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Library of Alexandria (Original)

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Raven
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« Reply #75 on: April 01, 2008, 01:32:16 pm »

 
Chronos

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Moving this up so I can find it and begin adding to it again later...

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« Reply #76 on: April 01, 2008, 01:32:42 pm »

Chronos

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Amazing. It's been over a year since I last added to this. Time flies...

Galen

Claudius Galenus of Pergamum (131-201 AD), better known as Galen, was an ancient Greek physician. His views dominated European medicine for over a thousand years.

Life

Galen was born in Pergamum (modern-day Bergama, Turkey), the son of Nicon, a wealthy architect. His interests were eclectic - agriculture, architecture, astronomy, astrology, philosophy - until he concentrated on medicine.

By the age of twenty he had become a therapeutes ("attendant" or "associate") of the god Asclepius in the local temple for four years. After his father's death in 148 or 149 he left to study abroad. He studied in Smyrna and Corinth and at Alexandria. He studied medicine for a total of twelve years. When he returned to Pergamum in 157, he worked as a physician in a gladiator school for three or four years. During this time he gained experience of trauma and wound treatment. He later regarded wounds as "windows into the body".

From 162 he lived in Rome where he wrote extensively, lectured and publicly demonstrated his knowledge of anatomy. He gained a reputation as an experienced physician and his practice had widespread clientele. One of them was the consul Flavius Boethius who introduced him to the court where he became a court physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Later he also treated Lucius Verus, Commodus and Septimius Severus. Reputedly he spoke mostly Greek, which was a more respected language of medicine than Latin at the time. He briefly returned to Pergamum during 166-169.

Galen spent the rest of his life in the Imperial court, writing and experimenting. He performed vivisections of numerous animals to study the function of the kidneys and the spinal cord. His favorite subject was the barbary ape. Reportedly he employed twenty scribes to write down his words. In 191, fire in the Temple of Peace destroyed some of his records. His exact date of death has traditionally been placed around the year 200, based on a reference from the 10th century Suda Lexicon. Some, however, have argued for dates as late as 216.

Work and impact

Galen transmitted Hippocratic medicine all the way to the Renaissance. His On the Elements According to Hippocrates describes the philosopher's system of four bodily humours, which were identified with the four classical elements. He created his own theories from those principles. In turn, he mainly ignored Latin writings of Celsus.

Amongst Galen's own major works is a seventeen-volume On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Human Body. He also wrote about philosophy and philology. His collected works total twenty-two volumes.

Galen's own theories, in accord with Plato's, emphasized purposeful creation by a single Creator ("Nature" - Greek phusis) - a major reason why later Christian and Muslim scholars could accept his views. His fundamental principle of life was pneuma (air, breath) that later writers connected with the soul. Pneuma physicon (animal spirit) in the brain took care of movement, perception, and senses. Pneuma zoticon (vital spirit) in the heart controlled blood and body temperature. "Natural spirit" in the liver handled nutrition and metabolism.

Galen expanded his knowledge partly by experimenting with live animals. One of his methods was to publicly dissect a living pig and cut its nerve bundles one at a time. Eventually he cut a laryngeal nerve (now also known as Galen's Nerve) and the pig stopped squealing. He tied the ureters of living animals to show that urine comes from the kidneys. He severed spinal cords to demonstrate paralysis.

From the modern viewpoint, Galen's theories were partially correct, partially flawed. He demonstrated that arteries carry blood, not air and made first studies about nerve functions, and the brain and heart. He also argued that the mind was in the brain, not in the heart as Aristotle had claimed.

However, much of Galen's understanding is flawed from the modern point of view. He did not recognize blood circulation and thought that venous and arterial systems were separate. This view did not change until William Harvey's work in the 17th century. Since most of his knowledge of anatomy was based on dissection of pigs, dogs, and Barbary apes, he also assumed that rete mirabile, a blood vessel plexus of ungulates, also existed in the human body. He also resisted the idea of tourniquets to stop bleeding and vigorously propagated blood letting as a treatment.

Galen's authority dominated medicine all the way to the 16th century. Experimenters' disciples did not bother to experiment and studies of physiology and anatomy stopped - Galen had already written about everything. Blood letting became a standard medical procedure. Vesalius presented the first serious challenge to his hegemony.

Much of medieval Islamic medicine drew on the works of the ancient Greeks, especially those elucidated by Galen, such as his expanded humoral theory. Most of Galen's Greek writings were first translated to the Syriac language by Nestorian monks in the university of Gundishapur, Persia. Muslim scholars primarily in Baghdad translated the Syriac manuscripts into Arabic, along with many other Greek classics. They became some of the main sources for Arabian scholars such as Avicenna, Rhazes, and Maimonides.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galen

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« Reply #77 on: April 01, 2008, 01:37:07 pm »

Chronos

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Archimedes

Archimedes (Greek: Αρχιμηδης ) (287 BC–212 BC) was an ancient mathematician, physicist, engineer, astronomer and philosopher born in the Greek seaport colony of Syracuse. He is considered by some math historians to be one of history's greatest mathematicians, along with possibly Newton, Gauss and Euler.

Discoveries and inventions

The Archimedes' screw lifts water to higher levels for irrigationArchimedes became a popular figure as a result of his involvement in the defense of Syracuse against the Roman siege in the First and Second Punic Wars. He is reputed to have held the Romans at bay with war machines of his own design; to have been able to move a full-size ship complete with crew and cargo by pulling a single rope[1]; to have discovered the principles of density and buoyancy, also known as Archimedes' principle, while taking a bath (thereupon taking to the streets naked calling "Eureka" - "I have found it!"); and to have invented the irrigation device known as Archimedes' screw.

He has also been credited with the possible invention of the odometer during the First Punic War. One of his inventions used for military defense of Syracuse against the invading Romans was the claw of Archimedes.

It is said that he prevented one Roman attack on Syracuse by using a large array of mirrors (speculated to have been highly polished shields) to reflect sunlight onto the attacking ships causing them to catch fire. This popular legend was tested on the Discovery Channel's MythBusters program. After a number of experiments, whereby the hosts of the program tried burning a model wooden ship with a variety of mirrors, they concluded that the enemy ships would have had to have been virtually motionless and very close to shore for them to ignite, an unlikely scenario during a battle. A group at MIT subsequently performed their own tests and concluded that the mirror weapon was a possibility [2], although later tests of their system showed it to be ineffective in conditions that more closely matched the described siege [3].

Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier in the sack of Syracuse during the Second Punic War, despite orders from the Roman general, Marcellus, that he was not to be harmed. The Greeks said that he was killed while drawing an equation in the sand; engrossed in his diagram and impatient with being interrupted, he is said to have muttered his famous last words before being slain by an enraged Roman soldier: Μὴ μοὺ τους κύκλους τάραττε ("Don't disturb my circles"). This story was sometimes told to contrast the Greek high-mindedness with Roman ham-handedness; however, it should be noted that Archimedes designed the siege engines that devastated a substantial Roman invasion force, so his death may have been out of retribution.

In creativity and insight, he exceeded any other mathematician prior to the European Renaissance. In a civilization with an awkward numeral system and a language in which "a myriad" (literally "ten thousand") meant "infinity", he invented a positional numeral system and used it to write numbers up to 1064. He devised a heuristic method based on statistics to do private calculation that we would classify today as integral calculus, but then presented rigorous geometric proofs for his results. To what extent he actually had a correct version of integral calculus is debatable. He proved that the ratio of a circle's perimeter to its diameter is the same as the ratio of the circle's area to the square of the radius. He did not call this ratio π but he gave a procedure to approximate it to arbitrary accuracy and gave an approximation of it as between 3 + 1/7 and 3 + 10/71. He was the first, and possibly the only, Greek mathematician to introduce mechanical curves (those traced by a moving point) as legitimate objects of study. He proved that the area enclosed by a parabola and a straight line is 4/3 the area of a triangle with equal base and height. (See the illustration below. The "base" is any secant line, not necessarily orthogonal to the parabola's axis; "the same base" means the same "horizontal" component of the length of the base; "horizontal" means orthogonal to the axis. "Height" means the length of the segment parallel to the axis from the vertex to the base. The vertex must be so placed that the two horizontal distances mentioned in the illustration are equal.)


In the process, he calculated the oldest known example of a geometric series with the ratio 1/4:

If the first term in this series is the area of the triangle in the illustration then the second is the sum of the areas of two triangles whose bases are the two smaller secant lines in the illustration. Essentially, this paragraph summarizes the proof. Archimedes also gave a quite different proof of nearly the same proposition by a method using infinitesimals (see "How Archimedes used infinitesimals").

He proved that the area and volume of the sphere are in the same ratio to the area and volume of a circumscribed straight cylinder, a result he was so proud of that he made it his epitaph.

Archimedes is probably also the first mathematical physicist on record, and the best before Galileo and Newton. He invented the field of statics, enunciated the law of the lever, the law of equilibrium of fluids and the law of buoyancy. (He famously discovered the latter when he was asked to determine whether a crown had been made of pure gold, or gold adulterated with silver; he realized that the rise in the water level when it was immersed would be equal to the volume of the crown, and the decrease in the weight of the crown would be in proportion; he could then compare those with the values of an equal weight of pure gold). He was the first to identify the concept of center of gravity, and he found the centers of gravity of various geometric figures, assuming uniform density in their interiors, including triangles, paraboloids, and hemispheres. Using only ancient Greek geometry, he also gave the equilibrium positions of floating sections of paraboloids as a function of their height, a feat that would be taxing to a modern physicist using calculus.

Apart from general physics he was an astronomer, and Cicero writes that the Roman consul Marcellus brought two devices back to Rome from the sacked city of Syracuse. One device mapped the sky on a sphere and the other predicted the motions of the sun and the moon and the planets (i.e., an orrery). He credits Thales and Eudoxus for constructing these devices. For some time this was assumed to be a legend of doubtful nature, but the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism has changed the view of this issue, and it is indeed probable that Archimedes possessed and constructed such devices. Pappus of Alexandria writes that Archimedes had written a practical book on the construction of such spheres entitled On Sphere-Making.

Archimedes' works were not widely recognized, even in antiquity. He and his contemporaries probably constitute the peak of Greek mathematical rigour. During the Middle Ages the mathematicians who could understand Archimedes' work were few and far between. Many of his works were lost when the library of Alexandria was burnt (twice) and survived only in Latin or Arabic translations. As a result, his mechanical method was lost until around 1900, after the arithmetization of analysis had been carried out successfully. We can only speculate about the effect that the "method" would have had on the development of calculus had it been known in the 16th and 17th centuries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archimedes

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« Reply #78 on: April 01, 2008, 01:37:34 pm »

Chronos

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Writings by Archimedes

On the Equilibrium of Planes (2 volumes)
This scroll explains the law of the lever and uses it to calculate the areas and centers of gravity of various geometric figures.
On Spirals
In this scroll, Archimedes defines what is now called Archimedes' spiral. This is the first mechanical curve (i.e., traced by a moving point) ever considered by a Greek mathematician. Using this curve, he was able to square the circle.
On the Sphere and The Cylinder
In this scroll Archimedes obtains the result he was most proud of: that the area and volume of a sphere are in the same relationship to the area and volume of the circumscribed straight cylinder.
On Conoids and Spheroids
In this scroll Archimedes calculates the areas and volumes of sections of cones, spheres and paraboloids.
On Floating Bodies (2 volumes)
In the first part of this scroll, Archimedes spells out the law of equilibrium of fluids, and proves that water around a center of gravity will adopt a spherical form. This is probably an attempt at explaining the observation made by Greek astronomers that the Earth is round. Note that his fluids are not self-gravitating: he assumes the existence of a point towards which all things fall and derives the spherical shape. One is led to wonder what he would have done had he struck upon the idea of universal gravitation.
In the second part, a veritable tour-de-force, he calculates the equilibrium positions of sections of paraboloids. This was probably an idealization of the shapes of ships' hulls. Some of his sections float with the base under water and the summit above water, which is reminiscent of the way icebergs float, although Archimedes probably was not thinking of this application.
The Quadrature of the Parabola
In this scroll, Archimedes calculates the area of a segment of a parabola (the figure delimited by a parabola and a secant line not necessarily perpendicular to the axis). The final answer is obtained by triangulating the area and summing the geometric series with ratio 1/4.
Stomachion
This is a Greek puzzle similar to Tangram. In this scroll, Archimedes calculates the areas of the various pieces. This may be the first reference we have to this game. Recent discoveries indicate that Archimedes was attempting to determine how many ways the strips of paper could be assembled into the shape of a square. This is possibly the first use of combinatorics to solve a problem.
Archimedes' Cattle Problem
Archimedes wrote a letter to the scholars in the Library of Alexandria, who apparently had downplayed the importance of Archimedes' works. In these letters, he dares them to count the numbers of cattle in the Herd of the Sun by solving a number of simultaneous Diophantine equations, some of them quadratic (in the more complicated version). This problem is one of the famous problems solved with the aid of a computer. The solution is a very large number, approximately 7.760271 × 10206544 (See the external links to the Cattle Problem.)
The Sand Reckoner
In this scroll, Archimedes counts the number of grains of sand fitting inside the universe. This book mentions Aristarchus' theory of the solar system, contemporary ideas about the size of the Earth and the distance between various celestial bodies. From the introductory letter we also learn that Archimedes' father was an astronomer.
"The Method"
In this work, which was unknown in the Middle Ages, but the importance of which was realised after its discovery, Archimedes pioneered the use of infinitesimals, showing how breaking up a figure in an infinite number of infinitely small parts could be used to determine its area or volume. Archimedes did probably consider these methods not mathematically precise, and he used these methods to find at least some of the areas or volumes he sought, and then used the more traditional method of exhaustion to prove them. This particular work is found in what is called the Archimedes Palimpsest. Some details can be found at how Archimedes used infinitesimals.

[ 12-21-2005, 12:16 PM: Message edited by: Chronos ]

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« Reply #79 on: April 01, 2008, 01:38:49 pm »

 
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Quotes about Archimedes
"Perhaps the best indication of what Archimedes truly loved most is his request that his tombstone include a cylinder circumscribing a sphere, accompanied by the inscription of his amazing theorem that the sphere is exactly two-thirds of the circumscribing cylinder in both surface area and volume!" (Laubenbacher and Pengelley, p. 95)1
"...but regarding the work of an engineer and every art that ministers the needs of life as ignoble and vulgar, he devoted his earnest efforts only to those studies the subtlety and charm of which are not affected by the claims of necessity."
Plutarch, possibly explaining why Archimedes produced no writings that describe precisely the design of his inventions. It has also been suggested that this statement merely reflects the prejudices of Plutarch and his peers, influenced by Platonic beliefs in pure reasoning and deduction over experimentation and inductive processes. Given Archimedes's prodigious output as an engineer, Plutarch's often quoted comments on him seem hard to believe by modern historians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archimedes

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« Reply #80 on: April 01, 2008, 01:42:19 pm »

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The Royal Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt was once the largest in the world. It is generally assumed to have been founded at the beginning of the 3rd century BC, during the reign of Ptolemy II of Egypt, after Ptolemy's father had raised what would become the first part of the library complex, the temple of the Muses—the Musaeum (whence we get museum).

At its peak, the Royal Library is believed to have held anywhere between 40,000 to 700,000 books and was initially organized by Demetrius Phalereus. It has been reasonably established that the library was destroyed by fire yet, to this day, the details of the destruction or destructions remain a lively source of controversy.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2003 near the site of the old library

Overview

One story holds that the Library was seeded with Aristotle's own private collection, through one of his students, Demetrius Phalereus. Another story concerns how its collection grew so large: By decree of Ptolemy III of Egypt, all visitors to the city were required to surrender all books and scrolls in their possession; these writings were then swiftly copied by official scribes. The originals were put into the Library, and the copies were delivered to the previous owners. While encroaching on the rights of the traveler or merchant, it also helped to create a reservoir of books in the relatively new city.

The Library's contents were likely distributed over several buildings, with the main library either located directly attached to or close to the oldest building, the Museum, and a daughter library in the younger Serapeum, also a temple dedicated to the god Serapis. Carlton Welch provides the following description of the main library based on the existing historical records:

In this reconstruction, the doors from the Museum lead to storage rooms for the Library. Most of the books were probably stored in armaria, closed, labeled cupboards that were still used for book storage in medieval times.
A covered marble colonnade connected the Museum with an adjacent stately building, also in white marble and stone, architecturally harmonious, indeed forming an integral part of the vast pile, dedicated to learning by the wisdom of the first Ptolemy in following the advice and genius of Demetrios of Phaleron. This was the famous Library of Alexandria, the "Mother" library of the Museum, the Alexandriana, truly the foremost wonder of the ancient world. Here in ten great Halls, whose ample walls were lined with spacious armaria, numbered and titled, were housed the myriad manuscripts containing the wisdom, knowledge, and information, accumulated by the genius of the Hellenic peoples. Each of the ten Halls was assigned to a separate department of learning embracing the assumed ten divisions of Hellenic knowledge as may have been found in the Catalogue of Callimachus of Greek Literature in the Alexandrian Library, the farfamed Pinakes. The Halls were used by the scholars for general research, although there were smaller separate rooms for individuals or groups engaged in special studies.

In 2004 a Polish-Egyptian team claimed to have discovered a part of the library while excavating in the Bruchion region. The archaeologists claimed to have found thirteen "lecture halls", each with a central podium. Zahi Hawass, president of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said that all together, the rooms uncovered so far could have seated 5000 students.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_alexandria

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« Reply #81 on: April 02, 2008, 01:11:59 pm »

Destruction of the Great Library

One of the reasons so little is known about the Library is that it was lost centuries after its creation. All that is left of many of the volumes are tantalizing titles that hint at all the history lost from the building's destruction. Few events in ancient history are as controversial as the destruction of the Library, as the historical record is both contradictory and incomplete. Not surprisingly, the Great Library became a symbol for knowledge itself, and its destruction was attributed to those who were portrayed as ignorant barbarians, often for purely political reasons.

Much of the debate rests on a different understanding of what constituted the actual Library. Large parts of the Library were likely decentralized, so it is appropriate also to speak of the "Alexandrian libraries." Both the Serapeum, a temple and daughter library, and the Museum itself existed until about AD 400. Only if one believes the Museum to be distinct from the Great Library, an event of destruction prior to that point becomes plausible.

One account of such an event of destruction concerns Julius Caesar. During his invasion of Alexandria in 48 BC–47 BC, Caesar set the enemy fleet in the harbor on fire. Some historians believe that this fire spread into the city and destroyed the entire library. While this interpretation is now a minority view, it is based on several ancient sources, all of which were written at least about 150 years after the destruction supposedly took place. Edward Parsons has analyzed the Caesar theory in his book The Alexandrian Library and summarizes the sources as follows:

A final summary is interesting: of the 16 writers, 10—Caesar himself, the author of The Alexandrian War, Cicero, Strabo, Livy (as far as we know), Lucan, Florus, Suetonius, Appian, and even Athenaeus—apparently knew nothing of the burning of the Museum, of the library, or of books during Caesar's visit to Egypt; and six tell of the incident as follows:

Seneca (AD 49), the first writer to mention it (and that nearly 100 years after the alleged event), definitely says that 40,000 books were burned.
Plutarch (c. 117) says that the fire destroyed the great Library.
Aulus Gellius (123–169) says that during the "sack" of Alexandria 700,000 volumes were all burned.
Dio Cassius (155–235) says that storehouses containing grain and books were burned, and that these books were of great number and excellence.
Ammianus Marcellinus (390) says that in the "sack" of the city 70,000 volumes were burned.
Orosius (c. 415), the last writer, singularly confirms Seneca as to number and the thing destroyed: 40,000 books.
Of all the sources, Plutarch is the only one to refer explicitly to the destruction of the Library. Plutarch was also the first writer to refer to Caesar by name. Ammianus Marcellinus' account seems to be directly based on Aulus Gellius because the wording is almost the same.

The majority of ancient historians, even those strongly politically opposed to Caesar, give no account of the alleged massive disaster. Cecile Orru argued in Antike Bibliotheken (2002, edited by Wolfgang Höpfner) that Caesar could not have destroyed the Library because it was located in the royal quarter of the city, where Caesar's troops were fortified after the fire (which would not have been possible if the fire had spread to that location).

Furthermore, the Library was a very large stone building and the scrolls were stored away in armaria (and some of them put in capsules), so it is hard to see how a fire in the harbor could have affected a significant part of its contents. Lastly, modern archaeological finds have confirmed an extensive ancient water supply network which covered the major parts of the city, including, of course, the royal quarter.

The destruction of the library is attributed by some historians to a period of civil war in the late 3rd century AD — but we know that the Museum, which was adjacent to the library, survived until the 4th century. There are also allegations dating to medieval times that claim that Caliph Omar, during an invasion in the 7th century, ordered the Library to be destroyed, but these claims are generally regarded as a Christian attack on Muslims, and include many indications of fabrication, such as the claim that the contents of the Library took six months to burn in Alexandria's public baths. The legend of Caliph Omar's destruction of the library provides the classical example of a dilemma: Omar is reported to have said that if the books of the library did not contain the teachings of the Qur'an, they were useless and should be destroyed; if the books did contain the teachings of the Qur'an, they were superfluous and should be destroyed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_alexandria

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« Reply #82 on: April 02, 2008, 01:13:39 pm »

Evidence for the existence of the Library after Caesar

As noted above, it is generally accepted that the Museum of Alexandria existed until c. AD 400, and if the Museum and the Library are considered to be largely identical or attached to one another, earlier accounts of destruction could only concern a small number of books stored elsewhere. This is consistent with the number given by Seneca, much smaller than the overall volume of books in the Library. So under this interpretation it is plausible that, for example, books stored in a warehouse near the harbor were accidentally destroyed by Caesar, and that larger numbers cited in some works have to be considered unreliable -- misinterpretations by the medieval monks who preserved these works through the Middle Ages, or deliberate forgeries.


Inscription referring to the Alexandrian library, dated AD 56Even if one considers the Museum and the Library to be very much separate, there is considerable evidence that the Library continued to exist after the alleged destruction. Plutarch, who claimed the Great Library was destroyed (150 years after the alleged incident), in Life of Antony describes the later transfer of the second largest library to Alexandria by Mark Antony as a gift to Cleopatra. He quotes Calvisius as claiming "that [Mark Antony] had given her the library of Pergamus, containing two hundred thousand distinct volumes", although he himself finds Calvisius' claims hard to believe. In "Einführung in die Überlieferungsgeschichte" (1994, p. 39), Egert Pöhlmann cites further expansions of the Alexandrian libraries by Caesar Augustus (in the year AD 12) and Claudius (AD 41-54). Even if the most extreme allegations against Caesar were true, this raises the question of what happened to these volumes.

The continued existence of the Library is also supported by an ancient inscription found in the early 20th century, dedicated to Tiberius Claudius Balbillus of Rome (d. AD 56). As noted in the "Handbuch der Bibliothekswissenschaft" (Georg Leyh, Wiesbaden 1955):

"We have to understand the office which Ti. Claudius Balbillus held [...], which included the title 'supra Museum et ab Alexandrina bibliotheca', to have combined the direction of the Museum with that of the united libraries, as an academy."
Athenaeus (c. AD 200) wrote in detail in the Deipnosophistae about the wealth of Ptolemy II (309-246 BC) and the type and number of his ships. When it came to the Library and Museum, he wrote: "Why should I now have to point to the books, the establishment of libraries and the collection in the Museum, when this is in every man's memory?" Given the context of his statement, and the fact that the Museum still existed at the time, it is clear that Athenaeus cannot have referred to any event of destruction -- he considered both facilities to be so famous that it was not necessary for him to describe them in detail. We must therefore conclude that at least some of the Alexandrian libraries were still in operation at the time.

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« Reply #83 on: April 02, 2008, 01:14:05 pm »

Destruction of the pagan temples by Theophilus]

In the late 4th century, persecution of pagans by Christians had reached new levels of intensity. Temples and statues were destroyed throughout the Roman Empire, pagan rituals forbidden under punishment of death, and libraries closed. In 391, Emperor Theodosius ordered the destruction of all pagan temples, and Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria complied with this request. Socrates Scholasticus provides the following account of the destruction of the temples in Alexandria:

(Illustration here)

5th century scroll which illustrates the destruction of the Serapeum by Theophilus (source: Christopher Haas: Alexandria in late antiquity, Baltimore 1997)"Demolition of the Idolatrous Temples at Alexandria, and the Consequent Conflict between the Pagans and Christians."

"At the solicitation of Theophilus bishop of Alexandria the emperor issued an order at this time for the demolition of the heathen temples in that city; commanding also that it should be put in execution under the direction of Theophilus. Seizing this opportunity, Theophilus exerted himself to the utmost to expose the pagan mysteries to contempt. And to begin with, he caused the Mithreum to be cleaned out, and exhibited to public view the tokens of its bloody mysteries. Then he destroyed the Serapeum, and the bloody rites of the Mithreum he publicly caricatured; the Serapeum also he showed full of extravagant superstitions, and he had the phalli of Priapus carried through the midst of the forum. [...] Thus this disturbance having been terminated, the governor of Alexandria, and the commander-in-chief of the troops in Egypt, assisted Theophilus in demolishing the heathen temples. These were therefore razed to the ground, and the images of their gods molten into pots and other convenient utensils for the use of the Alexandrian church; for the emperor had instructed Theophilus to distribute them for the relief of the poor. All the images were accordingly broken to pieces, except one statue of the god before mentioned, which Theophilus preserved and set up in a public place; 'Lest,' said he, 'at a future time the heathens should deny that they had ever worshiped such gods.'"
The Serapeum housed part of the Library, but it is not known how many books were contained in it at the time of destruction. Notably, Paulus Orosius admitted in his History against the pagans: "[T]oday there exist in temples book chests which we ourselves have seen, and, when these temples were plundered, these, we are told, were emptied by our own men in our time, which, indeed, is a true statement." Some or all of the books may have been taken, but any books left in the Serapeum at the time would have been destroyed when it was razed to the ground.

As for the Museum, Mostafa El-Abbadi writes in Life and Fate of the ancient Library of Alexandria (Paris 1992):

"The Mouseion, being at the same time a 'shrine of the Muses', enjoyed a degree of sanctity as long as other pagan temples remained unmolested. Synesius of Cyrene, who studied under Hypatia at the end of the fourth century, saw the Mouseion and described the images of the philosophers in it. We have no later reference to its existence in the fifth century. As Theon, the distinguished mathematician and father of Hypatia, herself a renowned scholar, was the last recorded scholar-member (c. 380), it is likely that the Mouseion did not long survive the promulgation of Theodosius' decree in 391 to destroy all pagan temples in the City."

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« Reply #84 on: April 02, 2008, 01:14:39 pm »

Conclusions

There is a growing consensus among historians that the Library of Alexandria likely suffered from several destructive events, but that the destruction of Alexandria's pagan temples in the late 4th century was probably the most severe and final one. The evidence for that destruction is the most definitive and secure. Caesar's invasion may well have led to the loss of some 40,000-70,000 scrolls in a warehouse adjacent to the port (as Luciano Canfora argues, they were likely copies produced by the Library intended for export), but it is unlikely to have affected the Library or Museum, given that there is ample evidence that both existed later.

Civil wars, decreasing investments in maintenance and acquisition of new scrolls and generally declining interest in non-religious pursuits likely contributed to a reduction in the body of material available in the Library, especially in the fourth century. The Serapeum was certainly destroyed by Theophilus in 391, and the Museum and Library may have fallen victim to the same campaign.

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« Reply #85 on: April 02, 2008, 01:16:46 pm »

Other libraries of the ancient world

The libraries of Ugarit (in modern Syria), ca 1200 BC, include diplomatic archives, literary works and the earliest privately-owned libraries yet recovered.
The library of King Ashurbanipal, in Nineveh (near modern Mosul, Iraq)— Considered to be "the first systematically collected library", it was rediscovered in the 19th century. While the library had been destroyed, many fragments of the ancient cuneiform tables survived, and have been reconstructed. Large portions of the Epic of Gilgamesh were among the many finds.
The Villa of the Papyri, in Herculaneum, Italy
— The only library known to have survived from classical antiquity, this villa's large private collection may have once belonged to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso. Buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed the town in 79 AD. Rediscovered in 1752, around 1800 carbonized scrolls were found in the villa's top storey. Using modern techniques such as multi-spectral imaging, previously illegible or invisible sections on scrolls that have been unrolled are now being deciphered. It is possible that more scrolls remain to be found in the lower, unexcavated levels of the villa.
At Pergamum (in what is now Turkey), the Attalid kings formed the second best Hellenistic library after Alexandria, founded in emulation of the Ptolemies. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competitors and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergamum or parchment after the city. This was made of fine calfskin, a predecessor of vellum and paper.
Caesarea Palaestina, located in present-day Israel, had a great early Christian library. Through Origen and the scholarly priest Pamphilus, the theological school of Caesarea won a reputation for having the most extensive ecclesiastical library of the time, containing more than 30,000 manuscripts: Gregory, Basil the Great, Jerome and others came to study there.
The great seats of learning in ancient India, namely Takshasila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Kanchi and other universities also maintained vast libraries of palm leaf manuscripts of various subjects, ranging from theology to astronomy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_alexandria

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« Reply #86 on: April 02, 2008, 01:17:07 pm »

Chronos

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And, of course, Merry Christmas to everyone.

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« Reply #87 on: April 02, 2008, 01:17:27 pm »

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Merry Christmas back atcha.
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« Reply #88 on: April 02, 2008, 01:17:45 pm »

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Chronos has asked that I move his topic to "Other Ancient Mysteries".

You will find it there.

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« Reply #89 on: April 02, 2008, 01:18:08 pm »

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Wow, the Library of Alexandria is a pretty cool topic. If there were other ancient sources about Atlantis, chances are, they would be found there.

Chances are, the oldest Greek copies of Plato's wrirings were there, too. If they actually did locate the site where itr once stood, they might still be able to find some of them.
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