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facade of 2nd century Roman Empire Library, named in honor of Celsus, at Ephesus in what is now Turkey

The ancient library of Alexandria Egypt was     established around 300 BC.
In the 2nd century BC, the library at Tarsus (then a Greek city but now located in Turkey) had 200,000 volumes, many of them about science.,_Mersin

In the 4th century in the Byzantine half of the Roman Empire, Constantius II created the Imperial Library of Constantinople with 100,000 volumes.

Persia had a large library with translations (into Persian) of foreign writings. Many of the scholars there were Nestorian Christians from the Byzantine Empire.

Next came the House of Wisdom library, which contained more than 100,000 books, founded in the early 9th century in Baghdad (and destroyed in 1258 by the Mongols).

Most of the books had been purchased in the Byzantine Empire, but Ptolemy’s book on astronomy was obtained as terms of a peace treaty  with the Byzantine Empire.

Some of its early scholars at the House of Wisdom came from the Academy of Gondishapur (founded by Nestorian Christians) in Persia.

Large libraries were centers where scholars, including non-Muslim scholars, translated books from Greek into Arabic and discussed ideas. Some of the books were translated from Chinese, Sanskrit, Persian and Syriac.

Rhetoric, logic, metaphysics, theology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, physics, biology, medicine, and surgery were taught at the House of Wisdom, but it was not a university because it did not grant degrees.

Image by Michi (Michi), via Wikimedia Commons.

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