Episode 99 - The Library of Alexandria - 16:1 - An Education Podcast Episode 99 - The Library of Alexandria - 16:1 - An Education Podcast

Episode 99 - The Library of Alexandria

January 4, 2024

Libraries & Literacy

Education Headline Roundup

Happy New Year! Here are the stories we cover in our first education headline roundup of 2024:

  • New PISA scores reveal that students worldwide have suffered major learning setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with math scores dropping by ¾ of a year and reading by ½ year.
  • The FTC is suing Grand Canyon University for alleged deceptive advertising and illegal telemarketing practices.
  • New Zealand’s new Prime Minister bans phones in schools to address the country’s declining literacy rates.

The Library of Alexandria

In our first episode of 2024, we journey through time and sand, unraveling tales of the legendary Library of Alexandria. Was it a beacon of wisdom, a hoarding of scrolls, or a tragic victim of flames? Join us as we navigate the mysteries of this intellectual powerhouse of the ancient world.

First, we dispel a common misconception: Alexandria wasn’t the first library of renown. We’ll pay homage to the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, whose library in Nineveh housed clay tablets inscribed with epic poems and ancient wisdom. Though fiery war eventually consumed Nineveh, the baked tablets survived, offering a glimpse into the earliest organized knowledge collection.

Enter the Macedonians, and fast forward to the death of Alexander the Great, an accomplished military strategist and Aristotle’s pupil. His empire fractured, leaving three power blocs ruled by his former generals. We’ll focus on Ptolemy I Soter, who established the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt and commissioned Alexandria’s great library, a cultural melting pot where Greek and Egyptian traditions intertwined, as well as its accompanying Mouseion (a place dedicated to the Muses). 

The library’s growth wasn’t organic. The Ptolemaic kings adopted an aggressive approach to book collection, sending agents to major book fairs and even commandeering scrolls from ships in the harbor. They craved older copies, believing they were likely closer to an author’s original ideas.

We also address the infamous burning of Alexandria. Was it a fiery inferno consuming scrolls in a single night? Evidence points to Julius Caesar’s involvement in the destruction, but did the entire library go up in smoke? Find out in this latest installment of 16:1!

Sources & Resources:

The British Museum – A library fit for a king by Jonathan Taylor

The Guinness World Records – First Library

TIME – The Story of the Library of Alexandria Is Mostly a Legend, But the Lesson of Its Burning Is Still Crucial Today by Richard Ovenden

Wikipedia – Library of Alexandria

Britannica – Battle of Nineveh

Britannica – Library of Alexandria

Wikipedia – Alexander the Great

University of Exeter – The Antigonid Network

The MET – The Seleucid Empire (323–64 B.C.)

Wikipedia – Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Wikipedia – Lighthouse of Alexandria

Market Watch – FTC sues Grand Canyon Education, alleging ‘deceptive and abusive’ marketing practices by Bill Peters

CNBC – How a 40-ounce cup turned Stanley into a $750 million a year business by Nicolas Vega and Lauren Shamo.

AP – Students around the world suffered huge learning setbacks during the pandemic, study finds

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing Grand Canyon University (GCU) for alleged deceptive advertising and illegal telemarketing practices. 

The Journal – New Zealand to ban phones in schools under new prime minister

Wikipedia – Emily Warren Roebling.

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