The Great Library of Alexandria has assumed mythic qualities over the centuries since its conception and destruction. The concept of a universal library, an institution containing all the intellectual works of the world, is one that has enchanted scholars for centuries. Old Persian and Armenian traditions indicate that Alexander the Great, upon seeing the great library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, and following his teacher’s, Aristotle, vision, was inspired to combine all the works of the various nations he had conquered, translate them into Greek, and collect them all under one roof. While this inspiration was certainly prompted at least in part by a desire to consolidate information, and thereby power, under Greek authority, it is also an indication of Alexander’s desire for his empire to be a multicultural empire.
The Great Library of Alexandria was once the largest most magnificent center of knowledge in the world. Located in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, which is believed to have been created at the beginning of the third century BC, by Ptolemy I Soter, and came to hold up to 700,000 volumes, which equals approximately 100,000 printed books today.
The destruction of the Library of Alexandria is one of the greatest mysteries of Western civilization. There is a lack of evidence on its most important aspects as a Center of the Ancient World; no one has found the ruins of the Museum of the Serapeum, which is still a mystery. And in the East and the West, Christians and Muslims for centuries, have crossed mutual accusations of guilt about the destruction of this great intellectual center. The controversial nature of the topic has led dozens of hypotheses.
Since the nineteenth century, scholars have tried to understand the organization and structure of this great library. Knowledge of the library, on how its scholars worked and even the information on the scrolls it held, were very scarce. There are very few testimonies dealing with such a large institution, even these are scattered and sporadic. In spite of the limited resources, it can be absolutely assured that it took more than just one man to accomplish the grandeur and fame this library achieved. The Library of Alexandria certainly managed to change the world, and it is certainly a historic prove, that human curiosity doesn’t have any limits.