Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: Alexandria Lost

Bryn Mawr Classical Review (Reviewed by Christopher Haas)

Bojana Mojsov, Alexandria Lost: From the Advent of Christianity to the Arab Conquest. London: Duckworth, 2010.

Nearly two decades ago, Peter Fraser observed that classical Alexandria, like Antioch and other cities of the Middle East, did not ultimately die of “a slow cancer, but two massive heart attacks following upon a chronic illness.”1 He identified these coronary catastrophes as the Sassanian capture of the city in 619 and `Amr ibn al-As’s conquest in September of 641. This is the principal theme of Bojana Mojsov’s Alexandria Lost. Mojsov, an Egyptologist with long experience in the field of Pharaonic religion, exhibits from the first page a passion for the city known by the ancients as “most glorious Alexandria.” She sets out to discover “What happened to ancient Alexandria and to the Great Library? Alexander’s city was the shining star of the Mediterranean Sea, the museum the pride of the classical world, the library the greatest collection of antiquity. How could they disappear so thoroughly, without a trace?” (6).

Mojsov's answer is that the Alexandrian cultural heritage was destroyed deliberately by the forces of religious intolerance, and inadvertently by armies contending for possession of the city.

No comments: