Who invented the encyclopedia

Four millennia before Jesus Christ, mankind sought to classify and organize all the knowledge that had been obtained so far, in the form of a thematic glossary. This happened in Sumer. Six centuries later, in Ebla the experiment is repeated, but this time with a fairly conventional order of signs.


The evolution of knowledge

The “lexical lists” were the result of these two approaches to collecting and organizing all tangible knowledge. The same thing happened in early Egypt, where other similar thematic lists were found and were referred to as “proto-encyclopedias”.

Around 1750, it is suspected that another similar dictionary was written, organized by word category and was christened “the Onomastic slam of the Ramesseum”. Another six centuries later, the “Onomastic of Amenofis” emerged. One of the goals of these ancient Egyptians with these early encyclopedia essays was to make a systematic catalogue of the Universe.

In the dialogue ‘Timeo’, of the great illustrious Plato, the philosopher sought to summarize all the knowledge of his land and time, as Physics, Medicine, Astronomy and Cosmogony. His treacherous pupil, Aristotle, also made multiple efforts to gather a considerable amount of knowledge of different issues, such as Rhetoric, Politics, Psychology, Ethics, Biology, Poetics and more.

But as always, until centuries later is when the work of geniuses is valued, fortunately rescued by Islam, a culture that meant much to the history of encyclopedias. Because of this devaluation and blindness of the ages, the arduous works of many philosophers and encyclopedists, such as Posidonius and Democritus, were lost forever in oblivion. They were buried for years.

For his part, in ancient Rome, Varrón set out to carry out a compendium of wisdom, based emphatically on the etymology of words, so his encyclopedic work was “the Etymologies”, consisting of 41 books, with themes exclusive to the Divinity and the momentous human issues. The play’s gone.

Years after Christ, we found Cornelius Celso who produced an encyclopedia with 26 loms, where the sciences of War, Philosophy, Agriculture, Law, Medicine and Rhetoric were appreciated.

Who invented the encyclopedia
Source: Education  
July 7, 2019


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