10 Amazing Ancient Libraries Around The World

Inthe ancient world, knowledge was not taken lightly; in fact, it was wellguarded than any precious wealth, such as jewels or gold. After all, knowledgeis wealth. With numerous gigantic ancient libraries still standing to thesedays, it clearly shows that all the treasures of this world will always fleetin comparison with learning and knowledge.

These magnificent ancient libraries once hold precious and priceless scrolls and books. Some of the libraries were extremely beautiful. Today, the Great Library of Alexandria is one of the most famous of these libraries in the world, but it is not the only one that contained valuable knowledge. In this list, we are going to take a close look at some of the most amazing ancient libraries around the world.

10. Nalanda University, India

Nalanda University, located in Bair, India, is believed to be the oldest university on Earth. The university offered education to thousands of learners across Asia.

Theuniversity’s 9-story library was nicknamed “Dharma Gunj” translated to Mountainof Truth and “Dharmaganja” meaning Treasury of Truth. This is because ofnumerous acclaims it received for its massive collection of Buddhistmanuscripts among other texts and literature.

The University of Nalanda continued to nurture thousands of students and followers until its demise on the hands of the Turks in 1193. It is believed that the Turks invaders took months before they completely destroy the foundations of Nalanda University due to its enormous size.

9. Library of Pergamum, Turkey

Once home to over 200,000 scrolls, touching on varying subjects, the Library of Pergamum was once considered to be the main competitor of the Library of Alexandria.

Thelibrary was built on the 3rd Century BC by the Attalid Dynasty, in modern dayTurkey. Just like the Library of Alexandria, the Library of Pergamum alsoestablished notable schools of thought.

It is alleged that due to the fierce rivalry with the Library of Alexandria, Ptolemaic dynasty stopped exportation of papyrus to the region of Pergamum in a bid to cripple the pacey development of the library. Unfortunately, that didn’t work as the city of Pergamum was among the top manufacturers of parchment paper.

8. The Library of Ashurbanipal, Iraq

The library was named after the last king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. It was the oldest surviving royal library on Earth before the 20th Century discoveries of old ancient libraries.

Thelibrary was built in the 7th Century in the city of Nineveh, modern day Iraqand it housed over 30,000 stone tablets texts written in cuneiform. It was one ofthe largest during this period and was having a huge amount of study materials.The texts covered subjects such as mythology, magic, medicine, poetry, andgeography.

The Epic of Gilgamesh tablet is the most notable surviving material from the library of Ashurbanipal and is considered the oldest surviving magnificent literature work.

Libraryof Ashurbanipal is the first library ever to adopt a systematical organizationof its contents.

King Ashurbanipal was a famous book-lover and mostly obtained many of them by looting from seized territories such as Babylon and more.

7. Al-Qarawiyyin Library, Morocco

The Al-Qarawiyyin Library was built in 859 CE by unknown persons, as part of one of the ancient universities on earth. Although there are many other existing libraries that are older, it is believed that Al-Qarawiyyin Library is the oldest still functioning library in the world.

The library was found by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a rich merchant from Tunisia. The daughter is also credited to have founded the Qarawiyyin University and Qarawiyyin Mosque.

6. Villa of the Papyri, Italy

One of the smallest libraries by its standards, but the Villa of the Papyri Library is the only library in history whose texts and manuscripts survived to this day. The collections are around 1,800 scrolls, and were first discovered in Herculaneum – a Roman city, in a villa, thought to have been constructed by Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus – Julius Caesar’s father-in-law.

Villa of the Papyri was buried for almost 2,000 years after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The contents of the library were preserved about 90-foot under volcanic material layers. The blackened and carbonized manuscripts were discovered in the 18th Century.

5. The Library of Alexandria, Egypt

The Library of Alexandria was built in 295 BC by Ptolemy I Soter who was a former general to Alexander the Great. The library was once a ‘Universal’ library as scholars from all over the world frequented to gain knowledge from thousands of manuscripts and share ideas.

TheLibrary of Alexandria was the intellectual crest jewel of the ancientcivilization. The texts touched on such subjects as science, law, history,and mathematics. The library held over 500,000 scrolls.

Amongthe notable visitors to the library were Archimedes and Euclid. Those whovisited and decided to live and study in the library were offered stipend bythe Egyptian government.

TheLibrary of Alexandria was burnt down by Julius Caesar in 48 BC when he set fireto the harbor of Alexandria during the war with Ptolemy XIII.

Butmany scholars dispute this history by claiming that the library could havesurvived the fire or at least not easily destroyed. Some historians think thatthe library might have been destroyed in 270 AD during the reign of Romanemperor Aurelian. Few scholars believe that the obliteration of the libraryhappened in the 4th Century.

Nevertheless, the Library of Alexandria is still one of the most amazing libraries in history, with its unmatched academic and architectural achievements.

4. The Library at Timgad, Algeria

No one knows when the Library at Timgad was constructed, but what is known is that it was a gift by Julius Quintianus Flavius Rogatianus to the Roman people. The library occupied 81 feet (24.7 meters) long and 77 feet (23.5 meters) wide rectangular space.

Thelibrary indicates a high standard of the library system and high-qualitylearning culture. Although its design was as impressive as most of thelibraries in this list, Timgad Library was of massive historical importance.

There is no evidence as to the amount of collection the library held, but many estimate that it could have been somewhere around 3,000.

3. Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima, Palestine

The Library of Caesarea was central to ancient Christian education as well as scholarship. Before its destruction by Arabs in 638 AD, the library had massive collections of theological and ecclesiastical texts of early Jewish and Christian civilization.

Thelibrary also held a large collection of texts from Greece and surroundingregions. Although the literature was philosophical and historical, they werenevertheless valuable as the library was regularly visited by influentialhistorical figures such as Gregory of Nazareth, Jerome, and Basil the Great.

The library held 30,000 manuscripts courtesy of father Origen, the majority of which were destroyed by the purge led by Emperor Diocletian. Although the library was rebuilt again by Caesarea bishops, it was completely torn down again by the Arab invaders. After the Arab inversion, all the manuscripts were completely destroyed.

2. The Celsus Library, Turkey

Information and knowledge were the major cornerstones for the Roman empires in the ancient civilization. This is one of the reasons why the Celsus library lasted for centuries. The emperor’s love for monuments led to the erection of dozens of ancient libraries.

In around 120 AD Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus finished constructing the memorial library for his father in Ephesus city (modern day Turkey). His father was a Roman Consul. The library’s decorative façade still majestically stands to this day and it features columns, and marble stairway, along with four figurines signifying virtue, wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge. The interiors of the Celsus Library features rectangular compartment as well as a series of tiny niches with bookcases. It is believed that the library may have housed 12,000 scrolls. Celsus himself was buried at the library inside an ornamental sarcophagus.

1. The Libraries of Trajan’s Forum, Italy

The Trajan’s Forum was constructed in around 112 AD by Emperor Trajan at the heart of the city of Rome. Around the library were also markets, plazas, and temples, but none of these buildings shone than the famous library.

Thebuilding itself was divided into two. The twin structures contained numeroustexts and works in Greek and Latin. At the center of the twin, structures werethe Trajan’s column, a huge monument that was erected to pay homage to theemperor’s many military victories.

Eventoday, historians still debate when the libraries ceased to exist. The rooms ofthe libraries were stylishly designed with granite and marble. The wholelibrary contained over 20,000 collections of scrolls.


Theonly text that reference the twin libraries date to the 5th century AD, leadingto experts to conclude that the Trajan’s Library might have stood for threehundred years at least.