Micah T. Ross

Historian of the Exact Sciences

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micah@micahross.com

(765) - 998-6003

Profile

Mailing Address

8490 E. 700 S.
Upland, IN 46898, USA

Born

Marion, Indiana
24 October 1974

Nationality

American

Research Interests

History of Near Eastern and Egyptian astronomy and computation; Egyptian contexts of astronomy, cosmology and astrology; Chronology; Cultural transmission of technical terms and practices; Linguistic borrowing between incompatible scripts; Astronomical iconography

Education

Ph.D., Brown University

History of Mathematics

Sept. 2000 - May 2006

Dissertation: Horoscopic Ostraca of Medinet Madi
Advisor: †David Pingree

M.A., University of Toronto

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Sept. 1998 - May 2000

Ancient Studies Program

Dissertation Summary

Horoscopic Ostraca of Medinet Madi presents thirty-four Demotic ostraca containing forty complete or partial horoscopes. After the provenance and cultural background of the ostraca are laid out, a survey of previous interpretations of the texts from Medinet Madi follows. Then previous methods of establishing a date for the collection are examined. Next, introductions of mathematical, astronomical, astrological and chronological concepts are made for the benefit of the non-specialist. Among these discussions, the use of numbers and fractions is introduced. Necessary astronomical terminology is defined and the causes of error in astronomical calculations are considered. A definition of horoscope is presented and the elements of a horoscope are established. The compositional styles of Demotic and Greek horoscopes are contrasted. The calendars of Greco-Roman Egypt are explicated. The varieties of astrological and astronomical ostraca are defined and the results of a search for such texts among the ostraca of Medinet Madi are reported. The documentary aspects of horoscopic ostraca are discussed and the palaeography of Demotic zodiacal signs and planetary symbols is revisited. After these preliminaries are fixed, the horoscopes are divided into four classes. A transcription, transliteration, translation and commentary is presented for each ostracon. No separation is made between the astronomical and philological commentary. In the conclusion, these ostraca are used to establish a more secure historical dating for Medinet Madi. The range of astrological techniques is outlined, and correspondences with the Petosirian tradition are noted. Some tentative conclusions are drawn about the scope of astronomical techniques used at Medinet Madi.

Research Experience

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for General Education

National Tsing Hua University

Aug. 2013 - Jul. 2015

Supervisor: Kuang Tai Hsu

I collaborated with Professor Kuang Tai Hsu on the adaptation of European cosmologies and astronomical terms into a Chinese context by Jesuit missionaries. Professor Hsu has studied the work of Matteo Ricci and written extensively on elements of Chinese cosmology and physics. With Hsu, I considered the Aristotelian physics and Ptolemaic models brought by Jesuits to China. This project coordinated the text of the Qingkun Ti Yi by Ricci with its Latin source material.

Chercheur, Histoire des tables numériques

Agence Nationale de la Recherche

Nov. 2009 - Nov. 2013

Supervisor: Dominique Tournès

Under the auspices of the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche, I worked with Professor Dominique Tournès of Université de la Réunion in Saint-Denis. Professor Tournès has assembled an international working group to study the development and the transmission of numeric tables. In this project, I highlighted the importance of Egypt as the setting for the development of Greek mathematical tables. I compared the technical vocabulary of tables and mathematics in Egyptian and Greek contexts and outlined the social dimensions of calculation by tables.

Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Kyoto Sangyo University

Nov. 2009 - Nov. 2011

Supervisor: Michio Yano

Through the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, I collaborated with Professor Michio Yano. Professor Yano has studied the transmission of Greek astronomical terms into Sanskrit astronomical and astrological texts of India and the transmission of Sanskrit texts into Arabic. With Yano, I analyzed several Egyptian and Near Eastern elements carried by Greeks into India. I also studied several of Yano’s techniques for establishing linguistic connections between texts and am reapplying these methods to the linguistic exchanges between Greece and Egypt. This project has culminated in JyotiWiki.com, a site for the collaborative edition and electronic dissemination of Sanskrit texts on astral sciences. In electronic form, the technical terms are easily searchable and statistical information can be easily produced.

Invité, Institute d'Etudes Avancées

Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme

Mar. 2008 - Jun. 2008

Supervisor: Yves Duroux

During the spring of 2008, I conducted a series of seminars which evaluated the Greek accounts of Egyptian astronomy from two distinctly different approaches. First, I compared Greek reports of Egyptian astronomical and mathematical development with respect to the available (but unpublished) Egyptian evidence. Also, working with only the Greek accounts, I analyzed the development and rhetorical use of several less credible Greek accounts of Egyptian wisdom.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Université Paris 7

Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques

Sept. 2006 - Sept. 2007

Supervisor: Karine Chemla

Within the REHSEIS research group at Université Paris 7, I collaborated with Christine Proust on the types of mathematical texts used in antiquity. We compared the contexts in which these texts were found and the development of larger texts from smaller corpora. These considerations have resulted in our on-going contributions to Dominique Tournès’ project on the history of mathematical tables.

Teaching Experience

Adjunct Professor, Center for General Education

National Tsing Hua University

Feb. 2014 – Jun. 2015

The Scientific Revolution:1550 – 1700
Designed and taught a two credit-hour course introducing the Scientific Revolution to undergraduate students. This course introduced pre-modern scientific theories to undergraduates and then outlined the changes in these ideas in relation to the development of European society. After its first offering, this course was incorporated as an elective in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program of National Tsing Hua University. Over the three semesters which this class was offered, enrollment increased from 67 students to 129 students.

Second Reader, Institute of History

National Tsing Hua University

Feb. 2014 – Jun. 2015

Fettering the Stars: Islamic Navigational Knowledge in Ming China
Served as the second reader for "Fettering the Stars: Islamic Navigational Knowledge in Ming China," a Master's thesis by Sandy Lin. This thesis compares navigational methods known from Chinese sources with navigational techniques known from Arabic sources, Indian traditions, and a handful of surviving navigational instruments. In this capacity, I met regularly with Lin over eighteen months to read primary sources, guide English composition, and oversee documentation of sources.

Publications

Belephantes to Alexander: An Astrological Report to a Macedonian King?

In press.


The Linguistic Status of Mathematics

Mathematics, Substance and Surmise: Views on the Meaning and Ontology of Mathematics, Springer, in press.


Eclipses and the Precipitation of Conflict: Deciphering the Signal to Attack

The Religious Aspects of War, Brill, in press.


Tables in Antiquity (with Mathieu Ossendrijver, Christine Proust and Nathan Sidoli)

History of Numeric Tables, Springer, in press.


Demotic Horoscopes

Ancient Astronomy in Its Mediterranean Context (300 BC–AD 300): A Brill Companion, Brill, in press.


Egyptian Planetary Theory

Ancient Astronomy in Its Mediterranean Context (300 BC–AD 300): A Brill Companion, Brill, in press.


Various renderings of πιναξ in Greek and Demotic in the Medinet Madi ostraca (with D. Greenbaum)

Culture and Cosmos, in press.


A Study in the Early Iconography of Gemini

Culture and Cosmos, in press.


Mathematics Education in Antiquity (with A. Bernard and C. Proust)

International Handbook on History of Mathematics Education, Springer (2014), 27-55.


Demotic

Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Blackwell, 2012.


Presentations

A New World Precedent and Portuguese Tables

History of Mathematical Sciences: Portugal and East Asia V, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, 7–9 Nov. 2014.


A Case Study in Morphology

12th International Congress of Demotic Studies, Universität Würzburg, Germany, 31 Aug.–4 Sept. 2014.


Chinese Celestial Cartography as a Route for Jesuit Science into Japan

Workshop of Multiculturalism of Monsoon Asia: Transmission of Scientific Knowledge: Continuity and Change, National Tsing Hua University, 5 Jun. 2014.


Zodiacal Iconograpy of Leo in Antiquity

Cosmology, Magic, and Divination, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 28 May 2014.


Deciphering the Signal to Attack: Eclipses and the Precipitation of Conflict

Religious Aspects of War, Ateneum University in Gdańsk and University of Gdańsk University, Faktoria, Pruszcz Gdańsk, Poland, 16 - 18 May 2014.


On Matteo Ricci’s Mention of ‘38 端’in His Qingkun Ti Yi (with Kuang-tai Hsu)

10th Symposium on the History of Science (第十屆科學史研討會), Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan 29-30 Mar. 2014.


Belephantes to Alexander: An Astrological Report to a Macedonian King?

Alexander the Great and the East: History, Art, Tradition, University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland, 14 Sept. 2013.


Tables in Egypt until the Greco-Roman Era

Third Annual Workshop "History of Numerical Tables", Domaine des Ormes, Dol de Bretagne, 1 May 2013.


The Metamorphoses of Apuleius

Guest Lecture for History 404/504: Civilization of Ancient Rome, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, 18 Apr. 2013.


A Brief History of Astrology

PechaKucha Night, vol. 2.0, Prichard Art Gallery, Moscow, Idaho, 14 Jul. 2012.


Intermediary Report on Egyptian Numerical Tables

History of Numeric Tables, Centre International de Rencontres Mathématiques, Marseilles, France, 26–30 Mar. 2012.


Alexander in Astrological Sources

Alexander the Great and Egypt: History, Art, Tradition, University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland, 18–19 Nov. 2011.


Various renderings of πιναξ in Greek and Demotic in the Medinet Madi ostraca (with D. Greenbaum)

11th International Congress of Demotic Studies, Merton College, Oxford University, 29 Aug.–1 Sept. 2011.


Survey of Graphical and Numerical Tables in Egypt

History of Graphical and Numerical Tables, Oberwolfach Mini-Workshop, Oberwolfach, Germany, 27 Feb.–5 Mar. 2011.


Sources for Egyptian Seasonal Hours: Problems and Approaches

Source Materials in History of Science and Technology and Their Interpretation: Problems and Approaches, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, 3 Dec. 2010.


Why Are There Twenty-Four Hours in a Day?

Science Dialogue, Fujishima Senior High School, Fujishima, 23 Feb. 2010.


Development and Transmission of Egyptian Decans

History of Science Society of Japan, Kyoto Branch, Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto, 24 Jan. 2010.


The Role of Egypt in the Development of the Horoscope (with D. Greenbaum)

Social and Religious Development of Egypt in the First Millennium BCE, Charles University, Prague, 1–4 Sept. 2009.


Fractional Tables and Water Clocks in Egypt

XXIII International Congress of History of Science and Technology: Ideas and Instruments in Social Context, Symposium 35: History of Numerical Tables, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, 28 Jul.–2 Aug. 2009.


Evidence for the "Egyptian" Cosmology of Macrobius

4th London Ancient Science Conference, University College London, 6 Dec. 2008.


A Series Containing a Hemerology with Lengths of Daylight (with F. Naether)

10th International Congress of Demotic Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven and Brussels, 26–30 Aug. 2008.


Nombres positifs et négatifs dans des textes grecs

Histoire et Philosophie des Mathématiques, Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques, Université Paris 7, 2 Jun. 2008.


"The Series itself says as follows :..." K939A rev. 8

Histoire des sciences, Histoire du texte, Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques, Université Paris 7, 23 May 2008.


Greek Representations of Egyptian Knowledge, Practice, and Education of Astronomy

Histoire des sciences en Asie, Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques, Université Paris 7, 13 May 2008.


Egyptian Calculation of Inferior Planets

Institut d'Etudes Avancées, Maison Suger, Paris, 25 Mar. 2008.


Historiographie des circulations autour de l'Egypte

Histoire des sciences en Asie, Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques, Université Paris 7, 11 Dec. 2007.


Enuma Anu Enlil, son développement et ses rédacteurs

Histoire des sciences, Histoire du texte, Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques, Université Paris 7, 27 Nov. 2007.


The Egyptian Calendar, Censorinus, and Theon

3rd London Ancient Science Conference, University College London, 2 Nov. 2007.


A Survey of Demotic Astrological Texts

Ancient Astrology Workshop, Warburg Institute, London, 16–17 Feb. 2007.


Déchiffrer Medinet Madi: les problèmes historiographiques et l’histoire des mathématiques

Histoire des sciences en Asie, Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques, Université Paris 7, 6 Feb. 2007.


Les calculs sexagesimaux cachés dans les textes démotiques

Histoire et Philosophie des Mathematiques: Calcul sexagesimal, Recherches Epistemologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques, Université Paris 7, 18 Dec. 2006.


OMM 1010: Un document du règne de Septime Sévère

IXe Congrès International des Études Démotiques, Paris, 31 Aug.–3 Sept. 2005.


Micah T. Ross — micah@micahross.com

(765) - 998-6003