The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
All in the Mind - Summer 2016: All in the Mind Awards Ceremony from the Wellcome Collection in LondonTuesday, 28th June 2016 21:00 - BBC Radio 4Claudia Hammond presents the series that explores the limits and potential of the human mind. Read more: All in the Mind - Summer 2016: All in the Mind Awards Ceremony from the Wellcome Collection in London
Genius of the Modern World: NietzscheAvailable until Friday, 29th July 2016 00:00Bettany Hughes takes us on an exploration of Friedrich Nietzsche's life and works. Read more: Genius of the Modern World: Nietzsche
All in the Mind - Summer 2016: All in the Mind Awards Ceremony from the Wellcome Collection in LondonAvailable until Wednesday, 28th June 2017 00:00
Thinking Allowed 2016: A special programme on Pierre BourdieuAvailable for over a year
The Big C & Me: Episode 2Available until Sunday, 24th July 2016 02:05
How did the referendum polls get it wrong - again?John Curtice explains why a clear prediction of the referendum result proved so elusive for many... Read more: How did the referendum polls get it wrong - again?
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
The value of coffeeThis free course explores the economic and cultural value of coffee. You will follow the chain of... Try: The value of coffee now
English: skills for learningEnglish: skills for learning, is a free course for anybody who is thinking of studying for a... Try: English: skills for learning now
One of the most important questions for any student of the ancient world to address is 'how do we know what we know about antiquity?' Whether we're thinking about urban architecture, or love poetry, or modern drama, a wide range of factors shape the picture of antiquity that we have today. This free course, Library of Alexandria, encourages you to reflect upon and critically assess those factors. Interpreting an ancient text, or a piece of material culture, or understanding an historical event, is never a straightforward process of 'discovery', but is always affected by things such as translation choices, the preservation (or loss) of an archaeological record, or the agendas of scholars.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand the ancient and modern significance of the Library of Alexandria
- critically assess the evidence in the different accounts of its destruction
- understand the ways in which different modern contexts and ideologies shape our interpretations of historical events.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Approaching the Library of Alexandria
- 2 The universal library?
- 3 The destruction of the library
- 4 Reimagining the library
- Andy Potts, ‘The internet’s librarian’
- Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night
- Plutarch, Life of Caesar 49
- Dio Cassius, Roman History 42.38.2
- Ammianus Marcellinus, Histories 22.16.13–14
- Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
- Gregory Bar Hebraeus/Abu’l Faraj, Chronicum Syriacum
- Keep on learning
- Further reading
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Library of Alexandria
This OpenLearn free course encourages you to reflect upon and critically assess the factors that shape what we know about antiquity, as well as offering some insight into how different approaches to antiquity – whether through texts, material culture, or modern receptions – can work together. It is important to be aware of how studying the ancient world is always, at heart, an interdisciplinary endeavour, a fact which the case study in this free course demonstrates particularly well. You will explore the ancient Library of Alexandria, a great institution of learning and scholarship founded by the Ptolemaic rulers of Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Monday, 11th January 2016
Last updated on: Monday, 11th January 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
- Latest OpenLearn pages
- Latest pages from OpenLearn - History & The Arts
- Latest pages from OpenLearn - History
- Latest pages from OpenLearn - Classical Studies
- Latest pages tagged - A863_1
- Latest pages tagged - library
- Latest pages tagged - antiquity
- Latest pages tagged - Alexandria
- Latest comments on this page
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (1 MB)
- PDF (1.6 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (865 KB)
- ePub 2.0 (866 KB)
- Kindle (459 KB)
- RSS (150 KB)
- HTML (889 KB)
- SCORM (888 KB)
- OUXML Package (27 KB)
- OUXML File (73 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (2.7 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.