The Archaic World Picture

  • Dirk L. Couprie
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 374)


The archaic world picture, the picture of a flat earth with the dome of the heaven vaulted above it, on which the celestial bodies are attached, is the basic world picture of many ancient cultures. Here “world picture” means the conception of the visible universe, not including all kinds of mythical or religious representations of what was imagined to be “under the earth.” This archaic world picture (and also its penetration by a curious head) is beautifully rendered in a picture that is often thought to belong to the Renaissance period but was actually drawn in 1888 A.D. on the instructions of the famous French astronomer and popularizer Camille Flammarion (Fig. 1.1). The drawing refers to a story about Archytas (428–347 B.C.), who is supposed to have asked whether it would be possible to put a hand or a stick out of the heavens (DK 47A24). We will return to the implications of this question in the last chapter of this book.


Celestial Body World Picture Visible Universe Renaissance Period Flat Earth 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk L. Couprie
    • 1
  1. 1.MaastrichtNetherlands

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