What really happened to the Library of Alexandria? - Elizabeth Cox

  • Опубликовано: 14 авг 2018
  • Check out our Patreon page: www.patreon.com/teded
    View full lesson: ed.ted.com/lessons/what-really-happened-to-the-library-of-alexandria-elizabeth-cox
    2,300 years ago, the rulers of Alexandria set out to fulfill a very audacious goal: to collect all the knowledge in the world under one roof. In its prime, the Library of Alexandria housed an unprecedented number of scrolls and attracted some of the Greek world’s greatest minds. But by the end of the 5th century CE, it had vanished. Elizabeth Cox details the rise and fall of this great building.
    Lesson by Elizabeth Cox, directed by Inna Phillimore.
    Thank you so much to our patrons for your support! Without you this video would not be possible! Bev Millar, Rishi Pasham, Jhuval, SookKwan Loong, Daniel Day, Nick Johnson, Bruno Pinho, Javier Aldavaz, Rodrigo Carballo, Marc Veale, Boytsov Ilya, maxi kobi einy, Misaki Sato, Craig Sheldon, Andrew Bosco, Catherine Sverko, Nik Maier, Mark Morris, Tamás Drávai, Adi V, Peter Liu, Leora Allen, Hiroshi Uchiyama, Michal Salman, Julie Cummings-Debrot, Gilly, Ka-Hei Law, Maya Toll, Aleksandar Srbinovski, Ricardo Rendon Cepeda, Renhe Ji, Andrés Melo Gámez, Tim Leistikow, Moonlight, Shawar Khan, Chris , Megan Douglas, Barbara Smalley, Filip Dabrowski, Joe Giamartino, Clair Chen, Vik Nagjee, Karen Goepen-Wee, Della Palacios, and Bah Becerra.

Комментарии • 1 352

  • TED-Ed
    TED-Ed  3 месяца назад +139

    What do you know about history's most mysterious book? Find out more here: bit.ly/2BcostO

    • mutleyshotta
      mutleyshotta 2 месяца назад

      Stolen african knowledge. Greeks were students. Africans were the teachers...alexander the greek not great...

    • Meredith Wilson
      Meredith Wilson 3 месяца назад +1

      The library of alexandria never existed

    • NatiHighLife
      NatiHighLife 3 месяца назад +1

      The accounts of al-Qifti and Bar-Hebraeus are more detailed. They state that "John the Grammarian" asked Amr to spare the library, and Amr contacted the caliph Umar for authorization. Umar replied that if the books agreed with the Quran they were redundant, and if they did not, then they were forbidden. Amr handed the books over to Alexandria's heated bath houses, where they were burned as fuel for six months.

  • shewolfsiren
    shewolfsiren 35 минут назад

    I know a joke that's not really a joke concerning this place: "What caused the Dark Ages?" "Answer: The burning of the Alexandrian Library." I mean, how many of our discoveries are actually just rediscoveries only just now being made 2,000 years after the fact? Computers, electricity, flight---how different and much more advanced would our society be right now if we had never lost that place?

  • J T
    J T 2 часа назад

    Is crazy to think that someone before 2.000 years found out how the earth actually is ...and it took humanity 1500+ years to realize that ...Just imagine how the technology could have been now if they didn't have burned the library ..

  • Carlo Censi
    Carlo Censi 13 часов назад

    Exactly, like the people who one to force us to believe that men can be women if they want.

  • Klaus Cartesius
    Klaus Cartesius 13 часов назад

    "Our digital archives": Google? Not much else is readily available to a typical person.

  • Vosian
    Vosian 18 часов назад

    Throw one more comment out there- Hypatia was not murdered for studying the library. Mainly because the library was already destroyed. During the crisis of the third century, the city of Alexandria faced two sieges, and historians note that the second siege in 296 CE led by Emperor Aurelian would have almost certainly destroyed whatever was left of the original library. The last vestige of the library, a temple dedicated to Sarapis called the Serapaeum, was indeed vandalized by a Christian mob in 391 CE, but only after the pagans of Alexandria brutally murdered Christians in the streets for mocking their god.
    Hypatia came to prominence decades after this; her death, while regrettable, had nothing to do with the library. She’s only associated with it because she founded a school that was based off of it, and no she wasn’t murdered over the school, either. She was an influential and popular intellectual who, it was rumored, prevented the Christian governor Orestes, one of her former students, and Bishop Cyril from reconciling over civil matters.

  • Agung Putra
    Agung Putra 4 дня назад

    burning library is the worst crime in entire human history

  • Aleksa Momcilovic
    Aleksa Momcilovic 8 дней назад

    The muslims destroyed most of the libary in the 7 centutry and when eartquke struck great lighthouse of alexandria instead of rebuilding they took the stones to build forts

  • newbie on the roll
    newbie on the roll 11 дней назад

    When knowledge was a good reason to conquer the world. Oh humanity, look how far we've fallen.

  • Gustavo Polessi
    Gustavo Polessi 11 дней назад

    CE also AD not Avanti Cristo. Italian subtitles are wrong at the beginning.

  • Gustavo Polessi
    Gustavo Polessi 11 дней назад


  • mr biscuits
    mr biscuits 15 дней назад

    They are probably in the Vatican city archives

  • Wolfgang Peter
    Wolfgang Peter 15 дней назад

    And Darkness and Decay (...) held illimitable dominion over all.. History keeps repeating itself

  • * SIMON Says
    * SIMON Says 16 дней назад

    The Jews took what scrolls they needed and burnt the rest down

  • Tc
    Tc 27 дней назад

    So it was basically Wikipedia in real life

  • Bupsee💠💠💠💠🔴🔵
    Bupsee💠💠💠💠🔴🔵 27 дней назад +4

    I am from India and our Nālandā suffered from the same fate as well.

  • Lily Walker
    Lily Walker 27 дней назад

    I'm so sad they destroyed that beautiful library

  • Ernest Imken
    Ernest Imken 28 дней назад +1

    This politically correct historical narrative leaves out the Muslim destruction of the yAlexandrian library in the 7th century just as ISIS recently destroyed historical sites in Syria. Islam hates history.

  • James Moore
    James Moore 28 дней назад

    They claim that there's even an older Library from a much earlier civilization inside the hidden chamber underneath the Sphinx front foot, I can't remember if it's the left or the right, I think it's the left front paw of the sphynx ,there is a chamber they discovered it doing ground-penetrating radar, but the Egyptian government will not let them excavate to see what's in there

  • hpgl2
    hpgl2 Месяц назад +1

    Christian leaders don't approve of books or learning. The term "the Bible" (translating to "The Book" or the one book) is an echo of that. Religion robbed us of the works of geniuses, and a thousand years of progress. My blood boils when I hear the term "good Christian" and think of their torture, burning alive, destruction of knowledge, rewriting of history, lies and stupidity of that or any religion.

  • Sean Michaels
    Sean Michaels Месяц назад +1

    Moral of the story:
    Christians are dangerous.

  • Ahmed Osman
    Ahmed Osman Месяц назад

    Lol Christians killed those who study, not surprised

  • nekk74
    nekk74 Месяц назад +1

    Hatters of Greek knowledge studies

  • nekk74
    nekk74 Месяц назад +1

    Destroyed by the christians

  • Rafael Rabinovich
    Rafael Rabinovich Месяц назад

    The US Library of Congress has a copy of every book copyrighted in the US. It contains thousands of times the maximum possible amount of books the Library of Alexandria could have had.

  • Gustavo Rodriguez
    Gustavo Rodriguez Месяц назад

    Shocking muslims viewing knowledge as s threat who would of guessed

  • Pecu Alex
    Pecu Alex Месяц назад

    Hypatia wasn't killed by the Christian ruler of Alexandria, it was a Christian mob on rumors circulated by her political opposition, and the ancient world didn't hate the Greek literature, while the religion changed they were still viewed as "civilized" and many of the pre-christian philosophers like Aristotle still highly respcted

  • JessePinkman
    JessePinkman Месяц назад

    I’m pissed it was burnt to ashes, but a part of me still wishes that perhaps maybe not EVERYTHING if not everything was moved to some government restricted vault somewhere before they burnt it down.

  • dan skroko
    dan skroko Месяц назад

    Internet is the Library of Alexandrea meets the Guttenburg Press! Both victims of Fascism.

  • Aron Estrada
    Aron Estrada Месяц назад

    Christians an jews destroyed the library 📚

  • isa muhammad
    isa muhammad Месяц назад

    What happened to the libraries in TIMBUKTU - MALI, west Africa. Was that also destroyed and who holds that knowledge today ?

  • orlando098
    orlando098 Месяц назад

    Hypatia was murdered for studying the ancient Greek texts that the Christian rulers saw as blasphemous? Bit of a sweeping statement, no? As far as I know there are various theories as to why Christian thugs murdered Hypatia and it's not clear there was a link to her studying texts in the library

    • Goliath Online
      Goliath Online Месяц назад

      You can clearly see the bias these 'educators' have already.

  • Sakti Zulfikar
    Sakti Zulfikar Месяц назад

    Muslim saw it as a threat? Are your sure? Because what i know, Muslim come when Prophet Muhammad come in around 800 CE, rather in 400 CE like you explained

  • Oanh Nguyễn
    Oanh Nguyễn Месяц назад

    then we lost seven hundred thousand precious Greek scrolls which were collected in hundred years... big loss of human beings

    KELLOGS Месяц назад

    I will always trust ink and paper over computers. Our society will inevitably be destroyed and be replaced by a new society just as has happened before, and so will our digital infrastructure. All digital information shall be lost forever. If it isn't on paper, it doesn't exist.

  • Shane McDowall
    Shane McDowall Месяц назад +1

    Heron made a steam turbine, not a steam engine. His turbine was about 1% efficient and not capable of useful work. Nevertheless I rank it along with the Antikethera Mechanism as one of the great mechanical wonders of the classical world.

  • StarsinRain
    StarsinRain Месяц назад

    I think the "fear of knowledge" is the strangest thing ever and the end reminds me of Fahrenheit 451... Yet, if you fix the wording to today's lingo, it is a bit easier to understand why. But that fear set back some amazing information and still surprises me...

    Nz_NIGHTMARE I Месяц назад


  • Noah Crouse
    Noah Crouse Месяц назад

    GG well played

  • Secular Stones
    Secular Stones Месяц назад

    This vid does not tackle the question of what happened. It glosses over it. Religion is to blame -- organized religion. But you won't hear anything about that here. Cowardly TED stuff.

  • Codex Harashino
    Codex Harashino Месяц назад

    I am a professional librarian, and yes, I do believe that a library is the nation's pride.

  • Lxrd SiniXter
    Lxrd SiniXter Месяц назад


  • John Barone
    John Barone Месяц назад

    Hypatia was killed during a riot of fanatic Christian monks. She was a learned and tolerant humanist who was murdered by zealots. There is insufficient evidence, however, to prove that this was done by "Christian Rulers", since at the time Hypatia was attempting to reconcile Orestes, the pagan Prefect of the city with the Archbishop Cyril. Her murder followed the execution by torture of one of the zealots by Orestes. In fairness to Orestes the execution was probably justified and its cruelty was rather typical of those violent times. Don't try to simplify history to make a point.

  • John Barone
    John Barone Месяц назад

    CE is a politically correct euphemism which attemptsto conceal the embarrassing (for secular humanists) fact that we continue to date historic events from the traditional date of the birth of Jesus Christ. While the actual date of Christ's birth may have been 4 to 6 years earlier than the traditional date that is of no significance. The point is that if one wishes to deny the centrality of Christ, then do so openly. Don't talk about the "Common Era" (CE or BCE). Just change the dating system. If and when China, India, or Islam become the dominant culture in the world that will be done anyway. We don't use the Roman AUC (ab urbe condita) anymore. Have the courage of your convictions.

  • Agri Agripino
    Agri Agripino Месяц назад

    excellent ending

  • Agri Agripino
    Agri Agripino Месяц назад

    excellent ending

  • Agri Agripino
    Agri Agripino Месяц назад

    excellent ending

  • Asma Sheikh
    Asma Sheikh Месяц назад

    Just think how different the world would've been if the knowledge from the Library of Alexandria would've been preserved..We would've solved what seem like mysteries that could never be solved today.

    • Asma Sheikh
      Asma Sheikh Месяц назад

      Even in terms of history, they could've recorded archeological and industrial advancements and findings that we credit other individuals. We'll never know what could've been.

  • Crick1952
    Crick1952 Месяц назад

    Do not fear the burning of books as much as the growing number who cease to read them.

  • AbsolX Guardian
    AbsolX Guardian 2 месяца назад

    This theory is a lot sadder than the library being burned, as it was the slow descendent because of leaders' fear of knowledge. The destruction of the library was a great tragedy for human progress, setting us back centuries, and much of that knowledge may still be lost, or even gone forever. There is poetic irony to it being human dogma and fear that destroyed it, rather than an accident during the war that raged around it.

  • batman39400
    batman39400 2 месяца назад

    1:18 but did it have LAMBORGHINIs

  • Clueless Boxing
    Clueless Boxing 2 месяца назад

    Skip a lot on the timeline there

  • Isabela Diniz
    Isabela Diniz 2 месяца назад

    And do you know what else catched on fire? Brazil's National Museum, last week. It's so painful to think about it...

  • Ryan Adamson
    Ryan Adamson 2 месяца назад

    The House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah)
    The Library of Rhodes
    The Library of Alexandria
    All gone! I grieve in pain!

  • Iki Rosman
    Iki Rosman 2 месяца назад

    Someone should actually stab caesar for burning the library

  • Napster __
    Napster __ 2 месяца назад

    So religion destroyed any chance of early progress...
    Tell me something new!!

  • Mai Mayer
    Mai Mayer 2 месяца назад

    Is there anything in the library that was salvaged? Like there could've been text that could've been saved right? Just wondering

  • Mai Mayer
    Mai Mayer 2 месяца назад

    I get sad when the library of Alexandria is mentioned....

  • Roger didit
    Roger didit 2 месяца назад

    My guess is that the writings were a lot of folk wisdom, mumbo jumbo, and just basic information along with religious mumbo jumbo.

  • Salt & Pepper
    Salt & Pepper 2 месяца назад +2

    The Christians destroyed it by 450 A.D. before Islam existed.
    There's no evidence Islam did anything to the library. In fact, Muslims did the opposite by copying and translating surviving books into Arabic.

    • Pan-European Nationalist
      Pan-European Nationalist 2 месяца назад

      Salt & Pepper You can list as many as you like, try to have them receive popular appeal today and then I’ll be impressed because Muslim consider them heretics, and Atheism still cries a criminal sanction is most of the Muslim world.

    • Salt & Pepper
      Salt & Pepper 2 месяца назад +1

      +Pan-European Nationalist
      Lol. Did they?
      Except some of the greatest ancient Arab and Persian atheists like Ibn al Rawandi existed back in the 800s in those Muslim empires. He wrote books kept in those Islamic empires that survive till today.
      Find me ONE European atheist in the 800 A.D. Certainly no one lived to debate like Ibn al Rawandi did with the Muslim scholars.
      The hypocrisy of modern anti-Muslim bigots who simultaneously praise Ibn al Rawandi for being an atheist against all religion (and standing up to Islam during the Abbassid empire) while simultaneously claiming the same empires killed all dissenters is mind boggling.
      Please use Google to find out more about Ibn al Rawandi. I can list other famous Arab atheists that lived long and free lives in Islamic empires throughout history.

    • Pan-European Nationalist
      Pan-European Nationalist 2 месяца назад

      Salt & Pepper it’s true the Muslims were around in Alexandria, but not the long library.

    • Pan-European Nationalist
      Pan-European Nationalist 2 месяца назад

      Salt & Pepper Again the Romans didn’t mean to destroy the library, they were at war. As for the Muslims they were already well on their way to suppressing scientific works. You might as well say the Greeks and Romans tried to save the library, because unlike the Muslims they never suppressed the knowledge of classical thought and it was the knowledge kept by the Byzantine empire that led to the renaissance in Italy.

  • MDJ
    MDJ 2 месяца назад

    Alexander nor the Greeks had nothing to do with the knowledge complied in that library which is what this white washed cartoon is suggesting. In fact, his men were the ones who destroyed it and he merely named it after himself. Greek Civilization didn't reflect the knowldege in those temples residing in Africa which explain why greeks traveled their too lewarn.

  • Mohammed Shoaib
    Mohammed Shoaib 2 месяца назад

    One of the greatest lies that can be told is muslims burned a library when it is compulsory to gain knowledge in Islam. When it is compulsory to gain knowledge in Islam, it implies saving of knowledge first.

  • Anushka Doshi
    Anushka Doshi 2 месяца назад

    Just like library of alexandria, in India we had nalanda. It's said to be the oldest university in the world and taught wide variety of subjects ranging from mathematics to philosophy. Of course , it contained a very big library and scholars from different countries like china and far west came to study it's scrolls. It thrived for thousand years. But alas! in 12 or 13 century it was torched by muslim invaders. It's said that it burnt for12 days because of the vast amount of scrolls and books it had. Sadly, we will never know about the lost knowledge and the secrets it had.

  • Syfy Firefly
    Syfy Firefly 2 месяца назад

    The library was burned multiple times, most historical sources record three different burnings. Why is there no mention of the one done by Caliph Omar here?

  • Dalia Capellan
    Dalia Capellan 2 месяца назад

    Amongst so many things yet to be discovered, I wonder if enough passion ran through certain individuals, enough to make them hide some of the manuscripts before they were destroyed which are still awaiting the light of day.

  • Mitch Paul
    Mitch Paul 2 месяца назад


  • Mitch Paul
    Mitch Paul 2 месяца назад

    Christians fear other books...

  • Emerald Green
    Emerald Green 2 месяца назад

    THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA is now the VATICAN ARCHIVES. It was not a loss, they just wanted to hoard the knowledge for themselves. It was not lost

  • Ndirangu Mwaura
    Ndirangu Mwaura 2 месяца назад

    Thanks ted....the way this is presented you'd think that this library was in sweden...and not africa...u people are relentless in ur attempt to steal africas history

  • Zach Amos
    Zach Amos 2 месяца назад

    The Library housed proof that the earth is flat so the Government and NASA had it burnt down.

  • Bambi
    Bambi 2 месяца назад

    Fake history

  • J Lupus
    J Lupus 2 месяца назад

    They should’ve made more copies. That’s like telling the world which bank holds your gold- and you have zero insurance on it.

  • Degrelle Holt
    Degrelle Holt 2 месяца назад

    Putting all of one's eggs in one basket.

  • NotSoNinjaJoe
    NotSoNinjaJoe 2 месяца назад

    I’m fairly certain there is a surviving quote from the Persian ruler who last held Alexandria, and I’m paraphrasing slightly, “If the contents of the library contradict our teachings they are vile and must be burned. If they support our teachings they are unnecessary and may be burned”. I may very well be wrong, I had heard the quote from a scholarly video here on RUclip but I cannot remember what it was about.
    Throughout history knowledge has been the adversary of organized religion. We lost 1000 years of advancement during the Christian Dark Ages wherein most any form of scientific thought was blasphemy.
    The Human capacity for willful ignorance and destruction is astounding. We’d rather burn down anything that challenges our worldview and beliefs than attempt to learn and grow and evolve our collective understanding of being.

  • Achilleas Labrou
    Achilleas Labrou 2 месяца назад +2

    Early Christians suffered tremendously by the pagan Roman culture. It is inevitable that nearly all Christians after the establishment of Christianity hated and fought anything that it was relevant with paganism.

  • Steve Hunter
    Steve Hunter 2 месяца назад +1

    It was probably destroyed by the three most intolerant and regressive religions in the world - Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

    • J R
      J R 2 месяца назад

      you celebrate new year eve on the 1st of january thanks to the vatican.

  • harold anistasia
    harold anistasia 2 месяца назад

    Could be in the Vatican

  • Dindu Nuffin
    Dindu Nuffin 2 месяца назад

    Why is there absolutely zero mention of how the Muslims ordered the destruction of any content that contradicted mohammed? And most of the stuff was already moved to Constantinople by the Byzantine era for studying as the city was becoming the new centre for scholars.

  • D V
    D V 2 месяца назад

    So Julius Caesar's orders may have burned only part of the library. Then it goes on to say the subsequent leaders were afraid of people having knowledge. But it doesn't say what did happen to the remaining library?

  • Kamal Hadeir
    Kamal Hadeir 2 месяца назад +1

    Loss of the library is honestly nothing compared to the sack of Baghdad and the million books destroyed during the Reconquista.

  • Synystr7
    Synystr7 2 месяца назад +2

    Monotheistic religion happened. A cancer to civilization.
    Paganism is horribly underrated.

  • Jeffrey Robinson
    Jeffrey Robinson 2 месяца назад

    Why did you leave off two centuries after Hypecia the Muslim burning scrolls for nine months to heat baths, destruction based on the idea that if it repeated the Quran it was unneeded if it contradicted the Quran it was blasphemy

  • Bradley Henderson
    Bradley Henderson 2 месяца назад

    It was stolen, then the building burned. How can anyone believe it was just destroyed? Learn about the world and who controls it, history of knowledge, and methods of social control if you don't know better.

  • Russell Stone
    Russell Stone 2 месяца назад

    they stole the books !!!!

  • Ron Mac95
    Ron Mac95 2 месяца назад

    It burnt down! My book is 3,000 years overdue now.

  • mojokiss
    mojokiss 2 месяца назад

    they renamed it the vatican and locked out everyone

  • Priyansh Shukla
    Priyansh Shukla 2 месяца назад

    actually it was used to transfer of Indian knowledge to greek

  • sarah June
    sarah June 2 месяца назад

    Such a smart move to preserve the history. Sad for the fate of the library.

  • Kim Welch
    Kim Welch 2 месяца назад

    Alexandria’s collection was Ink on Papyrus. Papyrus isn’t particularly resilient and rots very easily unless it’s in the belly of a mummy. Stone and baked clay are the most resilient, but Vellum and Iron Gall Ink lasts a very long time. Unless it is continually refreshed, the best electronic records will degrade within decades. If we hit a dark age, most of our electronic records will disappear and only the acid free paper documents stored in underground archives will survive.
    During war time would-be conquerors very often purposely target archives, libraries and museums. This happened in Sarajevo where the library and known archive locations were purposely shelled. Incidents like this are documented in Matthew Battles, “Library: An Unquiet History.”

  • Yan Pagh
    Yan Pagh 2 месяца назад

    We actually do not know what to prepare for as we let the new religious zealots now under the guise of politics, slowly but surely destroy our culture and history and knowledge with their march through academia with false narrative and Gramscian gimmicks.

  • Derek Jordan
    Derek Jordan 2 месяца назад

    It's in the Vatican. Where all the Ancients trolls are hitting.

  • Grizzly BƎAR
    Grizzly BƎAR 2 месяца назад

    That last sentence sound like a message.

  • dude mcdude
    dude mcdude 2 месяца назад

    Not entirely surprising that religion was scared of knowledge and decided to destroy it

  • Fredrik Thorsen
    Fredrik Thorsen 2 месяца назад +2

    Same thing happened in Brazil a few days ago, have we learned nothing..?

    • Ivory
      Ivory 2 месяца назад

      We brazilians ? No :(

  • Rev. Stephen A. Cakouros
    Rev. Stephen A. Cakouros 2 месяца назад

    On being told about the Library Caliph Omar said, "They will either contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous." In other words burn the library. This accords with Muslim practice which acts as if the world began when Mohammed [622] fled Mecca. The Persian poet Omar Khayyam [1048-1131] though brilliant knew little or nothing about Persian history because Muslims start the world with Mohammed. Muslims even set out to destroy what has existed before their takeover of a culture. Witness ISIS destroying artifacts and the like.

  • Art Mysteries Disclosed
    Art Mysteries Disclosed 2 месяца назад

    I wouldn't be surprised if a large part of those collections and scrolls was still in the Vatican's secret archives...

  • wendywanda
    wendywanda 2 месяца назад

    I love going to my school's library.
    They got free wifi there

  • Cenobite Cenobite
    Cenobite Cenobite 2 месяца назад

    All books that are not the Quran must be destroyed

  • Loreman72
    Loreman72 2 месяца назад

    It's quite a shame when an otherwise well-produced video comes up painfully short - Hypatia was murdered as part of citywide riots between rival civic factions, not because of her teaching. Please, stop spreading stupidity!

  • Boon Goon
    Boon Goon 2 месяца назад

    F to pay respects