Classic Civilizations, such as Greek/Hellenistic,
Roman, and Han China all made
important contributions in science and technology.
These achievements had a lasting impact on future
cultures, and many of these discoveries are still in use
around the world today.
Ancient Greek and Hellenistic cultural
achievements span two different eras. The Ancient
Greek golden age occurs under the leadership of Pericles
in the 5th century BCE. These achievements
were mainly confined to the city-state of Athens,
where a strong economy and good government created the
conditions necessary for such advancements.
The Hellenistic golden age occurs under the
leadership of Alexander the Great, who conquered
an empire stretching from the Greek mainland all
the way to the Indus River Valley.
Hellenistic society was a blending of Greek, Egyptian,
Persian, and many other cultures that gave rise
to advancements in math, science, art, and literature.
artists portrayed the human figure in idealized realism.
sculptures show humans in the perfect form.
Greek architects build elaborate buildings using marble
and the Greek column. The most
famous example of Greek architecture is the Parthenon
in Athens. Many buildings around the world today
use Greek architectural ideas.
Greek mathematician Pythagoras, developed a
formula to calculate the relationship between the sides
of a right triangle, a method still in use
today. Aristarchus, a Greek astronomer,
discovered that the earth rotated on its axis,
and revolved around the sun.
Eratosthenes discovered that the earth was
round, and accurately calculated its circumference.
Euclid wrote a book called The Elements,
which is the basis for modern geometry.
A Greek scientist named Archimedes tried to use
science for more practical matters, he showed how the
use of a lever and pulley system
could lift just about any weight.
a 5th century BCE physician, studied the causes of
illnesses and experimented with various cures. He
is also credited with creating a set of ethical standards
for doctors called the Hippocratic Oath.
China enjoyed a true golden age under the Han.
Many cultural and intellectual achievements came as a
result of the strong leadership of the Emperor Wudi.
Under Wudi, China strengthened both its government and
economy, setting the conditions for the golden
Han scientists wrote textbooks on subjects ranging
from zoology to botany and
chemistry. They were advanced astronomers,
which enabled them to create more accurate clocks.
Han scientist also invented the process to make paper
from wood pulp; they invented the rudder for use
on ships, and created other such useful devices as the
fishing reel and the wheelbarrow.
Han physicians developed acupuncture to
alleviate pain and to treat various illnesses.
They also made use of certain plants as herbal remedies.
They were able to diagnose and successfully treat
various illnesses with these techniques.
Han artists and architects are noted for their
detailed carvings in jade, wood, or ivory, and the
building of elaborate temples. The also refined
the process of silk making, which set the standard in
China for centuries.
The Roman Republic was founded in 509 BCE. The
government was run by elected officials called Senators,
who were chosen from the upper class called Patricians.
The lower class, Plebeians, made up the majority
of the population and were generally farmers, artisans,
By 270 BCE, Rome controlled all of Italy.
They also soon conquered Carthage, Macedonia,
Greece, and parts of Asia Minor.
This expansion led to civil war and the end of the
Republic when Julius Caesar took power in
48 BCE. After his murder, Caesar's grandnephew, Augustus,
became Emperor. This began a 200 year long
peace called the Pax Romana. The Pax Romana
became a time of cultural and intellectual achievements
Roman art and architecture is a blending of Greek and
Roman elements. In art, Rome copied many Greek
statues, but also produced a more realistic style
portraiture art instead of the idealized
forms favored by the Greeks. In architecture, Rome used Greek
columns, but modified them to be more elaborate,
as well as using the arch and dome quite
extensively, something the Greeks did not do. An
example of Roman use of arches and domes can be seen in
Romans built engineering marvels across their empire,
such as roads, harbors, and bridges,.
They were well known for the building of aqueducts,
which were bridge like structures used to carry fresh
water across long distances. In Segovia, Spain
the Roman aqueduct still functions today.
As with Hellenistic civilization, Alexandria, Egypt
remained a center of learning under the Romans. In Roman
controlled Alexandria, the astronomer - mathematician
Ptolemy proposed that the earth was the center of
the universe. The geocentric model
offered by Ptolemy was the accepted view until Copernicus
offered the heliocentric, or sun centered theory
of the universe. In medicine, the Greek physician Galen
compiled an encyclopedia that became the standard
medical text until the Islamic doctor Ibn Sina
wrote his Canon on Medicine.