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Science and Mathematics in Ancient Greek Culture$
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C. J. Tuplin and T. E. Rihll

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198152484

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198152484.001.0001

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Seismology and Vulcanology in Antiquity?

Seismology and Vulcanology in Antiquity?

Chapter:
(p.56) 4 Seismology and Vulcanology in Antiquity?
Source:
Science and Mathematics in Ancient Greek Culture
Author(s):

Hine M. Harry

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198152484.003.0004

According to the modern theory of plate tectonics, the African continental plate has for some millions of years been colliding with the European one in the middle of the Mediterranean. As a result the Graeco-Roman world was well acquainted with widespread seismic activity and localised volcanic activity. Such activity is regularly mentioned or described in a variety of ancient literature: poetry, history, geography, epistolography, and philosophical and ‘scientific’ works. This chapter examines how much coherence these scattered writings have, and whether ancient attempts at rational understanding of seismology and vulcanology really qualify as scientific, or indeed as coherent disciplines of any sort. Four topics are discussed: differences between earthquakes and volcanoes in ancient Greece; the collection of information about earthquakes and volcanoes over long periods of time; the collection of detailed information about individual volcanic and seismic events; and the relationship between theory and observation, and the contribution of the ideas of ordinary people to scientific and philosophical theories.

Keywords:   plate tectonics, ancient Greece, earthquakes, volcanoes, seismic events, science, philosophy, theory, seismology, vulcanology

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