After the shocking damages of world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in Cairo’s Museum, another collection hosting world heritage is under the threat of looters and vandals: The New Library of Alexandria, the Biblioteca Alexandrina.
In a letter published on the official website of Biblioteca Alexandrina the director of Egypt’s second largest Egyptian Artifacts Museum, Ismail Serageldin, thanked the local youth for helping protect the iconic building hosting a rich collection of Egypt’s multi-cultural history, artifacts that were discovered at the self-same location of the museum.
The BA is located in the city of Alexandria at Egypt’s the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where protests continue and lawlessness has forced the residents to form neighborhood guarding protection groups to ensure that looters, arsonists and vandals will not get advantage of the massive anti-government protests.
Read below the dramatic Letter of Biblioteca Alexandrina’s Director:
To our friends around the world: The Events in Egypt
30 Jan 2011
The world has witnessed an unprecedented popular action in the streets of Egypt. Led by Egypt’s youth, with their justified demands for more freedom, more democracy, lower prices for necessities and more employment opportunities. These youths demanded immediate and far-reaching changes. This was met by violent conflicts with the police, who were routed. The army was called in and was welcomed by the demonstrators, but initially their presence was more symbolic than active. Events deteriorated as lawless bands of thugs, and maybe agents provocateurs, appeared and looting began. The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria. They are collaborating with the army. This makeshift arrangement is in place until full public order returns.
The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters. I am there daily within the bounds of the curfew hours. However, the Library will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and events unfold towards an end to the lawlessness and a move towards the resolution of the political issues that triggered the demonstrations.
Librarian of Alexandria
Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The New Library of Alexandria, the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina is dedicated to recapture the spirit of openness and scholarship of the original Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
The idea of housing a museum of antiquities within the cultural complex of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was born when several exquisite pieces dating back to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras were discovered during the excavation works at the construction site of the Library.
Two burial artifacts taking the face of a monkey and a jackal
Old version of a Quran manuscript
The BA Antiquities Museum is one of the few museums in the world that displays artifacts discovered at the self-same location of the museum.
The Museum was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002. Its collections were carefully selected to reflect the rich, multi-cultural history of Egypt with its Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic heritage, with special emphasis on Alexandria and the Hellenistic period. The Museum houses 1133 pieces.
The Biblioteca Alexandrina hosts also a Center for Hellenistic Studies, The Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies, that was inagurated in 2007 with the support of the Greek “Alexander S. Onassis Foundation”.