Traditions of Byzantine astrolabes in Renaissance Europe

Authored by: Darin Hayton

The Routledge History of the Renaissance

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138898851
eBook ISBN: 9781315226217
Adobe ISBN: 9781351849463


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History of science remains dominated by narratives of progress and innovation that relegate practices and knowledge that fail to advance our understanding of the world to the dustbin of history or, worse, to the domain of antiquarians. Such narratives often find reinforcement in histories of Renaissance or early modern Europe with their explicit and implicit forward-looking historiographies. A casualty of such scholarship is the textual output of the Byzantine Empire and especially Byzantine science. A recent assessment of Byzantine science illustrates the general problem:

Despite efforts of pioneering scholars, Byzantine science remains both marginal to mainstream Byzantine history and poorly integrated into history of science surveys. Science in Byzantium is often portrayed as akin to a repository awaiting later use, whether by Islamic civilizations or Latin Europe. One recognizes at once, in lightly edited form, the familiar narrative structure that once framed early accounts of Latin and Islamic science, back when historians could more plausibly claim to know nothing about them. 1

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