Contribution of roman in geography

CONTRIBUTION OF ROMAN SCHOLAR IN GEOGRAPHY

ROMAN’S CONTRIBUTION TO GEOGRAPHY

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Introduction

After the Greeks, the Romans contributed appreciably to the growth and development of graphical knowledge. The romans were more practical and philosophical in their outlook. They were primarily concerned with the commercial and administrative problems and plans for military conquest. The knowledge of geography was necessary both for effective administration and trade. Hence, Romans made major contribution to historical and regional geography.

1. Strabo (64 BC – 20 AD)

Strabo was born in Amesia (Turkey) about 50 miles to the south of Black Sea coast in about 64 BC. He is considered as ‘Father of Regional Geography’, he stressed on the division of the world into natural and not into political boundaries.

His most important work is “Geographica’. In this he has tried to compile all the then knowledge of mathematical, physical, political and historical geography in form of general treatise. Geographica consisted of 17 volume – first 2 (1-2) volume about introduction, next 8 (3-10) volume about Europe, next 6 (11-16) volume about Asia and last 1 (17) volume about Africa (Libya)

His other work is ‘Historical Memoir’. He wrote 43 volumes under the title Historical Memoirs.

Strabo was the first scholar who have led the foundation of chorological writings in geography. He was the first to declare geography as chorological science.

Chorology

The study of places and regions.

Causal relations between geographical phenomena occurring within a particular region and the study of the spatial distribution of organisms

He was in agreement with Aristotle about the spherical shape of the Earth about the belief the Earth is situated in the centre of the universe. He visualized the Earth as an oblong. He considered the Caspian as an inland sea and placed Taprabone (Sri Lanka) to the west of Indian Peninsula.

His writings are found in the form of quotations. In Physical Geography, he propounded the theory of alternate elevation and depression of extensive areas.

He compiled large amount of material to highlight the changes that have taken place due to the changes in the sea level and due to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Key Points:
  • Strabo is considered as the Father of regional geography
  • Division of world by natural boundaries.
  • He Declare that geography as a Chorological Science.
  • His book Historical Memoir with 43 volume
  • Geographical treatise or Geographica 17 Volume comprising four branches- Mathematical, Physical, Political & Historical Geography.
  • Geographica 17 volume
  • First 2 volume (1-2) = Introduction
  • Next 8 volume (3-10) = Devoted to Europe
  • Next 6 volume (11-16) = Devoted to Asia
  • Last 1 volume (17) = Libya (Africa)
  • Shape of earth Spherical (Geocentric Concept)
  • Caspian Sea Inland Sea & connected with Northern ocean
  • Theory of alternate elevation and depression of extensive areas.
2. Ptolemy (90 AD – 168 AD):

Claudius Ptolemy was a native of Egypt. He lived and wrote at Alexandria about the middle of the second century BC. He was a genius who developed sound principles of Mathematical Geography. His writings inspired the geographers and explorers of the Great Age of Discovery (fourteenth to sixteenth centuries to explore the Terra Incognita i.e., unknown land.)

Ptolemy’s main contribution was in the field of Mathematical Geography. He made use of the material of Marinus and Hipparchus in writings and cartographic work. His best known works are the Syntaxis – Popularly known as the Almagest and The Outline of the World. The book, “Almagest, deals with the complicated problems of Astronomy and Mathematical Geography. He in agreement with Aristotle about the belief that the Earth is the spherical in shape and situated in the centre of the universe (geocentric concept).

His second most important work ‘The Geography’ also known as ‘The Guide to Geography’ deals with theory of map projection. It consists of catalogue of places with their latitudes and longitudes and describes briefly each continent, country and tribe.

He asserted that ‘Geography is a science which deals with the art of map-making’.

A major contribution of Ptolemy to cartography has been the use of the graticule of latitude and longitude and the mathematical construction of the projection for his map. He also provided detailed accounts of the known world. He plotted the Gangetic Gulf (Bay of Bengal) for the first time.

His other minor works include “The Optics’ and The Tetrabiblos’ which deal with reflection and refraction respectively. These works are in field of astronomy. He also promulgated the concept of “Terra-Australis Incognita’ which declared that Indian Ocean is a closed sea. This idea was probably borrowed from Hipparchus.

Despite all the omissions and commissions, Ptolemy prepared a good map of the world and his concept of Terra Incognita helped in the discoveries of Australia, South America, and Antarctica.

Key Points:
  • Developed sound principles of mathematical Geography.
  • He opined that-“Geography is a science which deals with the art of map-making”
  • Shape of the Earth= Spherical (Geocentric)
  • Major work/Book-
    • The Syntaxis- popularly known as ‘The Almagast’- great contribution on classical Astronomy.
    • Guide to Geography –consisted of 8 volumes. Opens with an excellent theory of map projection.
  • He promulgated the concept of “Terra-Australis-Incognita”
  • Minor work – The optics & The Tetrabiblos.

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