The Library Of Alexandria
Founded in the 3rd Century BC, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was the greatest library in the ancient world which hosted the richest collections of books and manuscripts gathered from all over the world. The library majorly consisted of information stored in the form of Papyrus scrolls which could have numbered anywhere between 40000 to 400000 individual scrolls.
The support of the Ptolemaic dynasty was a significant part of its success alongside an array of literary works, gardens, meeting rooms, and lecture rooms. It was a major hub of learning right from its inception until the Romans’ invasion and annexation of Egypt in 30 BC.
Historians were never certain who demolished the ancient library of Alexandria. Many scholars believe the library was consumed in an inferno in which a lot of the scrolls and books got destroyed. Various causes have been attributed to setting off the fire that destroyed the library, some sources claim that Julius Caesar’s army was responsible for the fire in 48BC while others claim that it was caused by an Aurelian attack in the 270s AD. It’s likely that the destruction was due to a combination of both as well as some other fire incidents and an earthquake.
With the destruction of the main library, some scholars tried to improvise by moving the salvageable material to a library annexe carved out of a temple known as the Serapeum of Alexandria. Unfortunately, based on the account of Socrates of Constantinople, even this library annexe was destroyed as well in AD 391 by Coptic Pope Theophilus.
The New Library Of Alexandria
The library of Alexandria has revived once again in 2002 with the help of the UNESCO and the UNDP. The new library acts now as an International cultural centre built on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea not too far from Alexandria University.
More than 500 architects participated in the international competition carried out to choose one of them to design and construct the building and at the end, the Norwegian Snoetta Studio won and was granted to build the new library of Alexandria.
The new library covers an area of around 37,000 square meters and it has the shape of a truncated cylinder with a diameter of 160 meters and a height that reached 33 meters. The back and the highest section of the library was constructed using the strong Aswan granite and it has inscriptions and letters from all languages and a marvellous tableau “Almost 120 different human scripts”.
In 2012, The National Library Of France has donated a tremendous number of books “about half million” to the Library of Alexandria turning it to be the sixth-largest Francophone facility in the world surpassing those of Morroco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
The New Library of Alexandria which contains more than 80 million books became an unparalleled and unique cultural centre to bear witness of the greatness and the significance of the city of Alexandria throughout time.