Libraries in pre-Islamic era.
Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed Urdu Department
is generally said that libraries came into existence after the invention of
paper and printing machine. This is not true. Before attaining these modern
methods of preserving knowledge at the dawn of human culture near the banks of
rivers Nile, Dajla, Farat and Indus in the ancient periods, man used to record
his views and visions on animal skin, palm leaves, bones, tablets of clay, pots,
and pieces of pots etc. For our convenience we can call such a place, a library
where these records were kept.
Samdani in one of his Urdu books entitled " Ehd- e - Qadeem Kay Kutab Khane"
(Libraries in old period) writes: From
the tombs of Egyptian kings in the valley of Niles such rolls of leather kept in
the clay jars have been discovered on which histories of families, interesting
travelogues and humour stories were written. These documents are still preserved
in the British Museum. It could easily be presumed that man even at that time
had begun to preserve his cultural assets. The first and oldest library is said
to have been founded by the old Egyptian king Azfandyas. This fact has not been
proved and demands further research. Library of Ashore Bani Paul is considered
to be the first and oldest library in the world. The clay tablets dug out from
the palace of King Ashor Bani Paul carrying some inscriptions in the Mekhi
script stand proof thereof. These tablets have been preserved in the British
Museum. Raees further states that geologists in 1850 discovered 22,000 clay
tablets written in or before 626 BC. These tablets were dug out from the Asore
Bani Paul's Palace who was the king of Babylon. The length of these tablets as
told by research scholars is 11" to 13". Paul's library is considered
to be the second oldest library in the world. Ashore Bani Paul and Sargan the
second founded and arranged it. The material in it was in order. The history of
library classification also begins from this library. Its librarian is said to
be the first classifier in the world. The material in this library was divided
into two separate sections. In one section the material about earth sciences was
kept and the other was based on human sciences such as state law, dictionaries,
historical incidents and epic poetry. The clay tablets are considered to be the
books of this library. Writing on these clay tablets began in 2400 B.C. The
librarian of this library was called man of the written tablets. Giving the
detail of libraries in ancient Greece the writer points out that soon after
Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations Greeks began their struggle to become the
great nation of the world. Because of the sheer that besides language the art of
writing had become popular in this period. We locate a great number of libraries
in the world. Ancient Greece was the land of great scholars. Many Muslim
philosophers and theologians translated their books. S. M. Afnan writes in the
first chapter of his book Philosophical Terminology in Arabic and Persian, that
when Arabic philosophical writings first appeared the language had already
undergone considerable development. Classical Arabic had been different from the
spoken tongue since the earliest days. Among its oldest specimens are Jahilliyah
poetry composed in a literary dialect understood but not spoken by the
respective tribes. Although the authenticity of these poems has been challenged
on the basis that they "could never have been written before the appearance
of Qur'an, it may be assumed that a good part is genuine. The expressions are
naturally of a concrete and local character depicting nomadic life. There is a
marked lack of abstract terms except for such notions as love, honour, bravery,
generosity and the like. Yet the vocabulary already betrays the presence of
foreign words. This was the result of infiltration and due to contact with
neighbouring peoples. North of them were the Armenians. It has been observed
"almost all the concepts related to civilization are expressed in Arabic by
Armenian words." In Yemen, Persian garrisons had been stationed for long.
At about the same time words of Greek origin started to percolate into Arabic,
though to a decidedly lesser extent. The trilingual inscriptions of Syriac,
Greek and Aramaic at Zabad and bilingual of Greek and Arabic at Harran are proof
of the languages prevalent in the region. The local dialect of Palmyra was
intermixed with Greek. Public acts were set up in both Aramaic and Greek. The
Nabateans who were Arabic in speech and Aramaic in writing presumably spoke
Greek as well. And later at the court of the Ghassanids Arabic and Greek
speaking merchants using the trade routes that passed through the kingdom
associated freely. Arab sources frequently refer to the cultural influences
which reached them through Hirah. Notwithstanding these channels the general
opinion is that the Greek words absorbed in Arabic in the early days were mostly
by way of Aramaic and Syriac."
cannot deny the fact that the history of ancient Greece is the history of
knowledge. It produced a great number of philosophers, poets, scholars,
theologians, doctors, scientists and politicians. Research scholars traced
several libraries belonging to the B.C era here. They claim that it was Greece
where the sections of classification and evaluation of books were founded.
Aristotle and Plato categorized knowledge. It is said that their classification
of knowledge is considered to be the initial classification in the world.
an Athenian son of Hippocrates is said to have been the first person in Greece
who collected a library in Athens to which he "generously allowed public
access." Samdani says "till 403 BC many libraries were founded in
Athens. Aristotle was the first person who founded a public library in Greece.
Before his period the libraries used to be the personal assets of the kings and
himself had a big collection of books which he had purchased from one of his
pupils. Research scholars declare it to be the first university library.
library had many rare and commonly unavailable manuscripts.
famous library and museum of Alexandria came into existence by the order of