Mostafa el-Abbadi, campaigned to recreate great Library of Alexandria – obituary

Mostafa el-Abbadi in 2012 Credit:  Scott Nelson

Mostafa el-Abbadi, who has died aged 88, was an Egyptian scholar of the Graeco-Roman world who campaigned over many years to recreate the ancient Library of Alexandria; although a new Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in 2002, differences with the Egyptian authorities meant that he was not even invited to the opening ceremony.

Founded by Ptolemy I Soter, one of Alexander the Great’s successor kings, in the third century BC, the Library of Alexandria, part of a larger museum complex, was one of the most significant libraries of the ancient world. Ptolemy wanted the library to contain “all the texts in the world that are worthy of study”, and its collection, often said to have contained half a million documents, grew to include the originals of plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides, translations of works from Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Buddhist texts, Hebrew scriptures – even (allegedly) the...

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