Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World

By Robert E. Krebs; Carolyn A. Krebs | Go to book overview

3
BIOLOGY, BOTANY,
AND ZOOLOGY

Background and History

As defined in modern-day terminology, biology is that branch of the natural sciences that studies living organisms and systems (cellular and acellular). It encompasses several specialized areas of living organisms, such as cytology (the study of cells), zoology (the study of animals), botany (the study of plants), and ecology (the study of environmental systems). Although ecology will not be discussed in this chapter, it is important to understand what ecology is. Ecology is the scientific study of the interrelationships of organisms and their physical, chemical, and biological environments. It is a study of systems. As a science, it draws on many other disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, geology, climatology, oceanography, economics, and mathematics. Ecology is often confused with environmentalism; the latter is often considered a political movement rather than a science.

However, the term “biology” actually originated about 1802 with Jean Baptiste Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (1744–1829), when he was developing his theories of evolution. The fact that biology, as a body of science, was not identified until the beginning of the nineteenth century does not mean that biology, as a body of knowledge, was unknown. Quite the contrary, since the beginning of time, humans have been “practicing biologists.” The roots of agriculture and animal domestication were planted millions of years ago with the recognition that both plants and animals were part of the natural cycle of life that could be bred, cultivated, and propagated. It is reasonable to assume that, by trial and error, ancient humans selected a variety of plants that sustained nourishment without adverse affects. In other words, they knew which plants they could and could not eat safely. They knew where certain

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Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Series Foreword xiii
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1: Agriculture and Animal Domestication 1
  • 2: Astronomy 33
  • 3: Biology, Botany, and Zoology 61
  • 4: Communication 81
  • 5: Engineering and Machinery 105
  • 6: Mathematics 149
  • 7: Medicine and Health 179
  • 8: Personal and Household 211
  • 9: The Physical Sciences 243
  • 10: Timekeeping 267
  • 11: Tools and Weaponry 295
  • 12: Transportation, Trade, and Navigation 321
  • Glossary 349
  • Selected Bibliography 357
  • Name Index 363
  • Subject Index 367
  • About the Authors 377
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