The Map of Knowledge
'A lovely debut from a gifted young author. Violet Moller brings to life the ways in which knowledge reached us from antiquity to the present day in a book that is as delightful as it is readable.' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
In The Map of Knowledge Violet Moller traces the journey taken by the ideas of three of the greatest scientists of antiquity – Euclid, Galen and Ptolemy – through seven cities and over a thousand years. In it, we follow them from sixth-century Alexandria to ninth-century Baghdad, from Muslim Cordoba to Catholic Toledo, from Salerno’s medieval medical school to Palermo, capital of Sicily’s vibrant mix of cultures, and – finally – to Venice, where that great merchant city’s printing presses would enable Euclid’s geometry, Ptolemy’s system of the stars and Galen’s vast body of writings on medicine to spread even more widely.
In tracing these fragile strands of knowledge from century to century, from east to west and north to south, Moller also reveals the web of connections between the Islamic world and Christendom, connections that would both preserve and transform astronomy, mathematics and medicine from the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
Vividly told and with a dazzling cast of characters, The Map of Knowledge is an evocative, nuanced and vibrant account of our common intellectual heritage.
'An endlessly fascinating book, rich in detail, capacious and humane in vision.' Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Superb . . . Ambitious but concise, deeply researched but elegantly written, and very entertaining, The Map of Knowledge is popular intellectual history at its best
A sumptuous, glittering, endlessly fascinating book, written with passion, verve and humour.
Catherine Nixey, author of The Darkening Age
As the historian Violet Moller reveals in her expansive book, the passage of ideas from antiquity through the Middle Ages and beyond was fraught with obstacles . . . The story she tells is a fascinating one.
Daisy Dunn, Sunday Times