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World Digital Library (WDL)

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World Digital Library (WDL)
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The World Digital Library (WDL) is a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, carried out with the support of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), and in cooperation with libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations from around the world. The WDL makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from all countries and cultures.
The principal objectives of the WDL are to:
  • Promote international and intercultural understanding;
  • Expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet;
  • Provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences;
  • Build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries.

8000 BCE - 499 CE | + View all 238 items

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Commentaries by Domizio Calderini on Works by Juvenal, Statius, Ovid, and Propertius
Commentaries by Domizio Calderini on Works by Juvenal, Statius, Ovid, and Propertius
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
Dialogues of the Gods
Dialogues of the Gods
This manuscript contains ten of the dialogues of Lucianus, a second-century rhetorician and satirist who wrote in Greek, in the Latin version of Livio Guidolotto (also seen as Guidalotto or Guidalotti). Livio, a classical scholar from Urbino, was the apostolic assistant of Pope Leo X, and he dedicated his translation to the pope in an introductory epistle of 1518 ("Romae, Idibus maii MDXVIII"; folio 150v). The latest possible date for the manuscript thus is 1521, the year Leo died. The emblem of Giovanni de' Medici, with the beam accompanied by ...


“De Materia Medica” by Dioscorides
“De Materia Medica” by Dioscorides
This book exemplifies the transfer of knowledge across the centuries. During the first century, the Greek doctor and apothecary Dioscorides, who is considered the father of pharmacology, wrote a very important document on botany and pharmaceuticals. In the 10th century, during the times of ʻAbd al-Rahman III (891−961), caliph of Cordova, the work was translated into Arabic. In 1518 at the Escuela de Traductores de Toledo (the School of Translators of Toledo), Antonio de Nebrija made the first translation of the work in Spain into Latin. In 1555 in ...
Contributed byNational Library of Spain 
On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On the Measurement of the Circle; On Conoids and Spheroids; On Spirals; On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner
On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On the Measurement of the Circle; On Conoids and Spheroids; On Spirals; On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner
In the middle of the 15th century, a number of manuscripts by the third-century BC Greek mathematician Archimedes began to circulate in the humanistic centers in the courts of Italy. Piero della Francesca (circa 1416–92), the Renaissance artist best known for the frescos he painted for the Vatican and for the chapels in Arezzo, transcribed a copy of a Latin translation of Archimedes’s geometry (a compilation of seven surviving treatises) and illustrated it with more than 200 drawings representing the  mathematical theorems in the texts. This manuscript, long ...
Bucolics, Georgics, and the Aeneid
Bucolics, Georgics, and the Aeneid
This 15th-century manuscript, known as the Riccardiana Virgil, includes the texts of the three extant works of the great Roman poet Virgil,the Bucolics, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, and contains 88 miniature paintings in the lower margin of many of the vellum leaves. The miniatures, 86 in the Aeneid and one each in the Bucolics and the Georgics, are attributed to Florentine artist Apollonio di Giovanni and his workshop. Those illustrating the story of Aeneas reflect the influence of Benozzo Gozzoli, who in 1459 completed a suite of frescos ...
Bashkioi Copy of “Slaveno-Bulgarian History”
Bashkioi Copy of “Slaveno-Bulgarian History”
This handwritten copy of Paisiĭ Khilendarski’s Istoriia slavianobolgarskaia (Slaveno-Bulgarian history) was made in 1841 by the priest Vasilii Manuilov. In addition to the main text, the manuscript contains accounts of two miracles of the Holy Mother. First published in 1762, Paisiĭ’s history encouraged the Bulgarians, who had been under Ottoman rule for centuries, to discover their national consciousness and to embrace the Bulgarian language. The work was so influential that it was copied by hand and excerpted many times without Paisiĭ being identified as the author or his ...
Geography
Geography
Claudius Ptolemaeus (circa 100–circa 170), known as Ptolemy, was an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer of Greek descent who lived and worked in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. In his Geography, Ptolemy gathered all the geographic knowledge possessed by the Greco-Roman world. He used a system of grid lines to plot the latitude and longitude of some 8,000 places on a map that encompassed the known world at the height of the Roman Empire. Ptolemy’s work was lost to Europe in the Middle Ages, but around 1300 Byzantine ...
The Four Books on Medicine by Octavius Horatianus and the Three Books by Abū Al-Qāsim, Distinguished Among All Surgeons
The Four Books on Medicine by Octavius Horatianus and the Three Books by Abū Al-Qāsim, Distinguished Among All Surgeons
This volume printed at the Argentorati shop in Strasbourg (present-day France) in February 1532 includes two works, the first of which is the Latin translation by Theodorus Priscianus (flourished around 400) of his own therapeutic compendium, the Euporista (Easily obtained remedies), originally written in Greek. The second work is the Latin translation of a section of the well-known Arabic medical work by Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas al-Zahrawi (also known by his Latinized name Albucasis, circa 936–1013), Al-Taṣrīf li man ‘ajiza al-ta’līf (The arrangement of [medical knowledge ...
Contributed byQatar National Library 
A Clear Explanation of Averroes’ Introduction to the Commentary on Aristotle’s “Analytica Posterior”
A Clear Explanation of Averroes’ Introduction to the Commentary on Aristotle’s “Analytica Posterior”
This work is a commentary on Ibn Rushd’s prologue to his commentary on Aristotles’s Analytica Posterior (Posterior analytics) by the Italian philosopher and physician Giovanni Bernardino Longo (1528–99), published in Naples in 1551. Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Rushd (1126–98), known in the West by the Latinized version of his name, Averroes, was an intellectual luminary of the Islamic world. Although he wrote extensively on the religious sciences, natural sciences, medicine, and philosophy, his reputation in the West rests primarily on his commentaries on Aristotle. He belonged ...
Contributed byQatar National Library 
Of Medical Substances
Of Medical Substances
The precious codex known as the Dioscurides Neapolitanus contains the work of Pedanius Dioscorides, the Greek physician who was born at Anazarbus near Tarsus in Cilicia (present-day Turkey) and lived in the first century AD during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Dioscorides wrote the treatise Perì üles iatrichès, commonly known in Latin as De materia medica (Of medical substances), in five books. It is considered the most important medical manual and pharmacopeia of ancient Greece and Rome and was highly regarded in the Middle Ages in both the Western ...
Titus Andronicus

City of God
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) is generally considered one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. He was born in Thagaste (present-day Souq Ahras, Algeria) in Roman-ruled Africa, the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother (Saint Monica). After studying in Carthage and teaching rhetoric in his native city, he moved to Rome in 383 and to Milan in 384. Under the influence of his mother and Ambrose, bishop of Milan, he converted to Christianity in 387. He was ordained a priest in 391 and rose ...
Letters, Essays, and Sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus
Letters, Essays, and Sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus
This 18th-century manuscript is a collection of letters, essays, and sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus (died circa 389). The manuscript is thought to be the first Arabic translation from the original Greek and has not yet been edited or published. It is the second volume of a two-volume work. Gregory of Nazianzus, also known as Gregory the Theologian, is recognized as a Father of the Church in both the Eastern and Western traditions. He was born in Cappadocia (eastern Anatolia), where he spent much of his life. He was a ...
Letters, Pedagogical Teachings, and Sayings of Saint Anthony of Egypt
Letters, Pedagogical Teachings, and Sayings of Saint Anthony of Egypt
This manuscript opens with the 20 letters “to the sons who follow his [Anthony’s] gentle path…and prayers to keep us from Satan’s example.” The letters are for the most part short, many not exceeding five folios. According to an introductory note, they are addressed to both men and women. The work is in a bold but relaxed hand. Each letter or other significant section is set off in red. There are no contemporary marginal glosses, but comments and corrections (some in English) in pencil were made by ...
The History of the Roman Provinces of the Near East
The History of the Roman Provinces of the Near East
This Arabic manuscript is a history of the Roman provinces of the Near East, with special reference to King Herod the Great and the dynasty he founded. The manuscript lacks numerous pages at the beginning and end. The remaining portion contains the history of Roman Palestine during the first century BC until the destruction of the temple by Roman emperor Titus in 70 AD. The author, title, and date of copying are unknown. The work has been tentatively ascribed to the 17th century. The text is unadorned except for marking ...
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Documents”
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Documents”
Shang shu (The book of documents), also called Shu jing (The book of history), is one of the Five Classics of the Confucian canon that greatly influenced Chinese history and culture. Translations of its title into English vary and include Classic of History, Classic of Documents, Book of History, Book of Documents, or Book of Historical Documents. There are many copies and versions of Shang shu, ascribed to Confucius, but its history is obscure. The work is a compilation of speeches by major figures and records of events in ancient ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Rites”
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Rites”
Li ji (The book of rites) is one of the Five Classics of the Confucian canon, which had significant influence on Chinese history and culture. The book was rewritten and edited by the disciples of Confucius and their students after the "Burning of the Books" during the rule of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, around 213 BC. The work describes the social forms, governmental system, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC). Li literally means "rites," but it also can be used to refer ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government
Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government
Zi zhi tong jian (Comprehensive mirror to aid in government) was a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, first published in 1084 in the form of a chronicle. In 1065 Emperor Yingzong (reigned 1064–67) of the Song ordered the great historian Sima Guang (1019–86) to lead a group of scholars in compiling a universal history of China. The task took 19 years to complete and the finished work was presented in 1084 to the succeeding Emperor Shenzong (reigned 1068–85). Its subject is Chinese history from 403 BC ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
Romance of the Three Kingdoms in Illustrations
Romance of the Three Kingdoms in Illustrations
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
Romance of the Three Kingdoms with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
Romance of the Three Kingdoms with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
A Hundred Verses on Manifestations of Cold Damage Disorders
A Hundred Verses on Manifestations of Cold Damage Disorders
In one of the prefaces to his works, the author Xu Shuwei (1079–1154) describes a certain Hua Tuo, a scholar born around 140 AD during the Han dynasty, who, after seeing many people die in epidemics, famines, and wars, chose to abandon scholarship to pursue a medical career. Referring to himself, Xu Shuwei writes, “every time I think of the lack of good physicians and of patients who are resigned to die, how could someone with capability sit by and not help? Therefore I have buried my fame as ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
Classified Divinations on Military Affairs
Classified Divinations on Military Affairs
This work in 21 juan was compiled by Li Kejia of the Ming dynasty. Presented here is a Wanli edition of 1597, in six volumes. It is the earliest extant copy. The frame of the pages is 19.5 centimeters high and 13.5 centimeters wide. The borders are double-lined. Each single page has 11 columns, each with 22 characters. There is a red square seal impression of the National Central Library. Preceding the text are two prefaces, by Zhu Yuyi and Zhang Shoupeng, dated 1597. It also has an ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
New Edition with Supplemental Annotations of The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor. Su wen 
New Edition with Supplemental Annotations of The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor. Su wen
The ancient medical text Huangdi nei jing (The inner canon of the Yellow Emperor) was already listed in Yi wen zhi (Treatise on literature) of Han shu (Book of Han), the classical Chinese history completed in 111 AD. It had two texts: Su wen (Basic questions) and Ling shu (Spiritual pivot), each in nine juan. Su wen deals with the theoretical foundation of Chinese medicine and its diagnostic methods, while Ling shu discusses acupuncture therapy in great detail. The title Huangdi nei jing often refers only to the more ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
Eleven Commentaries to The Art of War by Sunzi
Eleven Commentaries to The Art of War by Sunzi
Sunzi bing fa (The art of war by Sunzi) is the most important and popular military classic of ancient China. Its influence also spread to neighboring countries and beyond. Sun Wu, also known as Sunzi or Sun Tzu, lived in the State of Qi during the late Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC). He served the State of Wu, in the southeast coastal area, from around 512 BC and presented his military strategy in a work of 13 chapters to the king of Wu. Together with Wu Zixu (died 484 ...
Contributed byNational Central Library 
Armillary Sphere
Armillary Sphere
Zhang Heng (78–139 AD), a native of Xi’e, Nanyang (in present-day Henan Province), was an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, and an accomplished scholar. He began his career as an official during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220). Controversy about his views and political rivalry with other officials led him to retire and return to Nanyang, but in 138 he was recalled to serve in the capital. He died a year later. He received posthumous honors for his scholarship and creativity. Two of his representative works are Hun yi (Armillary ...
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