Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Library of Celsus

Photo: the library is the two-storey facade with columns, near the centre of the picture. (Efes, Turkey)

The Library of Celsus was one of the great libraries of the ancient world, and Ephesus was one of its great multicultural cities.

Built in 117 CE, this library was a tomb and monument to Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who lies below it. The statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom watches over it.

The books of the day were published in the form of scrolls, and housed in double-walled niche cupboards. After the libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum, this was the third largest of its time, with a capacity for about 12,000 scrolls.

According to Ephesus, four statues adorning the niches at the front of the building symbolized the virtues of Celsus: wisdom, knowledge, intelligence and valour. Since 1910, the originals have been at a museum in Vienna; in Efes, replicas have been put in their places.

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