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Ancient public library uncovered in Germany

Archaeologists in Cologne, Germany, have uncovered the remains of the oldest public library in the country, built almost 2000 years ago, which may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, reports the Guardian.

The walls of the building were first uncovered during an excavation around a Protestant church in 2017. Experts were initially mystified by the discovery of niches, measuring approximately 80cm by 50cm, in the walls, before the building was recognised as a library.

‘It took us some time to match up the parallels—we could see the niches were too small to bear statues inside. But what they are are kind of cupboards for the scrolls,’ said Dirk Schmitz, from the Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne. ‘They are very particular to libraries—you can see the same ones in the library at Ephesus.’ 

Schmitz told the Guardian that the collection of scrolls would have been ‘quite huge—maybe 20,000’, and described the discovery as ‘really incredible—a spectacular find’.

The city of Cologne—or Köln in German—was founded by the Romans in 50 CE, under the name of Colonia. The library building, dating back to second century AD, would have been slightly smaller than the Library of Celsus in the Ancient Greek city of Ephesus, which was built in 117 CE.

 

Category: Library news International