The Fierce, Forgotten Library Wars of the Ancient World:
In the Hellenistic Era—that's 323 BC to 31 BC, for all you numbers
fans—the Library of Alexandria, Egypt was a research hub of high
prestige. But while certainly the largest of its time and the most
famous, the Library of Alexandria wasn’t the only institution of its
kind. Libraries throughout the ancient world competed to be the best
Greek library, in rivalries that proved as dangerous and unscrupulous as
Perhaps the most vicious rivalry of all was between the libraries of
Alexandria and Pergamum in the city of Pergamon—present-day Bergama,
Turkey. In this conflict, the ego-driven kings of both cities enforced
various sneaky maneuvers to stunt the growth of the opposing
“The library was a means [for the kings] to show off their wealth, their
power, and mostly to show that they were the rightful heirs of
Alexander the Great,” says Gaëlle Coqueugniot, an ancient history
research associate at the University of Exeter.
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