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Pliny the Elder on Science and Technology - John F. Healy

Pliny the Elder on Science and Technology

Hardcover Published: 1st July 1999
ISBN: 9780198146872
Number Of Pages: 484

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The Elder Pliny's Natural History is essentially a work of reference providing a wide-ranging account of human mores and achievement in the arts and sciences in the first century AD. It influenced the content and character of subsequent technical literature, but errors in transmission of the manuscripts led to undeserved criticism from the time of Niccolo Leoniceno, the late fifteenth-century Italian humanist. Pliny's work is here re-examined for the first time since the 1920s. Modern experiments, simulating the techniques described by Pliny, and an in-depth study of his development of a technical language, confirm his unique contribution to our knowledge of science in early imperial Rome. Pliny does not, in general, understand the principles underlying the phenomena he observes but makes a significant input - especially in the fields of crystallography, chemistry, and physics as well as of the applied sciences - from which beginnings those scientific disciplines would evolve many centuries later. Ironically, Pliny's scientific curiosity led to his death in AD 79 while observing the eruption of Vesuvius at close quarters.

Industry Reviews

`This book is a significant contribution as a textbook and (essential) reference point for anyone interested in the history of science or Pliny's massive and often neglected work: for making Pliny accessible to scientists, and some of the science accessible to some classicists, H deserves much credit.' Jason Davies, JACT Review `Healy himself is an exponent of the new, more positive, approach to Pliny. One of his most interesting contributions to our understanding of the Natural History is his demonstration of how Pliny develops 'a language within a language', ... a 'subset' of literary Latin in which words have a specialised meaning, different from normal usage.' Sorcha Carey, BMCR 00.08.20. `the focus of Healy's book is Pliny as a source for ancient scientific knowledge and technology. But unlike earlier accounts which have simply excerpted whole subjects from the Natural History without any consideration of their context as a whole ... Healy's exploration of science and technology in the Natural History is prefaced with a lengthy discussion of Pliny's cultural and political context.' Sorcha Carey, BMCR 00.08.20. Healy's work will prove invaluable to scholars wishing to understand Pliny's own particular contribution to ancient science and technology, as well as to those who have a more general interest in ancient science and technology. Discussion of individual topics is presented in a clear and accessible manner. `Pliny the Elder's Natural History is the ultimate sourcebook. Incorporating some 20,000 facts ... its 37 books cover almost every aspect of the ancient world, from geography, to agriculture, metallurgy, and the history of art. Not surprisingly, then, Pliny's name is ubiquitous in modern attemps to understand ancient Greece and Rome ... Healey's book is a welcome addition to a growing number of publications which have sought to rescue Pliny from the status of 'compiler', and to reveal Pliny's original contribution.' Sorcha Carey, BMCR 00.08.20.

Pliny's Life and Careerp. 1
Pliny the Writerp. 31
The Natural Historyp. 36
Pliny's Sourcesp. 42
Mirabiliap. 63
Pliny and Researchp. 71
Language and Stylep. 79
Science in Antiquityp. 100
The Natural History and Technical Literaturep. 106
Science in The Natural Historyp. 113
Chemistryp. 115
Niellop. 137
Dyes and Dyeingp. 138
Physicsp. 142
From Observer to Horizonp. 171
Earth Sciencesp. 173
Mineralsp. 190
Amberp. 250
Hydrocarbonsp. 254
Meteoritesp. 257
Minerals as Pigmentsp. 259
Gems and Precious Stonesp. 263
Metalsp. 271
Technologyp. 347
Pliny and the Environmentp. 371
The Natural History in the Middle Ages and Afterp. 380
Select Bibliographyp. 393
Index Locorump. 412
General Indexp. 431
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780198146872
ISBN-10: 0198146876
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 484
Published: 1st July 1999
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.4 x 14.4  x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.69