Nigel Wilson

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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This article provides an account of what we know about libraries in the Byzantine Empire. When the Roman Empire was at its peak, the public library was a fixture of many towns, most of which were established by a private endowment. In 356, the emperor Constantius created a scriptorium in the new eastern capital that apparently serviced an imperial library, but it was destroyed by fire in 475. The Serapeum in Alexandria was also destroyed by fire in 391. Other libraries known from this period were associated with Christian churches and schools, one of which was founded at Jerusalem by the city's bishop, Alexander. By the end of Justinian's reign, the empire's library resources had probably dwindled. There is not sufficient information about private libraries as well as institutional ones in Byzantium.

Keywords: libraries; Byzantine Empire; Roman Empire; Constantius; scriptorium; imperial library; Serapeum; Alexandria; private libraries; Byzantium

Article.  2453 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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