Science in the Ancient World
From Antiquity through the Middle Ages
by Russell M. Lawson
September 2021, 594pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7352-2
$120, £93, 105€, A165
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7353-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Cultures in ancient Iraq, Egypt, India, and America all had different versions of pyramids.

Science in the Ancient World presents a worldwide history of science, from prehistoric times through the medieval period. It covers Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas and includes topics ranging from alchemy and astrology to psychology and physics.

This work spans prehistory to 1500 CE, examining thousands of years of history in four world regions: Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Highlights of this period include the onset of civilization and science in Mesopotamia and Egypt, the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks between 700 BCE and 100 CE, the adaptation of Greek science by the Romans, the spread of Greek science during the Hellenistic Age, the expansion of Islamic power and commensurate scientific knowledge, and the development of science and philosophy in ancient China and India.

Focusing on the history of the science that blossomed in the above regions, scientific disciplines covered include alchemy, astronomy, astrology, agriculture, architecture, biology, botany, chemistry, engineering, exploration, geography, hydraulics, institutions of science, marine science, mathematics, medicine, meteorology, military science, myth and religion, philosophy, philosophy of science, psychology, physics, and social sciences. In all of these fields, theory and application are explored, as are leading individuals and schools of thought, centers of intellectual activity, and notable accomplishments and inventions.


  • Coverage provides global view of science in the ancient world
  • Short topical sections offer objective, fundamental information about science from antiquity through the Middle Ages
  • Each section cites works for further reading, and the book closes with a selected, general bibliography
  • A detailed timeline places important people, events, and discoveries into chronological context
Russell M. Lawson serves as adjunct professor at Northeastern State University. His many books include Servants and Servitude in Colonial America (Praeger, 2018). He has written or edited several ABC-CLIO encyclopedias, such as Poverty in America (with coeditor Ben Lawson, 2008), Encyclopedia of American Indian Issues Today (2013), and Race and Ethnicity in America: From Pre-contact to the Present (with coeditor Ben Lawson, 2019). Dr. Lawson teaches and writes on scientists and explorers; the history of America, Europe, and the world; the history of ideas; and the history of social, cultural, and political issues.


2022 Outstanding Reference Source—Reference and User Services Association [RUSA], January 23, 2022


"Loaded with oddball tidbits that will fascinate trivia fans ... A true multidisciplinary resource, it will appeal to general readers as well as high school and undergraduate students."—Library Journal, January 1, 2022

"Recommended. All readers."—Choice, July 1, 2022
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