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Oxford University Press, USA

Libraries Before Alexandria: Ancient Near Eastern Traditions

Libraries Before Alexandria: Ancient Near Eastern Traditions

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The creation of the Library of Alexandria is widely regarded as one of the great achievements in the history of humankind - a giant endeavour to amass all known literature and scholarly texts in one central location, so as to preserve it and make it available for the public. In turn, this
event has been viewed as a historical turning point that separates the ancient world from classical antiquity. Standard works on the library continue to present the idea behind the institution as novel and, at least implicitly, as a product of Greek thought.

Yet, although the scale of the collection in Alexandria seems to have been unprecedented, the notion of creating central repositories of knowledge, while perhaps new to Greek tradition, was age-old in the Near East where the building was erected. Here the existence of libraries can be traced back
another two millennia, from the twenty-seventh century BCE to the third century CE, and so the creation of the Library in Alexandria was not so much the beginning of an intellectual adventure as the impressive culmination of a very long tradition.

This volume presents the first comprehensive study of these ancient libraries across the 'Cradle of Civilization' and traces their institutional and scholarly roots back to the early cities and states and the advent of writing itself. Leading specialists in the intellectual history of each
individual period and region covered in the volume present and discuss the enormous textual and archaeological material available on the early collections, offering a uniquely readable account intended for a broad audience of the libraries in Egypt and Western Asia as centres of knowledge prior to
the famous Library of Alexandria.


Author: Kim Ryholt
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Published: 01/14/2020
Pages: 512
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 2.15lbs
Size: 9.90h x 6.50w x 1.40d
ISBN: 9780199655359

About the Author

Kim Ryholt, Professor of Egyptology, University of Copenhagen, Gojko Barjamovic, Senior Lecturer on Assyriology, Harvard University

Kim Ryholt is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Copenhagen, specializing in ancient Egyptian history and literature. He was director of the Centre for Canon and Identity Formation under the University of Copenhagen Program of Excellence from 2008 until 2013 and has been responsible for the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection and its publication since 1999.

Gojko Barjamovic is Senior Lecturer on Assyriology at Harvard University. His main areas of research are the economic and social history of Western Asia in the second and first millennia BC, with a particular focus on the study of trade in the Bronze Age period and the development of early markets and trans-regional interaction. He also writes on early state power and civic institutions of governance, historical geography, intellectual history, and absolute chronology.

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