University of Alexandria is found

CAIRO (AP) – A Polish archaeological mission has discovered material evidence of the vibrant academic life of ancient Egypt, unearthing 13 lecture halls believed to be part of the ancient University of Alexandria. «This is the oldest university ever found in the world,» Grzegory Majderek, head of the Polish mission told The Associated Press yesterday. The lecture halls, with a capacity of 5,000 students, are part of the fifth century AD University of Alexandria, which remained functioning until the seventh century, according to a statement from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. «This is the first material evidence of the existence of academic life in Alexandria,» according to Majderek. Knowledge of earlier intellectual pursuits in the Mediterranean coastal city came through historical and literary documents and materials. The Greek city was home to an ancient library, founded in about 295 BC by Ptolemy I Soter, which burned in the fourth century AD. Ruins of the old library were never found, but Alexandria had been an intellectual center where scholars are thought to have produced the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament and edited Homer’s works. The auditoria were found while archaeologists were cleaning the portico of the Roman Theater in the eastern part of the ancient city of Alexandria. All of the lecture halls are of identical dimensions. Each hall contains rows of stepped benches in a form of semicircle and an elevated seat apparently for the lecturer, the Antiquities Department statement said. Alexandria has tried to recapture some of its old intellectual glory, building a 190-million-euro library, on Alexandria’s renovated seaside promenade, with help from around the world.

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