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LOG
09-24-2009, 09:29 AM
I recently attended a lecture by Allan Chapman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Chapman_(historian)) who informed me, that medieval people did not believe the world was flat. But that Washington Irving was actually the one who perpetuated that idea.
Is this true?

Wayne K
09-24-2009, 09:34 AM
The globe came out in 1492.

Nivarion
09-24-2009, 09:35 AM
It could be. I would believe it too. Like how Mark Twain started the rumor of knights armor being so heavy that you had to be lowered onto a horse by a crane.

I was reading about medieval and earlier mathematicians trying to figure out the circumference of the world. A lot of them were within a thousand miles of it. It was pretty cool that they did that off of shadows in wells at the Solstice.

Cassiopeia
09-24-2009, 09:35 AM
I recently attended a lecture by Allan Chapman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Chapman_%28historian%29) who informed me, that medieval people did not believe the world was flat. But that Washington Irving was actually the one who perpetuated that idea.
Is this true?
Yes it's true.

Wayne K
09-24-2009, 09:36 AM
The earliest known globe was constructed by the Greek scholar Crates of Mallus in Cilicia (now Çukurova in modern-day Turkey) around 150 BCE.[1] An ancient celestial globe that still exists was made about 150 CE as part of a sculpture, called the Farnese Atlas, in the Naples Museum, Naples, Italy.[2]

The first terrestrial globe of the Old World may have been constructed in the Muslim world during the Middle Ages, by Muslim geographers and astronomers working under the Abbasid caliph, Al-Ma'mun, in the 9th century.

The oldest existing terrestrial globe is credited to Martin Behaim in Nürnberg, Germany, in 1492. A facsimile globe showing America was made by Martin Waldseemueller in 1507. Another early globe, the Hunt-Lenox Globe, ca. 1507, is thought to be the source of the phrase "Here be dragons." Another "remarkably modern-looking" terrestrial globe of the Earth was constructed by Taqi al-Din at the Istanbul observatory of al-Din during the 1570s.

LOG
09-24-2009, 09:36 AM
The globe came out in 1492.
Was that a yes or a no...?

Wayne K
09-24-2009, 09:47 AM
Maybe?

Wayne K
09-24-2009, 09:48 AM
I misunderstood the question.

There has to be a way to research this.

bettielee
09-24-2009, 10:01 AM
Wasn't it the Church that insisted the world was flat? Didn't the scholars know all along but the common man didn't?

blacbird
09-24-2009, 11:07 AM
It could be. I would believe it too. Like how Mark Twain started the rumor of knights armor being so heavy that you had to be lowered onto a horse by a crane.

Well, Twain was kinda being satirical, ya know? Like having his hero sent back in time by being hit on the head with a wrench?

caw

Mac H.
09-24-2009, 12:26 PM
Of course it's true !!

There is an text from the ancient Greeks called 'The Sand Reckoner' which has calculations for how big the earth is. EVERYONE knew it was round, even back then.

It's been mentioned here before: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=341359#post341359

Mac

Prozyan
09-24-2009, 02:25 PM
No, its not true. The wisdom of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance comes through here:


When the legend becomes the fact, print the legend.

In all seriousness (and seriously, it is true about Washington Irving), it is much like how well known Paul Revere is due to the influence of Longfellow's poem, despite the fact he only rode about 20 miles whereas few people know of Israel Bissell who rode almost 400 miles over four days warning of the British invasion.

Popular culture can be a powerful thing. There are dozens of examples.

Noumenon
09-24-2009, 02:36 PM
I remember reading that it was common knowledge amongst sailors as soon as they began to cross oceans - seeing a ship gradually sinking (so to speak) below the horizon was the give-away.

Generally though, there isn't much need to think deeply about the nature of the earth when you're an ordinary peasant knee-deep in a muddy field and being flogged by the landowner for not grovelling hard enough, so it wouldn't surprise me if the accepted wisdom was that supported by simple observation rather than complex mathematics.

The ground is flat, with soil and rock below. The sky is above and rain falls down. Key features of my hovel behave in much the same way. Not to mention that Heaven and Hell are regularly referred to by the fat priest and have to be somewhere, physically, as my concept of the universe lacks multiple dimensions. Therefore...

kaitie
09-24-2009, 03:29 PM
I misunderstood the question.

There has to be a way to research this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth

:D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

even better

Rufus Coppertop
09-24-2009, 05:18 PM
The medieval church definitely held that the earth was round. Have a look at this

http://www.bede.org.uk/flatearth.htm

and google Isidore of Seville.

Phaeal
09-24-2009, 06:58 PM
Seems to me people had way more trouble imagining that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe. Round, flat, meh, big deal. But us not the center of everything? Ouchies, that stings.

Plus I would have known the Earth wasn't flat right off, living in the land of potholes as I do.

The Lonely One
09-24-2009, 07:07 PM
Seems to me people had way more trouble imagining that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe. Round, flat, meh, big deal. But us not the center of everything? Ouchies, that stings.

Plus I would have known the Earth wasn't flat right off, living in the land of potholes as I do.

Would've fallen through to the other side? :)

dgiharris
09-24-2009, 09:06 PM
When the legend becomes the fact, print the legend.

I've heard this before and it is such a true statement (thanks Prozyan)

Another popular myth turned fact is the phrase "Bury their heads in the sand like an ostrich"

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/11/02/1777947.htm


The myth that an ostrich will stick its head in the sand, in an effort to hide, may have begun with that great Roman thinker, Pliny the Elder (23-79AD).

Despite tons of animal research, one article I read that studied a 100 ostriches over a period of 8 yrs, found that there has never been an instance of any ostrich burying it's head in the sand. Yet, the myth and the belief is fairly strong LOL.


When the legend becomes the fact, print the legend.

Indeed

Mel...

Higgins
09-24-2009, 09:20 PM
Wasn't it the Church that insisted the world was flat? Didn't the scholars know all along but the common man didn't?

I can't think of any overall insistance by the Medieval Latin Western Christian Church (MLWCC) that the world was flat. In fact, advanced research in the MLWCC suggested (in the 9th century IIRC) that even people with dog heads had souls. Now I think the proposal that doggie people have souls is much more metaphysically adventureous than anyone who thought the world was flat (except for Lactantius) could manage.

http://www.nndb.com/people/384/000105069/

Apparently Jerome thought Lactantius was something of an idiot despite his beautiful language. Anyway (here's a rumor) I recall reading somewhere that Lactantius was something of a proverbial idiot among theologians and one of his supposed idiocies was that he thought the world was flat. Perhaps its just slander. On the other hand his arguments against Arianism and Manicheanism might have convinced many innocent people to become Manicheans and Arians at some peril (I guess maybe) to their immortal souls.

LOG
09-24-2009, 11:09 PM
IThe ground is flat, with soil and rock below. The sky is above and rain falls down. Key features of my hovel behave in much the same way. Not to mention that Heaven and Hell are regularly referred to by the fat priest and have to be somewhere, physically, as my concept of the universe lacks multiple dimensions. Therefore...
That's a smart peasant... :D

benbradley
09-25-2009, 12:01 AM
I've read a little about this and I vaguely recall it - as I understand, various academics have "always" known (since the times of Plato and Aristotle, and especially since Eratosthenes and his measurement) the Earth was round, but there remained many skeptics for many centuries. Perhaps the "final straw" that finally convinced the masses was Focault's pendulum (the actual pendulum, not the book). It was a "real phenomenon," many people went to see big swinging penduums. It showed the straight back-and-forth motion of the pendulum, yet over hours the angle of its swing changed. But of course the plane of the swing did NOT actually change, but rather the Earth rotated beneath it, so it was the angle of the GROUND that changed in relation to the pendulum's swing. Thus, as Galileo famously said, the Earth moves.

It could be. I would believe it too. Like how Mark Twain started the rumor of knights armor being so heavy that you had to be lowered onto a horse by a crane.

I was reading about medieval and earlier mathematicians trying to figure out the circumference of the world. A lot of them were within a thousand miles of it. It was pretty cool that they did that off of shadows in wells at the Solstice.
There's this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_geodesy
But if you really want a short, clear, fun explanation, there's this guy, the PBS "star" from the '70's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JHEqBLG650
Just lookin' at him makes me want to hit a doobie...and no, I don't mean striking a member of the band. I can imagine good ole' Carl taking tokes between takes.

blacbird
09-25-2009, 12:58 AM
In all seriousness (and seriously, it is true about Washington Irving), it is much like how well known Paul Revere is due to the influence of Longfellow's poem, despite the fact he only rode about 20 miles whereas few people know of Israel Bissell who rode almost 400 miles over four days warning of the British invasion.

But you have a really hard time making a rhyming couplet about Israel Bissell.

caw

Delhomeboy
09-25-2009, 01:06 AM
But you have a really hard time making a rhyming couplet about Israel Bissell.

caw

This is the tale of the patriot Israel Bissell
Who rode through the land saying "The British comin, my nizzles!"

JoNightshade
09-25-2009, 01:09 AM
My understanding (gleaned from a Columbus kick I went on several years back - read a number of bios) is that the real controversy in Columbus' time was not that the earth was round, as most educated folks knew that. The big deal was how LARGE the earth was. Columbus went through all sorts of mathematical contortions trying to prove that the earth was small enough for him to sail from Spain to Asia across an open sea. The size of the earth he came up with was about 1/3 it's actual size, so it was quite lucky for him that there turned out to be an extra continent in the way. Oops!

blacbird
09-25-2009, 01:13 AM
This is the tale of the patriot Israel Bissell
Who rode through the land saying "The British comin, my nizzles!"

Like I said . . .

caw

blacbird
09-25-2009, 01:19 AM
A digression from the thread, I know, but worth a comment. From Delhomeboy's sig:


Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless. --Ernest Hemingway about F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great quote, which I was unaware of. Much the same thing later happened to Hemingway, it seems, when he ceased being interested in writing as much as he was being interested in being Ernest Hemingway, famous writer.

caw

lonestarlibrarian
09-25-2009, 01:23 AM
There's an Anglo-Saxon manual on Astronomy from the 10th c. that I like... it talks about how the moon doesn't generate its own light, but that it reflects the light of the sun (and it thinks the stars also reflect the sun's light); it talks about how no matter how deep the ocean is, the bottom of the ocean is still the top of the earth; and it talks about the solstices and the equinoxes at different points on the globe. And it said that the earth is shaped like a pine-nut. Even when you get to Columbus, he didn't think the earth was perfectly round, either-- it had a protruberance.

I like it because not only did it show that they knew in early medieval times that the world was not flat, but they also knew that it wasn't a perfect sphere, either.

Noumenon
09-25-2009, 01:23 AM
That's a smart peasant... :DThat's the nicest thing anyone has said about me this year.

Shakesbear
09-25-2009, 01:36 AM
A patriot named Israel Bissell
Did bid his wife farewell,
Then rode like a man pursued by hell
Certainly not a rebel
As he needed to tell
Everyone he met,
So they would not forget
And start to probe
That the world is not a diskette
But an awesome Globe!

blacbird
09-25-2009, 01:52 AM
Listen my children, while I tell
Of the midnight ride of Izzy Bissell.

(I'll work on it further tonight, after the Talisker.)

caw

LOG
09-25-2009, 02:51 AM
That's the nicest thing anyone has said about me this year.
>.>

benbradley
09-25-2009, 05:44 AM
A digression from the thread, I know, but worth a comment. From Delhomeboy's sig:


Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless. --Ernest Hemingway about F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great quote, which I was unaware of. Much the same thing later happened to Hemingway, it seems, when he ceased being interested in writing as much as he was being interested in being Ernest Hemingway, famous writer.

caw
Are you sure that quote isn't from "Johnathan Livingston Seagull?"

benbradley
09-25-2009, 05:49 AM
And whatever happened to that '60's band Israel Bissell and The Raiders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP8G4clUJBY)?

blacbird
09-25-2009, 11:23 AM
And whatever happened to that '60's band Israel Bissell and The Raiders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP8G4clUJBY)?

They're off commiserating with Exclamation Point and the Mysterians.

caw

Sunnyside
09-25-2009, 05:48 PM
As one of the few biographers of Washington Irving in the last 80 years, I can attest that the flat Earth theory was, indeed, invented by Irving as part of his mostly reputable biography of Christopher Columbus.

The book earned him enormous respect from scholars around the world -- he was even awarded a medal from the Royal Society, and elected a member of Spain's Real Academia de la Historia, one of the few non-Spaniards ever elected -- and none of them even seemed to take notice of the whole flat Earth thing.

Just another one of those odd little bits of pop culture that Irving created, whether rightly or not.

johnnysannie
09-25-2009, 06:00 PM
Wasn't it the Church that insisted the world was flat? Didn't the scholars know all along but the common man didn't?

No and no.

Delhomeboy
09-26-2009, 12:16 AM
Are you sure that quote isn't from "Johnathan Livingston Seagull?"

It's from "A Moveable Feast," and he's talking about butterflies, not Seagulls. :D

I wanted to put the full quote, but it was too big a signature:

"His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless. "

ishtar'sgate
09-26-2009, 01:36 AM
I recently attended a lecture by Allan Chapman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Chapman_(historian)) who informed me, that medieval people did not believe the world was flat. But that Washington Irving was actually the one who perpetuated that idea.
Is this true?
In the medieval period, the church pretty much dictated what people thought about everything. In the old King James version of the Bible, Isaiah 40:22, speaking of God, says "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth...."
It makes sense then, that medieval people did not believe in a flat world.

Noumenon
09-26-2009, 11:19 AM
A circle is flat though - hence the notion of discs on elephants, turtles, etc.

If only it said that he "sitteth on two globes" - maybe we would have felt closer to God (the guys, anyway).

Bartholomew
09-26-2009, 08:16 PM
But you have a really hard time making a rhyming couplet about Israel Bissell.

caw

Nah.

Israel Bissell Rode through the night,
Warning the land 'bout a British blight.

or...

Ole' Revere was bound up in chains
Leaving poor Bissell to ride 'cross the plains.

ishtar'sgate
09-26-2009, 08:29 PM
A circle is flat though - hence the notion of discs on elephants, turtles, etc.

If only it said that he "sitteth on two globes" - maybe we would have felt closer to God (the guys, anyway).
True enough. I guess you'd have to locate some actual pictures or writings done by those living in that era. It's easy for us to speculate about what they believed but they really have to speak for themselves in order for us to know for sure.