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History of Science 15th Century - Brunelleschi's Dome

History of Science Online

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LibraryThing: Science in Ancient Mesopotamia Week 9: 15th-century Science

Topic 1: Printing Revolution

# Due Date Pts Activity Time
2 Wednesday
11:59 p.m.

Topic 1 + Quiz
Background: Without a sense of context, history is anachronistic.
Primary sources: Without documentary evidence, history is speculation
The first of two topic assignments per week involving both background and primary sources.

90 min.

Crescenzi, 1471This week we will focus on medicine and the life sciences from the middle ages through the 15th century. Please note especially what Lindberg has to say about the Dioscorides tradition; we'll pick up from there when we consider the herbals next week. We'll look at the work of 15th century astronomers like Peurbach and Regiomontanus the week after that (Week 12).

Besides life sciences and astronomy, then, the only other major figure of 15th century science we'll devote much time to this week is Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo serves us well as a representative scientist of the 15th century, particularly because he worked in courts rather than universities. As you read about him pay special attention to the way court culture and court patronage shaped his lifelong efforts. Despite Leonardo's remarkable accomplishments and enduring interest to us, his manuscripts were safe-guarded with utmost secrecy (to preserve their value to his court patrons). Unfortunately, therefore, his writings were of little influence for the development of science.

For a brief sampling of 15th-century science under these headings, please carefully read all of the pages linked to below (except for those marked optional).

  1. Aristotle, 1476 David Lindberg, ch. 13, "Medieval Medicine and Natural History,".
  2. Leonardo da Vinci
  3. Brunelleschi and the architecture of Renaissance Italy

TOPIC QUIZ: The statements are either True or False. When you take the quiz at Janux, you will see 12 of these statements, chosen at random, worth 2 points each.

  1. T or F? Dioscorides produced De materia medica, a synthesis of ancient pharmaceutical knowledge containing 900 descriptions of medically important plants and other substances.
  2. T or F? Throughout the middle ages, monasteries were centers of medical knowledge and practice.
  3. T or F? Lindberg argues that the spread of hospitals reflects the transformation of Greco-Roman medicine in its early medieval Christian setting.
  4. T or F? Hunayn ibn Ishaq translated 129 Galenic treatises into Arabic in the 9th century.
  5. T or F? The Islamic appropriation of Galenic medicine emphasized the separation of, and antagonism between, medicine and philosophy.
  6. T or F? One important encyclopedic work of Islamic medicine was the Canon of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), written around 1000.
  7. T or F? The case of Trotula illustrates how women were trained as skilled medical practitioners in Salerno, a city in southern Italy.
  8. T or F? The Canon of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) was translated into Latin by Constantine the African at the monastery of Monte Cassino, Italy.
  9. T or F? In the middle ages, a wide range of medical practitioners provided care, ranging from empirics to apothecaries and surgeons to university-trained physicians.
  10. T or F? University-based schools of medicine were established in Salerno, Montpellier, Paris, and Bologna by the 13th century.
  11. T or F? In total contrast to the practical orientation of empirics and apothecaries and barber-surgeons, university medical faculty were entirely theoretical in their orientation and training.
  12. T or F? A person’s complexion or temperament was thought to be a particular, individual balance among the four humors of one’s body.
  13. T or F? The most common medicines of medical practice in the middle ages were minerals, chemically derived.
  14. T or F? Medical doctors in the middle ages regarded urinalysis as a key to understanding the state of the heart.
  15. T or F? Epidemic outbreaks were often attributed to the influences of the stars and planets upon the air.
  16. T or F? Surgeons in the middle ages found theriac to be an effective anesthetic that would make patients unconscious during invasive surgeries such as removal of bladder stones or hernia correction.
  17. T or F? Human dissection was prohibited in the middle ages until the Church finally relented in 1500.
  18. T or F? The Anatomia of Mondino dei Luzzi became a standard guide to dissection for medical schools in the late middle ages.
  19. T or F? Two works of botany and zoology were On Vegetables and On Animals by Albert the Great, which contained both theoretical analysis and descriptive observations.
  20. T or F? Leonardo da Vinci worked most of his life in the Universities of Florence (Firenze), Milan, and Paris.
  21. T or F? Leonardo’s Treatise on Painting suggests that linear perspective geometrically represents and conveys a divine rather than human perspective of the world.
  22. T or F? The principles of linear perspective were explained in writing by Leon Battista Alberti in 15th-century Florence.
  23. T or F? In linear perspective, the vanishing point is located at the top vertex (corner) of an equilateral triangle whose base is the horizon line.
  24. T or F? As an only child, Leonardo’s parents were able to afford him the best quality education Italian universities had to offer.
  25. T or F? Bill Gates paid 30 million dollars for Leonardo’s Manchester Codex.
  26. T or F? Leonardo died in Italy at the end of the 15th century.
  27. T or F? Gothic architects of the late middle ages based their designs on those of the Roman writer Vitruvius.
  28. T or F? Brunelleschi’s dome is a near-perfect hemisphere.




"If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine power, he's doing it the hard way." James Randi

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HSCI 3013. History of Science to 17th centuryCreative Commons license
Kerry Magruder, Instructor, 2004
Brent Purkaple, TA

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Many thanks to the pedagogical model developed in Mythology and Folklore and other online courses by Laura Gibbs, which have been an inspiration for this course.

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This course is currently undergoing major reconstruction to bring it into alignment with the new version of the course at Janux