The Mediterranean World of Post-Antiquity

The Mediterranean World in Post-Antiquity


Map drawn according to Ptolemaic coordinates.
Apian, Petrus, Cosmographia, Vaeniunt Antwerpiae sub scuto Basiliensi, Gregorio Bontio, 1550, folio 26 recto. Courtesy of the Library of the Max-Planck-Institute of the History of Science.

The research activity is dedicated to globalization processes in the premodern era. Such processes deal with the vehicles, networks, and mechanisms of knowledge transfer in the Mediterranean world in post-antiquity. It assembles historians of science and technology, philologists, historians of the Islamicate world, and medieval historians (Jürgen Renn, Matteo Valleriani, Helge Wendt, Sonja Brentjes, David Nirenberg, Beatrice Gründler, Dimitri Gutas). The current work focuses in particular on the networks bridging religious, cultural, and political divisions. Subjects range from the transfer of knowledge of mechanics, alchemy, navigation, philosophy, map-making, bookmaking, religion, and medicine to a reflection on modern historiography of the Islamicate and the Christian world in cross-cultural contexts.

Four case studies are currently at issue. The first concerns the role of technological artifacts as vehicles for the diffusion of mechanical knowledge from the fourth to the first century BCE in the Mediterranean region (Matteo Valleriani). The second concerns the emergence of a science of weights in an Islamicate context as a result of a hybridization of Greek scientific knowledge (Sonja Brentjes, Jürgen Renn). The third case study presents the constitutive role of Arabic practical knowledge in the context of the early modern tradition of Portolan maps (Sonja Brentjes). Finally, the fourth case study analyzes the historiographical tools developed since the eighteenth century in order to study the global dimensions of the ancient world (Helge Wendt).