Alexandria – Birthplace of the Wheel!

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Just got back from Baltimore: great Molinari Society session, great visit to the National Aquarium, great seafood (don’t worry, not at the Aquarium).

The Rise and Fall of AlexandriaOn my return I find in my email inbox an ad for this book on the history of Alexandria.

Now while I haven’t read the book, I confess to being rather put off by the following blurb:

It was here mankind first discovered that the earth was not flat, originated atomic theory, invented geometry, systematized grammar, translated the Old Testament into Greek, built the steam engine, and passed their discoveries on to future generations via the written word.

Say what? Before Alexandria was even founded, Aristotle was teaching a round-earth cosmology, and Leucippus and Democritus were teaching an atomist physics. And Plato’s Academy, with its inscription over the door “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here,” must have been awfully empty as students and teachers milled about on its front steps, waiting for Alexander of Macedon to be born so he could found Alexandria so there could be a place where somebody could “invent geometry.” (So much for Thales and the Pythagoreans.)

And this is considering only the Greeks. Chinese geometry, Indian atomism, and Indian round-earth cosmology also predate Alexandria – as does Indian “systematized grammar.”

As for the quotation’s final conjunct, I’m not sure whether the author of this blurb literally meant that the Alexandrians were the first to pass any discoveries on to future generations via the written word, or just these particular discoveries, but if it’s the former (which is what the grammar implies), that’s even sillier than the rest of it.


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