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  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina

  • Alexandria library The Ancient Alexandria Library was known as the Mouseion, it made the city the center of culture and civilization.


    The University and renowned library were built as part of the Museum in 290 BC by Ptolemy 1 Soter
    The actual founder was ?Demetrius Phalereus?, a follower of Aristotle and counselor of Ptolemy 1 Soter, who suggested to the Pharaoh the idea of establishing a great research center with a universal library attached to it.
    It was built within the vicinity of the royal palace.

    Architectural Features

    A Large complex of buildings and gardens with richly decorated lecture and banquet halls linked by colonnaded walks.
    It was part of the royal palace, it had a walk, an arcade, a large house in which was a refectory for members of the Mouseion. They formed a community who held property in common with a priest appointed by the Pharaohs in charge of the Mouseion.

    Cultural Role

    The library contained a vast collection of books, and over 700,000 scrolls and papyri
    Scientists, philosophers and artists from all the world were invited to study and enrich the university and library, Alexandria became the beacon of civilization
    During the reign of Ptolemy 3 Euergetes, the amount of books acquired exceeded the capacity of the original library, and a subsidiary "Daughter Library" was established about 235 BC in the temple of Serapis (Serapeum). The Daughter Library soon developed into a proper one.
    Some of the greatest minds of the ancient world worked there. People such as Euclid, Heron and Claudius Ptolemy the geographer and astronomer as well as Archimedes. And what of the work being done? All manner of science and mathematics, machines using gear trains were built, steam engines and jet engines were experimented with. Work in biology and medicine was advanced. Additionally, ancient texts were faithfully copied and translated. The chief Librarian of Alexandria was chosen from the most prominent scholars in science or literature, and was appointed by the Pharaoh himself.

    The Destruction

    1. In 38 BC a fire in the city and the Great Library burnt about 40,000 books, with a tremendous loss of treasures and human heritage.
    2. In 34 BC Anthony gave Cleopatra a new library of 200,000 scrolls as compensation to the original ones burnt
    3. In 269 the Great Library was partly destroyed during a military conflict between Rome and Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
      - The Daughter Library became the principle one after the burning of the Great Library
    4. In A.D. 391, the Roman Emperor Theodosius prohibited non-Christian religion, and demolished the library of Alexandria, turning the complex into a church. This marked the end of Alexandria n school of philosophy.