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CLAS 1120Q / ARCH 1707
MWF 12 – 12:50 p.m.
Rhode Island Hall 108
Prof. John Cherry
Class 3
September 14, 2015
9th-century AD manuscript (codex) now in Heidelberg
Philo of Byzantium (ca. 280-220 BC): engineer and writer, lived in Alexandria
Seven Wonders probably written by a man of the same name in 4th-5th century AD
Jorge Luis Borges and the wonder of lists
In the Chinese encyclopedia known as the
Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge
animals are divided into:
(a) belonging to the Emperor
(b) embalmed
(c) tame
(d) suckling pigs
(e) sirens
(f) fabulous
(g) stray dogs
(h) included in the present classification
(i) frenzied
(j) innumerable
(k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush
(l) et cetera
(m) having just broken the water pitcher
(n) that from a long way off look like flies
Sumerian Lexical Lists
Cuneiform writing
(Latin: cuneus (wedge)
BM 116625: proto-cuneiform lexical list from Jemdet Nasr
Mycenaean (Greek) Palaces
14th-13th centuries BC
List-making in Linear B script, an
early form of the Greek language
A Mycenaean Greek Linear B tablet listing sheep and goats
Linear B “page” tablets —
lists summarizing other
shorter (disposable) lists
Cities of the
Delian League
…which by the
430s BC were
paying annual tribute
to Athens —
recorded on the
“Tribute Lists”
The Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens
The Athenian Tribute Lists
Mid-5th century B.C.
Modern-day Alexandria-by-Egypt
Alexander’s role in the growth of libraries and the circulation of texts
Aristotle the polymath:
political science
forms of rhetoric
forms of poetry
experimental zoology
visitors at Delphi
commentary on Homer
…teaches Alexander, gives him a lasting interest in
Greek literature (especially Homer)
Alexander founds
Alexandria in Egypt
(by Raphael, 1511)
…teaches pupils such as
Theophrastus, interested
in systematization of knowledge
Masses of botanical,
zoological, and
geographical data
brought back from the
Eastern expedition
The Great Library at
Alexandria established
under Ptolemy I
RESULT: In the Hellenistic world…
— possession of books and fine libraries became a matter of prestige
— keen competition to get copies of books (e.g., by confiscation at Alexandria!)
— knowledge began to be classified and catalogued (as in modern libraries)
A rival library set up
at Pergamum in
western Asia Minor
Ancient writing materials
Classical-era bookroll or scroll —
Papyrus, used for long works, such as
literary texts or government records
The codex — usually on parchment.
Replaces the bookroll in late antiquity.
Strongly associated with Christian writings.
The Byzantine-era bookroll
(4th-7th centuries AD)
was written and read vertically
The Library at Alexandria
The old…
…and the new (2001)
How to find that darn scroll?
Make a list of them!
How to order such a list?
• Location of the scroll within the library
• Date of acquisition of the scroll
• Language in which written
• Author
• Title
• Genre (e.g., drama, poetry, history, oratory)
Head Librarian Callimachus, author of the (now lost)
A Collection of Wonders in Lands Throughout the World,
developed what is usually regarded as
the first library catalog
Qualities of Lists
• Is the list fixed in number (David Letterman’s Top 10), or indefinitely extendable?
• What gives coherence to the list?
• How is the list ordered?
— by time (a king-list, a genealogy)
— by order of alleged significance
— by priority of importance (e.g. a to-do list)
— by geography (e.g. places on a pilgrimage route, taxable towns)
— what else?
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