Revolutions and Continuity in Greek Mathematics – International Conference

Organiser: Dr Michalis Sialaros, British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of History, Classics and Archaeology

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th May 2014 Room 415, Birkbeck Main Building

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Sabetai Unguru (Tel-Aviv), Professor Bernard Vitrac (Paris), Dr Serafina Cuomo (London), Dr Andrew Gregory (London), Professor Vassilis Karasmanis (Athens), Professor Jean Christianidis (Athens).

In 1962, T. Kuhn’s influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions challenged the dominant view of the time that scientific progress is ‘continuous’ and introduced the (rather revolutionary) term ‘revolution’ in the vocabulary of the historians of science. Considering that the scholars of ancient Greek mathematics do not (usually) work in literary isolation, it was only a matter of time before this terminology was introduced into the field; thus, when S. Unguru’s 1975 paper ‘On the Need to Rewrite the History of Greek Mathematics’ caused heated debates on the nature of Greek mathematics, some scholars rushed to support the idea that a revolution took place. An agreement, however, could not be reached, not only in regard to the current state of affairs in the discipline, but, perhaps more importantly, in regard to the usefulness of employing terms like ‘revolutions’ and ‘continuity’ in order to describe the progress of the field.

While these debates were taking place in the field of the historiography of Greek mathematics, time did not stand still in the field of its history either; in fact, the impressive number of recent publications reveals growing interest for the subject. Historians of Greek mathematics today apply methodologies, which appear as diverse as the authors themselves; i.e., in terms of language, culture, educational background and selection of topics. The aim of this two-day international conference is to bring together a number of leading scholars of Ancient Greek mathematics in order to explore the ideas of ‘revolutions’ and ‘continuity’ as they appear in/disappear from the Greek mathematics. Within this framework, we shall endeavour, through examining various case-studies, to identify and evaluate some general characteristics of the methodologies and approaches of the discipline as practiced today and, additionally, to suggest directions for future research.

We welcome proposals for papers (abstracts) from academics working in this field. We are particularly keen to receive proposals from PhD students and early career researchers. A short abstract (max. 300 words) and a CV should be sent to the following e-mail address: by Friday, 20th of December, 2013. Please notice that the language for abstracts, papers, and discussions is English.

Registration and payment - here.  The registration fee for the conference is £45.00 (students: £35.00). It includes reception meal (for two days) and coffee/tea. Unfortunately, due to limited space, we will only be able to accept a small number of participants.

For more information contact Dr Michalis Sialaros.