5 Ancient Greek Civilization ‘Firsts’ That Were Not
New research suggests the Greeks borrowed their system known as alphabetic numerals from the Egyptians, and did not develop it themselves as was long believed, the BBC reports.
Greek alphabetic numerals were favored by the mathematician and physicist Archimedes, the scientific philosopher Aristotle and the mathematician Euclid, among others.
A 2003 analysis by Stephen Chrisomalis, Ph.D., a linguistic anthropologist at McGill University in Montreal, showed striking similarities between Greek alphabetic numerals and the Egyptian demotic numerals, used in Egypt from the late eighth century B.C. until around A.D. 450.
Both systems use nine signs in each “base” so that individual units are counted 1-9, tens are counted 10-90 and so on. Both systems also lack a symbol for zero.
Chrisomalis proposes that an explosion in trade between Greece and Egypt after 600 B.C. led to the system being adopted by the Greeks.
Greek merchants may have seen the demotic system in use in Egypt and adapted it for their own purposes.
Since the fourth century A.D., Pythagoras has commonly been given credit for creating the theorem in geometry that states that in a right-angled triangle the area of the square on the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares of the other two sides—that is, a^2 + b^2 = c^2. This is commonly called the Pythagorean theorem.
But the theorem was known and previously used by the Babylonians, Indians and Egyptians. The way in which the Babylonians handled Pythagorean numbers implies that they knew that the principle was generally applicable, and knew some kind of proof, which has not yet been found in the (still largely unpublished) cuneiform sources.
Because of the secretive nature of Pythagoras’ school and the custom of its students to attribute everything to their teacher, there is no evidence that Pythagoras himself worked on or proved this theorem. For that matter, there is no evidence that he worked on any mathematical or meta-mathematical problems, says Walter Burkert, a German scholar of Greek mythology and cult.
In his book, “The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality” by Cheikh Anta Diop, even Greek architecture has its roots in Egypt. Proto-Doric columns, the Egyptian cliff tombs of Beni Hasan, were found dating back as early as the 12th dynasty.
Greco-Roman monuments are mere miniatures compared to those built by the Egyptians. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, with all its towers, could easily be placed in the hypostyle hall of the temple of Karnak; the Greek Parthenon could fit into those walls even more easily.
Fathers of Modern Medicine
The Egyptians — not the ancient Greeks — were the true fathers of medicine, according to a study that pushes back the origins by at least a millennium, writes Roger Highfield, science editor for the U.K. -based The Telegraph.
Scientists examining documents dating back 3,500 years say they have found proof that the inception lies not with Hippocrates (460 B.C. -370 B.C.) and the Greeks, but in ancient Egypt and the likes of Imhotep (2667 B.C. – 2648 B.C.), who designed the pyramids at Saqqara and was elevated to the god of healing.
The research team from the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester discovered the evidence in medical papyri written in 1,500 B.C. — some 1,000 years before Hippocrates was born.
Rosalie David, professor of biomedical Egyptology and director of the KNH Centre, said: “These results are very significant and show that the ancient Egyptians were practicing a credible form of pharmacy long before the Greeks.”
Originators of Philosophy
Philosophy is a classical Greek creation, at least that is what we are supposed to accept if we are to believe prominent European scholars like Martin Litchfield West. However, the ancient Greek philosophers themselves gave the Egyptians credit for creating the discipline.
Molefi Kete Asante, Ph.D., scholar, historian and philosopher, said: “There is a common belief among whites that philosophy originates with the Greeks. The idea is so common that almost all of the books on philosophy start with the Greeks as if the Greeks pre-dated all other people when it came to discussion of concepts of beauty, art, numbers, sculpture, medicine of social organization. In fact, this dogma occupies the principal position in the academies of the Western world, including the universities and academies of Africa.”
“Diodorus Siculus, the Greek writer, in his ‘On Egypt,’ written in the first century before Christ, says that many who are ‘celebrated among the Greeks for intelligence and learning, ventured to Egypt in olden times, that they might partake of the customs, and sample the teachings there. For the priests of Egypt cite from their records in the holy books that in the former times they were visited by Orpheus and Musaeus, Melampos, Daedalos, besides the poet Homer, Lycurgus the Spartan, Solon the Athenian, and Plato the philosopher, Pythagoras of Samos and the mathematician Eudoxos, as well as Democritus of Abdera and Oenopides of Chios, also came there.’”