Books From Alexandrian Library Recovered
By James Donahue
Among the greatest of historical tragedies was the destruction by the Romans of the great University
of Alexandria, Egypt, and the burning of its Great Library, said to contain all of the written knowledge of the known world
in about 400 A.D.
Stored there in two different buildings was a collection of carefully scribed manuscripts, scrolls
and clay tablets, carefully gathered by Ptolemy I Soter, a successor to Alexander the Great.
The late American astrophysicist Carl Sagan once offered a television documentary in which he noted
that the university drew "a community of scientists who discovered the sciences of physics, linguistics, medicine, astronomy,
geography, philosophy, mathematics, biology and geology. Here scientific studies reached adulthood. Here genius flourished."
Within the walls of the Great Library were ancient documents that undoubtedly contained a clear picture
of world history . . . something lost to mankind when the Roman army, under orders from the Christian Roman leader Theophilus,
during his years as Patriarch of Alexandria from 385 to 412 AD.
The destruction of these and many other records all over the world by Christian invaders opened the
door to the superstitious religious blindness that prevailed through the Dark Ages and continues to influence historical and
religious doctrine to this day.
The documents were destroyed, but not all of them lost, however. It turns out that archaeologists,
sifting through an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, came upon a cache of original papyrus documents about 100 years
While suspected of being an important find, the documents appeared to have been lost to age and weather.
They were not only decayed and blackened from age, but worm-eaten. The information written on the parchment was impossible
to view. But the parchments were carefully preserved in the hope that new scientific methods would be developed for capturing
Well there is good news. After a century of waiting, a new photographic technique, developed from
satellite imaging, is bringing the original writing back into view. And what they are finding in that old rubble is astounding.
The manuscripts are found to contain work by some of the greats of classical literature that include
Sophocles, Euripides and Hesiod. A team from Oxford University is now pouring over the old text, now finding thousands of
works of art and literature that have been lost to the world for 2000 years.
Other works expected to turn up are writings by Ovid and Aeschylus, plus many of the lost gospels
that present a more complete picture of the life of Jesus.
Christopher Pelling, Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, described what he called "central texts
which scholars have been speculating about for centuries."
Some scholars believe the uncovered text will mark a major increase in the number of great Greek and
Roman works in existence.
That so much information was so cold-heartedly burned by Christian invaders probably meant that there
was something written in those manuscripts that the church authorities at the Vatican did want us to know.