The Royal library of Alexandria in Egypt was once the largest of its kind in the ancient world. The story behind its foundation in the 3rd century BC, destruction, and eventual rebuilding is shown below. If indeed the original library was met with destruction on several occasions, it leaves one wondering what ancient knowledge of previous civilizations were lost during the episodes.
It is first known library of its kind to gather a serious collection of books from beyond its country’s borders, the Library at Alexandria was charged with collecting all the world’s knowledge. It did so through an aggressive and well-funded royal mandate involving trips to the book fairs of Rhodes and Athens and a (potentially apocryphal or exaggerated) policy of pulling the books off every ship that came into port, keeping the originals and returning copies to their owners. This detail is informed by the fact that Alexandria, because of its man-made bidirectional port between the mainland and the Pharos island, welcomed trade from the East and West and soon found itself the international hub for trade, as well as the leading producer of papyrus and, soon enough, books.