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Historians Study in Planet Earth’s Oldest Library

The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, also referred to by many as the first library in the world, is considered one of the most important creations in human history. The library, which is located in present-day Iraq near Mosul, was created and built by the sixth Neo-Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal.

The Royal Library contains about 30,000 clay tablets written in a script called cuneiform. The texts ranged in topics such as literature to administrative records. It also contained texts in ancient languages, mostly Akkadian and Sumerian.

Ashurbanipal was not supposed to succeed his father as king until his brother died in 672 BC making him the new heir. Before he was named king, he had the freedom to relish in scholarly pursuits. Because of this, Ashurbanipal decided to create The Royal Library.

Alexander the Great was inspired by the Royal Library, he sought to create his own library after visiting Babylonia in which he saw the library himself. He seeked works from all the people he conquered and translated them into various languages, such as greek. Unfortunately, he died before fulfilling his desire to build his own library but Ptolemy, one of his generals, fulfilled it for him. He created and launched the Great Library of Alexandria, which became the most famous library in the world for over a thousand years. The library is currently located in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal is seen as one of the most revolutionary creations in the world by many historians today. It inspired the creation of other libraries as well. Our understanding of ancient history in the Near East would not be what it is today without the library.

[Sources: World History Atlas; Ancient Origins; pbs.org]

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