The Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey

2012

The library was built in Ephesus, in territory that was traditionally Greek to the core. The building is important as one of few remaining examples of an ancient Roman-influenced library. It also shows that public libraries were built not only in Rome itself but throughout the Roman Empire.

The interior of the library and all its books were destroyed by fire in the devastating earthquake that struck the city in 262. Only the facade survived. About 400 AD, the library was transformed into a Nymphaeum. The facade was completely destroyed by a later earthquake, likely in the late Byzantine period. In a massive restoration which is considered to be very true to the historic building, the front fa├žade was rebuilt during the 1960s and 1970s and now serves as a prime example of Roman public architecture. The Library of Celsus may serve as a model for other, less well preserved, libraries elsewhere in the Empire, for it is possible that literary collections were housed in other Roman cities for the benefit of students as well as traveling Romans. Such libraries may also have housed collections of local documents of interest if they were not destroyed during the Roman conquest.

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