Pergamon Library in Turkey: Science Temple

The Pergamon library was one of the biggest libraries of the Hellenistic world. It was the second most important library in ancient times, after the library in Alexandria. According to the Greek historian Plutarch, the Library collection consisted of 200 thousand books including bundles of papyrus and parchment.

Produced from leather of animal, this writing material which took its name from Pergamon had been the most important means of transmission of science and culture during the antiquity, as it was used in production of writing bundles and books.
Invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamon  parchment was the substitute for papyrus which was prohibited from export by the Egyptian Ptolemies who thought the Library of Pergamon as rival to Library of Alexandria. During the Pergamon
Kingdom use of parchment had become widespread and more functional."

Who established the Pergamum Library?

Pergamon Library, which has much fame and popularity in the 2nd century B.C., was built during the reign of Attalos I. It was created by the transformation of Athena Temple into a “Science Temple”. 

The library, which originally was accessed through the upper floor of the gallery, accommodates a large reading room from the era of Eumenes II. The library was equipped with shelves, and 3.50 m. high Statue of Athena that was originally in there, is now in the Berlin Museum. In the time of Eumenes II, the collection of the Pergamon Library became richer and the Alexandria Library was its biggest rival.

The library housed the statue busts of the historian Herodotus from Halicarnassus, a female poet Sappho from Lesbos, the scholar Apollonius, who was the son of Philotas, vellum makers Krates and Irodikos and the musician Timotheus from Miletus.

Disturbed by the grandeur of Pergamon Library, the Egyptian King prohibited papyrus exports to Pergamon, in an attempt to weaken the competition. He wanted the Library in Alexandria to be unrivaled. Krates, an artist from Sardes, offered a solution to this problem. The material he made from goat leather was called Pergamon Paper (Pergaminae Charte), and this was successfully used in place of papyrus. This Pergamon Paper, which was a very important invention, later became known as Parchment.

The invention of Parchment led to a rich literary collection in Pergamon. When the city came under the rule of Rome in 133 B.C., the works from the Pergamon Library were taken to Alexandria, and given to the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra as a gift from Antonius, ignoring the Roman scholars who wished to obtain them.

Books in the Library had been given to the Queen of Egypt Cleopatra as a present by the Roman general and politician, Marcus Antonius in 41 BC.

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