Probably every educated person heard about one of the most famous libraries – Bibliotheca Alexandrina, as they called it the ancient Greeks and Egyptians – with which Alexander has become a place of pilgrimage of the greatest minds of the world, not only in ancient times, but in our time.
In ancient times, Alexandria was known for unique lighthouse and the tomb of Alexander the Great. Lighthouse height over 110 meters was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Greek Ptolemaic dynasty, who inherited Egypt from Alexander the Great, ruled the country before 30 BC. e. Octavian not defeated Antony and Cleopatra. Ptolemy’s dynasty at Alexandria has changed. The city became a center of commerce and culture in the world. At its peak of development there were about 600,000 people living in the city. The biggest attraction of Alexandria at the time was the royal library. Founded at the beginning of III century BC, the library and a temple of the Muses – Museion – became the center of education and science in the Hellenistic world. Almost everything about the origin and destruction of the library is covered with mystery. According to some historians, the Library of Alexandria, almost immediately after the foundation,could compete with other prominent cultural center at the time, to the library at Pergamum. It is assumed that the Library of Alexandria, there were more than 700,000 papyrus scrolls. (For comparison, in the XIV century in the library of the Sorbonne was the largest collection of books – 1,700 copies). There is even legend about the rulers of Egypt, who sought to supplement their collection in any way possible for them: they even ordered their troops to scour every ship coming into the port to find any manuscript. If any were found, they would leave it there, and return a copy to the owners. According to another legend, when Ptolemy III of Athens was temporarily brought priceless original classical Greek drama to rewrite them, he even promised to pay the deposit and return after the completion of this valuable manuscript. However, having obtained the manuscript, the king refused to give bail, and left in their original, sent back a copy.
Creating the Library of Alexandria is closely related to the Museion of Alexandria, founded about 295 BC the initiative of two Athenian philosophers Demetrius Phaleron and Strato-physicist, who arrived in Alexandria at the invitation of Ptolemy I to III in the beginning. BC. e. Since both of these men were also mentors royal sons, one of the most important functions, and perhaps the first task of the newly created Museion was to provide the highest level of education heirs to the throne, and to the rising generation of the elite of Egypt. In the future, it is quite combined with sterling research work in various fields of knowledge. However, both activities Museion, of course, have been impossible without the existence of scientific and academic libraries. So there is every reason to believe that the Library as part of new scientific and educational complex was founded in the same year that he himself Museion, or after a very short time after the beginning of its operation. In favor of the version at the same time base Museion and libraries may also indicate that the library is a mandatory and integral part of the Athenian Lyceum, which, no doubt, and served as a prototype for the creation of Alexandria Museion.
The original library fund of $ 200,000 was collected books Demetrius Phaleron in the first ten years of operation of the Library. Thus we get a fairly accurate quantitative description of the role of Demetrius Phaleron in creating the Library of Alexandria.
However, the role of Demetrius Phaleron is not confined to the disposal of the funds of the library and the formation of its book collection. First of all, should convince King Ptolemy I Soter in the need for the existence of unprecedented scale of the Library. Apparently, this problem is more complex than can be presented after more than two thousand years, during the existence of a well-developed network of libraries of all sizes and status, from personal to national. Additional difficulties, of course, involved the fact that the new case required a rather large funds that were needed to maintain the monarchy young army and navy, an active domestic and foreign policy, trade, large-scale construction in Alexandria and elsewhere in the country, etc ., etc. This Demetrius Phaleron certainly knew how to use his position near the king’s advisor and legal capital of the Ptolemaic Alexandria. Using his own authority, he argued the need for an open library that “what is in the battle strength steel, is in the state power of the word” that for the successful management of a multinational state is not enough to enter the king of a new syncretic cult deity, which is the cult of Serapis, but also requires a deep knowledge of the traditions, history, laws and beliefs of the peoples of the state. In other cases, deliberately downplaying his own importance as a close friend and adviser, Demetrius Phaleron said that “in the books written by what friends are hesitant to speak to kings in the face”.
Thus, no doubt, for the early opening of the library Demetrius used his status of being educator one of the heirs to the throne, urging Ptolemy Soter that learning wisdom by reading the best books will also help continuity of power, prosperity of the country and the ruling dynasty. Apparently, it was quite a serious argument for the king, who, as a childhood friend of Alexander the Great, of course, had before him a very powerful example of the beneficial effects of the books from the collection of Aristotle’s greatest kings of his time.
At the library and the Museion of Alexandria by this time worked such great thinkers as: Eratosthenes, Zenodota, Aristarchus of Samos, Callimachus and other. Sciences which Alexandria was famous for includes geometry, trigonometry and astronomy, as well as linguistics, literature and medicine. The library kept the works in many different languages. Only to think, that in the world there was not a single valuable work, copies of which would not be in the Library of Alexandria. This was a repository of not only the scrolls, but stone and wax tablets with cuneiform and hieroglyphics. Alexandria library was open to the public and was considered as a holy place, not inferior in importance to many religious temples. But the glory to the Library of Alexandria has brought not so much the number of collected scrolls, and not even the fact that shortly after she became a collection of works of philosophers and scientists from around the world, including Archimedes, Heron, Euclid, and Hippocrates. Page on the most legendary stories within the world history, library of Alexandria brought with its downfall.
There are many legends about the downfall of the Library of Alexandria. Some researchers believe that many of its treasures were lost in a fire, arranged by soldiers of Julius Caesar in 47 BC Alexandria during the war. The downfall of the Library of Alexandria was attributed as well to successor Caesar – Emperor Augustus. There is also a version that, in times of religious strife, from III to VI century BC. e. Alexandria often clashed on religious grounds: the pagans, Jews and Christians were often in conflict with each other over beliefs. In 391 AD part of ancient manuscripts, together with the pagan temple of Serapeum, attached to the stacks, were allegedly destroyed by religious fanatics. The most popular version of the death of the famous library dates back to the Arab conquest. Sources indicate that it died in the great fire during the capture of the city of Alexandria by the Ottoman Turks. According to the legend, conquering Egypt, general AmrIbn al-’Asasked to the Caliph Omar, what to do with the library. He replied that, even if the books, stored in the library, were in agreement with the Qur’an – they were not needed anymore. And moreover, if they contradict with their holy book – they are not desirable even more, and therefore, they should be disposed of it any way. Thus, according to one version, the greatest library since antiquity was destroyed like this, recklessly. Nevertheless, there is lot variety of versions among the experts about the downfall of the library, and scientists are still debating how and when it disappeared.
Whatever the reason for the disappearance of the library was, its death in the first place, meant the loss of a huge store of knowledge. Thousands of works of Greek playwrights, as well as works by the Greek historians for 500 years, except for some works of Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon disappeared forever with this vandal act.
In 2002, a unique library, was lost 1,600 years ago, was restored thanks to the joint efforts of UNESCO, the governments of Egypt, a number of European and Arab countries as well as Japan.
Library building on the project worked Norwegian architects. Construction work lasted 7 years. Recreated Library of Alexandria, by Norwegian architects, looks very unusual. The main building looks like a giant tilted drum, the roof of which almost two football fields, is made of glass and aluminum. Basic facilities for visitors are below sea level. Smooth radiant roof slope gradually down from the height of the seventh floor and goes into the ground. The outer wall of the building, lined with gray granite, is steep and rounded. The letters of the ancient and modern alphabets are scripted on it. Spacious tiered reading room occupies most of the interior. Warehouse to store 8000000 volumes are in the basement of the building. There is also a planetarium – separate building of spherical shape, resembling a satellite in orbit. Modern computers and fire safety systems complement this system, created with the latest technology.
Thus, renewed Library of Alexandria offers visitors possibility to realize the main intention of the Project itself. This project was supplemented by UNESCO to re-establish the Dialog, freedom of opinion and to surpass all the differences. Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a cultural complex, where the library occupies the central place. It is primarily a national Institution, which as well hasan immeasurable international importance. As a result what could be said is that, this is the place, where all Cultures connect and eliminate all Frontiers, in the name of Knowledge.