Surprisingly, only in San Francisco (U.S.) in front of the city’s library is a statue of Ashurbanipal, the king of Assyria, ruling from 669 to 633 BC. Nowhere else in the world is it noted that Ashurbanipal, being the only Assyrian emperor who owned cuneiform writing and was able to read in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, collected the first library in the history of mankind.
The Ashurbanipal library is the largest surviving library of the ancient world and the oldest of all known libraries. It was compiled over 25 years and also served as the state archive.
Books were kept in the library in strict order. At the bottom of each plate was the full name of the book, and next to it was the page number. In addition, in many tablets, each last line of the previous page was repeated at the beginning of the next.
There was also a catalog in the library in which the name, the number of lines, and the branch of knowledge — the department to which the book belonged — were recorded. Finding the right book was easy: a small clay tag with the name of the department was attached to each shelf — as is done in modern libraries.
The press stamps were also stored in the library, with one click of which they reproduced the whole “page” – one side of the clay tablet – for making a large number of copies from any circular or decree. Stamps were also used not only for “printing” books but also for obtaining prints on glazed facing bricks, printing cylinders with complex patterns.
On special tablets, sealed with the Assyrian royal seal, it was written: “Let those who dare to take away these tables, let Ashshur and Belit punish them with their anger, and let his name and his heirs be forever forgotten in this country.”
After the death of the king, the funds were scattered in various palaces. The part of the library discovered by archaeologists consists of 25,000 clay tablets with cuneiform texts. The opening of the library in the mid-19th century was of great importance for understanding the cultures of Mesopotamia and for deciphering cuneiform writing.