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A comparative study of the evolution of the geographical ideas and measurements until the time of Eratosthenes

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We perform a comparative study of the evolution of the most important methods for geographical, carto-graphical and astronomical measurements developed by ancient Greek scientists and philosophers until the time of Eratosthenes. It seems that the novel geometrical method invented by Eratosthenes for the measurement of the size of the Earth did not appear suddenly but was the final outcome of long-lasting intellectual activity. It is shown that Anaximander, Pytheas, Eudoxus of Cnidus, Dicaearchus, Aristotle and Archimedes, the most famous ancient Greek philosopher astronomers and geographers before Eratosthenes, affected his thinking and contributed to his discovery. Furthermore, we briefly describe and explain the method of Eratosthenes, its significance, new errors that intruded into Eratosthenes' measurement, as well as its application for the determination of the shape and the size of the Earth.

Keywords: Eratosthenes; Geographical ideas; Geographical measurements

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, Department of Physics, University of Athens, Greece

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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