Dragon in Balloon

The Medieval Science Page

This page has been continuously available on the World-Wide Web and serving the "reality-based community" since October 19, 1995. It currently receives over 100,000 hits per annum. Last updated December 7, 2008: reconstituted page after AOL zapped their web-hosting service. As always, page owners are requested to notify me at their earliest convenience in the event that they alter their URLs.
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Welcome to medieval science on the Web. This page is intended to provide a convenient and comprehensive set of links to all Internet resources worldwide which deal with aspects of medieval science, both in Western and other cultures.

Some qualifications, definitions, and limitations of this project are listed below.

Contents by Topic

* Alchemy
* Animals
* Astrolabe
* Astronomy--see also Cosmology
* Botany
* Calendars
* Cartography
* Cosmology
* Horology
* Instruments
* Mathematics
* Medicine
*Museums (topic-specific museums are indexed under topic headings)
* Physics
* Science--General/Interdisciplinary/Cultures
* Societies and Programs
* Technology (general)
* Time
* Weights and Measures
* Renaissance Materials
* Miscellaneous


James McNelis, Editor. I am also Editor-in-Chief of Envoi: A Review Journal of Medieval Literature, founder and list manager of the Medbeast-L mailing list, and Founding Editor of Æstel . Full text of several articles may be accessed from its website. Some fulltext (PDF) items may be read on Envoi's site as well, including Michael D. C. Drout and Hilary Wynne's "Tom Shippey's J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century and a Look Back at Tolkien Criticism since 1982."

References to new sites are welcome; please send e-mail to me at McNelis "at" aol dot com with information about them.

Medieval Science by Topic

The Alchemy Home Page.

The Aberdeen Bestiary Project
A detailed and informative source, with convenient cross-indexing.

Hunting and Falconry
This page will provide links to references on medieval hunting and falconry as practiced in Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and other regions.

Medbeast-L mailing list
This list is intended to support productive scholarly discussion of issues relating to animals real and fictional, birds, fish, etc. in the culture of the Middle Ages, both in Europe and elsewhere. The archive is viewable by nonmembers.


There are many net resources devoted to astronomy. These are only a selection which may be of greater interest to those studying the medieval period:




Cosmology Horology



  • Europe--Mathematics and the Humanities
    Todd Hammond's site includes an impressive array of interrelated topics, with helpful cross-links and annotated bibliographies. The site addresses the history of mathematics in depth, and emphasizes Middle Eastern, Asian, and other concentrations as well as European.
  • History of Mathematics
    A general index of net resources on the subject.
  • Boethius
    Although De arithmetica is not yet entirely on-line (links to a manuscript image and details of De arithmetica are online at this link), the full text of the Consolatio, as well as an English translation, are provided.
  • Mathematics
    From the Vatican Exhibition at the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Graphotactics by Robert D. Stevick.
Medicine Museums of the History of Science Physics
  • The Physics of Aristotle.
  • Aristotle vs. Galileo.
  • Averroes (Ibn Rushd) Database--The "Great Commentator" on Aristotle and Plato (1128-1198).


  • Arabic Science:
  • Chinese Science: Societies, Programs, General Mailing Lists

    The Medieval Technology Pages
    These pages are by Paul J. Gans at New York University. Professor Gans teaches a course on medieval technology (link), perhaps the only one of its kind in the US.


    Weights and Measures
    Horology above for the measurement of time.

    Renaissance Materials
    Although not strictly within the purview of this page, there are several web sites of interest relating to the renaissance period; accordingly, some are listed below.

    I am not sure where else to file a page which gives Internet weather updates in Latin, as well as over a dozen other languages, but as a pedagogical resource--and a good laugh--it should certainly be included somewhere:
    The Weather Underground.

    Qualifications, definitions, limitations:

    • "A comprehensive set of links" has become a slightly less attainable goal as the web has grown since 1995, but nonetheless it is hoped to try to include any link which, in the editor's judgement, appears to have good value for both students and researchers seeking at least a basic introduction to any of the topics that may fall under this heading. Similarly, when this page was first posted, there were few relevant pages to link to, and an overly particular definition of what should and should not be included would have resulted in an even slimmer resource than it originally was. While I will do what I can from time to time to upgrade and modernize, it is hoped that a modicum of understanding of the page's ancient (in web terms) history will help the reader to excuse some shortcomings in consistency of approach and/or execution.
    • The definition of "medieval," vague enough in Europe and the Middle East, becomes somewhat impractical in other regions of the world--consequently, this page may include items relating back to the ancient world as it seems useful or appropriate.
    • Preference is given to pages written by scholarly authors with expert knowledge of their disciplines. Commercial pages will be linked only if they seem academically sound, and this page disclaims any endorsement of commercial activity sponsored by such sites--likewise, of religious or other beliefs that may be advocated by those posting certain pages.
    • General encyclopedia articles on many topics can readily be found on Wikipedia, but I would advise students not only that many faculty ban all Wikipedia articles as class project sources, but that some of them are of very poor quality. In any event, they should be used only as a starting point for a general orientation on a topic. I have found that it is often better to follow the additional links posted at the end of a Wikipedia article to find more current and/or specialist information. Under no circumstances should you refer to Yahoo! Answers--they make Wikipedia look awfully good by comparison!
    • Library resources are always one's best bet, and searching the databases linked from an academic library will consistently provide reliable, peer-reviewed online as well as paper publications in any field desired. I hope to put more hardcopy bibliographical references on this page and its sub-pages, but that is a large task in fields of study I am not expert in, and so progress on that goal is likely to be gradual.
    • There is a good reason that the codex book (the kind with pages stuck together on one side, as opposed to the ancient scroll-type book still seen today in, for example, a Torah) has persisted for over a thousand years: it is the best way to store, read, and refer to any large body of specific information. Anyone who tells you paper books are obsolete does not know what they are talking about; any student who tries to avoid reading them is guaranteeing an inferior education for himself or herself.

  • This page was created and is maintained by James McNelis, Associate Professor of English, Wilmington College, Ohio, USA. Mail to McNelis "at" aol.com.