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Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance (Serbia)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Serbia, Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance (Serbian: Археолошка налазишта/Arheološka nalazišta) are archaeological sites that have the highest level of state protection under the Law on Cultural Heritage. Some of them are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Photo Name Date Municipality/City Location, Address Note Ref(s)
Vinca clay figure 02.jpg
Vinča-Belo Brdo Neolithic, Copper Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Medieval Grocka/Belgrade Vinča [1]
Viminacium Founded in 1st century AD.
Destroyed in 441.
Rebuilt 527–565.
Destroyed in 582.
Kostolac Kostolac [2]
Felix romuliana.jpg
Gamzigrad Built in 298 AD.
Destroyed in mid-5th century.
Zaječar Gamzigrad
Unesco Cultural Heritage logo.svg
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Caricin grad.jpg
Justiniana Prima Existed 535-615 AD Lebane Prekopčelica [4]
Medijana mozaik.jpg
Mediana - Brzi Brod Built in 306 AD.
Abandoned in 442.
Niš Niš
Bulevar Cara Konstantina bb
Turnu Severin Drobeta.jpg
Trajan's Bridge Built in 105 AD.
Destroyed in 270–275.
Kladovo Kostol For more than a thousand years, it was the longest arch bridge in the world, in terms of both total and span length.[6] [7]
Diana kapija.jpg
Diana Fortress Built in 101 AD.
Destroyed in mid-4th century.
Rebuilt in 530.
Kladovo Sip [8]
Kraku Lu Jordan archaeological site view, Kučevo, Serbia.jpg
Kraku Lu Jordan Early Bronze Age-380 AD Kučevo Brodica [9]
Arheološko nalazište Rudna glava 02.jpg
Rudna Glava 5th millennium BC Majdanpek Rudna Glava [10]
Velika humka in Pilatovići.jpg
Velika humka Last decade of 4th century BC, and first decade of 5th century BC Požega Pilatovići [11]
Židovar, pogled.jpg
Židovar 9-8th century BC Vršac Orešac [12]
Arheološko nalazište Starčevo 01.jpg
Starčevo site Older neolithic Pančevo Starčevo [13]
Rimski grad Basijana 04.jpg
Bassianae 1st-6th century AD Ruma Donji Petrovci [14]
Grnčarska peć Gomolava.jpg
Gomolava Neolithic, Early Bronze Age, Iron Age Ruma Hrtkovci [15]
Sremska Mitrovica - The ruins of Imperial Palace of Syrmium.JPG
Sirmium 4th century BC-582 AD Sremska Mitrovica Sremska Mitrovica [16]
Spomenik Kulture.gif
Titel plateau Neolithic, Early Bronze Age, Iron Age Titel Titel [17]
Kalvarija- Titelski breg, arheološko nalazište.jpg
Čelarevo site End of 8th century, and beginning of 9th century Bačka Palanka Čelarevo [18]
Ulpiana 98 AD / 118 AD Lipljan Gračanica Located in disputed region of Kosovo[a] [19]

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  • ✪ The Importance of Understanding the Past: Greece, China, and Mesopotamia
  • ✪ Modern Humans’ Earliest Artwork and Music: New European Discoveries
  • ✪ 4 expéditions au Musée du Louvre - Nota Bene #19


[MUSIC] Stanford University. >> Good evening. For those of you who don't know me yet, my name is Walter Scheidel. I'm the Chair of the Classics Department here at Stanford, and it is on behalf of our Classics Department that I would like to welcome all of you to this year's, or this fall's, Lawrence Eitner lecture. Part of a lectures series which is hosted by the Classics Department, designed to promote, to publicize, classics and classical scholarship to a wide audience including the general public. So I'm very happy to see lots of unfamiliar faces in the room which is exactly what we have been hoping for. This lecture series was very generously endowed by Pete and Lindsay Joost, who are with us tonight. Endowed in honor of the late professor, Lawrence Eitner who died earlier this year at the age of 89. He was quite famous on campus for having been the Director of the Art Museum, what is now the Cantor Center, and Chair of the Art History Department for, I believe 26 years, from the 60s to the early 80s. And during his long tenure, raised the profiles of both institutions to new heights. So, we are very honored to be associated with his name and his memory. Tonight's speaker is Sir Jeffrey Lloyd. Formally Professor of Ancient Philosophy and Science at Cambridge University and also formerly Master of Darwin College Cambridge. So it's actually quite fitting that he should visit in this Darwinian anniversary year, 150 years after the publication of the Origins of Species. And in fact after giving this talk, he will move on to Galapagos to visit Charles Darwin's last remaining turtles. It was in that capacity of being Master of Darwin College that I first had the privilege of making Sir Jeffrey's acquaintance. In fact it's probably a fair guess that I wouldn't be standing here introducing him or anybody else were it not for the post doctoral fellowship that Darwin College offered to me on the search for enlightened leaderships. So for this reason alone. >> [LAUGH] >> It's a very special pleasure to be able to welcome him and his wife, Gee, here tonight. But before we launch the actual presentation, my colleague Professor Reviel Netz, who shares many of Sir Jeffrey's academic interests, is going to introduce our speaker more properly. >> Thank you very much. It is a great honor and privilege to be introducing Jeffrey Lloyd. He's the leader in the field of the study of premodern science. I would say for the last two generations, I'm afraid this sounds, this makes him a bit old, but it means something by two generations. There are two waves in which he shaped our discipline, first insisting that we must understand ancient intellectual life in the cultural social context. It's not just abstract ideas, it's people, people doing things for their agendas, within their networks, within their practices this first wave. And then another wave coming of insisting upon the fact that we can only understand what made science the way it was in a certain civilization by comparing it with other civilizations. And turning the study of premodern science into an essentially cross-cultural comparative study largely focusing on the two main sources of the scientific tradition, the Greek and the Chinese. So there are many people in this department, in this campus, whose research directly stems from the work of Jeffrey Lloyd and we owe a great deal to him. And for this reason it is first of fully known the privilege, but it is also a privilege in the following way. It is a privilege to get the opportunity to express one's love and one's gratitude to one's teacher. And [INAUDIBLE] for this opportunity today. And so I want to say a bit, just a few words, not to make it too long as Jeffrey Lloyd asked me, just a few words about Jeffrey Lloyd as a teacher. There are a few dozen people like me in the world today who studied with Jeffrey Loyd as their supervisor for their PhD, and we constitute a kind of volume in his collected works. And we owe everything to him, and we owe a lot to his generosity, to his patience, but also perhaps even more we owe a lot to his impatience. To this tapping of the fingers on the table as we meet and this sense, this insistence, once again that even though in the humanities we're talking ideas and big ideas, we always must insist on coming up with a clear, distinct account of what we're saying. That it shouldn't be just outward, it should be fleshed out in some kind of real story of what went on. There was something that you could really give us a story and something that you can really defend, and really give meaningful. And I hope I tried, in my research, to interiorize this tapping of the fingers to myself. And I think this pedagogic insistence, this teacherly impatience, this is something which is crucial for his research. It leads into his research, it is a research of a masterly teacher. It is a research based on the idea that we can't just allow our self to sink into the platitudes which were common two generations ago. The platitudes of intellectual history and this is how way the Greeks thought, no. We can't have just abstract ideas leading on to abstract ideas. We need to have a concrete story of what did people do? And ultimately, there is a certain impatience with the idea that we can tell a story of the kind of the Greeks were like this because so and so went on in the Greek world. How can we even mean anything in such a claim if it is not a claim about, the Greeks were like this, because so and so happened in the Greek world? And we can see this because other people were not like the Greeks, and other things went on there. Any kind of generalization, any kind of account of a Greek civilization must ultimately to mean anything even, must ultimately be grounded in a comparative perspective. And this is the major lesson that we've been learning from Jeffrey Lloyd for the last couple of decades. And I think we will be learning for the next decades and generations, we will remain grateful for Jeffrey Lloyd as we do this. So I'm very grateful for the opportunity we have tonight to hear about the importance of understanding the past, Greece, China, Mesopotamia. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, thank you Walter and thank you Reviel, it's wonderful to be here. We both enjoy San Francisco a great deal and in particular Stanford, it's a great fun. And I hope I doubt that I'll do justice to these fantastic introductions. But I'll do my best, and I hope that this will work too. Keep your fingers crossed. In the west, we have long had an ambivalent relationship with Greek antiquity. On the one hand, we consider to be the source and origin of much that we hold dear. We speak of Greece as the cradle of democracy, we think of it as having achieved fundamental breakthroughs in science. That is in understanding natural phenomena, as well as in many genre of literature, Epic, tragedy, and in art, naturalistic sculpture. The modern inhabitants of Greece are tremendously proud of their legacies. Never mind some parts of it such as the Olympic games, got to be transformed when they were revived, I mean you wouldn't actually see this in the Olympic games nowadays. The kit has to be slightly less minimalist, [LAUGH] and It's not just sprinters but also wrestlers, this is here they are enjoying themselves. And they're about to be, the referee is about to say, no no, that's not allowed or most holds were allowed. On the other hand, in many of the battles between the ancients and the moderns. Let me remind you that the Greeks were responsible for what was holding progress back. The fortunes of the teachings of Aristotle illustrate this. He had been banned in Paris early in the 13th century as subversive. But by the middle of that century, his works came to form the core curriculum in the so called arts course there. In the 16th century, Galileo started his university career at Padua teaching Aristotelianism, so by the time he came to write the Dialogue of the Two World Systems. The spokesman of that school of thought Aristotelianism, Simplicio, represented the old guard whom Galileo was intent on dethroning. Nowadays Greek or Roman antiquity no longer figures as a prime item in most people's education. Latin is no longer a compulsory requirement for entry into university as it was when I was admitted to Cambridge. I'm not talking just about people who wanted to read classics, I'm talking about people who wanted to read anything, to study anything, scientists included, they had to have Latin too. Students no longer are in that position, yet some forgetting the Greeks is not the solution to the ambivalent I mentioned. We're surrounded by near classical buildings and institutions Modeled on ancient ones, the Jefferson Memorial. We had better try to understand what that means. Our western attitudes towards China suffered from a different set of false assumptions. To start with the west is still regularly contrasted with the east. With that term, lumps together civilizations and cultures as diverse as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia as well as China itself. And sometime also India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt in the near east. Edwin Sayed was absolutely right to castigate our orientalizing prejudices Until comparatively recently, the east was treated as exotic, admired maybe for it's art and literature, but dismissed as having made no contribution of any significance to science or to technolo That was before it was pointed out by Joseph Needham especially, that many of the key inventions in technology. The printing press with movable type, the compass, gunpowder came from China. Now the compass started off life as a ladle rotating on a plate. But they spotted that it was, they called it the south pointing needle. It doesn't matter whether it was south or north does it? It's a south pointing needle, they realized that it was, it had some information about the photo access. It's started off life like that. Here's a steamer showing how it would work. And there's the handle pointing towards the south. And that was a Chinese invention long before and one thought of that in the west. The Greeks knew that the magnetic stone, but they didn't realize that it was an important instrument for orientation. So then the hunt was on to say why the Chinese didn't have a scientific revolution. An impossible question to answer for at least two good reasons. First, you can't explain a negative. Secondly, there's a deep seeded unclarity about just what we mean by that term scientific revolution. Was there just the one, and which one was that? Is what happened in the 16th century the key? Or the 17th? Or what about the 15th? And some even want to argue that the really important developments took place much earlier in the 13th century. When the studies undertaken in the universities of Paris, Bologna, and Oxford laid the foundations for all subsequent developments. Is the term, revolution, an appropriate one for whatever conceptual changes we choose to privilege in any case? Political revolutions are datable historical events, or include them. Scientific revolutions don't involve anything like the same total and abrupt transformations. There never was the storming of the Bastille, but here is Dellacquas symbol of the french revolution. And of course nothing like that is appropriate for scientific revolutions. However, important intellectual breakthroughs provide me with my point of entry to recommend to you the study of the past, even of very ancient civilizations. I should endeavor to use Mesopotamia, China and Greece as foils to highlight the distinctive characteristics of each. It is by comparing and contrasting, in fact, that we can hope to make some progress in understanding and throw some light on what it is worth preserving from each, that is the lesson that each has to teach us. My argument will be that the strengths of Ancient Greek civilizations are in some ways the mirror image of those other two civilizations. To put the chief point very roughly, crudely indeed, the Greeks allowed individualism to flourish in every field of endeavor. But they only developed weak state institutions to support individual efforts in science and technology especially. China and Mesopotamia by contrast had extremely powerful central institutions but allowed the individual much less freedom of maneuver. My further claim is that nowadays, we need to combine those different strengths despite the fact that there's obviously a tension between them. Between allowing individuals free reign for criticism and innovation, and ensuring that state support is available. In my view, the study of ancient civilizations can provide an important resource for us, in our attempts to think clearly about what we need to do, to get the balance right. Excuse me, I have to drink a bit of water from time to time. I shall have for something to say, about three main subject areas. Science, medicine, and religion. But I won't deal with them one by one, [COUGH] but rather as a complex set. I shall focus on two main sets of problems concerning innovation. First, how does a society get to criticize and revise it's own most cherished fundamental believes? Secondly, what can we say about the institutional framework within which innovations occur, and what do the institutions we need to foster the innovations we should like. In the background you'll see that there are political issues at stake. Now I shan't have time to go into these in any detail today. I'm not suggesting of course that the past provides direct solutions to the problems we face today, whether in the government of individual states or in regulating relations between them. It's well-known how mistaken it is to go into battle, thinking you're about to fight the last war. In World War II, the French assumed that to make their country impregnable, all they had to do was to fortify the Maginot Line. But Hitler outflanked that, and his panzer divisions made World War I trench warfare, a thing of the past. Thank goodness. But the past can help us to think clearly about what needs to be done, and what the consequences of different courses of actions may be. Understanding the past helps us to understand others. Nothing could be more vital in the world in which we live today. One of the most important early transformations in worldviews for which we have detailed historical evidence, occurred first not in Greece, nor in China, but in Mesopotamia. I contrast changes for which we have historical evidence with those where that's not the case. No doubt, what happened when settled agriculture first developed, and when cities where first founded, was even more momentous as the archaeologist and prehistorians will insist. But we don't have contemporary original texts that describe those events. Whereas in the one I'm concerned within Mesopotamia, we do. That is we have extensive documents covering the study of the heavens. Here's a cuneiform tablet. Difficult stuff to read. The extensive documents covering the study of the heavens where the key text for my purposes are the circled letters and reports in which Babylonian and Assyrian scribes reported their work to the kings. One of the foremost world experts in the field is Professor Rochburg at Berkeley. We can trace developments in the techniques and range of the prediction that they attempted. In the classic compendium known as [FOREIGN] on which the scribes were trained, we find many correlations between celestial and terrestrial events. That text was put together sometime between 15 hundred and 12 hundred before the Common Era. But it incorporates even earlier material. Talk about correlations, for example, if so and so, that's the sign, then so and so, the interpretation which was also known in the scholarship as the verdict. If the planet Jupiter approaches the constellation crook, the harvested Achad will prosper. But in the letters and reports, there was some time in the eighth or seventh century BCE, a shift in what was being predicted. No longer just events on Earth, but also the astronomical events themselves. The scribes came to be in a position to predict, for example, when a planet would become visible after a period of invisibility. And even lunar and solar eclipses. There the first step was to spot the lunar eclipses only occur at the full moon, solar ones at the new moon. That narrowed down the period of possibility, but by [INAUDIBLE] of tracking actual occurrences over many years, they came to be pretty confident not just over whether a lunar eclipse was possible, but on whether one would occur. It was more difficult to get solar eclipses, right, since they're visible only from a narrow band on the Earth's surface, but they had a fair stab at them too. That was a truly staggering achievement. Note that it only happened because they were already into the predicting game. They desperately wanted to know whether the harvest at Achad would prosper. But observing the heavenly bodies, they discovered the there were regularities that enabled certain phenomena to be predicted. That Mesopotamian breakthrough took place within an existing program of observation. There is nothing in our evidence to suggest that the scribes responsible went all out to overturn accepted beliefs. In particular, they still believed that the heavenly bodies are gods. They saw their workers continuing the tradition of the canonical text I mentioned the [FOREIGN], but sometimes ancient innovators were dead set on a radical program of reform. Certainly many founders of world religions illustrate that, but let me give you an example of a Greek with whom you may be a little less familiar, But who's a particularly interesting figure I would say, because his interest span physics, that's in the original Greek sense of the study of nature, cosmology, and religion. This is the Greek philosopher, Empedocles of Acragas in Sicily who lived in fifth century before the Common Era. Acragas is the modern Agrigento, not a terribly good slide, but many of it's temples, and very impressive temples are still standing. I think there's another one. There they are on the horizon at the top there. Empedocles was a subject of quite a few fantastic stories. Such as that he threw himself into Ekna. Intending to have it be believed that he had disappeared and become a god. Only for what really happened to be discovered, as one of his distinctive bronze sandals was found on the tip of the volcano. But one of our sources says that he went around in a purple robe, with a golden girdle, wearing his bronze sandals, and a Delphic laurel wreath in his luxuriant hair, with a grave demeanor, and followed by a train of boy attendants. Well, apart from the grave demeanor, it suggests to me the late Michael Jackson, but there. [LAUGH] [APPLAUSE] But apart from those apocryphal legends, we know from his own words how he advertised himself. He claimed to be able, this is his own words. He claimed to be able to control the winds, bring down the moon, heal the sick, and even bring the dead back to life. In one of the extant bits of his poetry, he says that he goes about among his fellow townspeople in Acragas, Agrigento, accepted by them as an immortal god. No longer mortal, honored by all. Well what's remarkable about this man is as I said his combination of interests. He proposed a physical theory based on the four elements earth, water, air, and fire. Indeed, he was the first philosopher to introduce a term to express the idea of an element. That is the simple fundamental constituents of which other material objects are composed, though his term for that was not element but root. Then he also undertook quite detailed explorations of physiological processes such as respiration and vision. But all of that was combined with radically innovative religious ideas. The belief in the transmigration of souls, metempsychosis, had been introduced already by Empedocles's teacher, Pythagoras. But that was now combined in Empedocles's philosophy with a clear prohibition against taking life in any form. Pythagoras may have been a vegetarian, but the evidence on that point is conflicting. Empedocles's own poems put it beyond any doubt that he thought taking any life was a sin. The major divinities in his system are his cosmic forces, the four elements are the two powers that combine them and separate them. Namely, love and strife. And love was certainly very unlike the recognizable, if dangerous, anthropomorphic Aphrodite. I can't resist- >> [LAUGH] >> Aphrodite, this is the Ludovisi Throne, and that's the Aphrodite of Knidos. Aren't they stunning? But of course, Empedocles's love wasn't anthropomorphic. It was an awesome cosmic force. But more shockingly still, Empedocles' injunction against taking life were dead against one of the central religious rituals of the city-state religion that all Greeks were familiar with. Namely, animal sacrifice, either sacrificing an ox, or a pig, or whatever. He certainly prohibited that. The question that interests me is how such a figure could get away with it. How can a society allow one of its members flatly to repudiate some of its most deeply-held religious and moral beliefs? Under what circumstances can a society allow radical criticism of its most precious beliefs and institutions without feeling threatened? Without feeling the necessity to punish, persecute, exterminate? That's a question that demands serious thought from us today. The fact that some in Greek antiquity did not get away with it, think of Socrates, just makes the issue more compelling. It's easy to ask fundamental questions like those, but extremely difficult to answer them. I shall have a shot at some suggestions in a minute. But first, I want to introduce some more material for my third ancient civilization, China. Where, again, I shall concentrate on some of their astronomical work from the period down to the end of the Han dynasty in the third century of the Common Era. As in Mesopotamia, the study of the heavens was especially important in China. The Emperor ruled by virtue of what was called a mandate from heaven. He was the pivot on which the cosmic and the political order depended. But if something was amiss with either, untoward events in the heavens, rebellions on Earth, that was taken as a sure sign that his mandate was under threat and might even be coming to an end. So it was essential for him to know what was going on in the heavens in the first place to ensure that the calendar was right and not getting out of step with the seasons. Experts in the field such as my collaborator, Nathan Sivin, have charted the extraordinary progress made over the 400 years of the Han dynasty. Roughly, 200 Before the Common Era to 200 of the Common Era. In two fields especially, they produced increasingly accurate determinations, first of the lunar month and the tropical year. And secondly for eclipse cycles. Interestingly, many Chinese tended to assume that the fundamental celestial parameters were not constant. Unlike the Aristotelian, but not the Platonic assumption that the heavens are unchanging, the Chinese viewed such change with equanimity. Indeed, they expected it. Actually Plato, of course, thought that the heavens must change because they're visible objects. And visible objects inevitably change in the long run. This meant that over long periods, adjustments would be needed to the calendar. But it also meant that they observed and recorded exceptional phenomena such as novae and supernovae still used by not just historians of astronomy, but by astronomers. On which the Greek records are almost, they're not quite, completely silent. In part, no doubt, because they didn't expect them, so they didn't see them. We know of individual Chinese astronomers, some of who's careers we can reconstruct in some detail. One of the most famous is Zhang Heng, active in the early second century of the Common Era. Responsible for, among other things, an armillary sphere driven by waterpower and a seismoscope. They're extremely difficult to reconstruct these instruments. This seismoscope, here's a reconstruction of the seismoscope. When there is a quake, the urn shakes. And it tells you not just that there has been a quake, but the direction in which it took place, depending upon which frog catches the ball. >> [LAUGH] >> But the crucial point I want to underline is that, as in Mesopotamia, but unlike in Greece, astronomy in China was state-sponsored. The Han emperor set up an astronomical bureau which lasted more than 2,000 years. Staffed, eventually, with huge numbers of officials. Under the Han, we know already about their ranks and salaries. They varied from 10,000 bushels of grain a year to a mere 100. The clerks who have the dog's body job of actually making and recording the observations were at the lower end of that scale. The fact that astronomy was an affair of state and state-sponsored didn't of course mean that innovations didn't occur. We hear of debates between astronomers on such matters as whether the sun's movement should be measured along the equator or the ecliptic. And how to transform measurements along the one into measurements along the other. Mostly, the individuals in question were already officials in the bureau. But if any outsider came forward with a bright idea, they tended to get drafted into the bureau. However, the key point is that once there, they mainly worked on the state's agenda. So I turn back now to what can be said about the circumstances in which major innovations and transformations in world views take place. Distinguish first between the ambition to suggest a new idea and the ease or difficulty of persuading people to take it up. It's obvious that the more pluralistic and flexible the world view, the easier it may be for it to accommodate a new idea. The addition of the new god to the polytheistic Greek Pantheon was far less of problem than it would be in a monotheistic religion, where thou shalt have no other gods than me. Moreover, it was easier to get away with such an innovation in a small, independent city-state like Acrogas than in a highly-centralized empire like the Assyrian or like China after the unification. That might help to indicate how there might be less risk in introducing new ideas in some circumstances than in others. But that doesn't address the question of why anybody would want to do so, risky or not, in the first place. Most people in most societies throughout human history, today included, have generally become content to accept what they learned from parents and teachers. Not just about how they should behave in their social relations, about right and wrong, in other words. But also about the human condition, the world and our place in it. You don't have to be particularly lazy or gullible to go along with what you're taught on most matters. It could be thought to be more efficient for societies to spend more time and effort conserving their belief systems, than in trying to improve them, let alone radically subvert them. No doubt, it would be foolhardy to try to explain innovation. Now I've gone forward and I have to go back. I'm sorry, I've jumped. There, back to the frogs, let's go. No doubt it would be foolhardy to try to explain innovation and all its manifestations. But two groups of factors, each with a variety of manifestations or modalities, strike me as particularly important. The two groups refer to necessity, on the one hand, and competition on the other. On the one hand, innovation may be driven by necessity. For example, by the problems posed by the sheer scale of increasingly complex societies. The government of the empires created in Mesopotamia, India and China called for sophisticated methods of organization and control. Many scholars have focused on the large-scale irrigation projects that went with the development of agriculture that I mentioned. But we can see from early mathematical text, both Babylonian and Chinese, the questions to do with the fair distribution of resources or the levying of taxes can stimulate the growth of mathematical techniques. The fact of practical problems both large in our extensive sources from China is, however, liable to mislead. Needham, for one, persisted in representing the interests of Chinese mathematicians as overwhelmingly practical in orientation. But that still missed the point. While the problems are certainly regularly expressed in concrete terms, there are clear signs of an interest in the exact solution to equations. For instance, as when the answer to a question of how many workers are needed to complete a particular task is given in terms of a number plus a fraction. But of course, you can't hire a fraction of a laborer. But practical concerns driven by necessity may be the starting point. But they lead to theoretical interest, in one case after another in the history of science. But if necessity is one driving force, competitiveness is another. And this, too, takes very different forms, depending on who you are trying to outdo. And more particularly, whom you were out to impress. Many Greeks were much given to aggressive polemic. But there's plenty of rivalry also in China, especially in the matter of winning over the Emperor or his ministers. The people whose opinion counted, if you were to get anything done. The Chinese didn't just engage in sophisticated persuasions, they theorize about them. There's a splendid text from the 3rd Century before the Common Era, the that sets out how to get the ruler to agree to the policies you propose. Try to persuade him that they're his policies, not your own. But also how to avoid the ruler discovering that he's actually being manipulated. >> [LAUGH] >> In Classical Greece, the target of persuasion was usually not the ruler but your peer group. That is, in political context, your fellow citizens. And in intellectual ones, your rivals for prestige. I would associate that with one of the most striking and distinctive elements of Greek thought. Namely the definition and practice of strict axiomatic deductive demonstration yielding incontrovertible conclusions. That may seem a rather farfetched suggestion that rivalry is a factor there. Isn't that just an intellectual matter? Isn't that just Plato and Aristotle? But let me explain the argument. That starts from the intense dissatisfaction expressed by Plato and Aristotle, among others, where the modes of persuasion familiar from the lower courts or the political assemblies. In both places, the audience who decided the issues were composed of citizens. Potentially, the entire citizen body in the assembly and in the lower courts, large numbers of people they called dicasts, who acted as both judge and jury. They were ordinary folk, quite untrained, which was where the problem lay in Plato's eyes. But what they were persuaded of might or might not be in the best interest of the state. Might or might not be just in legal cases. What was needed, Plato argued, was a mode of argument that could secure the truth, indeed more than that, certainty, incontrovertibly. This was to be a knockdown argument. You had only to understand the premises to have to agree to the conclusion. Although Plato didn't set out the conditions that had to be fulfilled, Aristotle defined that strict mode of demonstration in terms of the combination of self-evident primary premises, the axioms, and valid deductive arguments. That got you to the incontrovertible conclusions you were after. The philosophers defined the goal. But it was, of course, the mathematicians who implemented it, producing producing a style of mathematical reasoning for which there's no parallel in any other ancient civilization. This was to be the most persuasive mode of persuasion of all, when it stemmed from the ambition to outdo all comers. The Chinese never went for incontrovertibility, rather than simply the truth or with what worked. You don't find Chinese intellectuals getting upset about the hazards of persuading a capricious citizen body. Since, well, they had no experience of that. So now let me give an instance of innovation that combines both an element of necessity and one of competitiveness, this time from medicine. Human societies have enormously diverse ideas about the human body, about diseases and what causes them. Here's one representation of one Chinese theory of acupuncture points. In all three ancient societies, there were very different health professionals to choose between, where the relations between them were ones of more or less open rivalry. But while may ancient healers make quite emphatic claims to be able to cure the sick, we have to recognize that they were all at a loss when dealing with the more severe conditions such as those we call malaria or pneumonia or tuberculosis. The opening for innovation for new ideas about diseases and how they might be treated exists in this case because of this very fallibility. There could be a sense that trying something new might just work a bit better. Though, of course, innovation in medical matters could, and usually did, carry quite a risk. Some Greeks, again, were particularly strident in their rejection of traditional ideas. Particularly of any notion of diseases or their cures depended on the intervention of the gods. The writer of the Hippocratic treatise on the Sacred Disease, which, to judge from his rather interesting, detailed description is a matter of Epileptic fits, famously attacked those who tried to treat that disease by relating different kinds to different gods. And claiming that cures could be achieved by spells or incantations. The purifiers, as he calls them. Don't know what they're talking about. Their ideas just don't work. And they're just in it for the money. And they exploit the gullibility of their patients. This text is regularly held up as a shining example of the new rationalist scientific approach to medicine in Greece. It is, but we have to get the record straight. First, that doctor himself was in no position either to explain what caused epilepsy or to cure it. He says that every kind of disease can be cured by diet and regimen. But that is, let's face it, just wishful thinking. Note, too, that when he destroys the belief that the gods were at work, he deprives his patients of one possible source of consolation. If you believed that you could get on the god's good side once again by prayer and sacrifice, you might well get some comfort from that. In fact, the shrines of Asclepius continued to do a roaring trade right down to the end of antiquity, reassuring their patients that they could enlist the gods support and would get better. And those patients included not just ordinary people, but members of the literate elite such as the famous orator Aelius Aristides in the second century of the Common Era. He tells us he put far greater trust in Asclepius, whom he describes as his savior, than in mere mortal physicians. Quite a lot of the time he lived in Pergamon where there is a fantastic Asclepeion, shrine to Asclepius. You can see there's some temples in the background, and Aelius Aristides comes into the story because Aelius Aristides is told by the god when he has a fever that he must run around the tables, the temples naked three times. He was a hypochondriac. But as many hypochondriacs, he must have had an iron constitution. >> [LAUGH] >> This is the theater at Pergamon. And Pergamon was a great success story. On the other hand, if you believe the Hippocratic approach, you might be deprived of one source of comfort. The support of the gods. But you were relieved of another source of anxiety. Namely, that the diseases you were suffering from were sent by God as punishment for your sins, or for those of your forefathers. But given that the Hippocratics have no effective treatments for many acute conditions, they had to persuade their clients that theirs was at least the right approach. Though the naturalistic approach would eventually be able to deliver cures, even if it couldn't do so right now. The real battle here was not one between medical systems, it was rather between psychological attitudes. But that doesn't detract from my original point that in the matter of disease, since doctors were always fallible, there was always the possibility of revision, where brave souls would be prepared not just to question perceived opinion and to produce new theories, but to try out new remedies. Note that these doctors had no well established positions in lavishly funded institutions such as the Chinese Imperial Bureau, let alone anything we would recognize as the predecessors of modern hospitals. In fact, since there were no medical degrees as such in any any ancient civilization, there were no officially recognized qualifications that doctors could point to in order to justify their right to practice. All they could do is say who they had studied with and what their own practical experience was. And the latter was, of course, very much a matter of subjective interpretation. That helps, surely, to account for some of the stridency of the Greek polemic with their rivals. So I turn now to the question of state support in ancient scientific research. In astronomy, especially, the contrast between Mesopotamia and China on the one hand, Greece on the other, is striking. In the first two civilizations, astronomy was I said an affair of state. But Greek astronomers had very much to go it alone. Eudoxus and Callippus, two famous astronomers from the 4th century before the Common Era, were responsible for excellent work in the determination of the length of the tropical year. But they held no official position, and their results were only half-heartedly implemented even in Athens, which is the state where they lived. The advantages and disadvantages of the two kinds of set up, strong state support and its complete absence, are, I suggested, the mirror images of one another. With the state support, the astronomers in Mesopotamia and China tended to have to work to the state's agenda. But they had regular employment, and in China especially, teams of assistants. With no such help or recognition, the Greeks were far more at liberty to propose their own agenda, but had to earn a living as best they could. Mostly, in fact, by casting horoscopes. They're still quite popular today, aren't they? >> [LAUGH] >> And here is one that an ex-colleague of mine, a specialist in the field, Tamsyn Barton, drew up for Prince Charles. Where, it was more than 20 years ago, where she inferred that Prince Charles was likely to have difficulties in his love life. >> [LAUGH] >> And that was before the divorce for Diana, let alone her tragic death. But there's plenty flexibility, if you know how to play the game. You've got all sorts of possibilities. The main alternative was teaching as a way of earning your living. Or for the Sophists, to do the rounds and give lectures in various cities. They were called [FOREIGN]. No PowerPoints, of course. >> [LAUGH] >> Among the crazy ideas Greek astronomers came up with was the highly counter-intuitive hypothesis that the Earth moves round the sun. Aristarchus was the first to come up with the heliocentric hypothesis. But even before him in the 5th century before the Common Era, a chap called Philolaus had suggested that the Earth is just another planet moving not round the Sun, but round what he called the central fire. But it is a planet and it moved. Heliocentricity was turned down not because it offended the authorities, but because the astronomers themselves couldn't accept it. If the Earth rotated on it's axis once every 24 hours, as it was necessary to assume for the hypothesis to work, you could expect that to have dramatic affects on the Earth's atmosphere. You'd never get clouds moving Eastward, Ptolemy said, because they're always being anticipated by the movement of the Earth itself. Well now, take another glass of water and we're getting towards the denouement. The understanding of physical phenomenon was in it's very early days in the ancient civilizations I've been talking about. But the problem with the tension between orthodoxy and innovation remains for today's scientists, too. With the massive support that science now receives across the world, there's every chance that any decent new idea will be taken up and developed. After all, the ambition to succeed, to make a name for yourself, to win that coveted Nobel prize, is as strong now as it ever was. Competition still drives innovation, and so too does necessity if one thinks of the threat to the world's ecology. But three points give cause for concern. First of all, today's scientists have first to prove themselves master of what passes as received wisdom. They have had to jump successfully through the hoops of their BA, MA, PhD degrees and post-doc positions. It's dangerous to display too much originality too soon in your career. Since that may not be recognized and you may find yourself marked down. And without your straight A record, how you're going to get to the graduate school you want? May I remind you that both Darwin and Einstein had very undistinguished undergraduate careers. Here is Darwin not so long after he graduated from Cambridge with an ordinary degree. He didn't take honors when he set out on his extraordinary voyage of discovery on the Beagle. How many nowadays could live that down to go on to do brilliant research? Of course, he was a man of leisure with a private income. Secondly, as a matter of fact, the major innovations of 20th century science were not accepted originally with open arms. I myself lived through both the plate tectonic and the DNA discoveries in Cambridge. And in both cases, the principle proponents were, to start with, treated with suspicion, even hostility, and their scientific credentials were called into question. That applies also both to Crick and to Watson. In the case of Crick, in the college I was at before I became Master of Darwin, King's College, he was assessed for a fellowship and the advice that was given was he is a fly-by-night, you won't be hearing much about that chap. >> [LAUGH] >> Thirdly, what gets taken up and sponsored reflects commercial and military interests as often as it does the disinterested pursuit of the truth. In all of this, I think we still have a lot to learn from both the Chinese model and the Greek one. From their contrasting strengths and their corresponding weaknesses. There are clear advantages from massive state support for science, as in China, but also disadvantages in state interference in the agenda. Conversely, the Greeks had the advantage that individuals were free to go it alone but then they had to, since there were not state institutions to back them up. In particular, we have to continue to worry, as I said, about striking the right balance between state support and the individual's freedom of maneuver, particularly in relation to scientific research that raises acute moral problems. Don't think that that's an exclusively modern phenomenon. The pros and cons of stem cell research certainly are. But already in Greek antiquity the practice of human vivisection for medical research raised an outcry, in some quarters, at least. We're inclined to think that the problems we confront today are just modern ones, but that's a mistake whether we think of intellectual, social or political issues. We still have much to learn from Ancient Greece in the matter of a practice of democracy. Especially in the involvement of the entire citizen body in debating the political problems and then implementing their decisions. In Greece, if they voted to go to war, they went and fought it themselves. That makes you think. This is where they met, the debates happened on the Pnyx in Athens. It doesn't look like much of a place, but you have to imagine it thronged with citizens as in this photograph of what happens still today in Swiss Cantons where everybody gathers together. They all vote and they implement the decisions themselves. More surprisingly, we also have quite a bit to learn politically from Ancient China, despite the stereotype of so-called oriental despotism it suffers from, in two respects especially. First, the responsibility of intellectuals to provide informed and constructive criticism, remonstrating with their political masters even at some risk to themselves. And secondly, in the recognition of a need to focus on the welfare of all under heaven, the good not just to one group but of the people as a whole, an ideal for sure, but a frequently repeated recommendation. We are, after all, nowadays undoubtedly all in it together, whether we think of ecology or of international peacekeeping. The shock of 9/11/2001 was that you were suddenly faced in your own homeland, never before directly attacked in such a way, with a war that had not been declared, by groups that you knew very little about at the time, for reasons that you simply could not fathom. I was in Beijing at the time, and the sympathy felt by the Chinese was heartwarming. But all of that means that we have to work harder at understanding others. And understanding doesn't mean condoning. But understanding their belief systems and how and why they change, or don't. In all of that, history is still a much underutilized resource. Of course, the weaponry or the tactics have changed, but not the conflict of ideologies, the incompatible world views, the problems of mutual misunderstanding, mistrust, and worse. So that is why I hope I haven't tried your patience unduly In recommending to you this evening several ways in which it may be worthwhile to reflect on what we can learn from the study of even ancient civilizations. Thank you very much. >> [APPLAUSE] >> For more please visit us at

See also

Notes and references


a. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states, while 12 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition.


  1. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Винча-Локалитет Бели Брег (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  2. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Виминациум (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  3. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Гамзиград (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  4. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Јустинијана Прима (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  5. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Медиана, Локалитет Брзи Брод (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  6. ^ In terms of overall length, the bridge seems to have been surpassed by another Roman bridge across the Danube, Constantine's Bridge, a little-known structure whose length is given with 2437 m (Tudor 1974b, p. 139; Galliazzo 1994, p. 319).
  7. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Понтес (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  8. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Караташ (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  9. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Краку Лу Јордан (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  10. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Рудна Глава (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  11. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Велика Хумка (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  12. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Жидовар (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  13. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Град-Старчево (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  14. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Басијана (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  15. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Гомолава (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  16. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Сирмијум (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  17. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Тителски Плато (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  18. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Челарево (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
  19. ^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Улпијана (SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)

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