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Library of Alexandria

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Lisa Wolfe
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« on: September 21, 2010, 01:11:55 pm »

The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, seems to have been the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the third century B.C.E. until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 48 B.C.E. In Roman times, scholars used a related library called the Serapeum, located in another part of the city. This library was described as the "daughter library" and was also a temple to the god Serapis.

The library was conceived and opened either during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (323-283 BCE ) or during the reign of his son Ptolemy II (283-246 BCE). Plutarch (CE 46–120) wrote that during his visit to Alexandria in 48 BCE, Julius Caesar accidentally burned the library down when he set fire to his own ships to frustrate Achillas' attempt to limit his ability to communicate by sea.[1] Edward Gibbon attributed the library's demise to Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, who ordered the destruction of the Serapeum in 391.[citation needed]

Intended both as a commemoration and an emulation of the original, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2002 near the site of the old library.[2]

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