Eternal are the Embers which Conflagrate the Library of History

There are two forms of destruction, simple obliteration, or the more tantalizing prospect of surreptitiously capturing into one’s collection, an asset which is thereafter regarded by history as having been obliterated. Especially if that asset is Nelsonian knowledge pertaining to mankind’s history. For of what value is knowledge, if every man possesses it? Such knowledge is more precious, powerful, and perishable than mere gold.

The great Library of Alexandria was part of a larger research institute called the Mouseion at Alexandria. It was established upon the Ptolemaic Royal Palace grounds in the Egyptian capitol city of Alexandria in 283 bce during the time of Ptolemy Soter I. The Library itself was purported to house anywhere from 40,000 to 400,000 books, codices, and scrolls – most derived from the documentary antiquity of Greece, the Levant, Egypt, Persia, and India. Given that these regions comprise the birthplace of modern humanity, it can be speculated therefore that this trove of documents included significant works outlining the emergence and ascendancy of modern civilization, and possibly much of its prehistory as well.

Throughout various touchpoints in history the Library underwent a steady process of decline and destruction; its curators even being forced into exile by various fanatic influences over the centuries. The Library was of course eventually destroyed, with its works either having been burned or disseminated into other hands over time. 1

There exist four primary notions as to how the destruction/demise of the Library of Alexandria came about.2 3 4

  1. Accidental burning, 48 bce – from soldiers setting fire to Egyptian ships in Alexandria’s harbor during Caesar’s Civil War.
  2. Military conquest and razing, 260 – 275 ad – by Palmyrene invasion and/or subsequent recapture of Alexandria by Roman Emperor Aurelian.
  3. Christian razing, 391 and/or 415 ad – in retaliation against both Jews and Pagans, one of which was Library Member Hypatia.
  4. Islamic retaking and burning of Alexandria, 646 ad – as Amr ibn al-As’ revenge against the capture of Alexandria by Byzantine Emperor Constans II.

While it is easy narrative to solely blame various religions for the obliteration of mankind’s history, it is very likely that all four of the influences above played some part in the Library’s full demise. However, given that the Library was located on the Ptolemaic Royal Palace grounds, and contained such a vast trove of leather-bound scrolls, metal codices, and books (as a Top Secret materials custodian who has burned documents regularly as part of his duties, this would have taken an army months to actually destroy by burning. Burning is not such an easy solution as it might appear), one could imagine that significant impacts to the Library would necessarily have involved military conquest, control of the area for months or even years, along with confiscation of many documents into competing royal libraries and private collections. If indeed the documents were stolen, of course the simpler explanation of ‘they all got burned up’ would be preferable and simpleton history.

The most clever of deception is that which exploits the luxurious wisdom of the simplest explanation.

Even the most cynical of fundamentalist emperor or general would succumb to the heady nature of holding lock-and-key knowledge which no other king or civilization possessed – especially if such knowledge pertained to the cryptic emergence of mankind (see The Dual-Burden Model of Inferential Ethics – “An Example Inside Evolutionary Genetics”). Moreover, no mere riot nor civil disturbance could accomplish this level of destruction, as there simply would not have been sufficient time to destroy nor sort through most documents. No, these documents were not burned subject to the mythical sentiment of Muslim Caliph Omar, who was purported to have uttered, “They [Library documents] will either contradict the Quran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous. Destroy them all.”5 I don’t buy this as history for one minute.

Exploit stakes seldom go uncaptured.

These documents were too valuable as knowledge. Knowledge is indeed power, and as such many of these documents were more precious and perishable than mere gold. In the context of a military conquest, it is more likely that an exiled curator was taken into confidence, and the Library subsequently became target of well-orchestrated pilfering – as opposed to destruction at the hand of foaming-at-the-mouth Neanderthals or hood-clad book burners. Such fairy tale imagery may serve to satisfy the shallow cravings of budding academics and atheists, but not the curious wisdom of an ethical skeptic. Isn’t it funny how simple explanatory tales always conveniently identify enemies of the Cabal as the perpetrator?

Nonetheless the real story, as is almost always the case, is not nearly as simple as we desire it to be. Many of these former Library of Alexandria documents, I conjecture, still exist in private collections and in powerful hands. The purging from history of collections such as

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls (408 – 318 bce, buried in clay jars, Qumran West Bank, disc. 1946),6
  • The Nag Hammadi Library (300 bce – 370 ad, buried in clay jars, central Egypt, disc. 1945),7 and
  • Sumerian historical and religious cylinder seals (4500 – 2100 bce, buried by conquest ???, disc. 1950’s-)8

stand as exemplary testament to the age-old handiwork of this Cabal, and their active extinguishing of anything which might broach their coveted Nelsonian knowledge. However, these collections appear to be derived from an extensive documentation of human history which has now become extinct. This absence of the library of man’s ascendancy is purposeful, not accidental.

The agencies (not simply our religious institutions) which obfuscate and control our access to information today, work analogously to the conquering armies of the past. They are meticulous in their theft and burial of that which is the property of all of mankind. They are ruthless in their obliteration of institutions and individuals which might seek or develop such knowledge outside their approval.9 They are insistent that you venerate only that which they consider to be authoritative Canon and truth. They might even hire the dilettante to abuse skepticism inside this malicious errand.10 You dear reader, as their subject, were never intended to have access to this knowledge to begin with. For of what interest is suffering unless it be made savory from the pleasant broth of ignorance? The despair of innocently not even knowing why. Who is drunk on such libation, is indeed our Enemy from the beginning.

When human intervention is the critical feature of a hypothesis, human intervention to a priori obfuscate that hypothesis, forces it into becoming the null.

An idea cannot be a conspiracy theory, if it is also the null hypothesis.

The squelching of mankind’s critical path knowledge is never benevolent. This form of pathology is not mere bias, but rather agency. Agency and influence which has persisted much longer than the vagaries of mere nation and empire.

The Ethical Skeptic, “Eternal are the Embers which Conflagrate the Library of History”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 16 Oct 2021; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=53225

  1. Wikipedia: The Library of Alexandria; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria
  2. The Ohio State University, Department of History; eHistory: The Burning of the Library at Alexandria; https://ehistory.osu.edu/articles/burning-library-alexandria
  3. Wikipedia: The Library of Alexandria; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria
  4. H. Kennedy; The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In; Philadelphia, 2007; Da Capo Press. ISBN978-0-306-81585-0.
  5. The Ohio State University, Department of History; eHistory: The Burning of the Library at Alexandria; https://ehistory.osu.edu/articles/burning-library-alexandria
  6. Wikipedia: The Dead Sea Scrolls; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea_Scrolls
  7. Wikipedia: The Nag Hammadi Library; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nag_Hammadi_library
  8. Seals in image to the right are from the Oriental Museum of the University of Chicago at https://oi-idb.uchicago.edu/id/0eabee0e-444a-4d54-9a80-5311b6cdbea7 and https://oi-idb.uchicago.edu/id/968fe5d1-5627-4c33-8ae7-96da263845ae. They depict the teaching of agriculture to mankind, and the goddess Inanna granting favor to a subject led by a priest, with one of the oldest (2400 bce, Ur I) depictions of the star and crescent in the background sky.
  9. The Ethical Skeptic, “Quashing Study of Ancient Artifacts Violates a Basic Human Right” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 21 Jul 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-7ZO
  10. The Ethical Skeptic, “Pseudo-Skepticism: The New Debunker” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 31 Jul 2017, Web; https://wp.me/p17q0e-6AX
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Chakra

The author assumes that all kings will find such knowledge very useful. But what happens if the king or the victor wants to destroy all traces of past history and usher a new world ? In such cases, previous history is a dangerous burden. Biblical world started from 4004 BC or so as per the religious fanatics. Islamic history of Saudi Arabia starts from 6th Century or so. The kings/ queens before that era is forgotten. Same happens in Indonesia to some extent where all kings became better after they got converted to Islam. Before that, they were all bad.… Read more »

Chakra

My point was – both the things are possible. Most real leaders will try their level best to keep the documents at their own vaults while very few might like to destroy it when the ‘knowledge’ is not useful to them, or even a a nuisance. One will also preserve things when he/she respects it. Bamiyan Buddha was destroyed by Taliban ofr being Un-Islamic & therefore not respectable or…. to be destroyed. I am from a part of South east Asia which was colonialized by British. And I have seen the level of distortion in history etc. that has happened… Read more »

Clare

I’m a long-time reader/follower of your posts and just signed up to let you know how much I look forward to and appreciate your work. Just too timid to post. I love this topic. Thanks ES

Charles Pistilli

0 comments? Really?
Well done ES!