Nature’s Building Blocks: Diagrams of the Four Elements in Byzantine Manuscripts

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


This paper forms part of my ongoing research on the role representation, both abstract and illustrative, and imagination (phantasia) play in the design and use of Byzantine diagrammatic and technological devices for the purposes of understanding, mapping, preserving and transmitting knowledge concerning the cosmos and the natural world. Thus, in this paper I discuss various ways, through which Byzantine scholars employed diagrams in order to visualize what was otherwise impossible to observe, namely the basic building blocks of nature, such as the four elements of earth, water, air and fire. The paper is part of a work in progress and does not aim to offer any definitive answers, but rather to engage the audience in a process of collaborative thinking concerning nature, imagination, and scientific representation in Byzantium.
Period23 Nov 2021
Held atComité Argentino de Estudios Bizantinos (CAEBiz), Argentina
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Byzantium
  • Diagram
  • Natural philosophy
  • History of Science