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Founded in the fourth century B.C., the Library of Alexandria was a vast repository of knowledge for the Greek civilisation that then dominated the Mediterranean. At its peak, it is thought to have contained some 700,000 manuscripts.

But six centuries after its foundation, after being destroyed by a series of fires, the library disappeared, along with the civilisation that had nurtured it. In this feature article, Alison Abbott describes how the library's spirit has been invoked in a US$120-million building, which will be inaugurated next week.

Abbot reports that, while some hail the project as a symbol of rationality, dialogue and scientific method, others criticise it for being a grandiose project that has diverted funding from improving the region's scientific infrastructure more generally.

Link to Nature feature article

Reference: Nature 419, 556 (2002)