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The Shocking History of Electric FishesFrom Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology$
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Stanley Finger and Marco Piccolino

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.001.0001

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Byzantine and Islamic Writings

Byzantine and Islamic Writings

(p.64) Chapter 5 Byzantine and Islamic Writings
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines information about electric fish through most of the Middle Ages, a period loosely defined as starting with the end of classical antiquity, more or less in the 5th century ad, and ending around the 15th century. If focuses on how information about electric fish was received and transmitted up to a period referred to as the “12th-Century Renaissance,” a period of change that would lay the groundwork for the later Italian (and European) Renaissance. In addition to works written in Greek and Latin, it examines works written in Arabic and related Middle Eastern languages. This is because Middle Eastern writers contributed to science and medicine in important ways. Also, it was mainly through these writers that Greco-Roman ideas, some intact and others now somewhat modified, were retransmitted back to the West. To situate the culture of the Middle Ages in a proper context, and thus to appreciate how knowledge about electric fish would be handed down to scholars in later periods, the chapter begins with a discussion of the final phases of the Roman Empire and the emergence of the Middle Ages. This is a complex history, but one fundamental to understanding what facets of the old culture were transmitted to the new, and what new developments would appear during this so-called intermediate period in the West.

Keywords:   Middle Ages, electric fish, renaissance, roman Empure, arabic

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