Timeline related to Greek Science and Technology

Part 1

Griechische Wissenschaft Zeitlinie

1184 BC

Aeschylus writes in Agamemnon that smoke signals were used to send the message from Troy to the city Argos of the victory by the Greeks

1100-800 BC

Dark Ages in Greece, Mycenian civilization decline, Invasion of Dorians and Ionians

800 BC
Vowels were by the Greeks to consonants of Phoenician origin.

800-701 BC
Homer refers to highly developed battlefield surgery.

776 BC

Olympic Games

About 700 BC
Gold coins were introduced in Lydia, western Anatolia, as a standard of exchange.

Development of Biremes Ships.

700-601 BC
Caleus (Kaleus) from Samos is the first to sail through Straits of Gibraltar (Pillars of Hercules).

Glaucus of Chios invents soldering of iron.

"His gifts, which he sent on recovering from his sickness, were a great bowl of pure silver, with a salver in steel curiously inlaid, a work among all the offerings at Delphi the best worth looking at. Glaucus, the Chian, made it, the man who first invented the art of inlaying steel". Herodotus, Book 1.

688 BC

Boxing added to Olympic discipline

650 BC

Development of Triremes Ships. Although the invention could be around 700 BC. Ameinocles the Corinthian, to whom this invention is ascribed, made the Samians acquainted with it (Thucyd. i.13; Plin.H.N.vii.57) but triremes were used only later.

624 BC

Horse Racing added to Olympic discipline

Around 600 BC
the Cretan poet Epimenides is attributed to have invented the linguistic paradox with his phrase "Cretans are ever liars" - the Liar's Paradox. 2500 years later, the mathematician Kurt Gödel invents an adaptation of the Liar's Paradox that reveals serious axiomatic problems at the heart of modern mathematics.

About 600 BC

Thales of Miletus (Θαλής ο Μιλήσιος ) arguing from the fact that wherever there is life, there is moisture, speculated that the basic stuff of nature is water, according to Aristotle. He brings Babylonian mathematical knowledge to Greece and uses geometry to solve problems such as calculating the height of pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore.

Greek philosophers describe magnetic properties of lodestones (ferric ferrite)

About 600 -501 BC
Sun dial (gnomon) in use in Greece and China.

Theodorus of Samos credited with invention of ore smelting and casting, water level, lock and key, carpenter's square, and turning lathe.

First water supply system in Athens has nine pipes leading to main well.

Alcmaeon of Croton (Αλκμαίων ο Κροτωνιάτης ) Greek anatomist, discovers difference between veins and arteries, also connection between brain and sensing organs.

About 585 BC

Thales of Miletus predicts a solar eclipse.

About 560 BC

Anaximander (Αναξίμανδρος ο Μιλήσιος ) a monist of Miletus like Thales, said that the primal substance, the substratum of the opposites, the originative stuff, is the apeiron, which seems to have meant, at that time, the spatially indefinite or unbounded (Kirk et al. 1983:110). He proposes that the Earth surface is cylindrical (Anaximander's Cosmos ) “author of the first geometrical model of the world...Charles Kahn Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology

About 530 BC

Pythagoras (Πυθαγόρας ο Σάμιος ) discovered the dependence of musical intervals on the arithmetical ratios of the lengths of string at the same tension, 2:1 giving an octave, 3:2 the fifth, and 4:3 the fourth. He is also credited with a general formula for finding two square numbers the sum of which is also a square, namely (if m is any odd number), m2+{1/2(m2-1)}2={1/2(m2+1)}2. "The Pythagoreans and Plato [as well as the Renaissance Neo-Platonists] noted that the conclusions they reached deductively agreed to a remarkable extent with the results of observation and inductive inference. Unable to account otherwise for this agreement, they were led to regard mathematics as the study of ultimate, eternal reality, immanent in nature and the universe, rather than as a branch of logic or a tool of science and technology" (Boyer 1949:1). Consequently, when the Pythagoreans developed the theory of geometric magnitudes, by which they were able to compare two surfaces' ratio, they were led, for lack of a system which could handle irrational numbers, to the 'incommensurability problem': Applying the side of a square to the diagonal, no common rational measure is discoverable.

Pythagoras proposes that sound is a vibration of air.

About 510 BC
Almaeon of Crotona (Αλκμαίων ο Κροτωνιάτης ) a member of the Pythagorean medical circle, located the seat of perception in the brain, or enkephalos, and maintained that there were passages connecting the senses to the brain, a position he was said to have arrived at by dissections of the optic nerve.

About 500 BC
Water system built by Eupalinus (Ευπαλίνος ο Μεγαρεύς) on Samos, three-quarter-mile-long tunnel, 20 meter deep, started simultaneously at both ends. Herodotus consider this as one of the three greatest Greek constructions.

Hecataeus (Εκαταίος) (c. -549 to c. -486) mentions India in his writings

About 500 BC
Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ηράκλειτος ο Εφέσιος) maintained that permanence was an illusion and the only possible real state was the process of becoming. He also said that to the logos, all things are one, all opposites are joined. Logos, a word which Anaximander also used, seems to be a principle manifesting itself in the process or cohering of things, and to occupy a place in Greek ideology similar to dharma for Hindus or 'Wisdom' for Jews (Park 1990:10).

About 500 BC
Xenophanes examined fossils and speculated on the evolution of the earth.
Alcmaeon, Greek physician, discovers Eustachian tubes c. -500

About 480 BC
Parmenides of Elea (Παρμενίδης ο Ελεάτης) founded the Eleatic School where he taught that 'all is one,' not an aggregation of units as Pythagoras had said, and that to arrive at a true statement, logical argument is necessary. Truth "is identical with the thought that recognizes it" (Lloyd 1963:327). Change or movement and non-being, he held, are impossibilities since everything is 'full' and 'nothing' is a contradiction which, as such, cannot exist. "Parmenides is said to have been the first to assert that the Earth is spherical in shape...; there was, however, an alternative tradition stating that it was Pythagoras" (Heath 1913:64).

Corollary to Parmenides' rejection of the existence of 'nothing' is the Greek number system which, like the later Roman system, refused to use the Babylonian positional number system with its marker for 'nothing.' Making no clear distinction between nature and geometry, "mathematics, instead of being a science of possible relations, was to [the Greeks] the study of situations thought to subsist in nature" (Boyer 1949:25). Moreover, "almost everything in [Greek] philosophy became subordinated to the problem of change.... All temporal changes observed by the senses were mere permutations and combinations of 'eternal principles,' [and] the historical sequence of events (which formed part of the 'flux') lost all fundamental significance" (Toulmin and Goodfield 1965:40).

Death of Pythagoras

479-431 BC

Golden Age of Athens

About 465 BC
Hippasus ('Ιππασος ο Μεταποντίνος) writes of a "sphere of 12 pentagons", which must refer to a dodecahedron

About 450 BC
Long walls from Athens to Piraeus finished -456 (begun -461).

About 450 BC
Empedocles of Agrigento (Εμπεδοκλής ο Ακραγαντίνος) explained changes in quality or quantity of a thing as movement by the basic particles of which the thing consisted, Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. These elements mix and separate "under the guidance of two opposing principles, Love, which draws them together, and Strife, which drives them apart" (Park 1990:25). Greeks begin to use written numerals.

About 450 BC
Zeno of Elea propounded forty
paradoxes probably to point out inconsistencies in Pythagorean positions. One of the most famous is this: The fleeing and slower runner can never be overtaken by the faster, pursuer because the faster must first reach the point where the slower is at a that time, but by then the slower will be some distance ahead. Other paradoxes made the same or opposite points, but, in fact, mathematical analysis shows that infinite aggregates and the nature of the continuum are not self-contradictory but only counter to intuition.

About 450 BC
Anaxagoras of Athens taught that the moon shines with the light of the sun and so was able to explain the eclipses.

About 440 BC
Leucippus of Miletus said that the world consisted in the void and atoms, which are imperceptible individual particles that differ only in size, shape, and position. That these particles were imperceptible meant they met Parmenides' objection to the Pythagorean's geometric points and, since they alone were unchanging, change could be explained as mere sense impressions. "It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that even in 1900 the only new idea to Leucippus's theory was that each chemical element was identified with a separate atomic species" (Park 1990:41).

Protagoras of Abdera held that man is the measure of all things by which he meant that we only know what we perceive, not the thing perceived (Dictionary of Philosophy 1984:273).

Oenopides of Chios (Οινοπίδης ο Χίος) probably created the first three of what became Euclid's 'postulates' or assumptions. What is postulated guarantees the existence of straight lines, circles, and points of intersection. That they needed to be postulated is because they require 'movement,' the possibility of which was challenged by the Eleatics (Szabó 1978:276-279).

Indirect lost wax process for casting bronze

Hippocrates of Cos, also locating thought, pleasure, and pain in the brain, maintained that diseases have natural causes, and observed that head injuries led to impairments on the opposite side of the body. The 'Hippocratic method' of treatment of the sick was to keep the patient in bed and let nature take its course.

About 430-440 BC
Hippocrates of Chios squared the lune, a major step toward squaring the circle, probably using the theorem that circles are to one another as the squares of their diameters. He writes the Elements which is the first compilation of the elements of geometry

Hippias of Elis (Ιππίας ο Ηλείος) invents the quadratrix which may have been used by him for trisecting an angle and squaring the circle.

Prior to about 425 BC
Herodotus wrote the first scientific history; that is, he began by asking questions, rather than just telling what he thinks he knows. Moreover, these questions were "about things done by men at a determinate time in the past, [and the history itself ] exists in order to tell man what man is by telling him what man has done" (Collingwood 1946:18).

About 425 BC
Theodorus of Cyrene (Θεόδωρος ο Κυρηναίος) shows that certain square roots are irrational. This had been shown earlier but it is not known by whom.

Thebans use a flame-thrower at Delium.

About 420 BC

Democritus of Abdera (Δημόκριτος ο Αβδηρίτης) developed Leucippus's atomic theory: Atoms vibrate when hitched together in solid bodies and exist in a space which is infinite in extent and in which each star is a sun and has its own world. He also produced two major concepts in the history of ideas concerning the brain--that thought was situated there and, anticipating the nervous system, that psychic atoms constituted the material basis of its communication with the rest of the body and the world outside. Socrates, and hence the Platonic school, followed Democritus in locating thought in the brain.

About 440 BC

An arrow-shooting catapult was developed at Syracuse. Its main significance is that it "embodied the deliberate exploration of physical and mechanical principles to improve armaments" (O'Connell 2002:86)

Also gastraphetes (belly shooter), early large crossbow, used as heavy artillery

About 387 BC
Plato founds his Academy in Athens

After about 380 BC

Plato said, in the Timaeus, that "as being is to becoming, so is truth to belief" (Plato 1929:29c). In other words, we can only believe, not know, on the basis of experience. Like, Parmenides, he held being and truth, indeed the world, to be timeless and unchanging, an ideal of which man can only hold the idea. This permitted him a certain amount of flexibility: He was willing to accept objections to his view of the universe, for example, if the new hypothesis would provide a rational explanation or 'save the appearance' presented by the planets. In the Timaeus, he also held that the 'world soul' was constructed according to mathematical principles, and, therefore, these principles are already fixed in the individual. (Forms or ideas that have existence independent of any particular mind came to be called archetypes.) He scattered reflections on mathematical issues throughout his dialogues; e.g., in the Meno, he illustrates the difference between a class and its members by reference to the difference between defining 'figure' and enumerating specific figures. References to ratios and proportions are everywhere. The five regular polygons he ascribed to the four elements plus the "decoration" of the universe (Plato 1929:55c), probably the animals of the zodiac.

About 375 BC
Archytas of Tarentum develops mechanics. He studies the "classical problem" of doubling the cube and applies mathematical theory to music. He also constructs the first automaton.

About 370-360 BC
Eudoxus of Cnidus invented a model of twenty-seven concentric spheres by which he was able to calculate the sun's annual motions through the zodiac, the moon's motion including its wobble, and the planets' retrograde motion. He used what came much later to be called the 'exhaustion method' for area determination. This method involved inscribing polygons within circles, reducing the difference ad absurdum, and was wholly geometric since there was at that time no knowledge of an arithmetical continuum, at least among the Greeks.

About 340 BC
Aristaeus writes Five Books concerning Conic Sections.
Praxagoras of Cos discovers the difference between arteries and veins.

About 335 BC

Aristotle settles in Athens, founds Lyceum. He said that universals are abstractions from particulars and that we "have knowledge of a scientific fact when we can prove that it could not be otherwise." But "since observation never shows whether this is the case," he established "reason rather observation at the center of scientific effort" (Park 1990:32). A deductive argument is "a 'demonstration' when the premises from which the reasoning starts are true and primary.... Things are 'true' and 'primary' which are believed on the strength not of anything else but themselves" (Aristotle 1928:100a-100b). Aristotle defined the syllogism as a formal argument in which the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises, and said that the four most common statements of this sort are 'all Subject is Predicate,' 'no S is P,' 'some S is P,' and 'some S is not P.' He also discerned four sorts of 'cause.' The 'formal cause' is the design of a thing. The 'material cause' is that of which it is made. The 'efficient cause' is the maker. And the 'final cause' is the purpose of the thing. Aristotle also insisted on the operational character of mathematics and rejected any metaphysical character of number.

At the same time, Aristotle often states both his observations and his reasons with rather too much conviction: "The shape of the heaven is of necessity spherical; for that is the shape most appropriate to its substance and also by nature primary" (Aristotle 1930:286b). "A heavenly essence could not, according to [his] physics, manifest any but its own 'natural' movement, and its only natural movement [so his reason informed him] was a uniform rotation around the center of the universe" (Duhem 1908:15). His name for the heavenly essence, the quintessence, is aiqhr, of which the Latin cognate is 'aether' (Although Aristotle is perhaps the earliest theorist of aiqhr, he was not the first to use the word, e.g., Heraclitus used it to mean heavenly fire.) In fact, "in dealing with [any] concrete, physical problem, it is...always necessary to take into account the world order, to consider the realm of being to which a given body belongs by its nature.... It is only in 'its' place that a being comes to its accomplishment and becomes truly itself" (Koyré 1968:6,24n1). He also put forth the view that each species has an essence and that divergence from this type was not possible beyond a certain limit. These remained the dominant views until the acceptance of those of Johannes Kepler, in the first case, and Charles Robert Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, in the second. If the properties of a thing are its 'form,' then, according to Aristotle, perception is the process whereby the form, and not just the representation of it, enters the soul. This account of perception "was taken as the exact, literal truth by almost every educated person down to the sixteenth century" (Park 1990:44). Also. Aristotle "considered the changes undergone by inanimate things to be analogous to those seen in the biological world. Thus grape juice is the infantile form of wine, fermentation is the process of maturation; the further change to vinegar is the death of the wine" (Fruton 1972:24). Since all matter is formed from the mixture of the four elements, he taught the elements are not permanent and could be transmuted one into another, inspiring all who practice alchemy. After weighing the evidence, Aristotle decided that the organ of thought and sensation was the heart. But he was also the first to perceive the antithesis between epigenesis, "fresh development," and preformation, the "simple unfolding of pre-existing structures." The subsequent history of this controversy is "almost synonymous with the history of embryology" (Needham 1934:40).

About 335 BC
Strato, experiments with falling bodies and levers.

About 330 BC
Heraclides of Pontus said that the earth turns daily on its axis "while the heavenly things were at rest..., considered the cosmos to be infinite..., [and] with the Pythagoreans, considered each planet to be a world with an earth-like body and with an atmosphere" (Dreyer 1906:123-125). He also suggested that Mercury and Venus have the sun at the center of their spheres.

Pytheas navigated the British Isles and the northern seas and upon returning home wrote about an island that he called Thule or Ultima Thule

Aristotle, describes image projection in terms of the camera obscura


Alexander; military campaigns throughout Asia Minor and as far east as India. Throughout this period he sent plants and various objects to the Lyceum

About 325 BC
Alexander orders his admiral, Nearchus, to explore the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, and Euphrates

Pytheas, tides are caused by moon

Androsthenes of Thasos was the lucky one who … discovered for the first time the important fact that plants are capable of movement, a characteristic previously attributed only to the animal world. Like all scientifi c observations which were ordered by Alexander the Great himself, the description of the daily periodic [italics Bretzl’s] movements of the leafl ets in their four stages is written so clearly and so succinctly that until the time of our new physiological works, it remains the best (description) of the sleep of plants, even if they are not noted and forgotten, as a historical review will describe. Bretzl H. Botanische Forschungen des Alexanderzuges. B.G. Teubner, Leipzig, 1903, pp. 120-132.

323 BC
Theophrastus, suceeded Aristotle as head of the Peripatetic school of philosophy of which he was the co-founder. In Historia Plantarum and De Causis Plantarum, he classified and described the "external parts of plants from root to fruit..., set forth the 'homology' of the perianth members [or floral envelope] of flowers..., to some extent distinguished between monocotyledons and dicotyledons, [and] described the fertilization of the date palm" (Crombie 1952:367).

About 330-310 BC
Autolycus of Pitane defined uniform motion as being when "a point is said to be moved with equal movement when it traverses equal and similar quantities in equal times" (Clagett 1959:164). Autolycus of Pitane writes On the Moving Sphere which studies the geometry of the sphere. It is written as an astronomy text.

330 BC ??
Diving bell used ([Aristotle] Problems

322 BC
Death of Aristotle

About 320 BC
Eudemus of Rhodes writes the History of Geometry.

About 314 BC

The first reference to the pyroelectric effect by Theophrastus who noted that tourmaline becomes charged when heated.

About 300 BC

Eukleides, better known as Euclid, published his Elements, a reorganized compilation of geometrical proofs including new proofs and a much earlier essay on the foundations of arithmetic. Elements conclude with the construction of Plato's five regular solids. Euclidean space has no natural edge, and is thus infinite. In his Optica, he noted that light travels in straight lines and described the law of reflection.

About 300 BC
"Epicurus attempted to deal with the contradiction between atoms falling through the void in parallel paths at the same speed and the appearance of novel combinations, or matter, by supposing very slight, chance deviations, or 'clinamen,' in an atom's path. He saw this as analogous to the question of human freedom in a determined nature; i.e., there is no room for ethical considerations. Indeed, "Epicureans saw the development of the world as a random, one-way process" (Toulmin and Goodfield 1965:50).

Dicaiarch of Messina (350-290 BCE), Greek geographer introduces to the map making world the notion of latitude and longitude

About 290-260 BC
Aristarchus of Samos, in On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon, used trigonometry to estimate the size of the Moon and its distance by the Earth's shadow during a lunar eclipse. Archimedes and others said that he maintained that the Moon revolved around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun which remained stationary like the stars.

288-287 BC
Death of Theophrastus

287 BC
Birth of Archimedes
(Αρχιμήδης ο Συρακούσιος)

285 BC 
Philetas of Cos - died from considering the Liar Paradox.

About 280 BC
Lighthouse of Alexandria “Pharos”.

About 280 BC
Herophilus of Alexandria (Ηρόφιλος ο Χαλκηδόνιος) studied anatomy and compared humans and animals, distinguished between sensory and motor nerves,and between the cerebellum and the brain, noted that the cortex was folded into convolutions, and named the 'duodenum.'

The Greek Ctesibius of Alexandria invents the hydraulic organ, the hydraulis.

The Stoics invent The Crocodile and Baby Paradox.

276 BC
Birth of Eratosthenes

About 270 BC
Greek inventor Ctesibius of Alexandria includes gearing in clepsydras

Death of Euclid

About 260-250 BC

Archimedes of Syracuse contributed numerous advances to science including the principle that a body immersed in fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid and the calculation of the value of pi. "His method was to select definite and limited problems. He then formulated hypotheses which he either regarded, in the Euclidean manner, as self-evident axioms or could verify by simple experiments. The consequences of these he then deduced and experimentally verified" (Crombie 1952:278). Description of the Loculus of Archimedes; Archimedean Polyhedra; Volume of Intersection of Two Cylinders; Archimedes' Cattle Problem. Principle of the lever , discovery of the principle of buoyancy

Erasistratus of Alexandria ((Ερασίστρατος ο Κείος)) dissected the brain and distinguished between the cerebrum and the cerebellum.

About 250 BC
Death of Erasistratus and Herophilus.

About 245 BC
Callimachus of Cyrene, a scholar and librarian at the Library of Alexandria, "created for the first time a catalog of Greek literature covering 120,000 books, called the Pinakes or Tables

About 240 BC
Eratosthenes of Cyrene calculated the diameter of the earth by measuring noontime shadows at sites 800 km. apart. Assuming the earth is a sphere, the measured angle between the sites is seven degrees and the circumference is about 50 times 800 km., or about 40,000 km.

About 230 BC
Eratosthenes of Cyrene develops his sieve method for finding all prime numbers.

About 230 BC
Nicomedes writes his treatise On conchoid lines which contain his discovery of the curve known as the "Conchoid of Nicomedes".

Before the end of the third century BC
Astrolabes were in use for taking the angular distance between any two objects, usually the elevation in the sky of planets.

In the early second century BC
Diocles, in On Burning Mirrors, proved the focal property of a parabola and showed how the Sun's rays can be made to reflect a point by rotating a parabolic mirror (Toomer 1978).

About 225-210 BC?
Apollonius of Perga writes Conics. He introduced probably first the terms 'parabola' and 'hyperbola,' curves formed when a plane intersects a conic section, and 'ellipse,' a closed curve formed when a plane intersects a cone.

About 225 BC
Archimedes treatise On Spirals probably also date of discovery of the Archimedes Screw

Around 212 BC
Death of Archimedes

Around 200-300 BC
Polybius, a second century B.C. Greek historian, wrote about the system he invented:
Provide each tribe or participant with ten torches. Divide the torches into two groups of five each. Divide the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet into four groups of five letters each and one group of four letters. Let the five torches in one group represent the five groups of Greek letters. Let each of the five torches in the other group represent a specific Greek letter from its group.
To flash a message, have the person on duty use the following rules to spell out each word. First, raise the required number of torches in the first set of five to indicate the group to which a particular letter belongs. Then have him raise the required number of torches in the other set to indicate the specific letter within the group. The system was accurate but tedious and required hours to spell out a message of considerable length.

Around 200 BC
Death of Eratosthenes

About 170 BC
Parchment, superior to papyrus because it can be printed on both sides and folded, was invented in Pergamon.

About 150 BC
Hypsicles writes On the Ascension of Stars. In this work he is the first to divide the Zodiac into 360 degrees.

About 134-127 BC

Hipparchus of Rhodes (Ιππαρχος ο Ρόδιος ) measured the year with great accuracy and built the first comprehensive star chart with 850 stars and a luminosity, or brightness, scale. He is credited with the discovery of the precision of the equinoxes, and seems to have been very impressed that either of two geometrically constructed hypotheses could 'save the appearance' of the path that a planet follows: One shows the planets moving in eccentric circles and the other moving in epicycles carried by concentric circles (Duhem 1908:8).

In the first half of the first century BC
Titus Lucretius Carus, writing in Latin, set forth the teachings of the Epicurean school in De rerum natura. There he held that "the soul is itself material and so closely associated with the body that whatever affects one affects the other. Consciousness ends with death. There is no immortality of the soul. The universe came into being through the working of natural laws in the combining of atoms" (Columbia Desk Encyclopedia 1975:1626). This view is supported by the force of the wind which is the result of the impact of innumerable atoms.

45 BC
Sosigenes of Alexandria (Σωσιγένης o Αλεξανδρεύς) designed a calendar of 365.25 days which was introduced by Julius Caesar.

Late first century BC
Strabo (Στράβων ο Αμάσειος) published his Geographia, based on his observations and those of his Greek predecessors.

65-80 BC
The first account of the Antikythera device.

50 AD
St. Paul: Epistle to Titus I, 12 - mentions All Cretans Are Liars. (He probably did not understand the Paradox)

About 60
Hero of Alexandria explained that the four elements consist of atoms. He also observed that heated air expanded. In Catoptrica, he demonstrated geometrically that the "path taken by a ray of light reflected from a plane mirror is shorter than any other reflected path that might be drawn between the source and the point of observation" (History of Optics 2001:1). Heron of Alexandria writes Metrica (Measurements). It contains formulas for calculating areas and volumes. He described many automata and presents the first steam engine.

About 50-70 AD
Pedanius Dioscorides
(Διοσκουρίδης o Πεδάνιος) published recommendations as to the medicinal use of specific plant extracts.

About 90
Nicomachus of Gerasa (Νικόμαχος ο Γερασηνός) writes Arithmetike eisagoge (Introduction to Arithmetic) which is the first work to treat arithmetic as a separate topic from geometry.

About 100[?]
Plutarch, in On the Face That Can Be Seen in the Lunar Disk, compared the Moon to the Earth, upheld the idea of the plurality of worlds, and tried to overturn Aristotle's theory of 'natural places' (Duhem 1985:479).

About 110
Menelaus of Alexandria (Μενέλαος ο Αλεξανδρεύς) writes Sphaerica which deals with spherical triangles and their application to astronomy.

Between 127 and 141

Claudius Ptolemaeus (Πτολεμαίος Κλαύδιος) better known as Ptolemy, put together a thirteen volume compendium of opinion and data concerning the stars, including the Mesopotamian eclipse record. In this book, the Almagest, Ptolemy rejected the Peripatetic physics of the heavens, using circles rather than spheres. He did so in order to simplify his calculations, judging the circles to be only models devised for the purpose of calculation and recognizing that the actual movements were unknowable. The Almagest also contains errors which were not corrected until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: e.g., saying that the earth is the center of the universe, the planets have circular, if eccentric, orbits, and the earth does not move--because the centrifugal force would cause anything even temporarily disconnected to lag behind. On the other hand, the tables of the planet's positions were of such accuracy that Nicholas Copernicus computed most of his numbers from them. He also tabulates angles of refraction for several media.

About 160

The first Science Fiction Story by Lucian of Samosata that described kidnapping by extraterrestrials, star wars, trip to the moon! In the story Menippus meets Endymion who explains that he was kidnapped and brought to the moon while he slept. He adds that he is about to make war on the People of the Sun, whose King Phaethon has refused to allow him to colonize Venus. In the titanic struggle which follows, the People of the Sun are at last victorious and the triumphant Phaethon builds a high wall which prevents the light from his domain from reaching the moon, thus causing a total eclipse....

About 170

Claudius Galen (Γαληνός Κλαύδιος ) used pulse taking as a diagnostic, performed numerous animal dissections, and wrote treatises on anatomy aid. The Galenic doctrine assumed that health depends on a balance of affinities or antagonisms associated with various bodily fluids or 'humors:' blood and fire (hot and dry), yellow bile and air (hot and wet), black bile and earth (cold and dry), and phlegm and water (cold and wet). "The object of good medical practice...was to restore the balance of the humors by such treatment as bleeding or purgation with plant extracts" (Fruton 1972:27). Galen eskewed 'action at a distance' through the agency of gods or spirits, in his formulas he employed many odd ingredients, such as crocodile blood and mouse dung. But, if he can, he relates the efficacy to some mechanism: for example, for a root worn around the neck, inhalation of the particles of the root. He distinguished three ventricles and proposed that nerves are ducts conveying fluid pneuma secreted by the brain and spinal cord to the periphery of the body, which was the basis of the idea, widespread until the eighteenth century, that nervous tissue had a glandular function He broke pneuma, which means spirit or soul in Greek, down into various faculties, motor, sensory including the five senses, and rational. He divided the rational pneuma into several functions, imagination, reason, and memory. He also wrote of 'seeds of disease,' presumably what are now called germs.

Pausanias of Magnesia writes "Periegesis," a guide through Greece and its history of art (10 vols.)

Ptolemy draws 26 maps of various countries

About 250
Diophantus of Alexandria (Διόφαντος ο Αλεξανδρεύς) produces the first book on algebra. He is a
pioneer in solving certain indeterminate algebraic equations, i.e., an equation in which the variables can take on integer values and has an infinite but denumerable set of solutions: e.g., x+2y=3.

About 300
Pappus of Alexandria (Πάππος ο Αλεξανδρεύς) writes Synagoge (Collections) which is a guide to Greek geometry. He describes five machines in use: cogwheel, lever, pulley, screw, wedge (c. 285)

About 301
Iamblichus ((Ιάμβλιχος)) writes on astrology and mysticism. His Life of Pythagoras is a fascinating account.

About 325
Iamblichus: On Nicomachus's Introduction to Arithmetic first mention of Casting Out Nines, first description of the Bloom of Thymarides; first Amicable Numbers.

Middle of the third century
Calcidius translated the first 53 chapters of Plato's Timaeus into Latin. He translated 'analysis' and 'synthesis' as resolutio and compositio, and maintained in his commentary that combining these was the proper method of philosophical research.

In the late third century
Porphyry wrote an introduction to Aristotle's logic, the Eisagoge, which was much read in the course of the Middle Ages. It emphasized the distinction between facts held to be universally true because they existed 'prior to experience,' the Platonic opinion, or 'posterior to experience,' the Aristotelian opinion. This difference grew into the distinction between 'realists,' who hold that universals are the ultimate reality, and 'nominalists,' who hold that universals are derived from real experience. In our time, this distinction lives in the controversy concerning the 'humanity' of a fetus (Park 1990:100).

About 385

Aurelius Augustinus, later known as Augustine, a Christian saint, writing in Latin, found the Platonist notion of eternal ideas a certain basis for knowledge which he promulgated in his books Confessiones and Civitas Dei.

[["The fourth and fifth centuries saw the intellectual triumph of [Roman] Christianity in Europe.... In 389 Christian monks sacked the great Greek library in Alexandria.... Since Greek was the language of a literature whose most famous works expressed a pagan culture [and] by 425 Saint Jerome's [official Latin or] Vulgate Bible was being copied and distributed..., Western scholars no longer needed Hebrew or Greek" (Park 1990:78-79).]]

About 390
Theon of Alexandria (Θέων ο Αλεξανδρεύς) produces a version of Euclid's Elements (with textual changes and some additions) on which almost all subsequent editions are based.

About 400
Hypatia (Υπατία) writes commentaries on Diophantus and Apollonius. She is the first recorded female mathematician and she distinguishes herself with remarkable scholarship. She becomes head of the Neo-Platonist school at Alexandria.

Part 2


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Greek Science of the Hellenistic Era: A Sourcebook

The Forgotten Revolution: How Science was Born in 300 BC and Why It Had to Be Reborn Russo Lucio, Levy Silvio (translator), Springer, 2004, IX, 487 p., ISBN: 3-540-20068-1

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