Chasing Shadows: Mathematics, Astronomy, and the Early History of Eclipse Reckoning

Chasing Shadows: Mathematics, Astronomy, and the Early History of Eclipse Reckoning

Hardback Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Mathematics

By (author) Clemency Montelle


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  • Format: Hardback | 424 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 234mm x 36mm | 726g
  • Publication date: 27 May 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Baltimore, MD
  • ISBN 10: 0801896916
  • ISBN 13: 9780801896910
  • Illustrations note: 6 black & white halftones, 51 black & white line drawings
  • Sales rank: 1,732,650

Product description

Lunar and solar eclipses have always fascinated human beings. Digging deep into history, Clemency Montelle examines the ways in which theoretical understanding of eclipses originated and how ancient and medieval cultures shared, developed, and preserved their knowledge of these awe-inspiring events. Eclipses were the celestial phenomena most challenging to understand in the ancient world. Montelle draws on original research-much of it derived from reading primary source material written in Akkadian and Sanskrit, as well as ancient Greek, Latin, and Arabic-to explore how observers in Babylon, the Islamic Near East, Greece, and India developed new astronomical and mathematical techniques to predict and describe the features of eclipses. She identifies the profound scientific discoveries of these four cultures and discusses how the societies exchanged information about eclipses. In constructing this history, Montelle establishes a clear pattern of the transmission of scientific ideas from one culture to another in the ancient and medieval world. Chasing Shadows is an invitingly written and highly informative exploration of the early history of astronomy.

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Author information

Clemency Montelle is a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Canterbury.

Review quote

"A substantial contribution to the history of ancient astronomy. It is especially significant because of the cultures discussed and in particular its treatment of Indian astronomy." - John Steele, Brown University"