of countless people in profound ways for centuries. The Library not only inspired the imaginations of artists but gave birth to new research methods, which proved to provide the basis for many considered common-place today. The Library of Alexandria was one of the few libraries in the ancient Greek world, which helped ensure that mathematicians, scientists and other scholars from across the Mediterranean traveled to Egypt to study there, and it was so impressive in its size and influence that it left an indelible mark on the world that still reverberates today.
While the exact nature of the Library remains murky, it functioned for at least several centuries and is believed to have housed hundreds of thousands of books, most written as scrolls on papyrus, and it essentially became the culmination of two ancient literary and cultural traditions converging: the Greek and Egyptian. Of course, the most controversial aspect of the Library of Alexandria is its destruction, which is still a topic of debate today. Several ancient historians attributed its destruction to the Roman conquest of Egypt during the 1st century B.C., with some like Plutarch specifically citing Julius Caesar's soldiers as the ultimate cause of its destruction. The Roman writer Seneca wrote that 40,000 books were lost in the fire. However, other ancient historians claimed to have gone to the Library of Alexandria after Caesar stayed in the city, and all of these claims might be muddled by the fact that there was more than one library in the area. It's possible that the Library of Alexandria or some version of it survived until the 7th century A.D., but either way, the destruction of the library is often viewed as one of the reasons the Middle Ages were "Dark". Nobody knows for sure how much knowledge was lost in the Library, nor how it affected what Western societies knew and didn't during medieval times.
The Library of Alexandria: The History and Legacy of the Ancient World's Most Famous Library looks at the history of the library in an attempt to separate fact and fiction. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Library of Alexandria like never before.