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Originally posted by Byrd
There were several libraries at Alexandria, and while they contained valuable and interesting books, they didn't contain UNIQUE copies of everything. So the idea that burning down one great library destroys civilization isn't well founded.
and i suppose you have proof to back up your claim that they didnt contain any unique copies of anything?
the Muslims burned it in 600 AD
Originally posted by Dragonlike
Do you know a library not to have any copies of the housed books? How else the scholars in the library will spend their time if not rewriting them. Besides this is the best way to understand a document. Imagin to copy a book. Then the writer becomes you. You live the moment.
Please note: These papers were prepared for the Greek Science course taught at Tufts University by Prof. Gregory Crane in the spring of 1995. The Perseus Project does not and has not edited these student papers. We assume no responsibility over the content of these papers: we present them as is as a part of the course, not as documents in the Perseus Digital Library. We do not have contact information for the authors. Please keep that in mind while reading these papers
The library of Alexandria is a legend. Not a myth, but a legend. The destruction of the library of the ancient world has been retold many times and attributed to just as many different factions and rulers, not for the purpose of chronicling that ediface of education, but as political slander. Much ink has been spilled, ancient and modern, over the 40,000 volumes housed in grain depots near the harbor, which were supposedly incinerated when Julius Caesar torched the fleet of Cleopatra's brother and rival monarch. So says Livy, apparently, in one of his lost books, which Seneca quotes. The figure of Hypatia, a fifth-century scholar and mathematician of Alexandria, being dragged from her chariot from an angry Pagan-hating mob of monks who flayed her alive then burned her upon the remnants of the old Library, has found her way into legend as well, thanks to a few contemporary sources which survived. Yet while we know of many rumors of the destruction of "The Library" (in fact, there were at least three different libraries coexisting in the city), and know of whole schools of Alexandrian scholars and scholarship, there is scant data about the whereabouts, layout, holdings, organization, administration, and physical structure of the place.
Originally posted by snafu7700
and i suppose you have proof to back up your claim that they didn't contain any unique copies of anything?
Originally posted by Schmidt1989
...is there any speculation as to what information was lost, or is it just a mystery?
Alexandrian mathematicians concerned themselves for the most part with geometry, but we know of some researches specific to number theory. Prime numbers were a source of fascination from the time of the Pythagoreans onwards. Eratosthenes the Librarian dabbled in numbers along with everything else, and is reported to have invented the "sieve", a method for finding new ones. Euclid also was known to have studied this tricky subject.
Eudoxis of Cnidus (see biography), Euclid's pupil, probably worked out of Alexandria, and is known for developing an early method of integration, studied the uses of proportions for problem solving, and contributed various formulas for measuring three dimensional figures. Pappus (See biography), a fourth century A.D. scholar, was one of the last of the Greek mathematicians and concentrated on large numbers and constructions in semicircles (See Vatican manuscript), and he was also an important transmitter into European culture of astrology gleaned from eastern sources. Theon and his daughter Hypatia also continued work in astronomy, geometry, and mathematics, commenting on their predecessors, but none of their works survive.
Astronomy was not merely the projection of three-dimensional geometry into a fourth, time, although this is how many Greek scientists classified it. The movements of the stars and sun were essential for determining terrestrial positions, since they provided universal points of reference. In Egypt, this was particularly vital for property rights, because the yearly inundation often altered physical landmarks and boundaries between fields. For Alexandria, whose lifeblood was export of grain and papyrus to the rest of the Mediterranean, developments in astronomy allowed sailors to do away with consultation of oracles, and to risk year-round navigation out of sight of the coast. Earlier Greek astronomers had concentrated on theoretical models of the universe; Alexandrians now took up the task of detailed observations and mathematical systems to develop and buttress existing ideas.