This book is an interesting discussion of how classical ideas made their way through history It follows the writings of three Ancient Greek scientists Ptolemy, Euclid and Galen from their inception in Antiquity to their dissemination through the printing press in the 15th Century, via seven selected cities As a result this book is a fusion of pure history and a history of ideas Moller discusses both the fortunes of the seven cities she has chosen for example the rise of Palermo under the Normans and the fortunes of the ideas themselves for example the decline in Galenic medicine during the Renaissance The result is a decent survey of aspects of Ancient Greek thought and Medieval history Moller is strong on her disc People think of the time between the Roman empire and the Renaissance as the dark ages, with minimal scientific expansion, and with a lot of knowledge being lost before it was rediscovered This book works against that pervasive myth, tracing several texts through seven cities to see how they were preserved before the printing press This book is incredibly well researched, and written in an engaging and witty way I was not only interested by the topic, but hooked by the narrative put forth by Moller It is fascinating to see how we managed to maintain so much knowledge when it was so difficult to preserve, and the reader and scholar in me did end several of the chapters screaming when outside forces came in to burn whole libraries.
There was a program on PBS when I was in middle or high school that was, I think, produced in the UKlike most really good science programs The program was called Connections and it would take a subject and connect all the historical dots as to how it came about and sometimes the connections between historical figures, objects, cities, places, concepts and moments would be really obscure Who knew, for example, that there was a connection between the modern concept of credit and Napoleon s problem of feeding a large army and the development of refrigeration.
The Map of Knowledge is like this.
I found myself riveted I, and I think many of us in the public school system in the US, got basic world history in high school This was usually a discrete set of historical moments that were never really connected for DNF but not because it wasn t informative and well written I had this as a two week book from my library and I had to turn it back in when I was only a little less than halfway done I requested it again, thinking I could easily pick up where I left off After almost two months, I have completely lost the thread of what I was learning I don t have the time or energy or frankly I guess the interest to start the book over I would definitely consider trying it again in a few years.
The Map of Knowledge Violet Moller Traces The Journey Taken By The Ideas Of Three Of The Greatest Scientists Of Antiquity Euclid, Galen And Ptolemy Through Seven Cities And Over A Thousand Years In It, We Follow Them From Sixth Century Alexandria To Ninth Century Baghdad, From Muslim Cordoba To Catholic Toledo, From Salerno S Medieval Medical School To Palermo, Capital Of Sicily S Vibrant Mix Of Cultures And Finally To Venice, Where That Great Merchant City S Printing Presses Would Enable Euclid S Geometry, Þ read Ä The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller Þ Ptolemy S System Of The Stars And Galen S Vast Body Of Writings On Medicine To Spread Even Widely In Tracing These Fragile Strands Of Knowledge From Century To Century, From East To West And North To South, Moller Also Reveals The Web Of Connections Between The Islamic World And Christendom, Connections That Would Both Preserve And Transform Astronomy, Mathematics And Medicine From The Early Middle Ages To The Renaissance Vividly Told And With A Dazzling Cast Of Characters, The Map of Knowledge Is An Evocative, Nuanced And Vibrant Account Of Our Common Intellectual Heritage

Violet Moller does a fine job of tracing the route taken by three specific works of science which made the fraught passage between antiquity and modernity The three writings are Ptolemy s Almagest, Euclid s Elements, and the extensive corpus of Galen s medical writings She accomplishes this feat of literary detection by tracing journey the three took from city to city and library to library through the long, dark centuries when first Europe, in the aftermath of Rome s collapse, and then, eventually, the Muslim world, turned its collective back on the pursuit of scientific understanding.
Along the way, Ms Moller spends a great deal of time acknowledging the debt we all owe to various Muslim Houses of Wisdom , establishments supported by enlightened rulers, and staffed by a great í The Map of Knowledge ☆ As a classics archaeology undergrad and a library of science master s student, this book was pretty much made for me It was incredibly interesting to learn about ancient historic library systems and how scientific literature created in Ancient Greece by Euclid, Galen, and Ptolemy has survived mostly the test of time And it provided fascinating information about surrounding history and about science that I greatly enjoyed Something I found really informative was how crucial Arabic scholars and scientists were to the survival of these works I definitely wish that this was widely taught and highlighted My only negatives are this 1 sometimes tangents would be made to other sites that would have been nice as a The author dwells on astronomy, mathematics, and medicine as she traces the survival of ancient wisdom during the so called Dark Ages The focus is on seven cities, each in turn a center for learning Alexandria, Baghdad, C rdoba, Toledo, Salerno, Palermo, and Venice Scholars traveled from one to another with surprising fluidity, looking for manuscripts to study and translate The major takeaway for this reader, at least was the prominence of scholars and leaders from the Arabic world the author suggests that the spotlight Renaissance humanists placed on classical Greek and Roman models was a major reason why these giants are not better known today Scholars like al Khwarizmi and al Razi should be should be household names, like Leonardo da Vinci and Newton 258 This splendid and gracefully written volume should go a long way in helping to redress this i Before the invention of the printing press and the widespread use of paper, producing and preserving books was a costly enterprise We ll never know what ancient knowledge was lost to the ravages of time But not all was lost, thanks to the scholars and book collectors who made it their life s work to find, copy, and translate the works of Euclid and others We sometimes think of the Medieval period, especially the earlier part, as the Dark Ages But this book shows that, although the period was frequently tumultuous, it was never really dark , especially not in the Byzantine and Arab worlds It also shows that the interchange of ideas took place where different cultures and traditions mingled, as in Moorish Cordova and Medieval Venice My new historical hero is Gerard of Cremona, who t It s quite possible that Moller offers much than you already know about Euclid s The Elements c300 BCE and Ptolemy s The Almagest, c150 CE , and the many published works on anatomy and medicine by Galen 130 210 CE The Map of Knowledge is a scholarly account of the preservation of knowledge from ancient times to the present day You can guess that it s not a beach book.
Moller forgot to mention that throughout the centuries, most human beings on the planet couldn t read or write, and so it was the lucky, the gifted, and the self selected few who preserved important knowledge for the benefit of succeeding generations Think about a version of Fahrenheit 451, stretched over the centuries.
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