Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World

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This reference work describes the trial-and-error experiments, discoveries, and inventions of early humans who lived from before recorded history to the Middle Ages. Krebs travels through the ancient periods of Egypt, China, and Mesoamerica, to the classical Greek and Roman periods, and finally to the Christian era, providing students with the link between science and history, while revealing information about many cultures around the world. Each entry provides the who, when, and where of each discovery, invention, or experiment. Entries include calendars, gunpowder, anesthesia, contraception, spontaneous generation, the Arctic Circle, language, and tides.

Part of the Groundbreaking Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries through the Ages series, this book provides readers with a detailed look early humans' relation to world around them and the scientific advancements they made. It will be useful to high school and college students, teachers, and the general public interested in the history and science behind ancient civilizations.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

ROBERT KREBS is retired Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois Health Sciences. He is also a former science teacher, science specialist for the U.S. Government, and university reasearch administrator.

CAROLYN A. KREBS began her literary career in the textbook division of the McGraw-Hill Book Company in New York City. Before retiring to South Padre Island to assist her husband, Robert, in writing science books, she was the Executive Director of the Fort Wayne, Indiana Medical Society.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations xi
Series Foreword xiii
Introduction xvii
1. Agriculture and Animal Domestication 1
Background and History (Agriculture) 1
Background and Breeding (Animal Domestication) 12
Principal Domesticated Species and Why They Were Chosen 16
Development of Animal Equipment 24
Summary 30
2. Astronomy 33
Background and History 33
Astrology 39
The Geocentric View of the Universe 41
The Heliocentric View of the Universe 45
Compilation of Astronomical Maps and Star Catalogs 47
Discovery of Eclipses, Comets, Novas, and Sunspots 49
Calculating the Earth's Circumference 52
Calculating the Length of the Solar Year 53
Calculating the Earth's Ecliptic 53
Tides 54
Instrumentation 55
Summary 59
3. Biology, Botany, and Zoology 61
Background and History 61
The Greeks of Ionia 62
Athens--the Center of Ancient Learning 64
Taxonomy 66
Zoology and the Classification of Animals 70
Botany and the Classification of Plants 74
Reproduction 76
Summary 79
4. Communication 81
Background and History 81
Language 83
Writing and the Alphabet 87
Paper 96
Printing 100
Postal Systems 101
Summary 103
5. Engineering and Machinery 105
Background and History 105
Simple Machines 106
Building Materials and Construction 115
Water Systems 132
Summary 146
6. Mathematics 149
Background and History 149
The Mathematics of Mesopotamia (Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian) 152
The Mathematics of Egypt 155
The Mathematics of China 159
The Mathematics of Ancient Greece 162
The Mathematics of the Indus Civilizations 169
Roman Numerals 171
Abacus 173
Pi ([pi]) or Squaring the Circle or "Perfect Exhaustion" 174
Zero 176
Summary 178
7. Medicine and Health 179
Background and History 179
Primitive Medicine 180
History of Disease 182
Medicine in Mesopotamia 183
Medicine in Palestine (Israel) 185
Medicine in Egypt 186
Medicine of the Indus Civilizations 190
Medicine in China 192
Medicine in Ancient Greece 197
Medicine in Alexandria (Egypt) 202
Medicine in the Roman Empire 203
Summary 209
8. Personal and Household 211
Background and History 211
Body Ornamentation 212
Contraception 217
Glass 219
Heating, Cooling, and Refrigeration 220
Ink 222
Lighting 223
Locks 225
Mirrors 227
Pottery 228
Sanitation 234
Weaving 237
9. The Physical Sciences 243
Background and History 243
Fire and Its "Discovery" as a Tool 245
The Three-Age System 246
Metallurgy 248
Alchemy and Chemistry 253
Philosophy of the Physical Sciences 258
Summary 264
10. Timekeeping 267
Background and History 267
Absolute Time 268
Relative Time 270
Calendars 271
Timekeeping Devices 287
Summary 292
11. Tools and Weaponry 295
Background and History 295
Dating the Origin of Tools and Weapons 296
Survival Tools 298
Colonizing (Working) Tools 302
Weaponry 306
Summary 318
12. Transportation, Trade, and Navigation 321
Background and History 321
Transportation 322
Trade 325
Navigation and Exploration 330
History of Shipbuilding 335
Summary 347
Glossary 349
Selected Bibliography 357
Name Index 363
Subject Index 367
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