Picture: tablet containing the flood story from the Epic of Gilgamesh, by COJS.org.
The Royal Library of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal, located in Nineveh, in present-day Iraq, dates back to the 7th century. In 1849, British archeologists found the first of about 20,000 clay tablets and carried them back to the British Museum; however, they were not deciphered for about 50 years.
When the cuneiform writing was translated, it was discovered that along with the ancient literary work The Epic of Gilgamesh, there were numerous other materials organized systematically under history, government, poetry, science and other topics.
In recent years, experts at the British Museum have been working with international colleagues to document this oldest surviving royal library in the world.
Sadly, the Baghdad Musuem was looted during the attacks on Iraq in 2003. After six years of closure it reopened in 2009.