Numeracy and Science

Anne Tihon

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Numeracy and Science

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In Byzantium, scientific studies were founded on the Tetraktys ton mathematon, or quadrivium of sciences (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music), and used the work of writers from Euclid to Archimedes, Ptolemy, and Theon of Smyrna. Education in these disciplines reached its apogee in the Palaiologan period, when the ancient scientific treatises were studied, edited, and corrected, resulting in what are known as Byzantine recensions. In addition to heritage from antiquity, Byzantine science had foreign influences, such as from Arabs, Persians, Latins, and Jews. This article examines numeracy and science during the Byzantine Era, focusing on the sciences of the quadrivium, geography, optics and mechanics, pseudo-sciences (astrology, alchemy), and the natural sciences (botany, zoology).

Keywords: Byzantium; science; quadrivium; arithmetic; geometry; astronomy; music; numeracy; geography; pseudo-sciences

Article.  7152 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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