Ever since its creation, the BNU has had a particular interest in ancient history, archaeology, and ancient languages and literature, all fundamental fields of research at Strasbourg University since the nineteenth century. It is estimated that the Ancient History collections currently contain 200 000 volumes.
Even the early collections were very substantial - there were about 60 000 titles in the BNU's collections before 1920, in the following categories:
- Greek and Latin philology: 32 500 titles
- Other ancient languages and literature (Semitic languages, Sanskrit, Egyptian and Assyrian languages, Ancient Persian, etc): 12 300 titles
- History, archaeology and ancient art: 15 200 titles
In addition to printed documentation, the library also holds a number of specialised collections, including papyruses, coins, ostraca, and tablets in cuneiform script.
Currently, the BNU acquires about 700 monographs each year (including more than 400 works from outside France); it subscribes to 163 printed periodicals (including 126 non-French periodicals), 20 online periodicals, and 10 databases.
The disciplines most closely concerned are Greco-Roman and Near Eastern history and archaeology, Egyptology, ancient religions, and the Greek and Latin languages and their literature.
The languages and literature of the ancient Near East occupy less space, but are by no means neglected.
The BNU's Ancient History collections (130 500 monographs and more than 1 700 titles of periodicals, both historic and current), in addition to the sizeable collections in the libraries of the University's Joint Documentation Service ('SCD'), make Strasbourg an exceptionally rich source of documents not only for undergraduate and postgraduate students, academics and researchers in the field of Ancient History, but also for the many non-specialist users of the library interested in ancient history and early literature.
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