Part I Ancient History, Italy’s origin and its shaping of the Mediterranean Chapter 1: Italy at the turn of the 1st millennium BC

1.1 The people of Italy at the turn of the millennium

According to a myth the name Italy comes from an ancient Italian language, possibly Etruscan[1] meaning the “land of Bulls” uitalia. Yet the origin is still controversial. According to another Greek tradition the name comes from Italo king of the Enotrians, who ruled parts of the Peninsula, in the South, sixteen generations before the war of Troy, that would be then around 1700 BC.[2]

It was at about that time that Italy made its first literary apparition as home of some fantastical creatures in the Odyssey, the poem attributed to Homer at the foundation of western civilization. In the poem, Italy is home of the beautiful and deceptive sirens, possibly located north of Messina, of the monsters Scylla and Charybdis, the dangerous coasts of Calabria and Sicily in their most narrow place. It hosts the god of winds and the scariest giant Cyclops, sons of the king of hell, set in antiquity in Sicily, within Mount Etna, the largest active Volcano of the Mediterranean. It was in sum for ancient Greeks a mythical place, not home of humans but of fantastic creatures.

In any event, at the turn of the first millennium BC, Italy was a strange mix of local and later Indo-European populations, mostly loosely related to one another and constantly at war with each other. They were relatively backwards, compared with the three large and important civilizations that came from outside and were fighting to gain the upper hand in the peninsula.

The first of three civilizations, each of which we shall follow in some detail, are the Etruscans, located in what is modern Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, and Emilia down to Rome. They were possibly originally from Anatolia, speaking a mysterious non-Indo-European language and mixed with the local population. Possibly ethnically close to them there were the Elimes, living in the western tip of Sicily. Then there were the Indo-European Greeks, occupying the southern coast from Naples to eastern Sicily. And in western Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica there were the Phoenicians from Carthage, of Semitic stock.

The main local tribes are not without interest.

The strangest of all are possibly the Nuraghi, a civilization from Sardinia that left the largest megalithic structures of antiquity, the Nuraghi, some kind of towers whose function is still unknown. They are said to be watch posts, forts, or abodes for giants. It is not clear at all. The Nuraghi were built from around 1,700 BC to the 2nd century BC. Its people are said to be warriors and seafarers, and some Sardinian scholars think they may be the Sea People that brought huge disruption to Egypt and the Hittite empire in the eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century BC. For this there is scant evidence besides the fact that Egyptians called the Sea People “shardens,” something that sounds like the modern name “Sardinia.”

The origin of the Nuraghi population is unknown, but it is possible they were pre-Indo-European, like the modern Basques living between Spain and France[3]. Another pre-Indo-European population was that of the Castellieri (castle builders)[4], who built forts in the mountain area around modern Trieste in Northern Italy. Also, with a mysterious origin (perhaps proto Illyric or from Asia Minor) were the Veneti, living in the northeast.

In Northern Italy, in the Po valley, there were the belligerent Indo-European Gauls, closely related to their brethren living on the other side of the Alps, in what is now France. Close to them there were the Ligurians, who got mixed with the Celtic Gauls, although originally might have been non-Indo-Europeans.

In central and southern Italy there were the Samnites, a fierce population that posed the first threat to the Romans in their expansion into central Italy. Related to them were the ferocious Lucani and the Brutii in what are now Basilicata and Calabria, and the Japigi and Messapi in modern Puglia. All these are peoples who fought the Greek expansion and then went to the Roman side when Rome pushed south.[5]

In the middle of them there were the Latins, an Indo-European tribe living in an area that was originally made of fertile volcanic soil.

We have little or no writing left of these people, although we can infer the early Romans’ degree of civilization was about the same as that of the Latin, who from pretty early on had a written language—the Latin script we now use, derived from the Greek Alphabet. It is then possible that the Romans destroyed all other competing scripts and histories to impose their own version of events for the future.

The tribe took its name from the myth that Olympus’ highest God Jupiter for a time hid from his father Saturn (in the Latin mythology the god of agricultural abundance; in the Greek mythology it corresponded to Kronos, also the god of time). Jupiter (Zeus in Greek) hid (latuisset) from Saturn there.[6]

Their recognized cultural and religious center was a large, extinct volcano, Mons Albanus (“the Alban Mount,” today’s Colli Albani), some 20 kilometers to the southeast of Rome. In its center is a crater lake, Lacus Albanus, oval in shape and a few km long and wide. At the top of the second-highest peak (Monte Cavo) was a temple to Jupiter Latiaris, where the Latini held state functions before their subjugation by Rome and where the Romans subsequently held religious and state ceremonies.

However before getting to the Romans, we must first discover the three civilizations that dominated the peninsula before the Roman rise. These three civilizations all had ties with Troy, the semi-mythical city destroyed by the league of Achaeans some time in the 12th or 13th century BC. The Phoenicians of Carthage rose in fact thanks to the chaos in the eastern Mediterranean at the time of the war of Troy.

The Etruscans are possibly related to the survivors of Troy, who fled to Italy, and the Greeks were the heirs of the destroyers of Troy. The myth of Troy, told in the two epic poems The Iliad (about the war of Troy) and The Odyssey (about the long and failing attempt to go home from Troy by the main architect of Troy’s defeat, Ulysses), are at the basis of Western civilization and the inspiration for the main poem of the Roman Empire, Virgil’s Aeneid.

1.2 The Phoenicians of Carthage

At the turn of the first millennium BC, when the Zhou Dynasty in China had established its control over the central plains, taking over from the Shang Dynasty, the Phoenicians were already in Italy or its proximity. There is archeological evidence of their presence at the western tip of Sicily, in Motya, where they had ostensibly set up production of salt from seawater[7], and they had already founded Palermo, their main stronghold on the island, the main bridge for their operations reaching all of Italy, and the future capital of Sicily.

Moreover, there is the literary testimony of the meeting between Aeneas, fleeing Troy and reaching the area where modern Rome was to be founded hundreds of years later.

The story told by Virgil in the Aeneid is particularly intriguing[8]. It tells of Aeneas passing through Carthage, then ruled by Queen Dido. Dido falls in love with Aeneas and gets pregnant by him, but then Aeneas moves to the Italian peninsula, prisoner of his fate to found the future “caput mundi”, capital of the world. That is, at the time of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, Romans believed Carthage was significantly more ancient than Rome and believed they shared some of the same blood line (Aeneas’ love story with Dido). Moreover, according to Virgil, Dido committed suicide when Aeneas left and cast a curse on him, asking his progeny to seek revenge on Aeneas’ progeny, a poetic reference to the three wars Rome had to fight against Carthage for control of the Mediterranean Sea in third century BC. But most importantly Romans admitted they had had ties and intercourse with the Phoenicians since their foundation, actually even before their foundation.

Virgil’s story is consistent with some of the testimony of historic texts at the time[9] reporting Phoenician presence in what is now Northern Tunisia in the second millennium BC. However, other historical records put the foundation of the city at a much later date. Carthage means “new city” and was founded in the 8th century BC, around the beginning of the Spring and Autumn period in China, by a group of fugitives from Tyre, then one of the most important cities in Phoenicia.

All we know about Carthage comes from Roman sources or Greek sources which the Romans felt comfortable with. All testimonies of Carthaginian literature, which might have been very extensive since the city was a dominant power in the western Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC, are gone. This may be the outcome of a deliberate action by the Roman Empire, which wanted to erase all the history of its greatest challenge to power. All the preserved memory of Carthage is what the Romans wanted their people and us to know, so we have to take this memory with a grain of salt.

We know it was first a monarchy, held by Queen Dido, also known as Elissa, running away from a power struggle in Tyre where her brother, contending for the crown, was killed. Later it became a republic with a Senate and possibly with a structure similar to that of republican Rome. They were Semitic, with a Canaanite religion and a Canaanite language, close to ancient Aramaic, the language spoken later by Jesus and Jews of his time. They believed in an afterlife, similar to the beliefs of ancient Egypt. When the physical body dies, the npš (usually translated as “soul”) departs the body for the land of Mot, the Semitic god of afterlife, resembling the its Greek counterpart, Hades. Bodies were buried with goods, and offerings of food and drink were made to the dead to ensure that they would not bother the living. Dead relatives were venerated and sometimes asked for help, as also happened in ancient Rome. Also the three main gods of the Greeks—Zeus, ruling the sky; Poseidon, in charge of the seas; and Hades, controlling the afterlife—mirror the division of the Phoenician gods Baal, Yam, and Mot. Even the story of the labors of Hercules takes from the legend of the Tyrian Melkart, often equated with Heracles.

Their very name came from their main craft, “traders in purple,” referring to their monopoly on the precious purple dye of the Murex snail, used, among other things, for royal clothing. The name comes from the Greek Φοίνικες (Phoínikes), documented since Homer and influenced by phoînix (Tyrian purple) and crimson (murex) (itself from phoinós “blood red”).[10] The word stems from Mycenean po-ni-ki-jo and po-ni-ki, ultimately borrowed from ancient Egyptian fnḥw (fenkhu)[11]: Asiatics, Semites. The etymological association of phoiniki with phoînix mirrors that in Akkadian which tied kinaḫni, kinaḫḫi (Canaan, Phoenicia) to kinaḫḫu (red-dyed wool).[12] The land was natively known as knʿn (cf. Eblaite ca-na-na-um, ca-na-na), and remembered in the 6th century BC by Hecataeus under the Greek form Chna (χνα), and its people as the knʿny (cf. Punic chanani, Hebrew kanaʿani).

As we saw, they exported dyed wool and glass. They sold wine to Egypt, where grapevines would not grow, and were paid with Nubian gold. They were the first extensive seafarers of the Mediterranean Sea. Their culture started flourishing around the 13th century BC, about the time of the war between Troy and the Achaean allies. In fact, the rise of the Phoenician power occurred around 1200 BC when something unclear took place. This event is historically associated with the appearance of the Sea Peoples from the north, possibly the Achaeans who allegedly destroyed Troy. The result was the weakening and destruction of the new Egyptian kingdom and the Hittite kingdom in Anatolia and modern Syria. There was a cultural collapse, interrupted trade routes and severely reduced literacy[13]. In the resulting power vacuum, a number of Phoenician cities rose as significant maritime powers.

The Phoenicians were merchants and pirates certainly competing with the Greeks later and possibly even with the Achaeans in earlier times, dominating an area somehow larger than modern Lebanon. They did not make up an organized state structure, but rather were a group of independent cities possibly united in a league, similar to their Greek competitors. For centuries they were fending off attacks from the south, as Egypt was branching out, and from the east, as the Hittites and Assyrians were pushing in.

Sitting at the crossroads of Mesopotamia and the Egyptian civilizations, they possibly fused both elements. The first had a cuneiform writing symbolizing phonetic syllables (roughly similar to modern Japanese Katagana or Hiragana), and the second had a pictographic writing roughly similar to Chinese ideograms. The Phoenicians are credited with being the first to invent a modern alphabet. The symbols were possibly derived from Egyptians pictograms, but more importantly they introduced a conceptual revolution in the art of writing meanings and sounds. They ignored the meaning (which is the main content of pictograms or ideograms) and focused on conveying the sound (which was already roughly the content of cuneiforms). However, they ignored syllables (which are the first perceived division of sounds) and broke sounds into their essential components, vowels and consonants. Syllables in fact can number in hundreds if not thousands (English has some 3,000 syllables, Chinese has over 400), which begs for hundreds if not thousands of signs.

Therefore both syllabic and pictographic writings have hundreds if not thousands of signs to learn by heart, something extremely complicated to master without years of constant and devoted practice. But when syllables are broken into vowels and consonants, a mere score of symbols can render millions of different sounds and syllables, as proven by the successful usage of alphabets for thousands of languages over thousands of years. Plus alphabets can be mastered in a matter of days by anybody.

An alphabet thus made a very convenient and useful tool for sea traders meeting all kinds of people, speaking all kinds of languages, and needing to make a quick agreement on the price of the merchandise to be exchanged. Written language stopped thus being an instrument of chosen people, secretive rulers, who could afford years of training, and became an easy tool uniting an open community of traders which wanted to find an easy common ground to communicate and exchange goods in long term, fairly transparent relationship.

Alphabets spread quickly from the Phoenicians. Greeks, fellow and competing sea traders, adopted and changed it. So did the Etruscans and then the Romans, who begot the Latin script adopted worldwide.

In Virgil’s story, written in the 1st century BC, there are some historical problems regarding Aeneas and Carthage. Historical testimonies from ancient times put the Troy war, from which Aeneas and his people fled, in the late second millennium BC. Eratosthenes places in 1184 BC, Herodotus in 1250 BC, and Duris of Samos in 1334 BC[14]. That is, there is a gap of a few centuries between the modern historical assessment about the foundation of Carthage and the myth reported by the Roman poet Virgil, who must have known about Herodotus’ and Eratosthenes’ dating of the Troy War. This is but one example of the many difficulties in reconciling extant knowledge in ancient history. The myth reported by Virgil however squares with our knowledge of the rise of the Phoenician power, which took place at the time of the legendary war of Troy, a historical fact for the Romans of the time. Then Virgil seems to tell us the Romans believed that Phoenicians kept aloof with the war, siding neither with Troy nor with the Achaeans, but taking advantage of the disruption brought in by the war.

In any event, the independent cities in ancient Phoenicia succumbed to the Persian invasion in the late 6th century BC, and when Persia attacked Greece, around 500 BC, Carthage was starting to build an empire in the western Mediterranean. Here Carthage apparently organized a political and military system centered on itself, no longer consisting of independent cities, as in Phoenicia, and here it met its old enemies, the Greeks. The main battleground was Sicily, where Carthaginians were concentrated in the west and Greeks were in the east and center. Carthage also at least partly controlled the coasts of Sardinia and Corsica, all closer to the North African coast, the main basis of Carthaginian power.

The fight with the Greeks went on for centuries. For the first time, the Greeks used against the Carthaginians of Motya the first catapult, a machine that was to be the cornerstone of siege war until the introduction of cannons over a thousand years later. The historian Diodorus Siculus (about 1st century BC), described the invention of a mechanical arrow-firing catapult (katapeltikon) by a Greek task force in 399 BC.[15] The weapon was soon after employed against Motya (397 BC) by the great Greek leader Dionysius 1st of Syracuse, the man who became the main inspiration for Plato’s theory in his Republic.

Yet the Greeks failed for centuries to expel the Carthaginians from Sicily, whereas the Carthaginians came to command the support of some Greek cities in Italy during the Second Punic War. The defense of Syracuse was organized by Archimedes, one of the greatest mathematicians of all times. Archimedes is said to have used for the first time special large lenses able to concentrate the sun’s ray on Roman enemy boats and thus to set them on fire.

In fact, as early as 509 BC—that is at time of the Persian attack on Greece—Carthage and Rome (then just beginning to be a republic) had an agreement dividing areas of influence[16] in Italy. The islands (Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica) were given to Carthage. At the time, the Greek colonies in Italy were bereft of support from the Greek motherland, locked in a war for survival against Persia. Carthage then became the main trading city of the western Mediterranean.

1.3 The Etruscans

The Etruscans are certainly the most mysterious of the three great civilization occupying Italy before the Roman rise. Their origin has remained uncertain for centuries, and only recently has there been a little more light shed on it. Until a few years ago it even appeared they did not have a writing system, but the Etruscan alphabet, derived from the Greek alphabet, was discovered recently.

In antiquity there were three versions of the origin of this people speaking a non-Indo-European language. Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC claimed they hailed from Lydia, in the modern Anatolia peninsula[17]. A second version, referred to by Dyonisis of Halicarnassus in the 1st century BC, says the Etruscans were a local people; the third maintains they came from the north, interpreting a passage by Titus Livy. Their origins in the Middle East appears confirmed according to some DNA studies at the University of Turin conducted among the modern local population[18]. Moreover some recent linguistic studies found that the Etruscan language could be related to that of the island of Lemnos, in the Aegean Sea, next to Anatolia[19]. However another study conducted in 2013 suggested that the Etruscans were probably an indigenous population. The study compared DNA extracted from ancient Etruscan tombs, medieval tombs, and modern DNA[20]. Another interesting element is a DNA study of cattle from modern Tuscany. It found that their DNA was similar to that of cattle from Anatolia[21]. It is likely the Etruscan civilization, which was extremely original as we shall see, blended all three elements[22].

As ancient tradition and modern findings point at the Etruscans coming from Anatolia, where Troy was and where the Trojan War took place, it is very likely then to think of a migration from that region to central Italy, which blended with local populations. This might have given rise to the notion of the Trojan origin of the Etruscans, something that later the Romans took over to ennoble their own origin, as we shall see.

1.3.1: Elements of the Etruscan civilization

One significant element is that they might also had a connection with the Nuraghi, from Sardinia. Etruscans were also known as Tyrsenoi, from which comes the ancient and present name of the sea on the west side of Italy down to Sicily, Tyrrhenian, the sea of the Tyrsenoi. There appears to be some reference to their name in ancient Egyptian literature of the 13th century BC, and the name Tyrsenoi seems to mean “builders of towers” (turris in Latin), something we know the Sardinian Nuraghi specialized in. We know the Etruscans also built towers, of which we now have no remains. Moreover in the monuments that have survived there are elements from Egypt, Greece, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, and Indo-Iran.[23]

Yet definitely there is also an original component to the Etruscan origin in the civilization from Villanova, which started in the late second millennium BC and where we have some specialized workings of copper and silver. These people settled on the hilltops, in possibly defensive positions. Around the 9th century BC these populations moved to the plains. In this time we appear to have an expansion of the cities, which are made of square houses with or without a chimney (those without chimney were possibly stables or shacks) with some distance between each other, perhaps for agriculture purposes.

The cities were built starting from two main lines, roads/streets, of which we have the Latin names as Rome inherited the tradition: one north-south (cardo) and one east-west (decumano). The crossing divided the cities into sectors (insulae), which could be further divided up by other lines. In at least one city we have remains of a public bath, a tradition later widely used in Rome. We also found a fork for eating, an instrument that apparently later disappeared, and was reinvented in Tuscany during the Renaissance, some 2,000 years later.

High walls, mostly with four or seven gates, often corresponding with cardo and decumano streets, surrounded the cities. The walls were made of clay and tuff stone. The cities were independent and ruled by priest-kings called lucomones and supported by a council of elders. Later there was also a council of elected magistrates called Zilath. At the height of their power, the Etruscans had formed a league of 12 cities, which would support each other. This league fought against the encroaching Phoenicians and Greeks.

Religion played a huge role in their life. Complex burial rituals and tombs have been found, and we know of three different classes of priests able to foresee the future: the augures, who studied the flight of birds; the aurispices, who read the destiny in the entrails of the animals, especially the liver and the intestines, which were butchered and cut up; and the fulguratores, who read the future by interpreting the lightening in the sky. The coexistence of three kinds of priests also seems to point to the blending of three very different cultural traditions. The future could not be changed but by using special rituals and sacrifices.

They also used circumcision, not usual for people of the north Mediterranean, and violent games later popular in Rome. There is evidence of bull-fights and gladiators’ games.

The Etruscan army[24] was made of a heavily equipped phalanx, shaped like the Greek phalanx. They were armed with spear, sword, a large round shield, and some front armor and bronze protection for the shins. They were in small numbers, made of common citizens constantly training. There were also light infantry with little or no armor who used arrows and slings, and some with only a helmet and axes to cut spears of the enemy phalanx.

The military equipment was compulsory and at personal expense; therefore the military role was determined by the social class of the soldier. From later Roman literature we know there were six classes of military people further divided in four age classes. Only the richer would become oplites, heavily armed phalanx soldiers; the others were more lightly equipped. The four ages were the elders (46 years old and above), the young ones (between 17 and 46), the children (between 8 and 17), and the infants (below 8).

They are known to be expert mariners. Their ships were about 30 meters long, moved mostly by oarsmen placed in one or two rows. Sails were used only as an aid, not as the main engine for movement. They attacked other ships by casting sliding bridges across and boarding the enemy ship with infantry waiting on a higher bridge. They were the first in Western antiquity known to have used trumpets in attacks (to scare the enemy) and anchors. Military expeditions were stopped in the winter months. The break in the winter and minimal use of sails seems to indicate that like their competitors, the Greeks and Phoenicians, they ventured little in high seas and moved rather along the coasts. Therefore they might have reached Sardinia faring from Elba Island west to Corsica then south to Sardinia.

1.3.2 The beginning of the history of engineering

The Etruscans might well not be the first engineers of the ancient world—many of their techniques were known in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Yet most likely they were the first to pass these techniques to Rome and the mastery of these ancient technologies contributed to the notion of their oriental origin.

Their two contributions, developing the water system and using the arch as a building technique, were fundamental to urban development in Roman times and later to the very thinking of cities and the countryside in the West.

One of their accomplishments was the draining of the swamps in the plains of modern Tuscany, around Orbetello. Pipings made of clay and bronze were found[25] and so were drainage channels cut in stone with barriers and holes to prevent stoppages during rains or floods. These techniques made it possible to reclaim from the swamps much fertile land and thus granted ample harvests.

The drains were also applied to urban settlements where we find some of the first sewage systems. Later the “cloaca massima” Rome’s sewage system, one of the most ancient in the world, was built using Etruscan engineers around the 7th century BC at the time when Rome was under Etruscan rule with Tarquinio Prisco, the fifth king of Rome and the first of certain Etruscan lineage[26]. That points to a very mature technology at the time, fully applied in other Etruscan cities, as Rome was then not a major Etruscan settlement. The sewage and the drainage system made living conditions in cities and the country much safer for living and thus must have helped increase agricultural production and population density.

Italian Etruscologist Mario Lopes Pegna says, “the Etruscans were the first to tackle and solve the problem of land improvement, and did so by a series of technical operations so ingenious as to arouse admiration even in our days. A complicated skillfully constructed network of canals collected surplus and stagnant water throughout Etruria and Latium. These waters were then channeled to wherever they were needed for farming purposes, and any excess still remaining was carried in big drains down to the sea… The Etruscans first developed the technique of dry farming and applied it to the arid soils of the Maremma hills”[27]

Again, the technology might have not been original. One of the first known sanitation systems was built in the southeast of modern Iran near Zabol. This seems to point to a route of passage, as even earlier findings of sanitation systems were found among the Hindu valley civilizations. The ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus valley constructed complex networks of brick-lined sewage drains from around 2600 BC and also had flush toilets connected to this network[28]. From there we find that the ancient Minoan civilization in Crete (also speaking a non-Indo-European language and using a syllabic script) had stone-and-clay sewers for the upper class that were periodically flushed with clean water[29].

However it was the Etruscans through their Roman heirs that spread sewers, drainage, and water technology throughout the world.

The same is true for another important building technique, the arch. There is no doubt that the ancient Romans learned the arch from the Etruscans, refined it, and were the first builders to tap its full potential for above-ground buildings: “The Romans were the first builders in Europe, perhaps the first in the world, fully to appreciate the advantages of the arch, the vault, and the dome.”[30] They widely used them in their construction starting with their aqueducts.

1.4 Elements of a history of cement and establishment of different traditions

It is not clear whether the Etruscans knew cement as a water-resistant building material. Architectural remains of the Minoan civilization in Crete show evidence of the combined use of slaked lime and finely ground potsherds for waterproofing baths, cisterns, and aqueducts as early as in 2000 BC[31]. Phoenicians and ancient Israelis made use of it too[32]. Evidence of the use of volcanic materials such as volcanic ashes or tuffs by the ancient Greeks dates back to at least 500–400 BC, as uncovered at the ancient city of Kameiros on island of Rhodes[33]. But certainly the Romans made large use of cement derived from volcanic ashes found near Mount Vesuvius in Pozzuoli. From this came the ancient name for cement as “pozzolan” (from Pozzuoli).

As the ashes are of volcanic origin and can be found also further north in the Apennines and as the Etruscans were known engineers, there is also some speculation that cement of some sort could have been used by Etruscans as well. This would make sense as the use of pozzolan is important since cement has to be used in work dealing with water, something that the Etruscans were known for, as we saw, from drainage to sewages. Pozzolan and arches (of certain Etruscan origin) are fundamental to the Roman aqueducts, one of the hallmarks of Roman civilization.

The word “cement” itself traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete made from crushed rock with burnt lime as the binder.

What we have here is a building material that is very cheap and efficient to produce and at the same time also extremely solid and lasting. All in all cheaper, faster, and more solid than, say, building with wood and pressed earth, the two methods used for instance in China and most of the world before the widespread introduction of cement.

Cement is an efficient procedure. You crush volcanic stones, burn the resulting powder and then, when you want to use it, add water, some sand and put it between bricks, which are made of clay and cooked in oven at medium-high temperatures. The resulting structure is extremely resilient, as proven by the Roman architectural remains all over the Mediterranean. It can’t be simply burnt down—one has to use a precise act of systematic demolition to tear it down. This one important element that helped preserve Roman remains in the West compared to the lack of relics in China.

The other elements are cultural, but certainly the overall result, the existence still of buildings that are thousands of years old, could have been more difficult without the material support of cement.

The cultures that gave solidity to cement, and gained solidity from cement, are very complex, and we shall examine them in this work. Now briefly we can mention one important fact that is strikingly different from China’s history. In the Western tradition there was just one empire to which all aspired to return: the Roman empire, which lasted some incredibly over 2,000 years, from the mythical foundation of Rome in 753 BC to the fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Turks in 1453.

Both the beginning and the end of this time can be stretched because Rome prided itself on being the heir of Troy, a kingdom that fell in 12-13th century BC but that was founded possibly a thousand years earlier and was inspired by ancient Egypt, a civilization stretching to 5,000 years before Christ. A material proof of this legacy can be found in the Macuteo obelisk, created during the period of Pharaoh Ramses 2nd (13th century BC), which is in Rome now. It was brought from Egypt by the ancient Romans and put before the Pantheon (a Roman temple turned into a church with a vault built according to Etruscan techniques) and solidly hooked to Renaissance-era fountain by cement. The continuity of the Roman empire can also be found in America, the present superpower, which defines itself in the language of ancient Rome, in Latin, “e pluribus unum” (from many, one), and preserves the Roman symbol as its own—the eagle. In some ways Rome is still alive, offering one more reason to treasure the solid monuments made of very solid cement. Moreover, the Catholic Church, an important reference for the Christian and monotheistic world, still dons the robes and garbs of the late western Roman empire, and its headquarters is symbolically housed in Rome, still the center of the empire.

On the other hand, in China one had fragile buildings made with expensive wood and pressed earth, also built with great toil. There were bricks from ancient times but the mortar was made of straw and clay, much weaker than cement. All of these buildings could be easily torched and torn down. Moreover, in ancient times there was some kind of stronger cement made of sticky rice, used to link bricks. In fact, hydraulic mortar was not available in ancient China, possibly due to a lack of volcanic ash. Around AD 500, sticky rice soup was mixed with slaked lime to make an inorganic-organic composite mortar that had more strength and water resistance than lime mortar.[34] But the Chinese composite was far more expensive and difficult to produce than Roman ash and stone cement.

Moreover, this material fragility was also grounded in a cultural worldview. The first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, unified his empire at the turn of 3rd to 2nd century BC by systematically erasing all preceding kingdoms—their monuments, coins, script, roads et cetera—so that no memory of the past would survive and only the memory of his own kingdom would last into the future. This practice was not his invention. Starting with the wars among small statelets in the central plains of China at least since the 8th century BC, dozens (if not hundreds, the extant literature refers to wan guo (万国) existing at the time) of statelets were “erased” (mie 灭). Only some of their names have survived in the official history. Their literature, buildings, traditions, and monuments have all disappeared. That is, the warring states of ancient China not only occupied defeated territories but imposed on the beaten party a whole new set of rules, so that effectively their own past was “exterminated.” Only modern archeology and present archeological findings can attempt to restore some of that past memory, which should be known to of all Chinese, as all modern Chinese are at least partly children of those exterminated cultures as well as children of the exterminating culture[35].

So when emperor Qin imposed his own unified order on all the central plains, he had a strong, well established precedent, which was justified by a necessity of unified administration (we shall see later a difference in administration of Rome and ancient China). That is at least for the past half a millennium, but likely going back much longer, China felt that to unify a state it had to destroy all that belonged to the previous state, and certainly buildings and monuments of the past were the most representative symbols that something existed before the present order. Moreover, these buildings were easy to tear down, being made of wood and pressed earth. The burning of books and circulation of only permitted books and thoughts is also part of this general attitude.

Of course, the same fate happened to the Qin when it fell, and a new dynasty, the Han, established itself on the basis of the Qin unification, trying to erase all legacy of Qin and founding its own monumental legacy also established with book of history, shi ji 史记 (by Sima Tan and Sima Qian), the canon of historical continuity based on a tradition theorized by Confucius and Mencius. That is, a dynasty will fall if it loses the mandate of heaven (tian ming 天命), and then there will be a change in the mandate of heaven (ge ming 革命), and a new dynasty will step in. In other words, there is not one empire that is the hub of Chinese history like the Roman Empire is in the West. In China the dynasties succeeding one another are all trying to keep the mandate of heaven and they all eventually fail to do so. Then there are no physical monuments to be preserved as evidence of continuity with the past. On the contrary, every dynasty has to establish itself symbolically and thus replace the artworks of the past, which remind people of the earlier, defeated dynasty. In a way the continuity of Chinese civilization without physical proof is a matter of deep faith, something almost religious, embodied in the language and literature telling this history.

But if Westerners can go to Rome and see and touch the Macuteo obelisk and thus know their continuity with the past, the Chinese cannot find monuments that for millennia have been physical evidence of continuity. Only modern archeology (a discipline imported from the West), by digging up long-lost ancient remains, is reshaping the modern sense of a relationship with the past in China.

As we shall see, many other elements contributed to this, but the presence of cement made it easier for the West to have remains, while conversely, the absence of cement made it easier also to push in the other direction.

1.5 The Greeks of Magna Graecia

The Greeks came to southern Italy in many waves after the 8th century BC, when the Doric tribes from north of Greece took over the peninsula held by the Achaeans, also Greeks but of different stocks. It is possible that early Greek settlers arrived there one or two centuries before. After all, Ulysses, according to the Odyssey, referring to around the 12th century BC, came to Italy, where he met the monsters Scylla and Charybdis (the mythical creatures symbolizing the strong currents pushing boats against the Calabrian and Sicilian shores in the Strait of Messina) and the Cyclops, whose mythical home was close to the Etna volcano in Sicily. On both occasions, he barely survived.

Another semi-mythical reference to a strong Greek legacy in southern Italy in the 12th century BC is the presence of the Elymians, a tribe living on the western tip of Sicily around modern Trapani. They spoke a non-Indo-European language and were said to be direct descendants of fugitives from Troy[36] after the destruction by the Achaeans.

That is, well before the 8th century BC wave of immigration, Italy was part of the Greek geography although it was deemed a very dangerous place full of hostility for the Greek colonists. Yet, this did not stop them. In fact, even in the 8th century BC, the Greek settlers had to fight their way into Italy by battling local fierce populations who were pushed inland, and the Greek control never really extended beyond the coasts. Moreover, in Italy, the Greeks had to also fight the Etruscans moving south and the Phoenicians moving north from their base in Carthage. All this external hostility did not stop the notorious feuds between Greek cities. The most famous of all is that between Croton and Sybaris, on the eastern coast of Calabria, two cities less than 100 kilometers apart. The two fought for centuries until Croton annihilated Sybaris in the late 5th century.

It is still not totally clear where ancient Sybaris was located and only in the 1960s were some relics of the old city discovered. The city was said to be the largest in Italy at the time with a population of 300,000[37]. Although many historians believe this number is exaggerated, the city may well have housed over 100,000 people, a huge figure justified only by the immense wealth accumulated there and the extraordinary luxury and decadence of the lifestyle of local people—so much so that 25 centuries later, many Western languages call a person who indulges in Earthly pleasures a “sybarite.”

The ancient fame of Croton, however, was not so much due to the destruction of neighboring Sybaris, but to the fact that it honed one of the most famous and influential philosophers, religious leaders, and scientists of the ancient world, Pythagoras. In many ways his presence in Italy changed the course of Western thought.

1.5.1 Greek philosophy moves to Italy, Pythagoras

Pythagoras was possibly born in 570 BC on Samos, an island off the coast of Anatolia, and died in Croton around 495 BC[38]. His hometown and his date of birth are near those of Thales, considered the first philosopher of the Western world.

Thales was from Miletus, also off the coast of Anatolia and removed from the Greek heartland, and his life is connected with the solar eclipse of 585 BC, which he successfully forecast[39]. With Anaximander and Anaximenes, Thales is linked to the very beginning of Western thought, as people who searched for the ultimate and first principle to all things, something that has been since also been associated with scientific inquiry. These philosophers were interested in the real world and were trying to explain it according to new ideas, not the ones handed down by traditional religion. It was a cultural crisis and a whole society was moving out of the old principles of arché (material principles like the air, not gods), which had been governing society, and gave credit and status to people searching for new principles[40].

They also had a different world before them. These Ionic city-states appeared to a non-Greek world highly sophisticated and powerful. There were the Phoenicians, fellow traders, and the immensely rich Lydian kingdom, the heirs of Babylon and ancient Egypt. The Ionic states traded with them and did not wage war, and in this way got richer and more powerful than their ancestors who were plunderers and warriors who had ransacked and destroyed Troy. The Ionics preferred commerce.

It is interesting that the freedom to conduct these new inquiries that rejected, at least partly, the old belief in religious explanations of natural events, took place outside of the Greek heartland, in places bordering the old Lydian kingdom, with ties to the culture passed down by the Babylonians and Egyptians. Possibly the clash of these traditional cultures and religions with the new freedom enjoyed by the city-states—far from the Greek heartland but close to the new centers of culture and subject to none—gave rise to a need for new intellectual endeavors to better explain what was happening at the time.

These people were interested in wisdom and knowledge, not in the power that could come from it—almost as if knowledge was a religious experience. Famously Heraclitus (c. 535–c. 475 BC), one of these Ionian philosophers, refused to become king or even advisor to the Persian King Darius, the most powerful man of his time as ruler of a huge empire stretching from what is now modern India to Egypt and the eastern shores of Greece. Heraclitus pursuit of knowledge for the love of knowledge might have been similar to that of Zhuangzi, who lived at about the same period in ancient China and who also refused to become an adviser to the warring kings of his time.

In any event this effort came to an end at the close of the 6th century BC with the massive invasion of the Persians, who gobbled up the Lydians and Phoenicians and who projected their power towards Greece. All of the sudden there was no more freedom for the Greek city-states of Anatolia that had hosted these philosophers. They were torn between the advance of the Persian empire and allegiance to the Greeks of the heartland.

We don’t know how this situation actually interfered with the likes of the first Ionian philosophers, but we know that at the time of the Persian advance west, Greek philosophers started to flourish further west from the Greek heartland, into modern southern Italy. Looking from the distance of over 25 centuries, it seems as if a whole cultural system had migrated west in what was then the safest place from the greatest war of the time. At the same time, this migration brought a change in mindset. The Ionic trust in trade over war was defeated, as the Persians plundered the war-shy Ionic city-states

Southern Italy was not totally safe, but the civilization there was not so rich and ancient, and old Greek military virtues preserved in the Acropolis could be brushed up. There were local turf wars between Greek cities; there were local entrenched powers, like that of the Etruscans and the Phoenicians, who were allied to stop the Greek movement west. One episode is the naval Battle of Alalia that took place between 540 BC and 535 BC off the coast of Corsica between Greeks and an allied force of 120 ships of Etruscans and Carthaginians. In the east the Phoenicians were collaborating with the Persians in their advance towards Greece.

The Greeks were from Phocaea, an Ionic city possibly already feeling the advance of the Persians by Cyrus the Great (600 BC–530 BC). Phocaea had remained independent until the reign of the Lydian king Croesus (circa 560–545 BC), when they, along with the rest of mainland Ionia, first fell under Lydian control and then, along with Lydia, were conquered by Cyrus in 546 BC, in one of the opening skirmishes of the great Greco-Persian wars.

The Greeks were stopped for about half a century, but the Phocean settlers founded Elea in southern Italy, a city that went on to play a huge role in the development of philosophy in the Western world.

This environment was not absolutely safe, but may have been safer than the one they left. In Italy, the Greeks were the invading force and thus the stronger ones, while in the east they were being pushed back by aggressive newcomers, the Persians. Moreover, the notion that Pythagoras was born in Samos and lived in Croton indicates a wave of migration not only of people but of intellect. The center of new ideas in Greece moved from the eastern Mediterranean to the west—to southern Italy.

1.5.2: The Pythagorean revolution

It is hard to come to grips with the immense influence of Pythagoras on Western thought. His ideas massively influenced Plato, Aristotle, and early Christianity—even the movement of the Freemasons, still active and powerful in many Western countries, is rooted in ideas coming from him. Yet despite this influence, we have very little but legend about his actual work. He is said to have been the first man who called himself “lover of knowledge/wisdom” (philosopher)[41]. He is said to have been born in Samos, then have traveled to Babylon and Egypt, where he studied local religion and science. After that he moved to Croton where he lived most of his life, but he was then exiled and died in Metapontum, a city between Sybaris, Croton’s ultimate enemy, and Tarentum, a city whose ruler, Archytas, was later inspired by his works.

With nothing of his writing surviving we are in a very weak position to assess his thinking, however we have the perception that he might have had a very complex set of ideas, far more articulated than his Ionian predecessors and colleagues.

He was a mathematician who brought to us the first theorem of the triangle, which was most likely not his original discovery but part of his studies in Babylon and Egypt with the Chaldeans and the Magi[42]. What is most important though was that according to Aristotle, “the so-called Pythagoreans, who were the first to take up mathematics, not only advanced this subject, but saturated with it, they fancied that the principles of mathematics were the principles of all things.”[43].

The almost religious belief in the power of mathematics was underscored by the first Western studies of musical harmony, which saw the mathematical relations in music and tuning strings to produce musical notes. This might also be a legacy from Babylon, where we know there was advanced mathematical knowledge and where it is unlikely they did not have music, and thus they might have already discovered some relation between the two. However no document has been found yet about this.

Mathematics and music were part of a comprehensive new religious belief, which might have also first described the planets and stars moving according to mathematical equations, which corresponded to musical notes and thus produced a symphony.[44] Part of his religion was a belief in the transmigration of souls and reincarnation, an idea that existed in a vast area around India and west of India before Buddha and Buddhism, and consistent with this idea was his prescription for being a vegetarian. The fundamental Western idea of immortality of the soul, according to later Christian thinkers like Augustine, came from him and his teacher Pherecydes of Syros[45]. He also divided his knowledge into external, to be taught to the common people, and internal, to be passed on special students who are initiated. This is the beginning of a whole Western tradition of exoteric knowledge, that later was to be linked with magic powers, something that was also present in some Eastern cultures.

What is interesting from a modern perspective are the historical and philosophical elements. Historically, we see that later thinkers and historians noted that with Pythagoras in Italy a whole set of Eastern knowledge was passed to Greece. In a way, that knowledge predated Pythagoras and might also be fairly well known in the Greek world of his time; however it is with Pythagoras’ teaching in Croton that this knowledge truly became part of Western culture. It seems that in the western part of Greece, far from the original roots, Eastern knowledge came to new life as many things might have had to be taught and digested anew.

Philosophically Pythagoras’ legacy is even more significant. He brought a firm belief that the abstract value of abstract mathematics can explain everything or that it can help to explain almost everything. This brought the idea that physical observation must be grounded in some form of “mathematicalization,” explanation through mathematics. He also seemed to believe in a link between mathematics, the purest form of reason, and divinity. All these ideas are recurrent themes in Western thought, science, and religion. Some, like many modern physicists, see a separation between observation processed through mathematics and divinity, and some still see a continuity between faith and reason. In any case this value of mathematics, as a form of pure reason where ideas can be proved and disproved independently from physical observation and experience, is a very strong fil rouge of Western thought that people of antiquity attributed to Pythagoras in Croton.

This value and belief in mathematics did not exist in ancient China in any form similar to this. As A.C. Graham proved in his pioneering work[46], late Mohists, active in the third century BC, were working on logic and on sophisticated scientific explanations for complex phenomena like light refraction and reflection. But we do not find in early China anything similar to the early and pervasive trust in the Pythagorean “powers of mathematics,” which was to play a key role in the development of modern science.

Another element of novelty in the Pythagorean tradition is the emphasis on his original contribution. Although modern evidence suggests and sometimes proves that most of his work, if not all of it, was derived from earlier works from ancient Egypt or Babylon, the ancients attributed it to him directly. This is different from the Chinese tradition in which the first philosopher, Confucius, claimed and underscored he was the bearer of knowledge from ancient times and not an original thinker and innovator. The difference seems to be mostly about nuances: Confucius stressed continuity, but with Pythagoras we find a greater stress on innovation, although both acknowledge the debt to teachings of others. Both did it possibly for the same purpose: to gain authority.

The difference in stress may be due to a different tradition being called upon. Confucius called upon a tradition his world recognized as valid and in continuity with the world of his time. The Zhou rituals and poetry quoted by Confucius were still part of his world; they were just being partly dismissed and Confucius wanted to brush them up. Pythagoras used knowledge coming from traditions alien to Greece and that the Greeks of his time or later might have feared or wanted to underplay to stress instead the local contribution.

Or it may have been simply that in the new environment in southern Italy, Pythagoras’ Oriental teachings became just his, as the originals were too far away in place and time compared to Asia Minor, which is so close to Babylon and Egypt. Similarly, it might have been with Confucius, who lived and roamed in the place that was cradle of the Zhou civilization, that his followers recognized more easily the cultural continuity than if Confucius had moved out of the central plains.

All in all it was a revolution in Western thinking, moving away from a religious system of the old belief in gods and also the empirical thinking of the Ionian philosophers. This set the stage for the first real and fully historical school of thinkers of the Western world: the Eleatic Parmenides and Zeno.

1.5.3 The school of Elea; To be or not to be—Parmenides

Parmenides, born in Elea to a rich and aristocratic family around 515 BC, was possibly inspired by Pythagoras. Diogenes Laërtius also describes the philosopher as a disciple of “Ameinias, son of Diochaites, the Pythagorean”[47]. But unlike with Pythagoras, here we are on safer ground. We have his writings, although only a small fraction (160 lines out of over 3,000 of the original), and his influence on following thinkers has been recorded in a very clear manner. Plato regarded him as one of his teachers, Socrates as an inspiration. That is, he was at the beginning of what became the mainstream of Western thought. With him we start to see what must have been some features of the contemporary political and philosophical debate of the time: the advocates of “opinion” (doxa) and those of the truth (aletheia). In fact the two sections of his remaining work bear almost Chinese names “The Way of Truth” (aletheia, ἀλήθεια) and “The Way of Appearance/Opinion” (doxa, δόξα). In the proem the narrator travels “beyond the beaten paths of mortal men” to receive a revelation from an unnamed goddess on the true nature of reality.

Modern readers like Vegetti[48] believe that we have here what we know was a fierce political debate between the advocates of the agorà (the market square or lower city, dominated by the doxa) and the advocates of the acropolis (the old, upper city dominated by the truth of the old gods, aletheia, and the place of the temples). The agorà was the place where goods were traded and their price was bartered after negotiations in which buyers and sellers had to agree on the value of the goods. Here prices varied daily based on the supply and demand of the various goods in the market. The force of the market had been subverting the old social and political order, based on the aristocracy living in the acropolis and adhering to the truth of the old gods.

This new role of the market, which had to be regulated according to rules agreed upon by buyers and sellers, gave rise to the Western ideas of law and market economy but destroyed the immutable value of the old Olympian gods[49], whose earthly abode was in the temples of the acropolis. The mutable opinion traded in the agora at daily market prices was more important than the old Gods with their fixed principles impermeable to time and practical circumstances. The early Philosophers of the Ionian coast had until then an easy time proving that circumstances change, like the weather, prices, winds, opinions.

Yet with Parmenides we have a fierce and extremely articulated reaction to the Ionians’ doxa. Possibly, these people from Elea were the party defeated in the Ionic power struggle, and as their old hometown, once dominated by the opinion (doxa) people, was crushed under the feet of the invading Persians, they regained their confidence in another home far away from their old home. However, Parmenides did not try to restore the old gods, but for the first time invented the idea of a unitary and abstract single “god”, truth.

Aletheia was not the simple restoration of the many gods of Greek mythology; it was a new, stronger concept that opposed the changing opinions of the market and in this search Parmenides was supported by something very peculiar to Indo-European languages, the verb to be. Barnes observes that there are three roads described by Parmenides:

“(A) maintains that ‘both it is (esti, in Greek) and that it is not for not being’; road (B) maintains ‘both that it is not and that it is necessary for it not to be’; road (C) is not described in comparable terms but must have maintained ‘both that it is and that it is not.’ The three roads thus distinguished by means of the word ‘esti’ it is… Many scholars think that Parmenides’ original sin was a confusion, or fusion, of the existential with the predicative ‘einai’ (the verb ‘to be’ in Greek)”[50] These differences are already difficult to interpret in a language like Greek where the verb “to be” exists; if translated in a language without it, like Chinese are almost incomprehensible. But here we find for the first time something that will remain at the heart of the Western thought even today and possibly will never be eliminated. The problem is, as Barnes put it, the fusion/confusion between the different meanings of the verb “to be” in Indo-European languages[51]. The fused meanings Parmenides discovered and used are:

■ Verb “to be” as copula (a word that originally meant sexual intercourse)—that is the verb works as the link between the subject and an adjective, as in “the girls are good.” In Chinese for instance this does not exist.

■ Verb “to be” as meaning residing, being there, something that in Chinese is expressed with a variety of verbs of which the main one is you 有, as in, “he is in Beijing”.

Parmenides fused these two meanings and linked them with the concept of truth, which is to him almost as abstract as an expression in mathematics. Here we can sense some legacy from Pythagoras. The combination of these two meanings with the truth gave rise to a third sense of the verb which would also accompany the evolution of Western thought for millennia. This does not exist in Chinese.

■ Verb “to be” as meaning existence/essence/inner qualities, as in “he is what he is” as in a “human being.” This does not exist in Chinese.

On a superficial level we can say Parmenides here is playing with words, and he is cheating. But centuries of further work prove that Parmenides, thanks to an intuition based on a linguistic twist, actually touched upon something deep—much deeper than the simple controversy against the doxa of the Ionians. He saw, and showed for the first time, the existence of a metaphysical realm of ideas, which have contact with the reality we see and experience everyday, but it is also beyond that. This sense of the verb to be also was “confirmed” and found confirmation in mathematics, that Pythagoras and the Egyptian and Babylonian tradition saw as underpinning Heaven and nature. Aletheia was how however more, it was the ultimate truth behind even mathematics or the daily mutations of market price and weather.

Parmenides started a search for truth (and not just some convenient, temporary answer, like today’s price for bread) that has bedeviled Western thought through today. This search for truth has moved rational scientific investigation, as well as its enemy, irrational pursuit of metaphysical superstitious and answers attached to some religions. The two seem bound together.

Finally, Shakespeare’s Hamlet when wondering whether “to be or not to be” goes back to Parmenides, and then not only science and religion but also art, meaning works of literature are all children of this philosopher. The tragedy of the choice between different pulls in life (to be or not to be) bedevils the Christian Prince of Denmark, as Shakespeare wrote, or explodes in a earthly laughter in the homonymous 1940s movie by Ernst Lubitsch[52].

In ancient China you don’t have a search for scientific truths, the way the West had since Parmenides, and you don’t have its opposite either, the irrational pursuit of superstitious religions. There are of course scientific breakthroughs and discoveries, and there are superstitions and religions, but they hardly have any metaphysics. Both traditions have pros and cons.

Another important consequence of Parmenides’ theory of truth was that it provided the first cognitive foundation for a monotheistic religion. Monotheism existed for hundreds of years. We know that in the second millennium BC, during the reign of Akhenaten (c. 1353–1336 BC) in the mid-New Kingdom, a single solar deity, the Aten, became the only focus of the state religion. Akhenaten ceased to fund the temples of other deities and erased the gods’ names and images on monuments, targeting Amun, the main god of the old system, in particular. Whereas, in earlier times, newly important gods were integrated into existing religious beliefs, Atenism insisted on a single understanding of the divine that excluded the traditional multiplicity of perspectives.[53] This rise of the new religion might be associated with the rule in Egypt of the Hyksos, possible ancestors of the modern Jews, who were the first monotheists, although the fall of the Hyksos’ rule took place in the 16 century BC, some 200 years earlier than Akhenaten. In any case by the early 5 century BC, Jewish monotheism was not unknown in the Mediterranean and some of their teachings might have trickled through to Pythagoras, who studied in the east. This is all speculation, but for sure the link between the verb “to be” and truth was a complete breakthrough. It was to become an immensely powerful cultural instrument for the penetration of monotheistic Christianity in the Mediterranean world, where Parmenides’ ideas, through Plato, had become mainstream.

However, from our historical perspective, it is important to know that it all started in Elea, in southern Italy.

1.5.4 Being can’t move or tell time; Zeno, the real beginning of the great divide between east and west

The influence of Parmenides was buttressed and sealed for the future by his pupil, Zeno, who is credited with a number of important philosophical discoveries, which have advanced and beset the Western intellectual debate for centuries.

Zeno was born in Elea around 490 BC, some 25 years younger than his teacher, and Aristotle credits him with the invention of dialectics[54]. He could argue both sides of an argument and this skill apparently led him to write his famous paradoxes, the first of Western philosophy. Of him and his work very little is left, he was probably some 20 years older than Socrates, and we have only about 200 words left of all his work in which he de facto invented the method of “reduction ad absurdum.” As he is quoted saying in Plato’s Parmenides, “my answer is addressed to the partisans of many whose attack I return with interest by retorting upon them that their hypothesis of the existence of many, if carried out, appears to be still more ridiculous than the hypothesis of the existence of one”.[55] The advocate of One, the Truth, is Parmenides; the advocates of many are his opponents.

A huge debate has followed the interpretation of his defense. Some rejected it as a pure juggler of words, a predecessor of the sophists who would argue anything for a fair price. Yet Bertrand Russell, for instance, perhaps the inventor of the modern philosophy of science, recognizes his “immeasurably subtle and profound” arguments.[56] His point was to show that contrary to the evidence of one’s senses, the belief in plurality and change is mistaken, and in particular that motion is nothing but an illusion. This may be because he foresaw “that space (and time) are not continuous”[57] and he could do that thanks to another fusion/confusion—this time not linguistic but logic: the concept of infinity. He says, since space is infinitely divisible no one can make up infinite portions of space. Just as an example, let us just give one of his most famous paradoxes that even became an important Japanese movie[58]. “In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. [59]

In the paradox of Achilles (considered the fastest man of antiquity) and the Tortoise (the slowest animal), Achilles is in a footrace with the tortoise. Achilles allows the tortoise a head start of 100 meters, for example. If we suppose that each racer starts running at some constant speed (one very fast and one very slow), then after some finite time, Achilles will have run 100 meters, bringing him to the tortoise’s starting point. During this time, the tortoise has run a much shorter distance, say, 10 meters. It will then take Achilles some additional time to run that distance, by which time the tortoise will have advanced farther; and then it will take more time still to reach this third point, while the tortoise moves ahead. Thus, whenever Achilles reaches somewhere the tortoise has been, he still has farther to go. Therefore, because there are an infinite number of points Achilles must reach where the tortoise has already been—he can never overtake the tortoise.[60]

This argument runs contrary to all empirical evidence yet is supported by the idea that space is divisible into infinite parts—but then if we are to reject it, what are we left with? That space is not indivisible in infinite parts, that parts are finite, and thus if they are finite it can all go back to the being or not being of Parmenides’ original thesis. This must have been Zeno’s original intent as he explained that he developed these paradoxes to support the thesis of his master. In the meantime, however he opened up a universe where his logical argument has been taken seriously for centuries despite the fact that experience denies it every time. That is, Zeno, even more than Parmenides, managed to make people take seriously a duality in the world: a world of experience and a world of language and logic. Of these two, the cultural environment of the time in Greece had that logic has to be disproved according to its own merits and not just by resorting to the mere observation that every time, everybody (not just the fast Achilles) overtakes the tortoise.

This is perhaps an interesting feature revealing a huge chasm with cultural perception right at the beginning of philosophy. Why did they take him seriously against all physical evidence? This is important especially if compared with what happened in China, where similar paradoxes of identity were developed by the “School of Names” 名家. But these arguments did not have a future or develop. According to A.C. Graham[61], this was because of Zhuangzi’s contribution to the philosophical debate of the time. Zhuangzi used logic to defy and beat logic, and he managed to do that because he “inherits what we claim as a presupposition of his tradition since Confucius, that action starts from spontaneity and is guided by wisdom, but instead of laying down rules by which the wise man adjusts spontaneous inclination to measure, he reduces wisdom itself to its essence, the dispassionate mirroring of things as they are”.[62] This, we can further elaborate, is because there was a cultural environment that had faith that a man could be able to “dispassionately mirror things as they are.” This faith was not there in ancient Greece.


Zhuangzi and Huizi were walking on the dam over the Hao, when the former said, ‘These thryssas come out, and play about at their ease—that is the enjoyment of fishes.” The other said, “You are not a fish; how do you know what constitutes the enjoyment of fishes?” Zhuangzi rejoined, ‘You are not I. How do you know that I do not know what constitutes the enjoyment of fishes?’ Huizi said, ‘I am not you; and though indeed I do not fully know you, you certainly are not a fish, and (the argument) is complete against your knowing what constitutes the happiness of fishes.’ Zhuangzi replied, ‘Let us keep to your original question. You said to me, “How do you know what constitutes the enjoyment of fishes?” You knew that I knew it, and yet you put your question to me—well, I know it (from our enjoying ourselves together) over the Hao.’ That is, even the rationalist Hui Shi believes that Zhuangzi can/has the possibility/capability to know how the fish feel. In a way this faith between the fish and Zhuangzi’s feeling in underpinned by another untold premise – a faith on relations. In China a father is such because he has a son and vice versa; a king is such because he has subjects and vice versa. Identity is defined in a relation and by a relation, not in isolation, in absolute terms. Then since there is the relation that defines singularity then singular elements intrinsically can feel the other term of the relation, because the other and the relation defines himself.

In Greece everything starts with the clear and precise definition of oneself. Sculpture was concentrated in portrayed the most accurate, though idealized, figure of a naked man in some kind of lonely and strenuous effort (be a fight or a game), the standard of measurements were taken from human action – the meter is distance of a stretched arm until the shoulder of an average man, the pace, is the distance of the step of an average man. With so much concentration on oneself, then how can one know the other person or the environment or a fish?

This would be a non-starter in Greece. Parmenides and Zeno could be taken seriously because the point was exactly the opposite: external reality cannot be accurately mirrored. This point was stressed and proven also by their adversaries, the Ionian thinkers. If prices have to be haggled and agreed upon every day for every item and rules have to be introduced to regulate the haggling, we are in an extremely unstable environment where nobody can fully trust anybody, where the agreement of yesterday can be invalid today, and where the agreement on this item may not be valid for that item. This is the point brought up by the Ionian believers in the market.

That is, not only is knowledge dispersed[64] among all different people acting but it also varies with place and time for each single person. This dispersion of knowledge between potentially infinite people, infinite times, and infinite places is tantamount to no knowledge, implies Zeno, according to the logic of his Ionian adversaries. Then there must be a knowledge that goes beyond the immense dispersion of the knowledge of the market, that higher knowledge makes ultimately also the market work.

Zeno admits the revolution in knowledge brought about by his Ionian adversaries, but he argues that it is just this revolution in knowledge that confirms and proves the thesis of his master Parmenides about the existence of a higher knowledge, which is further upheld by the existence of mathematics, a science without empirical observation and yet with huge empirical consequences in the market. The many old quarrelsome gods had been destroyed, yes, but divinity, one and united, existed more than ever.

Conversely, Zhuangzi and his followers did not have the market revolution of the Ionians in the 6th century BC. Their world was pushed and pulled on the one hand by a drive to organize more and more efficiently each and every single state warring with one another for survival and power, and on the other by the old call for empathy between people and nature, people and people, and people and situations. This empathic “call of nature” was apparently acknowledged and admitted to by politicians (such as Hui Shi) or generals who needed to know people and understand battle situations to run an administration or win a war. All of the ancient Chinese philosophers—Confucius, the military people of Sunzi, the legalists of Hanfeizi, et cetera—recognized the existence and importance of a “way” (dao), which can change with time, place, and people, but it can be recognized with a knowledge that transcends logic and goes to feelings and sentiments.

With Zeno, we see more clearly than ever the beginning of the great divide between the West and China. China rediscovers the unity of knowledge in the belief in a deeper empathy, feeling, and sentiment denying absolute logic. This denies analytic logic. With Zeno, through Parmenides and then to Plato and Aristotle, the unity is rediscovered in an absolute logic, supported by mathematics, that supersedes the daily changes and denies absolute sentiments.

The reasons for this divide seem to be extremely complex. There must have been also the geographic element advanced by Feng Youlan[65]. The ancient Greeks were seafarers, merchants and pirates; the ancient Chinese were peasants/warriors whose horizon was the land strictly organized and managed around the old method of 井田 (jingtian). The old Greek world was brought down by the emergence of the Ionic market square, the agorà, where money and power could be made in unprecedented ways; the old Chinese world was brought down by the emergence of ambitious states vying with one another for land (and its resources) and power. In one case, Greece, the enemy was internal, social: a class of merchants against the old warring aristocracy; in the other case, China, the enemy was external: the other states vying to occupy more land, who have more people and are better fed and equipped for war.

It is far beyond the scope of this work to analyze the differences here, but it seems important to notice that from Zeno, the Greek mindset took a turn that eventually might have helped the build-up of Athens and much of the Western worldview. The warlike virtues of the Acropolis, which were suppressed by the Ionic philosophers, preferring trade to war, could not be forgotten—otherwise the next Persian invader would crush the Greeks. But neither could the virtues of trade be forfeited and denied—otherwise wealth could not be calmly accumulated and increased with more trade. A combination of warlike virtues and trade was necessary. This seems to be the formula that eventually brought about the rise of Athens, which combined the exchange of the agorà with abilities in war, but eventually led to the loss against Sparta because Athens did not manage to keep the two in balance and military strength was brought to force trade, something that eventually alienated its allies.

This lesson, as we shall see in later chapters, will have a great bearing on the rise of the Roman Empire and also for Renaissance.

1.5.5: The birth of the Western four elements: Empedocles

Empedocles (c. 490–430 BC), from Akragas (Agrigentum), was the last of the ancient philosophers to write in verse and had a great impact on aspects of Western thought until the beginning of modern science. He proposed for the first time the theory that life was composed by four elements (or “roots” ριζώματα), which are not born and eternally the same, the origin of becoming (γίγνεται) everything. They are fire, air, water, and earth, which would combine and divide between themselves acted on by two contrasting forces: Φιλότης (love) and νεῖκος (hatred, strife); the first bind, links, and combines (σχεδύνην δὲ Φιλότητα “love that binds”), while the second has the quality to split and divide through strife[66]. The existence of the two forces moving the four elements stress the perception that in Greece there was no faith in relation, but only in singular identity that to move had to be moved by external forces.

The four elements are similar as a concept to the wu xing 五行 (“five actives”) of the Chinese tradition, although the Chinese elements, being themselves active, did not need the two forces (love and strife) to move. The five of the Chinese tradition do not need external forces to act, they are active by themselves, because there is an underpinning faith in relations. Moreover, Aristotle later added a fifth element, the “aether,” the stuff of outer space. Like in China with the five agents, the four elements had a seminal role in the development of early medicine. Hippocrates developed his theory of the four humors of the human body based on Empedocles: yellow bile (fire), black bile (earth), blood (air), and phlegm (water). The four elements have to be in balance, an imbalance brings first a state of un-wellness and then eventually disease[67].

These elements are exactly the same as in the Hindu tradition: bhumi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut or pavan (air or wind), and vyom, shunya, or akash (aether or void)[68]. This, plus Empedocles’ following the Pythagorean belief in reincarnation, gives the impression that some ideas from India had been spreading west at a very early stage in the development of thought.

Here the similarities stop because evidently Empedocles worked in a very different cultural environment and responded to different pressures. His four elements are also a legacy and an elaboration of the search for principles (arché) for all changes that began about a century earlier by the Ionians. He was then in opposition to Parmenides who negated the existence of change, and his principles and actions.

Empedocles’ cycle of creation and dissipation was the start of Western study of chemistry and alchemy and not only that. He argued that the actual world is full of contrasts and oppositions, due to the combined action of two principles, love and strife. Empedocles attempted to explain the separation of elements, the formation of earth and sea, of sun and moon, and of the atmosphere. He also dealt with the origin of plants and animals and with the physiology of humans. As the elements entered into combinations, strange results appeared—heads without necks, arms without shoulders[69]—but these quirks would then die out.

It is possible that Darwin might have been inspired by Empedocles in conceiving his theory of natural selection, and as well one can see in the concepts of love and strife ancestors of Freud’s principles of human psychology, eros and thanatos.

He is also credited with the first comprehensive theory of light and vision. He put forward the idea that we see objects because light streams out of our eyes and touches them. While flawed in hindsight, this became the fundamental basis on which later Greek philosophers and mathematicians, such as Euclid, would construct some of the most important theories on light, vision, and optics.

In more than one way western chemistry and physics all began with him. He was also inspired by Pythagoras, but was on the other side of the spectrum from Parmenides and Plato. He believed in the value of physical perception—he did not deny or minimize it—yet he argued that knowledge is not merely a passive reflection of external objects. We see only a part, but fancy that we have grasped the whole. The senses cannot lead to truth; thought and reflection are required to observe the thing on every side. It is the business of a philosopher, while laying bare the fundamental difference in elements, to reveal the identity that exists between what seem unconnected parts of the universe. This comprehensive approach seems now the very first articulation of what was to become Western science.

He died, poetically and physically, by going up to Mount Etna during an eruption.

1.5.6 Greek Sculpture in Italy

In 1972 in the sea off the coast of Reggio Calabria, the city at the tip of the Italian peninsula, two huge bronzes of Greek origin were found. They are the two largest Greek bronzes that survived. They possibly were created by two separate Greek artists about 30 years apart around the 5th century BC. “Statue A” was probably created between the years 460 and 450 BC, and “Statue B” between 430 and 420 BC. Some believe that “Statue A” was the work of Myron, one of the best artists in Greece, and that Alkamenes, a pupil of Phidias, possibly the greatest sculpture of antiquity, created “Statue B”[70].

The first statue portrays a young war hero or god with a glorious look, conscious of his own beauty and power. The second, on the other hand, portrays an older more mature warrior hero with a relaxed pose and a kind, gentle gaze. The Riace bronzes are major additions to the surviving examples of ancient Greek sculpture. They have idealized geometry and impossibly perfect anatomy under a distracting and alluringly “realistic” surface. They are fine examples of contrapposto—their weight is on the back legs, making them much more realistic than many other archaic stances. Their musculature is clear, yet not incised, and looks soft enough to be visible and realistic. The bronzes’ turned heads not only confer movement, but also add life to the figures. The asymmetrical layout of their arms and legs adds realism to them.

The fact that these two masterpieces of inestimable value in antiquity were found in Italy proves the centrality of power and the wealth of southern Italy in the Greek world. Besides, although present theory revolves around attributing these works to artists from Athens, one cannot rule out that they were the product of artists from southern Italy traveling some place else. After all, if southern Italy had these immensely important thinkers, why should it not have important artists? North of the coast, Taranto after all was very famous for its gold manufacturing skills and a very large bronze statue of Zeus, locally produced, protected the mouth of the harbor.

In any case what is most important is the sharp contrast one can see between these statues and the contemporary Chinese art. In China bronzes portrayed fantastic animals or creatures. There were also vessels and drums, and all in all they appear to belong to a world of religious or civil rituals very different from the world of men. They were instruments to serve some kind of worship ceremonies in a world populated by beings very different from men.

The Greek bronzes, even if they represented gods, were of human-like gods. Divinity was like man—better, idealized men, but still men—not an almost unfathomable universe of imaginary and weird creatures. Moreover, even when we have anthropomorphic sculpture, like in the contemporary sanxingdui findings (which incidentally were not in the mainstream of Chinese society of the time), they are very different. The faces look like ritual performing masks, the body of the high priest is fantastically and unnaturally elongated and thin, like a character of a modern cartoon, and most important, unlike their Greek counterparts, they are always dressed and never naked! In Greece we have the cult of the perfect idealized anatomy, which is the real measure of everything, giving shape to the gods and everything else. In China then we find a world of swirling imagination hiding men and their bodies. Dressing is very important in China as are ritual tools, whereas Greece stresses the total lack of dresses—it was all nudity and weapons.

We don’t know what the standard was for human representation in ancient China. In later times, the 17th century painting manual The Garden of the Mustard Seeds explained that men should be painted starting with the refinement of three stones, one on the other. That is, men were seen as some kind of a spin-off from nature. Their bodies behind their clothes and the expressions of their faces and their sentiments were never directly explored. Possibly, in an ancient time, birds, rhinos, elephants, and wild beasts from the jungle came to set siege to the feeble civilization emerging out of Chinese forests and keeping them at bay was the means of survival. In later centuries, the arrival of Buddhism also saw man as a part of a natural world where emptiness dominated. Man had to recognize his role and place in a world where he mattered little and had to cover himself with clothes to protect himself and hide.

In the West, since Greek times, the single, powerful, naked man was the center of everything. He was god and gave face and substance to his gods, not the other way around.

1.6 The first Greek-Punic War

In southern Italy, the Greeks started a wave of their settlements in the 8th century BC, probably facing hostile local populations. The fact that for centuries the Greeks did not manage to move past the coasts and the inland was left to the local preexisting Italic peoples seems an indications of the hostility. In some ways, unlike the Ionic city-states of the 6th century, the Greeks of Italy were not there to trade but to fight. The local ruling class, as we saw, was dominated by the old aristocratic class of warriors, and traders of the agorà played a smaller role in city politics.

At the same time, they also met the Phoenicians from Carthage who were organizing an empire based on their own city, which, unlike their brethren from Phoenicia, only at times managed to have a federation of independent cities, somewhat similar to the federation of Greek cities that had fought Troy and went on to fight the Persians. Greek advance in Italy was being stopped in the battle of Alalia, off Corsica, around 540 BC, by an alliance of Etruscans and Carthaginians. This was at about the time when cities in Phoenicia succumbed under the Persian invasion of Cyprus. Then the Phoenician fleet collaborated with the Persians for on the invasion of Egypt under Cambyses, around 525 BC.

“The payoff for such activity was significant. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the Phoenician cities were treated generously from the onset—almost as allies rather than vassal states. The extent of their political influence and autonomy may be gauged from Herodotus’ account of Cambyses’ planned attack on Carthage following the successful Egyptian campaign. When ordered to sail against Carthage, the Tyrians refused, citing their treaty obligations to their daughter city. Rather than press his demands, the Persian monarch acceded to the Tyrians’ wishes, and subsequently scrapped his invasion plans.”[71] By then Carthage was a totally independent city. This happened since probably some 50 years before, when Tyre, the “mother city” of Carthage, had fallen under the rule of the neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar[72]. From then on Carthage flourished under the rule of general Mago and his successors (known as the Magonids). Then Carthage had established an alliance with the Etruscans that underscored Carthage’s new role in central and western Mediterranean. Carthage ruled over Sardinia, the Balearic Islands, Malta, and western Sicily. Besides, the city had conquered most of the old Phoenician colonies in the western Mediterranean, subjugated the Libyan tribes (with the Numidian and Mauretanian kingdoms remaining more or less independent), and taken control of the entire North African coast from modern Morocco. At the time, the power of the Etruscans was also expanding, as we know that Etruscans kings were ruling Rome, a sign of their power stretching south into the peninsula.

Yet in a few decades, things changed in Italy. The Etruscans were kicked out of Rome, as we shall see, around the year 500 BC, and the city established a republican system. At the same time the Greeks expanded their influence in Sicily, strengthening the position of their two main cities there, Syracuse and Akragas (modern Agrigento). Greece had also managed to push back the Persian attempts at an invasion, yet the Persian power, backed by the Phoenician fleet, was growing. In this situation, the Magonid Hamilcar Barca mounted a massive invasion of Sicily in 480 BC. This was possibly part of a bigger plan. Greek historians Ephorus and Diodoros report that the Persian king Xerxes conceived a two-pronged attack on Greece: he would push against the Greek mainland from the east while the Carthaginians would attack Greece from the west.

Persians and Carthaginians were not the only ones with ambitions. Gelo, the tyrant of Greek Syracuse, backed in part by other Greek cities, was attempting to unite Sicily under his rule. To fight this, Hamilcar assembled a huge army made of 300,000 men, according to historians of the time. Soldiers came from North Africa, Spain, Gaul, Liguria, and Sardinia, a sign of the power and reach of Carthage over basically all over the western Mediterranean. Yet when the army arrived in the Carthaginian town in Sicily of Panormus (modern Palermo), the army had suffered great losses because of the poor weather. The Greeks then beat the Carthaginians in the battle of Himera, which took place seemingly the same day as the naval battle of Salamis, where a federation of Greek states under an Athenian admiral stopped the advance of the Persians. In Salamis, 378 triremes under Themistocles defeated over 1,200 Persian ships[73], and from then on the Persian lost the initiative against Greece and the Greek cities went on the offensive.

A similar outcome took place in Himera. The Greeks, with a force of 50,000 men on foot and 5,000[74] horses, defeated the Carthaginians who then gave up on Sicily for many decades. Hamilcar was killed in the fight or committed suicide. In any event, Carthage then toppled the rule of his family and established a republic, possibly similar to the one that had just started ruling Rome. The Greeks meanwhile began to have their own problems. Soon after pushing back the Persians, they became engulfed in an internecine war between Sparta and Athens for dominance over their world. That war was to spill over into Italy as well. But before going there we should take a break and look at Rome, which was to have a crucial and definitive role in the fight between Greeks and Phoenicians in Italy and the Mediterranean.

[1] Massimo Pittau, “Il nome dell’Italia è probabilmente etrusco”, RION IX, 2003, 1

[2] Strabo, Geografia, VI, 1,4.

[3] Interview with archaeologist Giovanni Ugas.

[4] Giacomo Devoto. “La civiltà dei castellieri. Trentino-Alto Adige e Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Novara: De Agostini. 1979

[5] Guasco, Delia. Popoli italici: L’Italia prima di Roma. Giunti, 2006.

[6] Bevan, William Latham and William Smith. The student’s manual of ancient geography. London: J. Murray, 1875. 530-531.

[7] R. Giglio, Mozia e Lilibeo, un itinerario archeologico, Trapani 2002.

[8] Aeneid chapter IV.

[9] For the following discussion see Sabatino Moscati, Chi furono i Fenici. Identità storica e culturale di un popolo protagonista dell’antico mondo mediterraneo, 1992

[10] Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged. Ed. Philip Babcock Gove. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993.

[11] Briquel-Chatonnet, Françoise and Eric Gubel. Les Phéniciens : Aux origines du Liban. Paris: Gallimard, 1999. 18.

[12] Hadas-Lebel, Mireille Entre la Bible et l’Histoire: Le Peuple hébreu. Paris: Gallimard, 1997. 14.

[13] The physical destruction of palaces and cities is the subject of Robert Drews’s The End of the Bronze Age: changes in warfare and the catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C. (Princeton, 1993).

[14] Wood, Michael. In Search of the Trojan War. Un of California Press, 1998. 8.

[15] Hacker, Barton C. “Greek Catapults and Catapult Technology: Science, Technology, and War in Ancient World” and Diodorus Siculus 14.42.1.

[16] Johnson, Allan Chester, Paul R. Coleman-Norton, and Frank Card Bourne. Ancient Roman Statutes. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2003. 7.

[17] Herodotus. Histories, I, 94.

[18] Aa.Vv., “Mitochondrial DNA Variation of Modern Tuscans Supports the Near Eastern Origin of Etruscans,” Am J Hum Genet. 2007 April; 80(4): 759–768. Published online 6 February 2007.

[19] Camporeale, G. Gli Etruschi: Storia e Civiltà (Nuova Edizione). Utet libreria, 2004


[21] Pellecchia, M. et al, “The mystery of Etruscan origins: novel clues from Bos taurus mithocondrial DNA,” Proceedings of the Royal Society, January 2007

[22] See

[23] See for this and the following paragraphs: Torelli, Mario. Gli Etruschi. Milan: Bompiani, 2000. 145. Piganiol, André. Le conquiste dei romani: Fondazione e ascesa di una grande civiltà. Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2010, 60. Magini, Leonardo. L’etrusco, lingua dall’Oriente indoeuropeo. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2007. 12.

[24] Fossati, Ivo. Gli eserciti etruschi. Milan: E.M.I. Edizioni Militari Italiane, “De Bello” series, 1987.


[26] Waters of Rome Journal - 4 - Hopkins.indd


[28] Mughal, Muhammad Aurang Zeb. “Mohenjo-daro’s Sewers.” World History Encyclopedia. Ed: Kevin Murray McGeough. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Vol. 3, 121-122.

[29] Douglas, Ian. Cities: An Environmental History. London and New York, 2013. 16.

[30] Robertson, D.S.. Greek and Roman Architecture, 2nd edition. Cambridge, 1943. 231.

[31] Spence, R.J.S. and D.J. Cook. Building Materials in Developing Countries. London: Wiley and Sons, 1983. “The Chemistry of cement and concrete,” London: Chemical Publishing. 1971/


[33] Idorn, M.G. Concrete Progress from the Antiquity to the Third Millennium. London: Telford, 1997.

[34] “Revealing the Ancient Chinese Secret of Sticky Rice Mortar”. Science Daily. Retrieved 23 June 2010. Yang, Fuwei, Bingjian Zhang, and Qinglin Ma, ‘’Study of Sticky Rice−Lime Mortar Technology for the Restoration of Historical Masonry Construction,” Acc. Chem. Res., 2010, 43 (6), 936–944.

[35] Here see the works of professor Li Xueqin and Sarah Allan Ai Lan: “Guanyu Zhongguo zaoqi wenxian de yige jiashe”, Guangming ribao, January 10, 2012 ; Sarah Allan, “On Shu (Documents) and the origin of the Shangshu (Ancient Documents) in light of recently discovered bamboo slip manuscripts”, BSOAS,75.3, 547-557. “Li Xueqin: Jiekai Qinren yuanyu dongfang zhi mi”, China Youth Daily, June 18, 2013. And mine Ancient texts uncover meritocracy debate (Jun 25, ‘13)

[36] Salerno, Vincenzo. “Sicilian Peoples: The Elymians”

[37] Diodorus Siculus Books 11-12.37.1: Greek History 480-431 B.C., the Alternative Version. Ed. Peter Green. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. 89, 12.9.1–2. Strabo: Geography 3. Ed. H.L. Jones. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1924. 6.1.13.

[38] “The dates of his life cannot be fixed exactly, but assuming the approximate correctness of the statement of Aristoxenus (ap. Porph. V.P. 9) that he left Samos to escape the tyranny of Polycrates at the age of forty, we may put his birth round about 570 BC, or a few years earlier. The length of his life was variously estimated in antiquity, but it is agreed that he lived to a fairly ripe old age, and most probably he died at about seventy-five or eighty.” Guthrie, W.K. Chambers. A History of Greek Philosophy, Volume 1: The Earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans. Cambridge University Press, 1978. 173.

[39] Herodotus. Histories. Trans. A.D. Godley. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920; Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Note 1

[40] This part has been based on the works by Jonathan Barnes, mainly The Presocratic Philosophers (Routledge, 1984), and Mario Vegetti, mainly Marxismo e società antica (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1977) and Il coltello e lo stilo (Milan: Il Saggiatore, 1st edition 1979, 2nd edition, 1996).

[41] Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 5.3.8–9. Heraclides Ponticus fr. 88 Wehrli. Diogenes Laërtius 1.12, 8.8. Iamblichus VP 58. Burkert attempted to discredit this ancient tradition, but it has been defended by C.J. De Vogel in Pythagoras and Early Pythagoreanism (1966, pp. 97–102) and C. Riedweg in Pythagoras: His Life, Teaching, And Influence (2005, p. 92).

[42] Babylonian knowledge of proof of the Pythagorean Theorem is discussed by J. Høyrup (“The Pythagorean ‘Rule’ and ‘Theorem’: Mirror of the Relation between Babylonian and Greek Mathematics.” Babylon. Focus mesopotamischer Geschichte, Wiege früher Gelehrsamkeit, Mythos in der Moderne. Ed. J. Renger, 1999.

[43] Aristotle Metaphysics 1–5. ca. 350 BC.

[44] Riedweg, Christoph. Pythagoras: His Life, Teaching and Influence. Cornell: Cornell University Press, 200 .

[45] “Pherecydes of Syros.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 18. 9th edition.

[46] Graham, Angus Charles. Later Mohist Logic, Ethics and Science. Hong Kong and London, 1979.

[47] Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 23.

[48] Op. cit.

[49] See also Lorenzo Infantino Potere (Rubettino, 2013. p. 141 and following) and Karl Popper Conjectures and Refutations (1963) on the pre-Socratics.

[50] Barnes, op. cit. 159-160

[51] To understand this problem see also A.C. Graham’s “The Verb ‘To Be’ and Its Synonyms,” Foundations of Language Supplementary Series. Ed. John Verhaar. 1972.

[52] I owe this to David Goldman Why Greeks Hate Jews, or: Talmud and Tragedy Edit on Asia Times July 19, 2015

[53] See Teeter, Emily. Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

[54] Diogenes Laërtius. 8.57, 9.25.

[55] Barnes, op. cit. p. 233.

[56] Russell, Bertrand. The Principles of Mathematics. Chapters 42-3. London, 1903.

[57] Barnes, op. cit. p. 245.

[58] Takeshi Kitano. 2008.

[59] Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b15

[60] Huggett, Nick. “Zeno’s Paradoxes: 3.2 Achilles and the Tortoise.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2011.

[61] Graham, A.C. Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1989. 176-183. Trans. Zhang Haiyan. Lun dao zhe: Zhongguo gudai zhexue lun bian. Beijing: Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Chubanshe, 2003.

[62] Graham, op. cit. pp. 191-192.

[63] Zhuangzi. Outer Chapters: The Floods of Autumn.

[64] See also Lorenzo Infantino’s Potere (2013).

[65] Feng Youlan. A History of Chinese Philosophy, chapters 2 and 3. 1934.

[66] Jaeger, Werner. The Theology of the early Greek Thinkers. Oxford Clarendon Press, 1947. p. 214 and following.

[67] Sala, Nicoletta and Gabriele Cappellato. Viaggio matematico nell’arte e nell’architettura. Ed. Franco Angeli. 2003. 16.

[68] Ranade, Subhash. Natural Healing Through Ayurveda. Motilal Banarsidass. 32.

[69] Frag. B57 (Simplicius, On the Heavens, 586).

[70] See Muzzupappa, M., A. Gallo, R. M. Mattanò, C. Ruggiero, and F. Bruno. “A Complete Morphological Study of the Right Hand of Bronzo “A” Di Riace.” International Journal of Heritage in the Digital Era, 2012, Vol. 1, Supplement 1, pp. 55-60.

[71] Markoe, Glenn. Phoenicians. University of California Press, 2000. 49

[72] See Glenn Markoe, op. cit. pp. 54- 60

[73] Herodotus. Histories, VIII, 44–48.

[74] Freeman, Edward A. History of Sicily, Vol. 2. 190. Modern historians now tend to believe these figures handed down in histories of the time are exaggerated, especially compared with modern armies, which can hardly field this many people with much larger populations. However, perhaps one should consider that wars of ancient times were massive efforts in which basically all people were called to participate. Moreover, these figures may include combat and noncombat personnel involved in the effort.