History of the Sciences in Greco-Roman Antiquity

By Arnold Reymond; Ruth Gheury De Bray | Go to book overview

HISTORY OF THE SCIENCES IN GRECO-ROMAN ANTIQUITY

INTRODUCTION

EGYPT AND CHALDEA

T HE information which ancient Greece has left us concerning the scientific knowledge of Oriental nations amounts to little. The traditions reported by Herodotus, Diodorus of Sicily and Strabo remain fragmentary and open to doubt.1 The same remark applies to the explanations which geometers, such as Proclus, attempt to give in order to determine the contribution of these nations to the various branches of science. Information more direct and more reliable has been supplied in the nineteenth century by archæology and the methodical study of monuments.

The drawings and paintings which appear on the walls of temples or of tombs are valuable evidence. These drawings teach us that the Egyptians knew, for example, a practical method of drawing a hexagon, but not a pentagon. The unfinished decoration of a funeral chamber reveals an application, equally practical, of proportions and of similitude. The wall to

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1
G. Jéquier, Histoire de la civilisation égyptienne, 2nd edition, Payot, Paris, 1923, with a systematic bibliography of the principal works on Egyptology.

-1-

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