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, an
autonomous organization of scholars that originated in medieval
Europe and has been adopted in other regions in modern times (see
list of oldest universities in continuous operation).
1 Europe and Near East
1.2 Christian Europe
2 South Asia
3 East Asia
4 Ancient Persia
5 See also
8 External links
Europe and Near East
Aristotle's School, a painting from the 1880s by Gustav Adolph
Platonic Academy (sometimes referred to as the
Athens), founded ca. 387 BC in Athens, Greece, by the
philosopher Plato, lasted 916 years (until AD 529) with
interruptions. It was emulated during the Renaissance by the
Florentine Platonic Academy, whose members saw themselves as following
Around 335 BC, Plato's successor
Aristotle founded the Peripatetic
school, the students of which met at the
Lyceum gymnasium in Athens.
The school ceased in 86 BC during the famine, siege and sacking of
Athens by Sulla.
During the Hellenistic period, the
included the Library of Alexandria) 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. It was suppressed and burned between AD 216 and 272, and
the library was destroyed between 272 and 391.
The reputation of these Greek institutions was such that at least four
central modern educational terms derive from them: the academy, the
lyceum, the gymnasium and the museum.
See also: Byzantine higher education, Cathedral school, and Monastic
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. 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
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. 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.
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. 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. Geneviève,
and the Abbey of St. Victor.
Major Buddhist monasteries (mahaviharas), notably those at Pushpagiri,
Nalanda, and Taxila, lncluded schools that were some of the primary
institutions of higher learning in ancient India.
Udayagiri, Odisha Part of Pushpagiri
The school in Pushpagiri was established in the 3rd century AD as
present Odisha, India. As of 2007, the ruins of this
not yet been fully excavated. Consequently, much of the Mahavihara's
history remains unknown. Of the three
Mahavihara campuses, Lalitgiri
in the district of Cuttack is the oldest. Iconographic analysis
indicates that Lalitgiri had already been established during the
Shunga period of the 2nd century BC, making it one of the oldest
Buddhist establishments in the world. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang
(Hiuen Tsang), who visited it in AD 639, as Puphagiri
Mahavihara, as well as in medieval Tibetan texts. However,
unlike Takshila and Nalanda, the ruins of Pushpagiri were not
discovered until 1995, when a lecturer from a local college first
stumbled upon the site. The task of excavating Pushpagiri's
ruins, stretching over 58 hectares (143 acres) of land, was undertaken
Odisha Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies
between 1996 and 2006. It is now being carried out by the
Archaeological Survey of India
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Nagarjunakonda
inscriptions also mention about this learning center. 
Main article: Nalanda
Nalanda, ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India
from 427 to 1197
Nalanda was established in the fifth century AD in Bihar, India
and survived until circa 1200 AD. It was devoted to Buddhist studies,
but it also trained students in fine arts, medicine, mathematics,
astronomy, politics and the art of war.
The center had eight separate compounds, ten 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, housing 10,000 students in the school’s heyday and
providing accommodation for 2,000 professors.
pupils and scholars from Sri Lanka, Korea, Japan, China, Tibet,
Indonesia, Persia and Turkey, who left accounts of the center.
In 2014 a modern
University was launched in nearby Rajgir.
Ancient Taxila or Takshashila, in ancient
Pakistan), was an early Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning.
According to scattered references that were only fixed a millennium
later, it may have dated back to at least the fifth century BC.
Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the sixth century
BC. 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 Jātaka tales,
Sri Lanka around the fifth 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 fifth century AD. Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its
association with Chanakya. The famous treatise
for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been
composed in Takshashila itself.
Chanakya (or Kautilya), the Maurya
Emperor Chandragupta and the
Charaka studied at
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.
Further centers include Telhara in Bihar (probably older than
Nalanda), Odantapuri, in
Bihar (circa 550 - 1040), Somapura, in
Bangladesh (from the Gupta period to the Turkic Muslim conquest),
Sharada Peeth, Pakistan, Jagaddala Mahavihara, in
Bengal (from the
Pala period to the Turkic Muslim conquest), Nagarjunakonda, in Andhra
Pradesh, Vikramashila, in
Bihar (circa 800-1040), Valabhi, in Gujarat
(from the Maitrak period to the Arab raids),
Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh
(eighth century to modern times), Kanchipuram, in Tamil Nadu,
Manyakheta, in Karnataka, Mahavihara, Abhayagiri Vihāra, and
Jetavanaramaya, in Sri Lanka.
Further information: Academies (Shuyuan)
In China, the ancient imperial academy known as
Taixue was established
by the Han Dynasty in AD 3. It was intermittently inherited by later
dynasties until Qing, in some of which the name was changed to
Guozixue or Guozijian. Peking
Peking) established in 1898 is regarded as the replacement of Taixue
(or Guozijian). In Korea, Taehak was founded in 372 and
established in 682. The
Seonggyungwan was founded by the Joseon
Dynasty in 1398 to offer prayers and memorials to
Confucius and his
disciples, and to promote the study of the Confucian canon. It was the
Gukjagam from the
Goryeo Dynasty (992). It was reopened
as a private Western-style university in 1946. In Japan, Daigakuryo
was founded in 671 and
Ashikaga Gakko was founded in the 9th century
and restored in 1432. In Vietnam, the Quoc Tu Giam (國子監,
literally "National University") functioned for more than 700 years,
from 1076 to 1779.
Academy of Gondishapur was established in the 3rd century AD under
the rule of
Sassanid kings and continued its scholarly activities up
to four centuries after Islam came to Iran. It was an important
medical centre of the 6th and 7th centuries and a prominent example of
higher education model in pre-Islam Iran. When the Platonic
Athens was closed in 529, some of its pagan scholars went
to Gundishahpur, although they returned within a year to Byzantium.
History of Academia, Academy, University
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