Alexandria's Library Rises Again

The ancient library of Alexandria, destroyed by fire in AD270 is to be replaced by a new great library in the city to open this year, which will also serve as a local city museum.

It was in 331 BC that Alexander the Great founded a naval base in Egypt that would forever bear his name. But it was under Alexander’s successor, Ptolemy I, that Alexandria really began to flower. Ptolemy made the city his capital and it was soon an immensely wealthy commercial centre, straddling the new trade routes between Europe and Asia. Ptolemy graced his new city by creating a great museum and library near, or perhaps within, the royal palace. Here he brought manuscripts from Aristotle’s own collection which went towards forming the basis of a collection numbering nearly three quarters of a million books.

These days we tend to think of the lighthouse built by Ptolemy’s son, Philadelphus, as a wonder of the ancient world, but it was to Alexandria’s library that scholars were drawn from all over the ancient world.

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