Today scientific, technological and cultural knowledge is shared worldwide. The extent to which globalized knowledge also existed in the past is an open question and, moreover, a question that is important for understanding present processes of globalization. This book, the first volume of the series “Studies” of the “Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge,” the result of an interdisciplinary cooperation launched in 2007 by a Dahlem Conference, offers surprising answers to this question. Long-distance and intercontinental connections with an attendant spread of knowledge are as old as Homo sapiens themselves. Since its inception, the globalization of knowledge has been a process with its own dynamics, interfering significantly with other processes of intercultural transmission. The four parts of this volume address historical phases in which the production, transmission and transformation of knowledge were crucial for advancing these processes. Part 1 investigates a series of processes in the very early phases of globalization, from the transmission of practical knowledge to the emergence of science. Part 2 explores how knowledge was disseminated as a consequence of the spread of power and belief structures. Part 3 deals with the encounters between culturally specific knowledge and globalized knowledge. Part 4 is dedicated to the globalization of modern science and to the great challenges, such as energy supply and climate change, that humanity faces when dealing with knowledge today.
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