Flat Earth

Most ancient cultures had conceptions of a Flat Earth, including Greece until the fifth century BCE, the Near East until fourth century BCE, India until the fourth century CE. In ancient China, the prevailing belief was that the Earth was flat and square, while the heavens were round, an assumption virtually unquestioned until the introduction of European astronomy in the 17th century. It was also typically held in the aboriginal cultures of the Americas, and a flat Earth domed by the firmament in the shape of an inverted bowl is common in pre-scientific societies.

The paradigm of a spherical Earth was developed in Greek astronomy, beginning with Pythagoras (6th century BCE), although most Pre-Socratics retained the flat Earth model. Aristotle accepted the spherical shape of the Earth on empirical grounds around 330 BCE, and knowledge of the spherical Earth gradually began to spread beyond the Hellenistic world from then on. The misconception that educated people at the time of Columbus believed in a flat Earth, and that his voyages refuted that belief, has been referred to as ‘The Myth of the Flat Earth.’

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