Published books

March 2020
Robert Middeke-Conlin
The Making of a Scribe
Errors, Mistakes and Rounding Numbers in the Old Babylonian Kingdom of Larsa

Springer, coll. Why the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter

This book presents a novel methodology to study economic texts. The author investigates discrepancies in these writings by focusing on errors, mistakes, and rounding numbers. In particular, he looks at the acquisition, use, and development of practical mathematics in an ancient society: The Old Babylonian kingdom of Larsa (beginning of the second millennium BCE Southern Iraq). In so doing, coverage bridges a gap between the sciences and humanities.
Through this work, the reader will gain insight into discrepancies encountered in economic texts in general and rounding numbers in particular. They will learn a new framework to explain error as a form of economic practice. Researchers and students will also become aware of the numerical and metrological basis for calculation in these writings and how the scribes themselves conceptualized value.
This work fills a void in Assyriological studies. It provides a methodology to explore, understand, and exploit statistical data. The anlaysis also fills a void in the history of mathematics by presenting historians of mathematics a method to study practical texts. In addition, the author shows the importance mathematics has as a tool for ancient practitioners to cope with complex economic processes. This serves as a useful case study for modern policy makers into the importance of education in any economy.

September 2019
Daniel P. Morgan, Damien Chaussende (Editors)
Monographs in Tang Official Historiography
Springer, coll. Why the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter
ISBN 978-3-030-18037-9

This book examines the role of medieval authors in writing the history of ancient science.It features essays that explore the content, structure, and ideas behind technical writings on medieval Chinese state history. In particular, it looks at the Ten Treatises of the current History of Sui, which provide insights into the writing on the history of such fields as astronomy, astrology, omenology, economics, law, geography, metrology, and library science. Three treatises are known to have been written by Li Chunfeng, one of the most important mathematicians, astronomers, and astrologers in Chinese history.
The book not only opens a new window on the figure of Li Chunfeng by exploring what his writings as a historian of science tell us about him as a scientist and vice versa, it also discusses how and on what basis the individual treatises were written.
The essays address such themes as (1) the recycling of sources and the question of reliability and objectivity in premodern history-writing; (2) the tug of war between conservatism and innovation; (3) the imposition of the author’s voice, worldview, and personal and professional history in writing a history of a field of technical expertise in a state history; (4) the degree to which modern historians are compelled to speak to their own milieu and ideological beliefs.

January 2019
Christine Proust, John Steele (Editors)
Scholars and Scholarship in Late Babylonian Uruk
Springer, coll. Why the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter
ISBN 978-3-030-04175-5

This volume explores how scholars wrote, preserved, circulated, and read knowledge in ancient Mesopotamia. It offers an exercise in micro-history that provides a case study for attempting to understand the relationship between scholars and scholarship during this time of great innovation.
The papers in this collection focus on tablets written in the city of Uruk in southern Babylonia. These archives come from two different scholarly contexts. One is a private residence inhabited during successive phases by two families of priests who were experts in ritual and medicine. The other is the most important temple in Uruk during the late Achemenid and Hellenistic periods. The contributors undertake detailed studies of this material to explore the scholarly practices of individuals, the connection between different scholarly genres, and the exchange of knowledge between scholars in the city and scholars in other parts of Babylonia and the Greek world.

Florence Bretelle-Establet, Stéphane Schmitt (Editors)
Pieces and Parts in Scientific Texts
Springer, coll. Why the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter
ISBN 978-3-319-78466-3

This book starts from a first general observation: there are very diverse ways to frame and convey scientific knowledge in texts. It then analyzes texts on mathematics, astronomy, medicine and life sciences, produced in various parts of the globe and in different time periods, and examines the reasons behind the segmentation of texts and the consequences of such textual divisions. How can historians and philosophers of science approach this diversity, and what is at stake in dealing with it? The book addresses these questions, adopting a specific approach to do so.


Matthieu Husson, Richard Kremer (Editors)
How do Writings in the Early Astral Sciences Reveal Mathematical Practices and Practitioners?
Centaurus, Vol. 58, Issue1-2, special issue, February-May 2016

Predicting eclipses and planetary phenomena has always been a desideratum for the astral sciences, whether in China, India, Babylonia, Egypt, Persia, or Italy. Indeed, we might say that it was largely by inventing mathematical procedures for these tasks that sky watchers became astral scientists. When sources have been preserved that allow us to observe these procedures, we can often learn not only about early astronomical assumptions but also about the mathematical practices of the astronomers. Such practices might include the design of metrologies and units, types of numbers and their arithmetics (e.g., fractions, sexagesimals), computational techniques, or the use of accessories such as diagrams, instruments, or numerical tables.

Martha Cecilia Bustamante et al.
Oralités et documents scientifiques écrits : Nouvelles perspectives en histoire des sciences / Orality and scientific written documents : New perspectives in history of science
Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences, Volume 65, Issue 175 / 2015