Ancient Greek Period (500 B.C – 200 B.C)

The Greeks were pioneers in many branches of knowledge their period is known as the Golden Age of Greece. The ancient period of geography was an exploration, and mapping of the areas and the collected material. Geographical knowledge had been a concomitant of a different civilization.

Greeks borrowed many concepts of Astronomy, Geometry, and mathematics from the Egyptians and Assyrians. Greeks introduced two basic traditions of geography mathematical and literary tradition.

Greeks developed; the Science of Astronomy. They postulated the concept of ‘Direction of the Wind’. The concept of distance between the Sun and Moon was introduced by the Greeks. Greeks introduced the circumference of Earth. They also introduced an introduction to mathematics in geography.

Greeks firstly created the three zones of the world-

  1. Torrid Zone
  2. Temperate Zone
  3. Frizzed Zone

However Geographical knowledge is limited to Greece-

  1. Greece is situated on both sides of the ‘Aegean Sea’.
  2. The great diversity in its topography and physical features.
  3. The land makes the coastline highly indented, coastline helps the development of inspiring traders to the neighbor.
  4. Greek’s physical setting, able to advance in Geo-morphology, Climatology, and Oceanography.
  5. Greeks postulated the concept of Ethnography.
  6. Celestial bodies of Earth were coined by Greek scholars.
  7. Greeks introduced the ‘Descriptive Writing’ type.
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Greek Scholars-

1. Thales of Miletus (7th B.C)
  • Thales was the first Greek thinker, philosopher, and traveler to develop several basic theorems of geometry.
  • He was the also first person to measure and locations of things on the face of the earth.
  • Thales was a practical businessman who lived in the 7th century B.C.
  • He was the first person to initiate measurements of Earth and locate things on the face of Earth.
  • 1st scholar who adopted the idea of round Earth ‘located in the center of the universe with the other celestial bodies revolving around it in a circular motion.
  • He visualized Earth as a disc floating in the water.
  • 6th Geometric prepositions were created for him.
  • 8 wind directions purposed by Thales.
2. Anaximander (610-546 B.C)
  • Anaximander was a great philosopher, Astronomer, mathematician, and geographer.
  • He is regarded as the ‘Father of Cosmology’ and a founder of astronomy.
  • He explained the formation of four elements of ancient physics ( Air, Earth, Water, and Fire ) and their role in the formation of landforms on Earth.
  • He considered Earth as a cylindrical mass suspended in a spherical universe.
  • He introduced a Babylonian instrument known as ‘Gnomon’ is used to measure the varying positions of the sun.
  • He was the first person to prepare a world map to scale. The map was circular and bounded on all sides by the ocean river.
  • Firstly he establishes the time of the solstice and the Equinox.
  • He was introduced to ‘Idealism’ and ‘Abstraction’.
  • The concept of ‘Aperion’ is coined by Anaximander.
  • The contrasting put forth by ‘Thales’ and ‘Anaxminder’ dichotomy in the contemporary Greek world.
  • He is the originator of mathematical tradition.
3. Hecataeus (550-476 B.C)
  • Hecataeus the first writer of Greek prose, was a resident of Miletus.
  • He is known as the ‘Father of Geography.
  • His major work is ‘Ges-peridus’ which is the first systemic description of the world.
  • It includes two books, First is on Europe and the second is on Asia which included Africa.
  • He assumed Earth to be a circular plane.
  • According to him, Greece is in the center of the land bordering the Mediterranean sea.
  • Egypt, especially the Nile valley was extensively traveled by Hecataeus and he was perhaps the first to call this country as ‘ Gift of Nile’.
  • He was the 1st time who gave two approaches to the study of geography.
  1. Namathetic or law-seeking approach.
  2. Ideographic approach

4. Herodotus (484-425)
  • Herodotus was the first Greek Historian.
  • He is regarded as the Father of History’ who has contributed to historical geography.
  • He advocated that all history must be treated geographically and all geography must be treated historically.
  • He has produced only one work ‘Histories’.
  • He accepted the Homeric view of Earth as a flat disc over which the sun was believed to travel in an arc from East to West.
  • He was the first scholar to divide the world landmass into three continents Europe, Asia, and Libya.
  • He prepared a Historical Approach / Tradition in Geography.
  • He’s set 4th ‘Paradigm’ in historical geography.
  • Father of ‘Ethnography’ and ‘History’.
  • The first time gave the concept of winds moving from cold to hot places.
  • Attempted to measure the ‘Age of the Earth’ on the basis of the rate of sedimentation and estimated that 1 feet sediment formed in 380 years. Calculated the age of the Earth as 440 million years and the exact age of Earth is 4.6 billion years.
  • He was the first scholar who draws ‘ A Meridian and world Map’.
  • Herodotus was not interested in Mathematical and Geometrical calculations.
5. Pythagoras (6th Century B.C)
  • Calculated mathematical laws for the circular motion of the celestial bodies.
  • Purposed the theorem known as ‘Pythagoras theorem’ in geometry. Purposed the theorem in the sand using of a stick.
6. Plato (428-348 B.C)
  • Made important contributions to the development of geographical ideas.
  • Offered different interpretations of the cause and effect.
  • He is known as the ‘Father of Deductive Reasoning. Developed the deductive procedures.
  • Plato’s deductive procedure seemed to have been a main driving force in the growth of natural science’s geographical Paradigms in the mid-19th century.
  • Conceived of the world as having been created with perfection but which is know in the process of deceit from perfection.
  • Earth is a sphere is a symmetrical form as purposed by Plato. Postulated the concept ‘Earth is a Round’.
  • Founder of the 1st Institution for Higher Education.
7. Aristotle (384-322 B.C)
  • He was the Father of Geography.
  • The largest contribution in geography.
  • Aristotle was a renowned philosopher of his age.
  • He studied geography on a basis of systematic observation.
  • He accepted the idea of spherical Earth and also the theory of gravitation.
  • Aristotle believed in the ordered universe.
  • He was the father of the ‘Teleological’ concept.
  • In 335 B.C Aristotle set up his own school named ‘Lyceum’.
  • Aristotle developed inductive procedures.
  • Aristotle created the concept of the varying habitability of the Earth with differences in latitude.
  • He divided the Earth into climatic zones on the basis of differences in temperature.
  • In ‘Politics’ Aristotle presented a model of the ideal state. The ideal model of state on Air, Water, and land purposed by Aristotle.
  • His work includes ‘Meteorologica’ in which he described tidal movements. And asserted winds to play important role in the origin of tidal waves. He postulated the concept of Impact on the development of geographical ideas.
  • Formulated four fundamental principles of scientific explanation. Explanations using the ‘Natural Places’ by Aristotle.
8. Hippocrates (460-376 B.C)
  • He wrote a book ‘ On Arias Water Places’.
  • He mentioned that climate provided an explanation for the physical and intellectual differences, stressing the correspondence between physical and environmental, and national.
  • Hippocrates probably produced the world’s 1st medical geography.
9. Pytheas
  • He was the first Greek to inform about the ocean tides and explained that the tides were related to the phases of the moon.
  • Voyages of Pytheas to the North West of the Greek world in Western and Northern Europe between 330 B.C were significant. Pointed Ice sea lying to the North of the land he visited.
10. Eratosthenes (276-194 B.C)
  • Father of geography (Because he coined the word geography)He was the first to use the word ‘Geography’.
  • Eratosthenes was a Greek Mathematician, Geographer, Astronomer, Poet, and Music Theorist.
  • Calculated the Circumference of the Earth with precision. (25000 miles)
  • He wrote the book ‘Geographica’ in which he described the ekumene. (the inhabited Earth)
  • He accepted the division of the world into Europe, Asia, and Libya and introduced five climatic zones. (one torrid zone, two temperate zones, and one frigid zone)
  • Eratosthenes also attempted to determine the distance of the sun and moon from the Earth.
  • Of equal importance was the development of systems of coordinates from the world i.e. latitude and longitude which he used in order to locate places and measure distances.
  • Eratosthenes prepared a world map in which he used a frame of North-South and East-West.
11. Hipparchus (146-127 B.C)
  • He was a Greek Astronomer, Mathematician, and geographer.
  • He is considered the founder of ‘Trigonometry’.
  • Invented an instrument ‘Astorable’ which was easier to handle than ‘Gnoman’ measurements of latitude and longitude. Latitude at sea by observing the angle of the poles to poles.
  • He is famous for his discovery of equinoxes, for the compilation of the first known star catalog, and for his developments in the field of scientific cartography.
  • He was the first to divide the circle into 360 degrees.
  • He is also credited for the conversion of the three-dimensional sphere into a two-dimensional plane and designed orthographic and stereographic projections to achieve this. These projections show only a hemisphere, not the whole Earth.
12. Strabo (64-24 B.C)
  • Strabo was one of the leading scholars of his time.
  • A Greek scholar and traveler, writing at the height of the roman empire, was strongly influenced by the historical- topographical tradition of Homer, Hecateaus, and possibly of Aristotle.’
  • Historical Tradition’ introduced by ‘Strabo’.
  • He is considered as ‘Father of Regional Geography’.
  • He replaced divisions based on natural boundaries like mountains, rivers, etc.
  • He tried to compile all the then knowledge of mathematical, physical, political, and historical geography in form of a general treatise. His other work is ‘Historical Memoir’.
  • He also places the Northern limit of the habitable Earth, only 400 miles North of the black sea.
  • He gives a correct explanation of the floods of the Nile.
  • Strabo wrote 17 volumes called ‘Geographia’.
  • Geographia also included attempts to explain cultural distinctiveness types of governments and customs in particular places. Strabo’s greatest contribution lies in the field of political geography.
  • He was the first to declare geography a chronological science.
  • Accept calculation of the Earth’s circumference done by ‘Posidonius’ in about 100 B.C.
  • Strabo devotes 8 books- Europe 6, Asia 1, and Africa 1 book.
13. Posidonius (135-51 B.C)
  • Posidonius was an important Greek historian, Astronomer, Geographer, and teacher.
  • He wrote the book ‘The Ocean’.
  • He made two important contributions out of which was later proved wrong, while the other was right, but it was overlooked for a long time.
  • He recalculated the circumference of the Earth and arrived at a much smaller figure than that of Eratosthenes. (18000 miles)
  • Posidonius assumed that the highest temperature and driest deserts were located in the temperature near the tropics.
  • He pointed out that the overhead sun pauses the longest near the tropics and is overhead at the equator for a much shorter time.

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