Science in the Middle Ages  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Scientific activities were carried on throughout the Middle Ages in areas as diverse as astronomy, medicine, and mathematics. Whereas the ancient cultures of the world (i.e. those prior to the fall of Rome and the dawn of Islam) had developed many of the foundations of science, it was during the Middle Ages that the scientific method was born and science became a formal discipline separate from philosophy. There were scientific discoveries throughout the world, as in the Islamic world, in the Mediterranean basin, China and India, while from the 12th century onwards, the scientific development in Western Europe began to catch up again.

The Byzantine Empire, which was the most sophisticated culture during the early middle ages, preserved the systems and theories of science, mathematics, and Medicine of the Greco-Roman period. The works of Aristotle, Archimedes, Galen, Ptolemy, Euclid, and others spread through the empire. These works and the important commentaries on them were the wellspring of science during the Medieval period. Christian Western Europe had suffered a catastrophic loss of knowledge following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. But thanks to the Church scholars such as Aquinas and Buridan, the West carried on at least the spirit of scientific inquiry which would later lead to Europe's taking the lead in science during the Scientific Revolution using translations of medieval works.

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