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THE NEW LIBRARY - Rebuilding an Ancient Glory

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Bianca
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« Reply #75 on: January 06, 2009, 08:42:18 pm »

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« Reply #76 on: January 06, 2009, 08:48:01 pm »



             








The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandrian Library) in Alexandria is a wonderful reincarnation of the famed ancient library of Alexandria. The original library held the largest collection of manuscripts in the world and was a great center of learning for 600 years until it burned down in the 3rd century. The dramatic new library, resembling an angled discus or a great sundial, was designed by a Norwegian architect and cost about $200 million.

The Library of Alexandria is of religious significance because of its original role as a temple, its historical association with such Christian theologians as Origen of Alexandria, and its collection of many religious manuscripts (including rare copies of the Qur'an). This article covers both the ancient and modern Alexandrian libraries together, as they share a common heritage and objectives.
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« Reply #77 on: January 06, 2009, 08:55:02 pm »











Alexandria was selected by Alexander the Great as the capital of his empire in 320 BC, and it soon became the most powerful and influential city in the region. The original Library of Alexandria was founded in 288 BC by Ptolemy I (Soter) under the guidance of Demetrius of Phaleron. It was a temple to the muses (Mouseion in Greek; Museum in Latin) and functioned as an academy, research center, and library. The great thinkers of the age flocked to Alexandria to study and exchange ideas.

The original library was located in the royal district of the city, with an additional building for storage on the harbor, and a "daughter library" located in the Serapeum in the southwest part of the city. As many as 700,000 scrolls, the equivalent of more than 100,000 modern printed books, filled the shelves. The library was open to scholars from all cultures and both girls and boys. At the ancient library of Alexandria:
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« Reply #78 on: January 06, 2009, 08:57:28 pm »












According to an account 100 years later, Ptolemy convened 72 rabbis to translate the Hebrew scriptures into Greek - this was the Septuagint (from the Greek word for "70"), which was the version of the Bible used by Hellenistic Jews and early Christian theologians

Aristarchus was the first person to state that the earth revolves around the sun, 1800 years before Copernicus

Eratosthenes proved that the earth was spherical and calculated its circumference with amazing accuracy, 1700 years before Columbus

Hipparchus established the first atlas of the stars and calculated the length of the solar year accurately to within 6.5 minutes

Callimachus the poet described the texts in the library organized by subject and author, becoming the father of library science

Euclid wrote his elements of geometry, the basic text studied in schools all over the world even now
Herophylus identified the brain as the controlling organ of the body and launched a new era of medicine
Manetho chronicled the pharaohs and organized Egyptian history into the dynasties we use to this day
Zenodotus and the grammarians established the basics of literary scholarship with their meticulous definition of the Homerian text for the Iliad and the Odyssey
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« Reply #79 on: January 06, 2009, 08:58:54 pm »









It is not clear exactly when the ancient Library of Alexandria was destroyed. It was probably badly damaged by fire during Julius Caesar's conquest in 48 BC and may have been destroyed along with the entire royal quarter. during the campaign of Aurelius in 272 AD. In 391 AD, the bishop of Alexandria burned the Serapeum to the ground, which finally put the institution of the library to an end.

Plans began to resurrect the ancient library and its scholarly ideals in 1974. Initiated by Alexandria University, the idea was enthusiastically supported by the international community. In 1988, UNESCO sponsored an architectural competition for designing the new library, which was won by the Norwegian firm Snøhetta.

At a conference in Aswan in 1990, funding was pledged from all over the world, especially from a number of Arab states. Construction commenced in 1994 and was completed in 2002 with a price tag of over $220 million. Today, the library receives around 800,000 visitors each year.

The modern Biblioteca Alexandrina is intended to recapture the spirit of the original Library of Alexandria as a center for learning, dialogue, and rationality. The trustees have set out these four main objectives:



to be the world's window on Egypt

to be Egypt’s window on the world

to meet the challenge of the digital age

to be a center of learning and dialogue
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« Reply #80 on: January 06, 2009, 09:00:15 pm »









The architecture of the Biblioteca Alexandrina is modern and striking, with a 160m-diameter glass-panelled roof tilted out toward the sea like a sundial. The outer wall, made of grey Aswan granite, are carved with symbols from 120 different scripts.

The spectacular Main Reading Hall covers 70,000 m² on 11 cascading levels and can accommodate 2,000 readers at any one time. It also offers 200 study rooms for scholars and researchers. The collection of books shelved throughout the reading hall have been donated from around the world and cover a wide variety of subjects and languages. The collection especially emphasizes the above-mentioned four objectives for the library that have been agreed upon by the trustees.

The Manuscript & Rare Book Exhibition Gallery is located in the heart of the Library, occupying the space of 344m2. It comprises 12 display cases, donated by Italy within the framework of the cooperation agreements between the two countries, in addition to 20 Egyptian-made display cases. Around 120 manuscripts and rare books are displayed in these cases. Two pieces of the kiswa (decorative black brocade cover, embroidered in gold with Qur'anic verses) of the Holy Kaaba adorn the walls above the Islamic manuscripts.

The Antiquities Museum within the Biblioteca Alexandrina displays the artifacts discovered at the construction site of the modern library. The collection consists of just under 1,100 pieces and documents various epochs of Egyptian civilization dating from the Pharaonic era up to the Islamic period, including the Greek civilization that arrived with the conquest of Alexander the Great and the Roman and Coptic civilizations.

Other exhibitions within the library include “Impressions of Alexandria,” a collection of original engravings, lithographs, early photographs and maps of Alexandria by artists and travelers from the 15th to the 19th centuries, and a permanent exhibition dedicated to the literary, cinematic works and paintings of the celebrated Egyptian director, production designer and film-maker, Shadi Abdel Salam.

The Biblioteca Alexandrina also contains a manuscript restoration laboratory, a planetarium (the large dome on the roof) and a grand conference center.



http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/alexandria-library-bibliotheca-alexandrina.htm
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« Reply #81 on: January 06, 2009, 09:16:16 pm »




             
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« Reply #82 on: April 27, 2009, 10:36:26 am »





             
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« Reply #83 on: April 27, 2009, 10:37:53 am »





                         
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« Reply #84 on: April 27, 2009, 10:39:30 am »

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« Reply #85 on: April 27, 2009, 10:42:15 am »





                     
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« Reply #86 on: May 06, 2009, 06:11:55 pm »










FROM THE ARCHIVES OF


SAUDIARAMCOWORLD:





                                                   Rebuilding an Ancient Glory






Written by
Jo Newson and
Larry Luxner

Where antiquity's greatest library once stood, a new world center of scholarship and research is rising, round as the moon...



Later this year, hard-hatted construction workers at a four-hectare (10-acre) site on Alexandria's hotel-studded Mediterranean coast will begin restoring the ancient world's greatest center of knowledge to its former glory.

For the workers themselves and for millions of Egyptians, the recreation of the 2300-year-old Alexandria Library has become a great source of national pride. it has been hailed by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as "a monument of civilization" which, like its ancient model, will "help strengthen the foundations of peace and promote friendship among peoples." It is the first large library to be designed and constructed with the help of the international community, the object of a massive fund-raising effort spearheaded by political and intellectual leader, including Mubarak, Kingh Hassan II of Morocco, Shaykh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, French President Francois Mitterand, Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Noor of Jordan, former Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri, Nobel laureates Naguib Mahfouz, Octavio Paz and Wole Soyinka, and former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin.

Their goal: nothing less than the construction of a $171.5 million, fully computerized library and conference center near the site of its ancient counterpart, stocked with at least four million volumes and equipped with the latest in information technology and library science.

On its completion by the end of 1997, the Bibliotheca Alexandrian, as it is being called, will become one of the world's 20 biggest national repositories of books-along with the Moscow Library, the British Library and the Library of congress in Washington, D.C. Its ultimate capacity is eight million volumes, and it will include science and calligraphy museums and a music library as well.

"The great response of the community of nations in support of the Alexandria Library project has been overwhelming," said Mubarak whose government signed an agreement in 1990 with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Qrganization (UNESCO) to raise funds for the library, in much the same way that UNESCO helped to save Egypt's Abu Simbel and Philae monuments in the 1960's and 70's (See Aramco World, July-August 1976).
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« Reply #87 on: May 06, 2009, 06:14:09 pm »









The library project is especially important to Dr. Mohsen Zahran, a professor of literature at Alexandria University and executive director of the General Organization for the Alexandria Library (GOAL). In his office in the sprawling Mediterranean port city of four million, Zahran underlined that the Alexandria Library project is significant not just for Egypt or the Middle East but for the entire world.

"Having this beacon of culture here will bring a great deal of attention and many visitors to Alexandria, but this is not the intent," Zahran said. "We have no alternative in this region but to develop the mind. Thus Egypt has been training and graduating teachers, engineers, architects and sending them to work throughout the Arab world. Yet, we do not want this new library to be in the service of Arabs only. We must rally all countries."

Historians generally agree that the ancient library was founded by Aristotle's pupil, Demetrius of Phalerum, in the fourth century BC. Demetrius, expelled from Athens, sought refuge in Alexandria, where he suggested to King Ptolemy I Soter that "he should assemble and study a collection off books on royalty and the exercise of high command," and should launch the project with volumes from Aristotle's personal library Ptolemy went further, and ordered the establishment of a library to contain "all the books of the world" and "the writings of all the nations."

No one knows with certainty what the great institution looked like, but the Greek geographer Strabo described it as part of a richly decorated complex of buildings and gardens. The whole complex was a center for learning and research, organized into faculties, whose salaried scholars were paid from they royal purse.

The library's broader mission was to rescue Greek literature from decay-almost literally, for conservation involved a perpetual battle against the disintegration of papyrus, cloth and leather scrolls, and, in its most rudimentary form, consisted simply of recopying texts. As Peter Greek points out in his 1990 book Alexander to Actium: The historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age, there was some justification for the fear that the literary heritage of classical Greece was threatened: In that era, after all, survival of texts was matter of supply and demand, and unpopular writers attracted neither scribes nor booksellers.
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« Reply #88 on: May 06, 2009, 06:15:39 pm »









By the middle of the first century BC, the Alexandria Library contained perhaps as many as 700,000 manuscripts on papyrus, all fully catalogued with a summary of their content and shelved alphabetically by author. It was the largest collection of books the world had ever seen writes Egyptian historian Mostafa El-Abbadi. Legend has it that every boat passing Alexandria's busy port had to make available any scrolls that might be of interest to the library.

As its fame spread, many noted scholars took up residence in the library, among them Herophilus, the father of anatomy (340-300 BC); Euclid, the great geometer (330-280 BC); Eratosthenes, who calculated the circumference of the Earth (284-192 BC); the grammarian and poet Callimachus (died 240 BC); Aristarchus of Samothrace, the foremost critical scholar of antiquity (died 180 BC); and Claudius Ptolemy (AD 90-168), the father of cartography (See Aramco World, May_June 1992).

The library stood for at least 300 years after its foundation, but strangely, there are few facts and many theories about the causes of its destruction and disappearance, and no certainty even about the century in which its demise took place.

Some historians believe that in Ad 30 the library was partly lost to fire and finally destroyed by earthquake others that it burned to the ground in 48 BC, when Egyptian ships attacking Julius Caesar's troops were set on fire, and the flames were carried to the library by a north wind. Another story is that, with a decline of interest in the library, manuscripts were gradually used as fuel for heating the city; another that fanatical Christians, worried by the pagan writings stored in the library, spread a rumor that gold was buried on the site; the library would thus have been gutted by searches for the treasure. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says the library's buildings were "probably" destroyed in AD 270 by Zenobia, queen of Palmyra.
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« Reply #89 on: May 06, 2009, 06:16:32 pm »









At any rate, it wasn't until 1974 that the idea of reviving the old library was taken up again. For Dr. Lotfy Dowidar, former president of the University of Alexandria, the project was a personal dream. His vision was not of a physical reconstruction of what the great library might have been; instead, he saw a modern building which would capture the spirit of the ancient institution and in that building a "new public research library which can play a comparable or even better role than the old one." University officials, realizing that neither they nor the Egyptian government could finance such an ambitious project, approached the United Nations for help.

The university formed a committee which decided to locate the reborn library on a plot of land along the Corniche, Alexandria's seaside boulevard on the Mediterranean- a site near the probable location of the original library and just around the harbor from the Mamluk citadel of Qait Bey, once the location of Alexandria's famous lighthouse (See page 18). "By the grace of God," Zahran said, "the land had stayed vacant since the British occupations."

In September 1988 an international competition was launched by UNESCO and the International Union of Architects, funded with of $600,000 from the United Nations Development Program, to find a design that would rise to the architectural challenge of providing in one structure a functional library, an inviting public building and a monument to civilization. The international jury of architects and which works "by discussion and interacting rather than dictates and manifestoes."

Seven architects- including Norwegians, two Americans, an Austrian and a Czech- two landscape architects and several consultants worked on the project. Their prize- winning design features cylindrical building, set in a pool, with an L-shape cut out of its plan; the cylinder's gridded glass roof slants downward until part of it disappears below ground level.

The architects were concerned that the new building should be a part of the site, "growing from the ground it rests in and upon." At the same time, they wanted it to be distinguished from the skyline around the harbor and create a strong new image. "The new library had to be monumental, because of the power of the ideas represented by its history," said Craig Dykers, one of the American architects who helped design the 10-sotry structure for Snøhetta. Per Morten Josefson, one of the team's Norwegian architects, called the massive scale and simplicity of the building, which evoke Egypt's great monuments, the most important feature of the design.
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