antiquity

Diophantus of Alexandria – the father of Algebra

Diophantus of Alexandria – the father of Algebra

Probably sometime between AD 201 and 215, Alexandrian Greek mathematician Diophantus of Alexandria was born. He is often referred to as the father of algebra. He is the author of a series of books called Arithmetica, many of which are now lost, which deal with solving algebraic equations. Diophantus was the first Greek mathematician who recognized fractions as numbers; thus he allowed positive rational numbers for the coefficients and solutions. The name…
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Herodotus of Harlicarnassus – the Father of History

Herodotus of Harlicarnassus – the Father of History

About in 484 B.C., ancient Greek historian Herodotus was born. A contemporary of Socrates, he is widely referred to as “The Father of History“. Herodotus was the first historian known to have broken from Homeric tradition to treat historical subjects as a method of investigation: specifically by collecting his materials systematically and critically, and then to arrange them into a historiographic narrative. Despite Herodotus‘ historical significance, little is known of his personal…
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The Interpretation of Dreams according to Sigmund Freud

The Interpretation of Dreams according to Sigmund Freud

On November 4, 1899, Sigmund Freud’s “Die Traumdeutung” (Interpretation of Dreams) was published. The book introduces Freud’s theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation, and also first discusses what would later become the theory of the Oedipus complex. Freud said of this work, “Insight such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime.” Besides his later introduced structural model of the human psyche (1923) [1,2], the ‘Interpretation of Dreams’ is…
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Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos, who studied in Plato‘s philosopher’s school, is most famous for his groundbreaking work on plants. Thus, he is often referred to as the ‘father of botany‘. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. “Surely, then, if the life in animals does not need explanation or is to be explained only in this way,…
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Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus of Cnidus was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. All of his works are lost or have survived as fragments in the texts of other classical writers. He is best known for having developed the method of exhaustion, a precursor to the integral calculus. The Life of Eudoxus of Cnidus Eudoxus of Cnidus was born around 408 BC as the son of Aischines of Cnidus. His name Eudoxus means…
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The World is in Ever-Present Change – Heraclitus of Ephesus

The World is in Ever-Present Change – Heraclitus of Ephesus

Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice“. This position was complemented by his stark commitment to a unity of opposites in the world, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”. Through these doctrines Heraclitus characterized all existing entities by pairs of contrary…
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Early Roman Historiography with Gaius Sallustius Crispus

Early Roman Historiography with Gaius Sallustius Crispus

On October 1, 86 BC, Roman historian, politician Gaius Sallustius Crispus was born. Sallustius is the earliest known Roman historian with surviving works to his name, of which we have Catiline‘s War, The Jugurthine War, and the Histories (of which only fragments survive). The Bellum Catiline, Sallustius’ first published work, contains the history of the memorable year 63 and the story of Catiline’s Conspiracy. Back in school I already made the acquaintance of…
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Charles Thomas Newton and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Charles Thomas Newton and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

On September 16, 1816, British archeologist Sir Charles Thomas Newton was born. Newton excavated sites in southwestern Turkey and disinterred the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (at present-day Bodrum, Turkey). Newton also helped to establish systematic methods for archaeology. Charles Thomas Newton – A Career in Archaeology Charles Thomas Newton was born the second son of Newton Dickinson Hand Newton, vicar of Clungunford, Shropshire. He was…
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Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

On July 21, 356 BC, Herostratus, in an attempt to immortalise his name, set fire to the to the wooden roof-beams of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For this outrage, the Ephesians sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name. Eversince this time, the term “Herostratic fame” relates to Herostratus and means, roughly, “fame at any cost”. The Temple of Artemis Modern archaeologist…
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Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

On July 12, 1922, English architect and linguist Michael Ventris was born. Along with John Chadwick and Alice Kober, Ventris deciphered Linear B, a previously unknown ancient script discovered at Knossos by Arthur Evans. He showed that the Minoan Linear B script was a very early form of Greek, the oldest known examples. Michael Ventris – Learning a Language in only Weeks Michael Ventris was born as the only child into a…
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