orbis terrarum

This is a short posting, as it is simply a question. One that does not wish to leave my head…

I was watching George Lazenby as James Bond, where he pretends to be a professor of heraldry, and they show a coat of arms with the Latin for “The world is not enough” Orbis non Sufficit … and I notice that the “world” is “ORBIS”…

But “orbis” means round. As in orb. Spherical.

Yet more digging finds “orbis terrarum” as “The Earth” or “the world”. “round dirt”. Hmm….


The World Is Not Enough Poster - Orbis non Sufficit

Orbis non Sufficit

I’ve not found much beyond that, and my Latin / English dictionary is back in California (as is my Cattus Petasatus http://www.amazon.com/Cattus-Petasatus-Cat-Hat-Latin/dp/086516472X ) so I’m kind of limited on where I can go look. Recent changes to search engines have caused them to not work as well for “odd stuff” (directing you more to the “consensus” desired results) so I’m not making a lot of progress finding out if the word for The Earth has changed much since ancient Latin…

Cattus Petasatus

Cattus Petasatus

Why The Fuss?

Because the use of Orbis to describe the earth strongly implies an understanding that we live on a round ball of dirt.

The very language brings with it the implication that if this usage were common in 100 BC, then they had clue about a round earth then.

So, somehow, I need to find out:

1) Was there a different term in common use in the BC years?

2) Is there a non-spherical interpretation that was common for “Orbis Terrarum”? One that escapes me? (Perhaps ‘perimeter of influence’ or some such?)

3) Just how far back were they saying “dirt ball” to describe the earth, anyway? How about the Greeks? The Egyptians?

So I’m going to dig at this a while more…

But on the off chance someone else out there already “has clue” on this, I’d love to hear about it (and / or have a pointer to a reference).

Columbus, eat your heart out…


I do know about the ancient Greeks and such talking about a round earth (even calculating the size). I’d always figured that was a few Brainacs thinking about it. The use of Orbis in common speech implies it was common knowledge.

Oh, and remember the curious relationship of the foot to the circumference of the globe…


And an Update

Since ‘Uninteresting Connections’ seems to want a Lazenby poster, rather than a “World is Not Enough” poster, here is the one from Wiki. I didn’t find it very interesting, graphically, and you can’t really see Lazenby in it all that well, but here it is:

On Her Magesty's Secret Service

On Her Magesty's Secret Service

Just to make it clear: In THIS film, Lazenby is pretending to be a Heraldry expert and they show him the proposed Bond coat of arms with the motto “Orbis non Sufficit”. However, as Lazenby only made one Bond film, he did not get to play the roll in “The World Is Not Enough”. That went to Pierce Brosnan. So I linked to Lazenby and a write up about the film with the Latin in it, but used a poster from the English version, to capture some of BOTH places where the phrase happens (in the two languages).

Not that any of that is particularly important to the point central to the posting: It looks likes Latin clearly shows it was common knowledge that the world was a ball back in the Ancient times of about the AD / BC 0 period.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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50 Responses to orbis terrarum

  1. Glenn says:

    I’m going to guess it started as an anatomy term. Orbit: The Latin word orbis had the meaning of round or spherical and referred to the shape of the eye sockets. http://adhominin.com/index.php?categories=Linguistics

  2. DocMartyn says:

    The Greeks knew the Earth was a sphere and Eratosthenes (276–194 BC) got the circumference correct to with about 10%. Indeed, it was common knowledge that the Earth was round when Columbus sailed. Columbus was ridiculed, not because the Earth was a sphere, but that he thought the world too small, he was expecting to find China where the East coast is.
    Washington Irving is to blame for popularizing the flat-earth myth, as a way to make Columbus a hero, instead of a rapists, murder, slaver and all round evil bastard.

    here is a stature of Atlas, holding the world on his back. This is a Roman 3rd century Roman copy of a Greek statue.

    Note the shape.

    BTW. Earth should be named Muddy Brine.

  3. UninterestingConnections says:

    The Bond in the picture is not Lazenby.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @Uninteresting Connections:

    Perhaps you didn’t notice that the poster is of “The World Is Not Enough”?

    Yes, it was a non-Lazenby film, but it also was the film that was named with the Latin motto from the Lazenby film:


    So first Lazenby in OHMSS with the motto, then the film named in English with the motto as title (and a different Bond). Thus the link first to Lazanby and the description of HIS film, then the poster of the one named as the motto… but in English…


    Fascinating… Wonder how much more art and language can correct in our history…

  5. Judy F. says:

    According to my old Latin-English; dictionary (Langenscheidt’s Pocket Latin Dictionary 5th edition 1964)

    Orbis (masculine) circle, ring, orbit; circuit;
    a) a winding, circular motion;
    b) routine;
    c) rotation;
    d) rounded period of speech;
    e) circular surface, shield, wheel, table, eye, quoit; disk of the sun or moon,
    the heavens;
    f) (terrae, terrarum) the earth, the universe; region;territory; mankind

    Then there is :

    Sufficio, feci, fectum.
    1. a) to afford, supply, furnish
    b) to put in the place of another, substitute, choose as a substitute;
    2. to be sufficient, suffice, be adequate, avail; to stain

    Hope this helps. I would translate things literally, and so my translations were rather stiff. But from the above, there could be some interesting translations.
    ie; the shield is not supplied. Or, mankind is not adequate.

    Then again, I didn’t do well in Latin….

  6. Thanks for the intriguing question!

    I suspect that mankind keeps relearning the same information and then thinking that he has discovered something new.

    After I belatedly discovered the nuclear force [1] that powers the Sun and why the universe seems to be expanding [2], I also uncovered ancient scriptures that described neutron repulsion in the personality of a Hindu goddess, Kali, and the two forms of Lord Krishna that seem to match the two forms of matter (neutron hydrogen atom) that constitute the visible universe in its compacted and expanded forms.

    After convincing myself that the Sun controls Earth’s changing climate, I came across this video of space weather that shows the four balls of dirt orbiting near the Sun.


    1. “Neutron repulsion”

    2. “Is the Universe Expanding?” The Journal of Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011) http://journalofcosmology.com/BigBang102.html

  7. David says:

    The Vedas describe the earth as Bhoogola, “Bhoo” meaning earth, and “gola”, meaning sphere. The age of the vedas is undetermined as Indian tradition has them recited orally, via linguistic rules, for thousands of years.

  8. Ralph B says:

    I would think that even if the ancients were as ignorant as some texts make them out to be they would still use orbis since the moon and sun are both round. The earth on lunar eclipse appears round as well, could be a dinner plate of course. Me…I am amazed at what those folks accomplished back then with the tools on hand. Take a tour through Rome, look at the pyramids, go to the Louvre and check out the Sumerian sculptures. I come away with the impression they were smarter back then. No calculators, no lasers, not even a slide rule…pure brain power. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants

  9. H.R. says:

    From the Old Testament, Job 26:7and verses thereabouts indicates the earth is a sphere in space.

    I agree with the comments that humans have a tendency to learn stuff and lose the knowledge just to learn it all again. Everyone thought they were geniuses when they rerereinvented the wheel. If they had bothered to look, when they found Lucy’s jawbone, they might have found that Lucy was pulling a wagon.

    I mean… think of all the stuff you learned and saved on 5 1/4″ floppies. You’re not getting any of that back ;o)

  10. Pascvaks says:

    Curious thoughts indeed! The past is truly as interesting as the future would seem to portend.

    There is something very curious about the “Greeks”. The “Greeks” we hold up as giants. I often wonder whose sholders they were standing on.

    For some reason, though it makes no sense at all, I just can’t swallow certain “facts” we just “know” are “proven” about the rise of man in the past 12K years. These “Greeks” are one part of it. Another is the three great pyrimids at Giza. And a number of other little odd things too.

    We have much to learn. Indeed, perhaps the most important, all the truly great things that we have forgotten. When you put the history of mankind together in one fantastic little mental package, it really does look a lot like “hell” on Earth, and we are the Fallen Angels, doomed to learn, forget, and relearn forever and ever.

    Well, you know, that might be just as good as any explaination. Right?;-)

  11. DocMartyn says:

    Chiefio; American History

    “The Redcoats are coming”

    Real History

    “The God-damns are coming”

    The colonists never called the British troops Redcoats, they were called God-damns, as it was said that the troops started and finished every sentence with ‘God damn’.
    American English is very bowdlerized, the term Rooster was invented so as not to mention ‘cock’,

  12. Pascvaks says:

    @ DocMartyn
    Not saying you’re wrong, but it might have a little to do with Hessian Troops being German. “Gott damit” kinda, sorta, means “God with us”. Of course the coincidence in sounds, the hate for the Brits of all persuasions (especially the Hired Help from Germany), the need to paint Royalists as anything but nice little guys, makes you’re spin as good as any I’ve ever heard.

    Oh.. never heard the “Rooster” thing before. Can’t believe they were that Victorian back then. Maybe the big change in morals came after Waterloo? Many folks were very happy the Lord was on their side and kind’a cleaned up their acts (a little) after the French Caeser fell.

    (FWIW – Just thought of this one: Q: “Why did God creat the Universe and People”? A: It’s the best thing since TV. Never a dull moment.)

  13. dearieme says:

    Of course “the ancients” knew the world was round: so did medieval scholars. The claim that the latter thought the world flat was promoted by Washington Irving in an attempt, apparently, to disparage the Roman Catholic Church. That’s why the belief that medieval people believed the world to be flat is predominantly an American belief, as is the nonsense about Columbus.

  14. DocMartyn says:

    Pascvaks, the Revolutionary war, initially at least, only had support of about 30% of the population. The Revolutionary War can only be understood as a continuation of the English Civil War in an English off-shoot. The Colonists thought of them selves as English

  15. Chuckles says:


    I’m tempted to say ‘Dunno, it’s all Greek to me…’, but I think it might be important to remember that ‘Expressed in Latin’ is not the same as ‘dating back to Roman times.’
    The Orbis Terrarum maps I’ve heard of, were produced in the 1400’s or so (I think) but I’d welcome some clarification/correction.
    There is a similar situation with ellipsoids, geoids, spheres and the like.
    Mean sea level is defined by gravity and the shape of the earth, and is apparently a geoid, but geoid means ‘earth-shaped’…..

  16. @E.M. Smith

    As an aside, George Lazenby was the only Bond actor who actually knew how to fight. He was a student of Bruce Lee, and was one of Lee’s pallbearers at the funeral.

    And my fondness for Diana Rigg long predated this film, but the film helped. ];-)

    I find this song from the movie very evocative.

    John Barry’s music from OHMSS was used in the trailer for The Incredibles, but they were still negotiating a deal with Barry to do the soundtrack. That fell though, so Pixar hired another composer to do it, and he suddenly died. Then they got Giacchino, and apparently instructed him to sound just like John Barry.

    Not only is the 60s Bond feel there (especially OHMSS), several of the musical themes are simply Barry’s notes in reverse order. But there were lawsuits — and so in the interviews, when the interviewer tells Giacchinp that obviously John Barry influenced him, he replies that he was influenced by “the entire 60s” and especially Henry Mancini instead.

    There are several pieces in OHMSS that grab me, including “Journey to Blofeld’s” with that beautiful mountain scenery.

    It was trendy for a while to think of Columbus as a hero, just as it is trendy now among many to think of him as an “all round evil bastard.” But people are generally complex, and there is a question of how “evil” how was compared to other men of his time.

    Isaac Newton was fairly insuffereable as a person, but he still accomplisged great things.

    And of Eratosthenes accomplished many amazing things, including calculating the size of the Earth including its circumference to within a tenth or so (2,250 years ago!), as well as close guesses on orbital distances and axial inclinations. But he had racial attitudes that would be quite similar to those of Hitler millennia later.

    Were his attitudes uncommon? Not particularly. And to focus on them misses important aspects, I think.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  17. George says:

    When one stands in a flat spot or out to sea, the world around them (the horizon) is a circle. That might be the reference here.

  18. jim says:

    Didn’t read all the comments, but here is a reference …


  19. NZ Willy says:

    Chiefio, Latin was the primary educational language to the 1700s as the Church and education were deeply linked. So Copernicus and Gallileo and the rest would write “orbis” etc. Not if you go back to Roman times where Earth = “Terra”, a direct translation. Indeed the idea of a round Earth was just for Greek thinkers who considered why the Sun should be higher in the sky in Egypt than Greece. But an alternative theory calculated a precise distance and size for the Sun which would resolve this — the Sun was the size of Attica, they said. And if you look at the Roman colliseums, they usually wrote 4 as IIII, which about says it for how much they valued popular knowledge.

  20. Actually the question shouldn’t be when people started believing the earth was a sphere. It should be when we started believing that earlier civilizations DIDN’T believe it was a sphere!! There is reasonable evidence from all literate cultures that their astronomers knew this. Velikosvky seems to have collected amazing translations from archaeologists and others of astronomical data from all early civilizations that left translatable writings. He even shows how some assumed to be blatant errors were probably correct and we simply did not understand why. Like 360 day years…

  21. Actually the question shouldn’t be when people started believing the earth was a sphere. It should be when we started believing that earlier civilizations DIDN’T believe it was a sphere!! There is reasonable evidence from all literate cultures that their astronomers knew this. Velikosvky seems to have collected amazing translations from archaeologists and others of astronomical data from all early civilizations that left translatable writings. He even shows how some assumed to be blatant errors were probably correct and we simply did not understand why. Like 360 day years…

    The idea of a flat earth is more of a recent problem brought out by different parties trying to discredit others not to mention fictional accounts. For instance, Galileo actually got into hot water over impugning the Pope in his writings NOT his theory. Evolutionists and atheists use it to attack religious types even though we are told about 8 times in the Old Testament that the earth is a sphere…


  22. Mark says:

    Hmm. Never heard of the “God-damns are coming!” My understanding from looking at this recently is the rebels said, “The Regulars are coming!”

  23. boballab says:

    Actually you have to take things into context. Did the scholars of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries know the earth was a sphere: Yes. Did the average peasant in the field know? Most likely not, nor did he or she care.

    Also pointing to how the Bible had in it that the Earth was a sphere proves my point. During certain periods of time the Catholic Church deliberately kept the masses illiterate and at most times during that period the lowest classes of society did not have access to schools and even when they did could not afford them. You must keep in mind that there was no such thing as the Public School system back then. A kid born to a farmer was most likely to become a farmer, if he happened to make it to adulthood. Poor farming families couldn’t afford to waste resources teaching a kid to read when he had a very good chance of being dead in 5 years. Also during those periods of mass illiteracy there were points and places where if you weren’t a Priest by law you weren’t allowed to read the bible.

    Then to top things off you had the problem of languages and reading material. Even if the kid was taught to read, it would have been his local language: German, Italian, Spanish, English and so forth. Prior to the wide adoption of the printing press there was very few books and those of a scholarly nature were written in one of two languages: Latin or Greek. The reason for that is because those works were copies of the originals written in those languages by the Romans and/or Greeks. The copies were done by hand usually by monks and the knowledge effectively for centuries locked away. That is why so many of the first scientists of the Enlightenment were Priests: They could not only read the languages but had the actual access to the books.

    The bottom line is that saying that back in the Greco-Roman times something was known by the majority of Europe does not translate into it was known by the majority of Europe especially prior to the enlightenment. A classic example of this is indoor plumbing. The Romans had indoor plumbing and running water everywhere in their Empire. After the fall of Rome you don’t see indoor plumbing and running water in wide use until after the 18th Century.

    Keep this in mind: Just because something is known does not mean that it is widely known.

  24. oldtimer says:

    My Oxford Dictionary of English says the words orbit (n), orbits (v) and orbital (adj) derive from Latin `orbita` = course or track, Latin `orbitus` = circular, and Latin `orbis` = ring.

    Maybe cod Latin is to blame.

  25. Jason Calley says:

    @ DocMartyn “here is a stature of Atlas, holding the world on his back. This is a Roman 3rd century Roman copy of a Greek statue.”

    Nice find with the statue, but I think that if you look very closely, you will find that what Atlas has on his back is not a terrestrial globe, but rather is a globe of the firmament with the various constellations shown.

    Still, it must have been common knowledge among the educated that the earth was a sphere, or at least a pretty fair approximation of one. The sphere shape becomes evident for any culture that observes and tracks lunar eclipses. Consider this: Even cursory observation will demonstrate that lunar eclipses are caused by the Earth’s shadow crossing the face of the moon. A series of eclipse observations show that no matter where the moon is the sky, the shadow always has a circular shape. What is the only shape that casts a circular shadow when illuminated from any angle? A sphere.

    By the way, once it becomes possible to forecast which full moons will be eclipses, it becomes possible to make world maps with fairly good longitude calculations. (Latitude is always easy.) Wait for an eclipse, and at the moment when the Earth’s actual shadow (not just the penumbra) touches the lunar limb, measure it’s altitude above the horizon. Have your buddies back home do the same. The difference in readings is the degrees of separation between you. Adjust for latitude changes and you have longitude. Neat trick, expect an accuracy of perhaps a hundred miles or so, but good for ancient navigators.

  26. jim says:

    From the link I posted earlier …

    TITLE: Orbis Terrarum
    DATE: A.D. 20
    AUTHOR: Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa

    DESCRIPTION: The profound difference between the Roman and the Greek mind is illustrated with peculiar clarity in their maps. The Romans were indifferent to mathematical geography, with its system of latitudes and longitudes, its astronomical measurements, and its problem of projections. What they wanted was a practical map to be used for military and administrative purposes. Disregarding the elaborate projections of the Greeks, they reverted to the old disk map of the Ionian geographers as being better adapted to their purposes. Within this round frame the Roman cartographers placed the Orbis Terrarum, the circuit of the world.

    There are only scanty records of Roman maps of the Republic. The earliest of which we hear, the Sardinia map of 174 B.C., clearly had a strong pictorial element. But there is some evidence that, as we should expect from a land-based and, at that time, well advanced agricultural people, subsequent mapping development before Julius Caesar was dominated by land survey; the earliest recorded Roman survey map is as early as 167-164 B.C. If land survey did play such an important part, then these plans, being based on centuriation requirements and therefore square or rectangular, may have influenced the shape of smaller-scale maps. This shape was also one that suited the Roman habit of placing a large map on a wall of a temple or colonnade. “

  27. Gary Turner says:

    Re: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/chasing-the-greek-foot/

    The traditional English measures were also more up to date than today’s metric units, using binary counting. I.e. a mouthful, a tablespoon, an ounce, a jack, gill, cup, pint, quart, pottle (bottle), gallon, peck, kenning, bushel, etc. Each measure is double the preceding volume and half the next.

  28. Luís says:

    Hi Michael, this is an interesting subject.

    As a matter of fact there is little written evidence on a scientific debate about the shape of the Earth. The roundness of the surface is perfectible observable at sea, where a ship masts do not provide more than 4 nautical miles of surface sighting and as another ships distances its hull disappears from sight and then its masts.

    As already noted up thread, the first written works on Geography all assume a spherical world without any shy of doubt. The work of scientists like Eratosthenes and Ptolemy was used as teaching basis on the subject through time up to the Renaissance.

    As for Cristobal Colon, there are two main hypothesis that I know of, on what he might have presented to the Cosmographers Comission as justification for his voyage towards the West:

    1) The pear shaped theory, whereby the northern hemisphere would be tighter than the southern hemisphere;

    2) The theory that China would extend farther to the East, supposedly supported on Marco Polo’s travels.

    Hypothesis 1 can be dismissed at face value since all known measurements of the Earth’s radius had been made in the Northern Hemisphere and already pointing to a precise value around 35 000 Km (or more precisely 6400 leaks).

    Hypothesis 2 looks more promising since at the time there was no precise method to measure longitude; beyond that, King John’s land missions to Asia where in their early days.

    Adding to this the facts that Corte-Real touched Newfoundland in 1473 and that Colon himself was part of a mission to Greenland in 1488, this all turns into a very interesting story. In a letter sent to Queen Isabella Colon even alluded he had sailed to the Bay of Fundy during that voyage.



  29. boballab,

    you have to keep in mind that the Catholic Church is rather recent. Please don’t attempt to grant them authority over all of history!! 8>)

  30. Laurence M. Sheehan, PE says:

    People of the long past should not be judged by modern moral standards. All of the “great heros” of the past were, by and large, vicious creatures . . . the sort which could survive under very unfavorable conditions. When the probability of staying alive is small, people operate differently.

    A study of the correspondence Columbus sent back to the king of Spain belies most, if not all, of the vile lies which have been circulated about Columbus.

  31. Rob in SD says:

    Stand on a bluff and look out at the ocean. The curve seems obvious.

  32. Jason Calley says:

    @ Rob “The curve seems obvious.”

    I do not want to seem argumentative, but a thought occurred to me when I read your post. If you stand on a bluff and hold a horizontal (and very straight) yard stick out at arm’s length and perpendicular to your arm, will the yard stick match the horizon, or will the obvious curve show a hump when compared to the stick?

    Maybe I’ll try that on the next trip to the beach.

  33. P.G. Sharrow says:

    When you flatten large areas, as laser planeing a field, it is low in the middle. When constructing a large flat surface it is low in the middle. This is low when measured with a water level. The center will fill with water. The pyramids are large with flat courses that cause the stones to lean towards the low center. If the courses were laid level the stones would lean out. I’m sure that the builders figured this out after the first large pyramid started to fall apart under thermal and quake caused movement of the stones. pg

  34. boballab says:


    First I didn’t grant them control over all history, however for the periods of time, in Europe, that we are discussing they are the dominant institution. The Catholic Church came into existence in 380 AD and was the repository of knowledge during the middle ages after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the end of the classical period:

    Transmission of learning

    With the end of the Western Roman Empire and urban centres in decline, literacy and learning decreased in the West. Education became the preserve of monasteries and cathedrals. A “Renaissance” of classical education would appear in Carolingian Empire in the 8th century. In the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), learning (in the sense of formal education involving literature) was maintained at a higher level than in the West. Further to the east, Islam invaded and conquered many of the Eastern Patriarchates, and there were some advances in science, philosophy, and other intellectual endeavors in a “golden age” of learning.


    Decline in the West
    De-urbanization reduced the scope of education and by the 6th century teaching and learning moved to monastic and cathedral schools, with the centre of education being the study of biblical texts[32] Education of the laity survived modestly in Italy, Spain, and the southern part of Gaul, where Roman influences were most long-lasting. However, in the 7th century, learning began to emerge in Ireland and the Celtic lands, where Latin was a foreign language and Latin texts were eagerly studied and taught.[33]

    Main article: History of science in the Middle Ages
    In the ancient world, Greek was the primary language of science. Advanced scientific research and teaching was mainly carried on in the Hellenistic side of the Roman empire, and in Greek. Late Roman attempts to translate Greek writings into Latin had limited success.[34] As the knowledge of Greek declined, the Latin West found itself cut off from some of its Greek philosophical and scientific roots. For a time, Latin-speakers who wanted to learn about science had access to only a couple of books by Boethius (c. 470–524) that summarized Greek handbooks by Nicomachus of Gerasa. Saint Isidore of Seville produced a Latin encyclopedia in 630. Private libraries would have existed, and monasteries would also keep various kinds of texts.
    Most of the leading scholars that we know of in the early centuries were clergymen
    for whom the study of nature was a small part of their interest. The study of nature was pursued more for practical reasons than as an abstract inquiry: the need to care for the sick led to the study of medicine and of ancient texts on drugs,[35] the need for monks to determine the proper time to pray led them to study the motion of the stars,[36] the need to compute the date of Easter led them to study and teach rudimentary mathematics and the motions of the Sun and Moon.[37] Modern readers may find it disconcerting that sometimes the same works discuss both the technical details of natural phenomena and their symbolic significance.[38]


    Most scientific inquiry came to be based on information gleaned from sources which were often incomplete and posed serious problems of interpretation. Latin-speakers who wanted to learn about science only had access to books by such Roman writers as Calcidius, Macrobius, Martianus Capella, Boethius, Cassiodorus, and later Latin encyclopedists. Much had to be gleaned from non-scientific sources: Roman surveying manuals were read for what geometry was included.[4]

    De-urbanization reduced the scope of education and by the 6th century teaching and learning moved to monastic and cathedral schools, with the center of education being the study of the Bible.[5] Education of the laity survived modestly in Italy, Spain, and the southern part of Gaul, where Roman influences were most long-lasting. In the 7th century, learning began to emerge in Ireland and the Celtic lands, where Latin was a foreign language and Latin texts were eagerly studied and taught.[6]


    The scientific work of the period after Charlemagne was not so much concerned with original investigation as it was with the active study and investigation of ancient Roman scientific texts.[12] This investigation paved the way for the later effort of Western scholars to recover and translate ancient Greek texts in philosophy and the sciences.


    Now after all that it should be well established that the Catholic Church was were the written knowledge of the Greeks and Romans was kept. Keep in mind that when the Western Roman Empire fell, the barbarians that over ran them burned the books as well as massacred large numbers of people. So the knowledge of that time in Western Europe was only found in small out of the way places. One historian credits the monasteries in Ireland with saving Western Civilization. Sorry if you have a thing against the Catholic Church but the fact is there wouldn’t have been an Enlightenment without them to provide the seed for it. Also another fact is that a peasant in the field was not taught science in those days, as shown if he was taught anything it was the bible. He/She had more important things to worry about then if the world was flat or round such as putting food on the table and not being int he way of one of the periodic armies that marched through.

  35. Pascvaks says:

    Greeks always spoke Greek. Roman’s (a’la Empire) always spoke Greek and Latin. Priests (spoke Latin) up until very recently; I know because they tried to teach it to me –no luck, I’m hopeless. There’s a conspiracy here but I just can’t seem to put my finger on it.

    There’s more to Heaven and Earth than Men allow.

  36. Jason Calley says:

    @ P.G. Sharrow “When you flatten large areas, as laser planeing a field, it is low in the middle. When constructing a large flat surface it is low in the middle. This is low when measured with a water level. The center will fill with water.”

    True…and if carried to the extreme, you get –

    The famous “Marfa Lights” in Texas, beloved of paranormal enthusiasts are the result of a large flat area.
    The area actually has a very slight “dip” such as you describe above, making it a true flat surface. This moves the horizon to a farther distance and helps create the peculiar illusion of distant floating (automobile) lights. The not-quite-so-famous-or-mysterious Joplin Missouri Spook Lights have a similar source — a large flat area with an intervening drop.

  37. Brian H says:

    Subtitle on the Lazenby poster: “On Her Magesty’s Secret Service.”
    Despite the fact that the graphic spells “Majesty” correctly.


    How easily transmission of knowledge is corrupted by sloppiness and ignorance!!

  38. Brian H says:

    The effect should be measurable on a minute scale on a square table with raised edges: a film of water should be thicker in the center.

  39. kuhnkat says:


    thanks for the Wikipedia lesson.


  40. kuhnkat says:


    now that I have had my childish laugh, “however for the periods of time, in Europe” Even in Europe they did not control all learming and there is quite a bit of the world that had civilization OUTSIDE of Europe.

  41. R. de Haan says:

    A fascinating subject E.M.

    Knowledge acquired during prosperous times is often lost during times of onset
    and degradation like the Dark Ages.

    I think you’re right with your assessment that the Ancient Greek new the earth was a sphere.

    Through out the Dark Ages, the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance, religious dogma’s held back and and suppressed any (scientific) views that were in opposition with the Church and it’s henchmen.

    It is an absolute disgrace to see how in our modern times a semi religious, semi scientific elite has come to power to suppress real science and debate once again and it really gives me the creeps to see a misfit like Al Gore and his happy gang cooperate with the political elite of the world being aloud to continue selling his snake oil, even after his first attempt was completely debunked.

    This said it is entirely evident that loss of know how and knowledge is a serious threat that haunts our civilizations through all times, even today and we should be prepared and willing to defend the scientific process, freedom and suppression at all times and fend off any attempt of political abuse.

    The role of the Church in the past was that of a power structure that suppressed progress by torture and death of the individual.

    The current doctrine has similar objectives and now suppress entire nations denying them access to energy, food, know how and freedom.

    In the West we’re losing our jobs, prosperity and civil rights.

    In the developing world people are loosing their lives.

    If we don’t get our act together soon and stop the current process of deterioration and government policies based on non science, we will experience a complete collapse of our societies with unprecedented loss of life, knowhow and knowledge.

    A Greek Tragedy of epic proportions.

  42. @R. de Haan, I agree: A tragedy of epic proportions.

    Our present social and economic systems are as unstable as the Sun [1-4].

    The situation is dangerous. We must avoid emotional responses and focus on main goals, e.g., C below.

    I recommend that we:

    A. Acknowledge benefits of Kissinger’s 1971 visit to China [5]:
    _a.) Nationalism and racism were reduced,
    _b.) World peace was enhanced, and
    _c.) Nuclear war was avoided.

    B. Avoid retaliation, and

    C. Work with opponents to restore:
    _a.) Integrity to government science, and
    _b.) Citizens’ control over government.

    1. “Sunspot 1283 bristling with flares,” PhysOrg.com (7 Sept 2011) http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-sunspot-bristling-flares-x18-m67.html

    2. “Star blasts planet with X-rays,” PhysOrg.com (13 Sept 2011) http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-star-blasts-planet-x-rays.htm

    3. “The Sun-weather relationship is becoming increasingly important,” The GWPF Observatory (14 Sept 2011) http://www.thegwpf.org/the-observatory/3868-the-sun-weather-relationship-is-becoming-increasingly-important.html

    4. “Super-fluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate”, Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)

    5. “No more dreams, Mr. President”

  43. Present social and economic systems are unstable.

    Let’s focus on restoring:
    a.) Integrity to government science, and
    b.) Citizens’ control over government.

  44. Pascvaks says:

    @R. de Haan
    I don’t think people have really changed very much. The excuses they use to do what they do may be different, but what they do and why they do it have pretty much remained the same for thousands of years. Those who think it’s all a Great Greek Tragedy aren’t too far off the mark. The “Mumbo-Jumbo” superstition element has always been a central part too.

  45. Pascvaks says:

    PS: re -@R. de Haan
    I have a feeling that in a 100K years, after the next Ice Age, people will still be invoking the supernatural and realists will still be complaining how it shouldn’t be that way anymore. (Why even I have been known to fall on my face in a foxhole and pray like a child; when you know you’re a gonner and about to cross the Great Divide into the Great Unknown, human nature really kicks in big time;-)

  46. adolfogiurfa says:

    @R. de Haan: Just “interesting times” which began with the “revolution of roses” in Paris, then the fall of the Berlin wall and now…….
    If we are clever enough we should be learning the new paradigms…

  47. Luís says:

    :) Doings maths before going to bed has these things. At the time of Colon a league was taken as exactly the 18th part of the degree, or 6.6 Km. Thus the Earth’s circumference was considered to be slightly wider (> 42 000 Km) than it actually is (~ 40 000 Km) and not the figure I referred above.

    When more precise measures where made centuries later it became obvious that 1/18 of the degree and 6.6 Km were different things and this ancient measure slowly became useless.

  48. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Oliver K. Manuel…..mmmmm…what we have instead: “A Brave New World”, nevertheless I hope as God is “the ultimate conspirer”, and as the next “turn of the screw is near”, chances are that things will turn almost as before the “Maunder Minimum” revolutions, however one spiral above…. :-)

  49. Mark says:


    Keep this in mind: Just because something is known does not mean that it is widely known.

    We see this today. I was shocked when looking back at Carl Sagan’s last interview with Charlie Rose in 1996, Rose cited a statistic from the NSF saying that less than half of American adults know that the Earth rotates around the Sun once a year. I looked this up, and found more recent NSF survey results saying the same thing, that about 30% know this. What I found for the reason for this was surprising. It wasn’t that most people didn’t know that the Earth rotated around the Sun. It was that most, about 60%, thought the Earth went around the Sun once a day! I’ve heard of reasons given for this, that depictions of the relationship between the Earth and the Sun in science textbooks are confusing to students, though I forget how.

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