8000 rare books burned! Entire Museum Destroyed! Those seem like headlines we would of been reading during World War I or World War II, but those headlines are just from this week.
If you keep up with current events then you have heard that militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria invaded the Central Library of Mosul in January, they were on a mission to destroy a familiar enemy: other people’s ideas. Residents say the extremists smashed the locks that had protected the biggest repository of learning in the northern Iraq town, and loaded around thousands of books into six pickup trucks. Extremely rare manuscripts and texts were among the books taken — some dating back 800 years, according to the Fiscal Times. The militants left only Islamic texts.
Imagine that – left only the Islamic Texts.
You also heard that Islamic State militants ransacked Mosul’s central museum, destroying priceless artifacts that are thousands of years old, in the group’s latest rampage which threatens to upend millennia of coexistence in the Middle East. The destruction of statues and artifacts that date from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires.
This destroying of culture, art and books has gone on for thousands and thousands of years and it seems to of found a new resurgence. Personally, regardless of the faith, nation, creed, color or inclinations – art and literature should never be destroyed. This, to me, is unforgivable and one of the most barbaric things man can do to man. The hiding of history is horrid, but the intentional destruction of history is unforgivable. It is also appalling this still happens in today’s day and age. History, all history; right-wrong-and indifferent – belongs to all mankind and if we cannot study and know of the things that have been, then how can we ever know where we are headed?
In my work as a professional explorer and researcher I am amazed as just how much history remains hidden and how many important and priceless artifacts are hidden from eyes, just because people have an agenda and do not want them seeing the light of day and (as weird as it may sound) those which are hidden and tucked away out of ignorance and not recognizing their critical importance to history and the historical record. Many times, when investigating some of the most important legends of all time, we have come across files, records, documents and even artifacts; which reveal a completely different story than the one the public is told. Yes, much of History has been Hidden and many incredible artifacts have be mislaid and forgotten, all due to personal agendas and blissful ignorance.
But to seek to destroy a historical record in an attempt to wipe a people or record of events from the historical record? How does someone living in today’s society even think such is ok? Oh, that’s right, those currently decimating the history of the middle east are not (intentionally so) living in today’s world; and IF they have their way- neither will you.
Suspend the current events for the moment and lets reflect on other times this has happened. Hitler did the same thing and we know what his intentions were, yet with the events going on right before our eyes today; why is not our media beside itself over the destruction of books, art and culture? The answer is political correctness. Now it is politically correct to turn away, instead of standing up for what is right. But where does all this stop? You think if ISIS could have their way they would stop in Mosul? Think again. They would just as happily march to Jerusalem, or London or Washington D.C. if they could. Think about what the losses to culture, history and art would be if this came to our shores. Don’t think it cannot happen. It can!
Now this is not a political oriented article, this is an article about how History get Hidden, Artifacts Forgotten and how within certain societies it is ok for mankind to tear itself apart. But, remember – to forget history is to be doomed to repeat history.
So, how about a little history refresher on one of the greatest losses of all time forced upon mankind. It is one who’s effects are still felt to his day and if it had not of had happened, there is no telling how far our wisdom and abilities would of progressed. It was a huge loss to everyone. The loss?
The destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria
The history of one of the greatest losses to mankind, goes like this: “Alexandria, one of the greatest cities of the ancient world, was founded by Alexander the Great after his conquest of Egypt in 332 BC. After the death of Alexander in Babylon in 323 BC, Egypt fell to the lot of one of his lieutenants, Ptolemy. It was under Ptolemy that the newly-founded Alexandria came to replace the ancient city of Memphis as the capital of Egypt. This marked the beginning of the rise of Alexandria. Yet, no dynasty can survive for long without the support of their subjects, and the Ptolemies were keenly aware of this. Thus, the early Ptolemaic kings sought to legitimize their rule through a variety of ways, including assuming the role of pharaoh, founding the Graeco-Roman cult of Serapis, and becoming the patrons of scholarship and learning (a good way to show off one’s wealth, by the way). It was this patronage that resulted in the creation of the great Library of Alexandria by Ptolemy. Over the centuries, the Library of Alexandria was one of the largest and most significant libraries in the ancient world. The great thinkers of the age, scientists, mathematicians, poets from all civilizations came to study and exchange ideas. As many as 700,000 scrolls filled the shelves. However, in one of the greatest tragedies of the academic world, the Library became lost to history and scholars are still not able to agree on how it was destroyed.”
70,000 books – ancient scrolls of learning – gone! Imagine what those texts held? Imagine what we could of learned?
“Perhaps one of the most interesting accounts of its destruction comes from the accounts of the Roman writers. According to several authors, the Library of Alexandria was accidentally destroyed by Julius Caesar during the siege of Alexandria in 48 BC. Plutarch, for instance, provides this account: “when the enemy tried to cut off his (Julius Caesar’s) fleet, he was forced to repel the danger by using fire, and this spread from the dockyards and destroyed the great library.
(Plutarch, The Life of Julius Caesar, 49.6)”
“This account is dubious, however, as the Musaeum (or Mouseion) at Alexandria, which was right next to the library was unharmed, as it was mentioned by the geographer Strabo about 30 years after Caesar’s siege of Alexandria. Nevertheless, Strabo does not mention the Library of Alexandria itself, thereby supporting the claim that Caesar was responsible for burning it down. However, as the Library was attached to the Musaeum, and Strabo did mention the latter, it is possible that the library was still in existence during Strabo’s time. The omission of the library can perhaps be attributed either to the possibility that Strabo felt no need to mention the library, as he had already mentioned the Musaeum, or that the library was no longer the centre of scholarship that it once was (the idea of ‘budget cuts’ seems increasingly probable). In addition, it has been suggested that it was not the library, but the warehouses near the port, which stored manuscripts, that was destroyed by Caesar’s fire.”
“The second possible culprit would be the Christians of the 4th century AD. In 391 AD, the Emperor Theodosius issued a decree that officially outlawed pagan practices. Thus, the Serapeum or Temple of Serapis in Alexandria was destroyed. However, this was not the Library of Alexandria, or for that matter, a library of any sort. Furthermore, no ancient sources mention the destruction of any library at this time at all. Hence, there is no evidence that the Christians of the 4th century destroyed the Library of Alexandria.
The last possible perpetrator of this crime would be the Muslim Caliph, Omar. According to this story, a certain “John Grammaticus” (490–570) asks Amr, the victorious Muslim general, for the “books in the royal library.” Amr writes to the Omar for instructions and Omar replies: “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.” There are at least two problems with this story. Firstly, there is no mention of any library, only books. Secondly, this was written by a Syrian Christian writer, and may have been invented to tarnish the image of Omar.”
More than 2300 years later, society still suffers over the loss of this knowledge, yet here we are in supposedly modern times and it is happening all over again.
Are we moving ahead and becoming better as society matures? Or, is it all an illusion? We all want the truth about history, yet we still teach Christopher Columbus discovered America to school children. We all say we are willing to fight for truth, yet when we see atrocities such as history, books, libraries and art being systematically destroyed and we say little, but let a local person try to make money selling puppies from their home- we rage and picket calling it an atrocity of an “Puppy Mill”. Is our head on straight? Are we focusing on the important things? Are we slowly loosing touch with history and how important it is? History is a class in many schools which is now NOT MANDATORY. Imagine that, history not mandatory? We have been here before as it relates to mankind, and if we study the history books, we know he ending to the story and almost any given situation. That is exactly why history is so important. Dig in, dig deep and get your family and kids into history for it may be the only thing that gives us a future to look forward to that can in-turn become its own history.