Funds to build this library were provided by Quintianus Rogatianus. The plan was a square, with a forecourt surrounded by white limestone columns. In the walls were niches for cases that held rolls. Rooms on each side served as reading-rooms. The building was able to hold about 23,000 rolls. This was the only library in the Roman Empire west of Italy.
- Abu Simbel Temple
Scribes were assigned as the keepers of the books in the library. The library consisted of theological works, technical writings, literature, history annals, and practical texts. Other temple libraries were similar to this one.
The most famous library in antiquity was created some time after 297 BCE as part of a school or museum by Ptolemy II (Philadelphus). The staff was made up of scholars in various fields.They did research, editing of works of previous writers, and carried on experiments. Known as the Brucheion Library, it had copies of all known books in the city. Agents were sent throughout the known world to acquire other texts. Ships entering the harbour were forced to lend books aboard to be copied. According to tradition, seventy Hebrews translated the Scriptures into the Greek Septuagint here. Many outstanding figures served as head librarians or were associated with the library. The collection, estimated to be over 700,000 rolls, was classified by Callimachus.
Alexandria was burned by Ptolemy VIII (Cacergetes) in a civil war in 89-88 BCE, causing many scholars to leave. The library was reconstituted, but it was never as great. It was again partly destroyed in 47 BCE. Later, 200,000 rolls taken from Pergamum were added. Some rolls were taken from Alexandria to Rome in the Christian era. Alexandria was burned in 273 CE by Roman Emperor Aurelian. More damage was done by Christian bishop Theophilus in 391 CE. Whatever was left was destroyed by Moslem conqueror Omar in 645 CE. A replacement for this famous library was finally opened in 2001.
There was a library at the temple of Serapis during the Greek Period. It contained 42,000 volumes.
- Archives of Imperial Egypt
This library existed from the 16th century BCE to the 14th century BCE. It was located in the compound of a temple. It held records of military campaigns, business transactions, and vital legal materials.
This library was in operation about 1788 BCE. No information about it is currently available.
This was a post-Exodus temple library, revealing a continuous tradition from eartlier times. It contained sacred books.
It was known as the House of Papyrus. Over the entrance was a large carved palette. On the walls of the interior, there were texts and emblems of the instruments used by the scribes. A catalogue, in two parts, of hieratical books was graven on one wall. The first specified twelve coffers of works. The second specified twenty-two coffers. No remains of papyrus or parchment have been found.
In the Hall of Rolls of a temple was an early medical library, which contained long works with lists of diseases and cures.
In the temple of Thoth one of the largest papyri collections on medicine was found. There were six intact, plus fragments of many others. A scribe-priest was known as the keeper of the sacred books. His assistant, a woman, was known as the lady of letters, mistress of the house of books. There was also a medical school at the temple.
Here in the 12th century BCE was located the most famous library of ancient Egypt. It was known as the Library of King Ozymandias (or Rameses II). It contained great quantities of books. Inscriptions at the portal were “The lady of libraries” and “The hospital of the soul”.
The Place of the Records of the palace of the King, the library of King Amenhotep IV, existed about 1350 BCE. The contents were clay tablets in Babylonian cuneiform. They were mainly correspondence between the king and vassal states and foreign rulers in Asia Minor. Within these letters is much social and economic information. Works that may have been written on media other than tablets have not survived.
The House of Writings, the collection of King Khufu, existed about 2600 BCE. There is no information available on this library.
The Healing Place of the Soul, the palace collection of King Rameses II, existed about 1300 BCE. It contained about 20,000 rolls. The content included poetry, fiction, history, agriculture, astronomy, and engineering.Amen-en-haut was one of the librarians.