Cosmas Indicopleustes

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Cosmas Indicopleustes


sixth-century Byzantine author of Christian Topography (c. 547), which marked the departure of European cosmology from the achievements of the classical system of Ptolemy and the adoption of scholastic theories. This work, which rejected the idea that the earth is round, played a major role in medieval astronomy and geography.

Indicopleustes’ work was heavily influenced by the Nestorians. He represented the inhabited world as an elongated rectangle, surrounded by ocean and walls, with the firmament above it in the form of a double arch. He placed the “kingdom of heaven” above this. The change of day and night he explained as the movement of the sun around a conical elevation in the northern part of the earth’s surface. Indicopleustes’ work is significant as the sole European source for this period on the ports and trade of the nations on the Arabian Sea (Ceylon, India, Iran, Arabia, Eastern Africa), which he had visited himself as a merchant or described on the basis of conversations.


Topographic chrétienne, vol. 1. Paris, 1968.


Pigulevskaia, N. V. Vizantiia na putiakh v Indiiu. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
Wolska, W. La Topographic chrétienne de Cosmos Indicopleustés: Théologie et science au VI-e siècle. Paris, 1962.


References in periodicals archive ?
in the sixth-century Greek of Cosmas Indicopleustes.
There is no doubt of the pre-Islamic presence of cloves in the Near East and Mediterranean world; although essentially unknown in classical Roman times, by late antiquity they were reasonably well known, as their mention in Cosmas Indicopleustes and other sources attests.
174) By the sixth century, Cosmas Indicopleustes wrote of Ceylon: "Acting as an intermediary, the island receives many ships coming from all parts of India, from Persia, and from the Ethiopians, and it sends them forth likewise.
Instead, it serves as an essential introduction to the subsequent articles, since it summarizes the phases of development of world views in the West from classical times through the late Middle Ages, with emphasis on the schemes of Cosmas Indicopleustes, Macrobius, Augustine and Isidore of Seville, as well as descriptions of the pervasive trifaria orbis divisio, or T-O map, in which the known lands are represented in the shape of a T surrounded by the orb of the oceans, and the innovative portolano charts that eschewed portrayals of fabulous beings and marvels in favor of practical information for navigators and traders.
Cosmas Indicopleustes as author of much of the Christian topography the work evinces.