The Revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria - Aswan Declaration

The Aswan Declaration

The Aswan Declaration

After the memorable historical meeting in Aswan, on February 12,1990, members of the International Honorary Commission including Heads of State and world dignitaries signed the Aswan Declaration for the Revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria.

They declared in their statement that the Library would be a witness to a decisive moment in the history of the human spirit, and should provide a base for acquiring information for researchers all over the world.

"The Bibliotheca Alexandria - a link with the past and opening on to the future will be unique in being the first library on such a scale to be designed and constructed with the assistance of the international community".

Grateful recognition is due to Kings and Presidents who generously gave in response to this historic Declaration about US $65,000,000.

Text of the Declaration

At the beginning of the third century before our era, a great enterprise was conceived in ancient Alexandria, meeting-place of peoples and cultures: the edification of a Library in the lineage of Aristotles Lyceum, transposing Alexanders dreams of empire into a quest for universal knowledge.

On the eve of the third millennium and under the patronage of President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt is seeking, in co-operation with UNESCO and with the financial support of UNDP and other public and private sources, to revive the Ancient Library of Alexandria by restating its universal legacy in modern terms.

The Bibliotheca Alexandria will stand as a testimony to a decisive moment in the history of human thought - the attempt to constitute a summum of knowledge, to assemble the writings of all the peoples. It will bear witness to an original undertaking that, in embracing the totality and diversity of human experience, became the matrix for a new spirit of critical inquiry, for a heightened perception of knowledge as a collaborative process.

The Ancient Library of Alexandria and its associated Museum gave birth to a new intellectual dynamic.

By gathering together all the known sources of knowledge and organizing them for the purposes of scholarly study and investigation, they marked the foundation of the modern notion of the research institute and, therefore, of the university. Within this haven of learning, the arts and sciences flourished for some six centuries alongside scholarship. The classification and exegesis of the classical literary canon nourished the poetic wit of Callimachus and the pastoral muse of Theocritus. Study of the theories of the masters of Greek thought, informed by the new Alexandrian spirit of critical and empirical inquiry, yielded major insights and advances in those branches of science associated with the names of Euclid, Herophilus, Erastosthenes, Aristarchus, Ptolemy, Strabo, Archimedes and Heron.

The achievements of Alexandrian science, lost to the West for over a millennium before their partial recovery via Constantinople and classical Arabic and Islamic cultures, were to be instrumental in launching the European Renaissance on its quest for new worlds. In this and as the transmitter of Greek civilization in general, the Ancient Library of Alexandria survives as a vital link in a living tradition. On the site of the palace of the Ptolemies, the new Alexandria will give modern expression to an ancient endeavor.

A splendid contemporary design for the Library has already been adopted through an international architectural competition. Detailed plans exist for a facility embodying the latest computer technology and serving as a public research library. Conceived in the framework of the World Decade for Cultural Development, this institution will be open to researchers not only from the Mediterranean countries but from all over the world. The Bibliotheca Alexandria - a link with the past and an opening onto the future - will be a unique in being the first library on such a scale to designed and constructed with the assistance of the international community acting through the United Nations system. We, the members of the International Commission for the revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria, meeting at its inaugural session in Aswan in February 1990 under the chairmanship of Mrs. Susan Mubarak, pledge our wholehearted support and commitment to this end the appeal made by the Director-General of Unesco in 1987. We call upon all governments, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, public and private institutions, funding agencies, librarians and archivists, and the peoples of all countries to participate, by means of voluntary contributions of all kinds, in the efforts initiated by the Egyptian Government to revive the Library of Alexandria, to assemble and preserve its collections, to train the necessary staff and to ensure the Librarys functioning.

We call on scholars, writers and artists and all those whose tasks is to inform through the written and spoken word to help generate awareness of the international project for the revival of the Library of Alexandria and support for this historic venture. Finally, we urge all governments to donate to the Bibliotheca Alexandria such works in their possession as will help to constitute and enhance the Librarys collection, in recognition of the unique gift made by the Ancient Library of Alexandria to our common heritage.


Madame Susanne AGNELLI,


Sous-Secrtaire aux affaires trangres


Her Majesty Queen Noor AL-HUSSEIN of Jordan

Mr Yahya Bin Mahfoudh AL-MANTHERI,

Minister of Education and Youth

(Sultanate of Oman)

His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AL-NAHYAN,

President of the United Arab Emirates

His Royal Highness Prince Turki Ibn Abdal-Aziz AL-SAUD,

Founder and President of the arab Student Aid International (ASAI)

(Saudi Arabia)


Historian, Librarian of Congress Emeritus

(United States)


Provost, Worcester College, Oxford

(United Kingdom)

Mrs Gro Harlem BRUNDTLAND,

Member of Parliament


Son Altesse Srnissime la Princesse CAROLINE de Monaco

Mr Hans-Peter GEH,

President of the International Federation of Libray Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

(Federal Republic of Germany)

Mr Abdul-Aziz HUSSAIN,

Adviser to His Highness the Amir of Kuweit

Professor Dmitri Sergeevich LIKHACHEV,



The late Madame Melina MERCOURI,

Membre du Parlement


The lateMonsieur Franois MITTERAND,

Prsident de la Rpublique franaise

Mrs Susan MUBARAK,


Sa Majest la Reine SOFIA d' Espagne

Mr Ahmed Fathi SOROUR,

Minister of Education, Chairman of the General Organization of the Alexandria Library (GOAL)


Mr Jos Israel VARGAS,

Former Chair of the Executive Board of Unesco


Home Historical Dimensions Objectives The Aswan Declaration

Location Design of New Building Milestones Facts and Figures

Time Schedule Photo Album Rare Books, Manuscripts

Return to Egypt Home Page