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.