Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Were ancient Minoans centuries ahead of their time??-?Unprecedented mathematical knowledge found in Bronze Age wall paintings.


news @ nature.com: "A geometrical figure commonly attributed to Archimedes in 300 BC has been identified in Minoan wall paintings dated to over 1,000 years earlier.

The mathematical features of the paintings suggest that the Minoans of the Late Bronze Age, around 1650 BC, had a much more advanced working knowledge of geometry than has previously been recognized, says computer scientist Constantin Papaodysseus of the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and his colleagues.

The paintings appear in a building that is still being excavated and restored in the ancient Minoan town of Akrotiri on the island of Thera. A catastrophic eruption of the volcano on Thera, now known as Santorini, around 1650 BC, is thought to have dealt a fatal blow to the Minoan culture. The blast covered Akrotiri, on the island's southern coast, in a thick layer of ash that preserved many buildings and artefacts.

Ten or so buildings have been excavated in Akrotiri so far, including a large one known as Xeste 3, which stands close to the ancient quay. Judging from its large size and extensive wall decorations, Xeste 3 appears to have been some kind of public building, such as a temple or a place for ritual ceremonies.

The wall paintings don't in themselves prove that the Therans knew enough geometry to bisect angles. But it certainly looks that way, says Papaodysseus."