Talk:Spherical Earth

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Summary of evidence for a spherical earth[edit]

This sentence may need revision:

The sun is lower in the sky as you travel away from the equator, but stars such as Polaris, the north star, are higher in the sky. Other bright stars such as Canopus, visible in Egypt, disappear from the sky.

Don't the latter statements assume one is traveling north from the Tropic of Cancer? Does the Sun necessarily get lower in the sky when traveling away from the equator toward the Tropic of Cancer? - Ac44ck (talk) 04:18, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes, my edit rendered the paragraph as a whole incoherent, since the paragraph refers to specific stars. On the other hand, it is incomplete and misleading to limit the statement to “north from the equator” since, yes, the sun gets lower in the sky moving south from the equator as well. (Strictly speaking that is not quite true, either; during summer in the tropics, the reverse is true.) Thanks for noticing the rest of the paragraph. I will fix it. Strebe (talk) 05:06, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Nice fix. The restricted POV in original version may have been offensive to those living in the southern hemisphere.
At first, I misread "as you travel away from the tropics", thinking it allowed movement away from a tropical circle toward the equator. But it says "away from the tropics" which excludes travel within tropics toward the equator.
It was a well crafted, subtle fix that is much more inclusive and also prevents application of the blanket statement about moving north from the equator when in the tropics. Your use of words with such economy while preserving the original examples is impressive. - Ac44ck (talk) 11:54, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Ac44ck. Odd how long it took me to write so little… Strebe (talk) 02:54, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I believe it:
"If I had more time I would write a shorter letter." - Blaise Pascal
- Ac44ck (talk) 03:30, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
As a p.s., the introduction to this section notes that the evidences are given in an approximate historical order. The Greeks were in the northern hemisphere and Egypt was about as far south as they went. It's fine to make it more general. Chris55 (talk) 19:43, 6 April 2013 (UTC)


The lower parts of a ship that are hidden by the curvature of the earth is illustrated by a picture of Rena. But this vessel was greatly tilted to the right (starboard?) so that the ocean was up to the main deck level.

Helpallways (talk) 21:49, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

Good point. This image should not be used. Strebe (talk) 21:03, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

The significance of the regal orb[edit]

I'd think this article should mention the orb (orbis terrarum and globus cruciger) used as a symbol of authority over the world. I'll look for some reliable sources that connect the orb with the sphericity of the world. --Macrakis (talk) 20:39, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

Leading and Indian related infos[edit]

I just checked full history of this page. The page included the book by Helaine Selin as source,[1] as well as other sources. Although the source of Selin became unavailable, it couldn't be verified, thus it was removed from the page, but these sources are accessible now. So what I would like to suggest is, that if we look at this version[2] or [3].

Please take a look at the verifiability policy. Just because something is not viewable on the Web does not make it "unverifiable": "Some reliable sources may not be easily accessible. For example, some online sources may require payment, while some print sources may be available only in university libraries or other offline places. Do not reject sources just because they are hard or costly to access." Assuming the Selin text was correctly cited and relevant, the reference should not have been removed from the page just because it was not viewable in Google Books. --Macrakis (talk) 23:54, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Agreed with Macrakis, but this line "or a wheel, bowl, or four-cornered plane alluded to in the Rigveda" is seriously not supported by any other source, and i can't verify if the given link says so, that's why i added this. Justicejayant (talk) 13:54, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Subhash Kak is a Hindu nationalist and definitely not a reliable source. Athenean (talk) 00:06, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
He is not, in fact he's a computer scientist, so this point of yours is refuted. Justicejayant (talk) 13:37, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Most nationalists have a profession, User:Justicejayant. You have refuted nothing. It’s obvious Kak is not a reliable source outside his profession in the narrowest sense. Goofy pronouncements like, “…The material world is not causally closed, and consciousness influences its evolution”, wherein he presents a personal belief unsupported by science as proof that machines will never be intelligent, demonstrate just how little credence his views should be given. Not surprisingly scholars don’t cite his populist writings. Strebe (talk) 16:00, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
So leave that one. We can use someone else for reference. Justicejayant (talk) 17:15, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I can't see how the quotation from Aitareya Brahmana says anything about the shape of the earth. There were many theories about what the sun did during the night which were not dependent on sphericity. The quotation by Sarma in the Selin Encyclopedia is too vague: "intelligent speculations" could be anything. If you cannot confirm the other quotation from Selin it's difficult for you to add anything. Chris55 (talk) 10:47, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Well, "intelligent speculations" as in, for the time, it doesn't actually push the POV though. And this link [4] confirms the theories that have been presented, citing Aitareya Brahmana as a source. Justicejayant (talk) 13:37, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
That book has no credibility. Sorry. It’s blatant junk science. Strebe (talk) 16:00, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I am not getting what you are talking about here, is that about Selin's source or the blavatsky? I can't deny the Selin's source though, it's by academic. Justicejayant (talk) 16:06, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Blavatsky is junk science. Strebe (talk) 21:50, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Except K.V Sarma, we can include any of these sources as 2nd source. "Cosmic Perspectives" by S. K. Biswas, D. C. V. Mallik, C. V. Vishveshwara [5], "In the Beginning Was the Apeiron: Infinity in Greek Philosophy",[6](page 42).
Samuel Warren Carey's book "Theories of the Earth and Universe: A History of Dogma in the Earth Sciences"[7](16-17) can be helpful too. And others like "A Critical Study of Rigveda, I.137-163", [8](page 8), "Eng Concept of Truth in Arts" [9](last lines of the page), "Geography"[10] by Surender Singh. Justicejayant (talk) 16:03, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
Added now.. And removed the part "With the rise of Greek culture in the east, Hellenistic astronomy filtered ..." As it remains disputed, for example Samuel Warren Carey instead writes that it's indian astronomy that may have influenced Greeks. Justicejayant (talk) 16:05, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
[11] and [12], [13] says that Indian astronomy influenced greek astronomy instead, but i am not saying that we can't add the line "with the rise of greek culture....." We can, but it will need better wording, and not "supplanted the belief" line anyway. And probably much better if it can be adjusted that some thinks that indian astronomy had influenced greek instead. Justicejayant (talk) 11:32, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Your first source is junk science (and way too old), your second source does not back your claim, your third source actually backs the opposite of what you are claiming. Please stop this. Athenean (talk) 17:26, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Athenean, Since the edit remained here until 2009, and you are fighting over this since 2010... It's accurately citing that Rigveda supports the spherical earth.. How it's "Junk science"? Which "second source" you are talking about? Can't you read? Then the sources regarding the satapatha brahmana are 100% accurate too.. Then you are telling me that "they don't support your claim they are just opposite" then "please stop it", it seems that you assume no good faith. Justicejayant (talk) 18:19, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
I can read very well, thank you. This source [14], which you claim says Indian astronomy influenced Greek astronomy, in fact says "During the Seleucid period, Greek astronomical ideas, with Babylonian features, also entered Indian astronomy". And Ebenezer Burgess is indeed junk science. If you don't have the WP:COMPETENCE to understand these things, please do not edit. Athenean (talk) 18:37, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Well Athenean, it also reads in 2nd paragraph that "blended with babylonian procedures and indian influences, also came in from the east"... But what these sources have to do with the rigvedic related sources? That you just removed as well. They must be inserted back, and you can insert this "greek influence" thing too, but different wording. Justicejayant (talk) 18:48, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Carey, as unspecified he is, is also way off on the Chinese chronology which he mentions in connection with the Indians (p. 15). Quite the contrary, the Chinese were about the last to adopt the concept of a spherical earth, only after the arrival of Jesuits around 1600. I suspect he relies on Joseph Needham in his unreferenced claim, but Cullen, cited in this article, makes it clear he misinterpreted a Han dynasty egg analogy. In sum, the two-liner Carey provides is useless. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 19:05, 27 October 2013 (UTC)


Maybe he is, anyways, let's recognize the greek influence. While keeping the leading text same as the last version that i had edited, we can edit the India part this way?...:-


The Rigveda is the oldest surviving Indian philosophical text, dating back back to 15th century BCE. According to K. V. Sarma: "One finds in the Rgveda intelligent speculations about the genesis of the universe from nonexistence, the configuration of the universe, the spherical self-supporting earth, and the year of 360 days divided into 12 equal parts of 30 days each with a periodical intercalary month."[1]
Shatapatha Brahmana

C. V. Vishveshwara,[2] Kireet Joshi,[3] and others have suggested that the concept of a spherical Earth was implicit in the Shatapatha Brahmana, an ancient Indian philosophical, dated between 8th to 6th centuries BCE.

Medieval India

With the rise of Greek culture in the east, Hellenistic astronomy filtered eastwards to ancient India where its profound influence became apparent in the early centuries AD.[4] The Greek concept of a spherical earth surrounded by the spheres of planets, was supported by astronomers like Varahamihira and Brahmagupta[4][5]

The works of the classical Indian astronomer and mathematician, Aryabhata (476-550 AD), deal with the sphericity of the Earth and the motion of the planets. The final two parts of his Sanskrit magnum opus, the Aryabhatiya, which were named the Kalakriya ("reckoning of time") and the Gola ("sphere"), state that the Earth is spherical and that its circumference is 4,967 yojanas. In modern units this is 39,968 km (24,835 mi), close to the current equatorial value of 40,075 km (24,901 mi).[6][7] Justicejayant (talk) 19:11, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

I haven't checked the other sources, but the claim that "C. V. Vishveshwara,[8]... suggested that the concept of a spherical Earth was implicit in the Shatapatha Brahmana, an ancient Indian philosophical, dated between 8th to 6th centuries BCE." is wrong.
  • The chapter being referenced is written by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, not C. V. Vishveshwara.
  • More importantly: in the cited pages Chattopadhyaya is arguing that the Eta Tauri's position mentioned in Satapatha Brahmana (dated to 10-7c BCE) can be calculated using modern methods and knowledge to actually be its position in ~2334BCE. He uses this to conclude that the writers of SB were simply using information about the star position handed down from long ago without bothering to check where those star were located at the time they composed the texts. In fact he is pretty dismissive of the interest that the authors of SB had in practical astronomy ("It is indeed difficult to imagine that the authors of these texts had any genuine interest in astronomy which they used for shear mystery-mongering.") and makes no claims they they or their antecedents had any knowledge of spherical earth.
Given Chattopadhyaya's opinion on the subject I'd really like to see the exact quotes and context of the Kireet Joshi reference being cited. Abecedare (talk) 19:44, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Justicejayant, could you give the page number for Sarma 2008. Is it in the 1st or 2nd volume?< Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:12, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Got it. But merely mentioning off-hand a "spherical self-supporting earth" is all Sarma ever says. He does not expound his view and does not take up the subject in the rest of the article. In fact, he does not even provide any time frame, so your preceding dating of 1500 BC is certainly too close to WP:Synthesis. As it, writing was only introduced one thousand years (= 40 generations) later in India (Richard Salomon: On the Origin of the Early Indian Scripts, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 115, No. 2. (Apr. - Jun., 1995), pp. 271-279 (271)) and going by the WP article, the Rigveda in the form which has come down to us is from ca. 1000 AD and later, that is long after contact with Greek (and even Arab/Persian) astronomy and Aryabhata. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:31, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Of the sources presented in the template above, the only one that both passes WP:RS and backs the claim being made is Sarma, however, I agree with Gun Powder Ma above. Athenean (talk) 22:46, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
The book is cited around 1700 BC - 1100 BC commonly. It's not about when it was distributed around the world, but when it was composed. Also K.V. Sarma's source is enough for prescribing to the point that spherical earth was prevalent in Ancient India. Some more sources should be looked upon, few i mentioned before, such as [15](page 42), [16], [17] might help in this regard. Abecedare, we can recognize some more sources such as [18], "Theories of the Earth and Universe: A History of Dogma in the Earth Sciences"[19](16-17) as he's after all submitting that the concept was common in India.. Justicejayant (talk) 03:27, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Miscellaneous comments:
  • Justicejayant is right that the important date with regards to Rigveda is the date it was composed (2nd mill. BCE) and not the date it was "written down", since perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Rigveda is how well it was preserved through an oral tradition of vedic chanting. There are ample high quality citations to back this up if needed.
  • KV Sarma does suggest that Rigveda contains mention of spherical Earth, but the reference is too brief to use by itself for such a fundamental claim. If that claim is indeed widely held, we should be able to find scholarly analysis devoted to it. I have (briefly) searched through JSTOR and looked up some standard authors on the subject (Yukio Ohashi; Michio Yano; and David Pingree) but didn't find any backing of spherical-Earth-in-Rigveda claim yet. That of course does not prove that such a citation does not exist, but someone will need to find it.
  • Looking at the latest crop of citations: as far as I can tell, Carey here is talking of a Sun-centric universe/solar-system, and not of a spherical Earth. Even if we accept Cary as an acceptable citation on the subject, is it even relevant to this article?
  • Justicejayant: it would perhaps help if you could create a sub-page in your userspace with (1) a list the citations you wish to include along with (2) the claim they support, and (3) the relevant quote and context. I have entered this discussion only recently, but I am having a hard time keeping pace with all the works being cited and debunked. :)
Abecedare (talk) 04:00, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Another source review: This chapter in a book on sustainable development is authored by Ruedi Hogger who is "an independent consultant in the field of international cooperation". How is that an acceptable source on the history of science or analysis of Vedic era texts? Abecedare (talk) 04:18, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Sarma is certainly not sufficient to claim that the notion of a "spherical earth" was "prevalent" in Vedic India. He doesn't make that claim in fact. Hogger won't do, he's not a scholar on the history of science. For a claim such as this, only a scholarly source on the history of astronomy will do. Athenean (talk) 06:56, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
K V Sarma might be used, as there are multiple books, that quotes his references. Such as David H. Kelley, in his book "Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy" is citing same book(of Sarma) as Helaine Selin did.

Hajime Nakamura will work? Read this especially last para. I wonder if it can be used as source, but you can have a look here, quotes about the indian astronomy originally by the Dick Teresi. This one, i had actually read first time at flat earth page. Also are few more sources, explanatory to the point.[20]. Let me know. Justicejayant (talk) 09:54, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

We are rapidly entering the stage where it becomes obvious that Wikipedia should be more than construeing together random keyword searches in Google Books. If the notion of a spherical earth in ancient Hindu texts has gained any substantial ground in scholarship, it should not be hard to find two, three up-to-date papers or chapters written up by specials devoted to the subject (that would also be where the problem of dating texts and later interpolations is conventionally addressed). What we need are reliable scientists who make a consistent case. All the fundamental assertions about the historical trajectory of the idea of the sphericity of the earth in the WP article can claim at least a similarly strong backing in literature. Why be happy with less? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 11:45, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
This one will help, [21], "The history of geophysics and meteorology", by Stephen G. Brush, Helmut Landsberg, Martin Collins. Other than these books, some others I had found,[22], there are obviously many. Pretty much, I have detailed that it's widespread information, that Rigveda/Vedas and Shatapatha Brahmana writes about earth being spherical.. When we have something added here like "or a wheel, bowl, or four-cornered plane alluded to in the Rigveda", containing no 2nd source, and the given source is unpopular, we can added the information which is actually widespread, confirmed by multiple sources. Justicejayant (talk) 11:18, 1 November 2013 (UTC)