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Ancient Libraries: 500s BCE

Let's examine the ongoing use of libraries in temples.

Temples continued to be a common location for archives and libraries.

Temples of Mesopotamia
Nippur, Southern Mesopotamia

For several thousand years, Nippur was dominated by a temple and it's activities. Opposite the temple was a large palace. During an excavation, mounds were identified with a large archive that included temple business, government administration information, and other records dating to the 5th century BC.

Behistun Inscription

The Behistun Inscription is a multi-lingual stone inscribed around 500 BCE. Created by Darius the Great, it contains the same text written in three different cuneiform script languages including Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. It's known as the "Rosetta Stone" to Egyptian hieroglyphs because it helped scholars decipher list script. A portion of the inscription is shown below.

Behisun inscription, wikimedia commons by KendallKDown

Hebrew Bible

The earliest known text from the Hebrew Bible is dated to this period. Inscribed with a portion of the Book of Numbers, very little of the scroll has survived.

The Art of War

The earliest existing manuscript of The Art of War by Chinese general Sun Wu consists of a few fragments on bamboo strips dating to this time period. The photo below shows these strips found in 1971 (Courtesy AlexHe 34, Wikimedia Commons).

Bamboo strips of art of war photo by AlexHe34


Casson, Lionel (2001). Libraries of the Ancient World. Yale University.

Clark, John Willis (1901). The Care of Books. Cambridge University Press Warehouse. Available: http://books.google.com/books?id=uvQ_AAAAYAAJ


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