Destruction of the Library of Alexandria  

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"In AD 642, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of 'Amr ibn al-'As. Several later Arabic sources describe the library's destruction by the order of Caliph Omar. Bar-Hebraeus, writing in the 13th century, quotes Omar as saying to Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī: "If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them." Later scholars are skeptical of these stories, given the range of time that had passed before they were written down and the political motivations of the various writers."

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Library of Alexandria was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. Famous for having been burned, thus resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books, it has become a symbol of "knowledge and culture destroyed". Although there is a traditional account of the burning of the Library at Alexandria, the library may have suffered several fires or acts of destruction, of varying degrees, over many years. Different cultures may have blamed each other throughout history, or distanced their ancestors from responsibility, and therefore leaving conflicting and inconclusive fragments from ancient sources on the exact details of the destruction. There is little consensus on when books in the actual library were destroyed. Manuscripts were probably burned in stages over eight centuries.

Ancient and modern sources identify four possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria: Julius Caesar's fire during his civil war in 48 BC; the attack of Aurelian in AD 270–275; the decree of Coptic Christian pope Theophilus of Alexandria in AD 391; and the Muslim conquest of Egypt in (or after) AD 642.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Destruction of the Library of Alexandria" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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