Past in Perspective

If you have a garden and a library,

you have everything you need.

–Marcus Tullius Cicero

The library of Ashurbanipal is the oldest known library in the world and was founded in the 7th century BC for Ashurbanipal’s—the Assyrian ruler—royal contemplation. Located in modern day Iraq, the library included 30,000 cuneiform tabled that were organised according to their subject matter. Most of its titles were archival documents, religious incantations and scholarly texts but it also has a number of literature pieces, including the 4000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh. Ashurbanipal loved books and kept a comprehensive stockpile by looting work from Babylonia and the other territories he conquered. Majority of the ancient library’s contents are now kept in the British Museum in London. It is ironic that for someone who stole all the books, the ruler was particularly scared of theft and got an inscription carved which states that of anyone steals from him, God would erase their name, seed and land.


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