A Brief Orientation

Andrew M. Riggsby

in Mosaics of Knowledge

Published in print November 2019 | ISBN: 9780190632502
Published online August 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190632533 | DOI:

Series: Classical Culture and Society

A Brief Orientation

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  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Classical History
  • European History


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This book investigates information technologies in the classical Roman world—their invention, diffusion, and use, and the interactions among those processes. The focus is on conceptual developments—e.g., “mapping,” “weighing,” “listing”—rather than material ones—e.g., “codex,” “abacus.” (Within the area covered, however, the interaction of concepts with the materiality of their actual uses will be a recurring theme.) It also focuses principally on “high” technologies rather than, say, literacy or numeracy in general. Perhaps paradoxically, this will end up setting the book against most work to date on classical knowledge regimes. Scholarship has typically dealt with intra-elite and largely discursive phenomena. As a result, we know a good deal about the intellectual history of antiquity’s formalized disciplines (e.g., rhetoric, philosophy, law, literature, grammar) and how they competed with and inflected one another. By contrast, my goal is to uncover an alternative set of regimes which were generally not theorized in antiquity, but which informed the practices of daily life, and did so in a broad variety of social locations (even if some had elite origins). These turn out to include relatively advanced technologies like complicated lists, tables, and textual illustrations....

Chapter.  4154 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Classical History ; European History

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