From the first time Europeans encountered Africans, there has been an animosity towards Black people. Asides from their intentions to rule and loot, they have had a long-lasting desire of erasing Black history.
The Library of Alexandria in Egypt was not only a place that held ancient Black knowledge, but it also held knowledge and secrets from other parts of the world. But it is obvious that the vast knowledge it held was a threat to certain people, and so they wanted it gone.
To fully understand this account of bitter history, we need to first narrate to you how the city of Alexandria in Egypt came to be.
The original Egyptian name of the town on which Alexandria was built was “Rhakotis”. Upon Rhakotis, the city of Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 332BC when he conquered Egypt. After 9 years, Alexander died in battle in Babylon and the Great city of Alexandria was claimed by one of his lieutenant, Ptolemy.
Before Alexander’s death, the capital of Egypt was Memphis, but all that changed after Ptolemy became ruler of Alexandria. Alexandria was then made the capital of Egypt. And by that move, Alexandria rose to become of the largest cities in the world.
Since the people of Ptolemy were not Egyptians, they did not originally practice the style of rulership the Black Egyptians practiced. They needed their rule and dynasty to last, so their kings adopted the Pharaohnic system of rulership.
To make their rule legitimate, they also founded the Graeco-Roman cult of Serapis. It was the influence of the cult of Serapis that resulted in the creation and building of the Library of Alexandria.
For centuries, the Library of Alexandria was magnificent and important to learning for scholars of the ancient world. The mysteries and origins of many races and people were stored and learned in the library. Great thinkers, mathematicians, scientists, and poets came to the library from all over the world. It is recorded that the library had from as much as 700,000 to over 1 million scrolls in its shelves.
The destruction of the library is one of the biggest tragedies that befell humanity. More so, it is a tragedy that befell the Black man, because if the Library and its scrolls were still standing, the science of old would not have been lost to Black people.
There are various accounts of the destruction of the library. And historians have argued which of the accounts is true. Below we are going to narrate the various accounts of the destruction of the library.
First Theory: Destruction By Julius Caesar
It is accounted that in 48 BC, Rome was at war, and Julius Cesaer was chasing Pompey into Egypt. His assault was halted by an Egyptian fleet at Alexandria. The odds were against Julius as he was heavily outnumbered and surrounded by the enemies fleets.
He ordered that the ships at the harbor be burnt, and the fire became massive, spread and destroyed the Egyptian fleet. But the fire did not stop there. It spread into the city and burnt down part of the city, which was the same area that housed the Library of Alexandria. In an account by Plutarch, in his book titled ‘The Life of Julius Caesar’, he said that “When the enemy tried to cut off his (Julius Caesar’s) fleet, he was forced to repel the danger by using fire, and this spread from the dockyards and destroyed the great library.”
But one confusion which historians have encountered is that the Museum (or Muoseion) which was beside the library was not burnt. This fact was mentioned by the historian Strabo, about 30 years after Julius Caesar attacked Alexandria. But one this was certain was that Strabo’s account indicts Julius as the person who burnt down the Library.
Second Theory: The Destruction By The Christians
The account of the Christian invasion of Egypt in the 4th century AD lays credence to their contribution to the destruction of the library. The emperor Theodosius, in 391 AD, made a decree that banned pagan practices. He imposed the Christian religion on the territories which they had conquered.
The temple of Serapis in Alexandria, which was the citadel/library of learning was considered a pagan outfit and was in turn burnt and converted into a church. Although the Temple was not the main library, it held ten percent of the documents and scrolls of the library of Alexandria.
At this time in the history of Alexandra, the city was inhabited by Christians, Jews, and pagans. The three groups inhabiting the city created an atmosphere of political rivalry and violence. The violence led to the death of a Christian monk, Hierax. His death was said to have been influenced by a woman called Hypatia, who was the last Head Librarian at the Library of Alexandria.
The jews also deceived the Christians, bringing them into the streets and killing them in their numbers. In a revenge attack, the Christians killed the Jews and the Pagans. Hypatia was among those killed. Many have said that it was at this point that some part of the Library was destroyed.
One fact we have discovered from research and account of ancient historians is that the Library of Alexandria was not a particular building. It was more than one building which housed different classes of scrolls.
Third Theory: The Destruction By The Muslims
The involvement of the Muslims in the destruction of the library of Alexandria is the last account of the Library. When the Moslem Caliph Omar laid siege and conquered the city of Alexandria in 640 AD, they dealt the final blow to what was left of the library.
The story goes that the general who conquered the city asked the Caliph what they were to do with the library which he described as “a great library containing all the knowledge of the world”. The Caliph replied that “they will either contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous.” So for the next six months, they used the scrolls and books as tinder for the bathhouses.
After reading the various accounts of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, one thing that every unbiased mind should take home is that the world wanted what belongs to Africa so bad that it did everything in its power to replace Africa’s glory with foreign faces.
Many people would support this wickedness on the theory of war and conquest, but it is much more than that.
For over 1,000 years, Europeans and Arabs had their turn in dismantling the glory of ancient Egypt. And even when cities were built by other foreigners on Egyptian soil, the eyes of the rest of Europe and Arabia still gazed jealously on Egypt. They wanted Egypt – even though it came in ashes.
Today, Africa and indeed the rest of the world has lost a great deal of knowledge through the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.