History Of The Ancient World

"Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future too" -Marcus Aurelius-

Celsus Library


This library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. It was built in 117 A.D. It was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia; from his son Galius Julius Aquila. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor, across the entrance and there was a statue of Athena over it. Because Athena was the goddess of the wisdom.

The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandria and Pergamum.

The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. There is three windows openings in the upper story. They used an optical trick that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size.

The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). These are the virtues of Celsus. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and  the originals of the statues were taken to Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.

There was an auditorium ,which was for lectures or presentations between the library and the Marble Road, was built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.


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Author: History of the Ancient World

Ancient historian with a particular interest in Alexander The Great. Non Fiction Writer. Museum Worker. Student. Former Fashion Model.

10 thoughts on “Celsus Library

  1. Thank you for an informative article. I was privileged to see the library when I visited Ephesus. It is a spectacular sight. Blessings.

  2. I so agree with ancient philosophers who believed that virtue means knowledge.

  3. We take our libraries for granted. Then they were truly temples of wisdom. Did the statuary ever make it back from Vienna?

  4. Wisdom…Knowledge…Intelligence…Valour! They are still cherished in our time. May we all seek these qualities!

  5. Personally, I think the quality of their libraries says a lot about a society.

  6. Wonderful. I hope one day to see it!

  7. your blog is very interesting.
    I hope your weekend will be as good as it gets…
    love you my wonderful friend…

  8. Great photo! And thank you for the interesting description of the site at Ephesus.

  9. Reblogged this on lost creek publishing.

  10. Reblogged this on طبيب حر الى آخر العمر and commented:
    looks a lot like Petra

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