Saturday, May 31, 2008

A list of cities

I have been doing some of my writing lately in the library of the Institut national d'histoire de l'art, which is housed in an extraordinary space called the Salle Ovale (click here for a 3-D virtual tour) along with the reference section of the Richelieu branch of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Around the oval skylight of the room are the names of the following cities, beginning over the entrance and proceeding clockwise:

ROME
CARTHAGE
PEKIN
JERUSALEM
PARIS
BYZANCE
WASHINGTON
FLORENCE
ATHENES
NINIVE
BERLIN
ALEXANDRIE
LONDRES
BABYLONE
VIENNE
THEBES

When I saw Alexandria, I thought "Great libraries of the world?" but I'm not sure that's right. Sister cities of Paris is right out, given the inclusion of Nineveh and Babylon. Any guesses as to what this group represents?

2 comments:

gpwieland said...

You are probably right about the cities having important libraries. Here is what a quick look found for me.

Rome - Vatican Library http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/vatican/vatican.html

Carthage - Great Library of Carthage http://books.google.com/books?id=4L2vCuS1LbYC&pg=PA149&lpg=PA149&dq=%22great+library%22+ancient+carthage&source=web&ots=V5PPD7UTJb&sig=Vs_Ttw-AsYzFNUguDO_o37DTapI&hl=en#PPA149,M1

Pekin - Hanlin Library http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla62/62-davd.htm

Jerusalem - Royal Library or maybe Jewish National and University Library http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1792755

Paris

Byzance - Imperial Library of Constantinople http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/bellagio/bellag1.html

Washington - Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/index.html

Florence - Laurentian Library http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Laurentian_Library.html or Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale http://www.bncf.firenze.sbn.it/

Athens - National Library of Greece http://www.nlg.gr/english/istoria.htm

Ninive - Ninive Library? http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Babylonia

Berlin - Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin http://staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/english/imageflyer.html

Alexandria - Great Library http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria

Londres - British Library http://www.bl.uk/

Babylone - Library of Ashurbanipal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Ashurbanipal

Vienne - Austrian National Library http://www.panoramas.dk/fullscreen5/f52-vienna-library.html

Thebes - Library of Thebes http://books.google.com/books?id=jmsFBi94-44C&pg=RA1-PA96&lpg=RA1-PA96&dq=%22Library+of+thebes%22&source=web&ots=FC3U8kQ6CI&sig=IvsrkKSWQkLLckIZbkpyaa7VTSw&hl=en

Also of note is this timeline that indicates that most of the cities on the list had libraries important enough to include in the timeline.

gpwieland said...

Oops. Here is the timeline:

http://www.acadia.org/competition-98/sites/integrus.com/html/library/time.html