Ancient higher-learning institutions

A variety of ancient higher-learning institutions were developed in many cultures to provide institutional frameworks for scholarly activities. These ancient centres were sponsored and overseen by courts; by religious institutions, which sponsored cathedral schools, monastic schools, and madrasas; by scientific institutions, such as museums, hospitals, and observatories; and by individual scholars. They are to be distinguished from the Western-style university which is an autonomous organization of scholars that originated in medieval Europe[1] and was adopted in other world regions since the onset of modern times (see list of oldest universities in continuous operation).

Hellenism Aristotle's School, a painting from the 1880s by Gustav Adolph Spangenberg The Platonic Academy (sometimes referred to as the University of Athens)[3][4], founded ca. 387 BC in Athens, Greece, by the philosopher Plato, lasted 916 years (until 529 AD) with interruptions.[5] It was emulated during the Renaissance by the Florentine Platonic Academy, whose members saw themselves as following Plato's tradition. Around 335 BC Plato's successor Aristotle founded the Peripatetic school, whose pupils met at the Lyceum gymnasium in Athens. The school ceased in 86 BC during the famine, siege and sacking of Athens by Sulla.[6] During the Hellenistic period the Museion in Alexandria, suppressed and burned between 216 and 272 AD (and which included the Library of Alexandria, destroyed between 272 and 391 AD), became the leading research institute for science and technology from which many Greek innovations sprang. The engineer Ctesibius (fl. 285–222 BC) may have been its first head. The reputation of these Greek institutions was such that three modern words derive from them: the academy, the lyceum and the museum. [edit]Christian Europe See also: Byzantine higher education, Cathedral school, and Monastic school The Pandidakterion of Constantinople, founded as an institution of higher learning in 425, educated graduates to take on posts of authority in the imperial service or within the Church.[7] It was reorganized as a corporation of students in 849 by the regent Bardas of emperor Michael III, is considered by some to be the earliest institution of higher learning with some of the characteristics we associate today with a university (research and teaching, auto-administration, academic independence, et cetera). If a university is defined as "an institution of higher learning" then it is preceded by several others, including the Academy that it was founded to compete with and eventually replaced. If the original meaning of the word is considered "a corporation of students" then this could be the first example of such an institution. The Preslav Literary School and Ohrid Literary School were the two major literary schools of the First Bulgarian Empire. In Western Europe during the Early Middle Ages, bishops sponsored cathedral schools and monasteries sponsored monastic schools, chiefly dedicated to the education of clergy. The earliest evidence of a European episcopal school is that established in Visigothic Spain at the Second Council of Toledo in 527.[8] These early episcopal schools, with a focus on an apprenticeship in religious learning under a scholarly bishop, have been identified in Spain and in about twenty towns in Gaul during the 6th and 7th centuries.[9] In addition to these episcopal schools, there were monastic schools which educated monks and nuns, as well as future bishops, at a more advanced level.[10] Around the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, some of them developed into autonomous universities. A notable example is when the University of Paris grew out of the schools associated with the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Monastery of Ste. Genevieve, and the Abbey of St. Victor. South Asia Taxila or Takshashila, in modern-day Pakistan, was an early Buddhist centre of learning. According to scattered references which were only fixed a millennium later it may have dated back to at least the 5th century BC.[13] Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the 6th century BC.[14] The school consisted of several monasteries without large dormitories or lecture halls where the religious instruction was most likely still provided on an individualistic basis. Takshashila is described in some detail in later Jataka tales, written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century AD. It became a noted centre of learning at least several centuries BC, and continued to attract students until the destruction of the city in the 5th century AD. Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya. The famous treatise Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself. Chanakya (or Kautilya),[17] the Maurya Emperor Chandragupta[18] and the Ayurvedic healer Charaka studied at Taxila.[19] Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.[19] Nalanda, ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India[20][21] from 427 to 1197 Nalanda was established in the 5th century AD in Bihar, India.[22] Founded in 427 in northeastern India, not far from what is today the southern border of Nepal, it survived until 1197. It was devoted to Buddhist studies, but it also trained students in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war.[23] Excavated ruins at Nalanda, Bihar, India 1996 The center had eight separate compounds, 10 temples, meditation halls, classrooms, lakes and parks. It had a nine-story library where monks meticulously copied books and documents so that individual scholars could have their own collections. It had dormitories for students, perhaps a first for an educational institution, housing 10,000 students in the university’s heyday and providing accommodation for 2,000 professors.[24] Nalanda University attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.