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Book and Media Reviews
December 7, 2011

The Unknown Technology in Homer

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, Colleges of Engineering and Medicine, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio (vijay.goel@utoledo.edu).

JAMA. 2011;306(21):2390-2391. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1779

The contributions of ancient Greece to the modern era are well recognized. This book in particular describes potential contributions of the technology prevalent during the Homeric period. The beautifully bound book, with short chapters and appropriate illustrations, is organized into 5 parts, making for interesting and engrossing reading.

In part 1, the author, S. A. Paipetis, states that the process of the development of technology has been disrupted, not only by war (which intensifies evolutionary processes) but also by the destruction of civilization by natural and other causes. This disruption leads to a condition in which the development of technology must start all over again. Perhaps, Paipetis states, “this has happened more than once in the history of our planet.” This last hypothesis makes all kinds of “lost civilizations” an attractive theme for research scientists as well as for science fiction writers. Paipetis also makes the case that ancient Greece had all of the ingredients essential for the development of technology and further suggests that Homer was a single person rather than a group that promoted technology during his time.