ABC-CLIO/Greenwood - Reference

Science in the Ancient World

An Encyclopedia

by Russell M. Lawson


Although ancient scientific methods are often dismissed as pseudoscience today, Science in the Ancient World draws heavily on classical texts to reveal the ancient roots of ideas that many now take for granted, from the Earth's orbit of the Sun to the existence of atoms.

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December 2004


Pages 291
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Science/General
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The first A–Z resource to catalog the achievements and legacy of more than four millennia of scientific thought in the ancient world of the Mediterranean and the Near East, providing a complete overview of the physical, chemical, life, medical, and social sciences of the classical world.

Many are familiar with such wonders as steam power and the discovery that the planets revolve around the Sun. The fact that such phenomena were known to the ancient Greeks more than 2,000 years ago is less well known. Now, Science in the Ancient World fills this gap by covering all the major scientific developments during 4,000 years of ancient history.

Over 200 A–Z entries explore the origins of science, from astronomy and mathematics to medicine and chemistry. Giants like Aristotle and Plato are examined, together with more obscure figures like Nearchus, explorer of the Indian Ocean, and Hero, discoverer of steam power. Emphasis is placed on the diversity of ancient science, from the achievements of the Mesopotamians to the science of the Romans. The philosophies behind ancient science are explored, from the Epicurean pursuit of happiness to the asceticism of the Stoics. This comprehensive survey brings to the modern reader a long lost age of scientific discovery.


  • A complete bibliography of primary source documents, secondary source biographies, and critical analyses
  • 50 illustrations including maps, portraits of the key scientific figures, and depictions of scientific instruments and phenomena


  • Reviews developments in a broad range of scientific disciplines and charts the interaction between science, religion, and philosophy
  • Brings to life the scientific controversies of the ancient world and rescues important ideas from relative obscurity
  • Includes vivid portraits of the key centers of scientific endeavor in the ancient world
Author Info

Russell M. Lawson, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history and chair of the Division of General Studies at Bacone College, Muskogee, OK. His published works include The Land between the Rivers: Thomas Nuttall's Ascent of the Arkansas, 1819 and Passaconaway's Realm: Captain John Evans and the Exploration of Mount Washington.



"With its accessible A–Z format, Science in the Ancient World is recommended for high school, college, and public libraries."Booklist


Honor Book — Society of School Librarians International

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