Science in the Ancient and Classical Worlds 2000 B.C.- 699 A.D.


Lerner KL. Science in the Ancient and Classical Worlds 2000 B.C.- 699 A.D. DRAFT COPY subsequently published in Science and Its Times: Understanding the Social Significance of Scientific Discovery. Thomson Gale. 2001.
Science in the Ancient and Classical Worlds 2000 B.C.- 699 A.D.


Throughout the course of human history, science and society have advanced in a dynamic and mutual embrace. Regardless of scholarly contentions regarding an exact definition of science, the history of science in the ancient world is a record of the first tentative steps toward a systemization of knowledge concerning the natural world. During the period 2000 B.C. to 699 A.D., as society became increasingly centered around stabilizing agricultural communities and cites of trade, the development of science nurtured necessary practical technological innovations and, at the same time, spurred the first rational explanations of the vastness and complexity of the cosmos. 

The archaeological record provides abundant evidence that our most ancient ancestors' struggle for daily survival drove an instinctive need to fashion tools from which they could gain physical advantage beyond the strength of the relatively frail human body. Along with an innate curiosity into the workings and meanings of the celestial panorama that painted the night skies, this visceral quest for survival made more valuable the skills of systematic observation, technological innovation, and a practical understanding of one's surroundings. From these fundamental skills evolved the necessary intellectual tools to do scientific inquiry. 

Although the wandering civilizations that predated the earliest settlements were certainly not scientifically or mathematically sophisticated by contemporary standards, their efforts ultimately produced a substantial base of knowledge that was fashioned into the science and philosophy practiced in ancient Babylonia, Egypt, China, and India. 

While much of the detail regarding ancient life remains enigmatic, the long-established pattern of human history reveals a reoccurring principle wherein ideas evolve from earlier ideas. In the ancient world, the culmination of the intellectual advances of early man ultimately coalesced in the glorious civilizations of classical Greece and Rome. 

In these civilizations, the paths of development for science and society were clearly fused. Plato's attribution to Socrates of the saying, "The unexamined life is not worth living," expresses an early scientific philosophy that calls thinking people to examine, scrutinize, test, and make inquires of the world. This quest for knowledge and for reasoned rational thought provided a tangible base for the development of modern science and society. 


Last updated on 07/08/2019