Conference Shaping the sciences of the ancient world – 2013

Text criticism, Critical editions and Translations of ancient and medieval scholarly texts (18th-20th centuries)

Organized by the ERC research project, “Mathematical sciences in the ancient world”, acronym SAW
June 17—21, 2013Université Paris Diderot
Building Condorcet, Amphithéâtre Pierre-Gilles de Gennes
4 rue Elsa Morante, PARIS 75013


A growing number of historiographical approaches shed light on how critical editions and translations of scientific texts have been made, in the past. This has been famously the case concerning ancient Greek mathematics (through the works of Knorr, Vitrac, Netz, and Saito among others). These works have underlined how assumptions on what a mathematical text should be, and what its diagrams should look like, gave shape to geometrical classical works of Greek Antiquity. Much still needs to be uncovered in the history of science. More generally, the history of philologies has been the object of a renewed interest. In this context, the ERC project SAW is organizing a conference whose aim is to gain critical awareness vis-à-vis critical editions and translations that are often the main source materials for historians of science.
Because the SAW project is not restricted to European sources, the conference will deal not only with these sources, but also with scholarly documents produced anywhere on the planet. It further intends, in the wake of Said and Pollock, to reflect on the kind of critical editions that were produced outside of Europe. As a whole, the texts considered were produced in scholarly milieus that had different ideas of what an author or a text is, and how a text should be read, etc. We aim at understanding how such features were taken into account in past critical editions and translations of these texts worldwide. More generally, the ways critical editions and translations were elaborated and how they shaped specific representations of these texts need to be documented as well. This research will lead us to raise new questions about ways critical editions (and translations) could be made in the present day.

Booklet with programme and abstracts

programme and abstract – pdf version