– Probably most of us have a vague idea of what the great library of alexandria used to be.
More than 2,000 years ago, the wisdom of centuries went up in smoke. This disaster deserves the title: “the most destructive fire in the history of human culture.”
47 years before the birth of Christ, most of the world’s recorded knowledge was gathered in one place: The city of Alexandria on the mediterranean coast of egypt.
– The great library of alexandria was world famous as a nucleus for science and literature. Built in the third century b.c., the library had a most astonishing goal: to possess a copy of every written work known to man.
Its collection eventually grew to more than 700,000 scrolls. But the library was also a think tank and research center that attracted the best minds of the day.
People like Aristarchus, who determined that the earth revolved around the sun, 1,800 years before Copernicus and Hero, the inventor who created a working model of a steam engine nearly two millennia before James watt…
How it came to ashes:
In 47 B.C., the roman dictator Julius caesar came to Alexandria to settle a dispute. Meanwhile the young Cleopatra was locked in a power struggle for the throne of egypt with her younger brother Ptolemy. Obviously Caesar fell for the wiles of cleopatra, thus ptolemy rebelled.
In the battle that followed, caesar ordered his soldiers to burn the egyptian fleets lying in the harbor. The fire quickly spread from the waterfront to the great library. The flames consumed a large part of the library’s collection, marking the single greatest loss of knowledge in history.
– Some historians speculate that the fire set civilization back by a thousand years.. Who knows? If the great library at alexandria hadn’t burned, columbus may not have sailed to the new world. He might have gone to the moon.
Recently, a new library was built in alexandria, but it can never replace the ancient collection burned in the fire. It contained rare manuscripts, the comedies of aristotle, and more than 200 plays by aeschylus, classic works forever lost…