Bolin Lu

Visiting Research Scholar 2023

Bolin Lu is a historian of science who mainly focuses on the study of the history of the ancient western science, especially on the history of geography. His work examines how ancient Greek and Roman geographers in antiquity including Eratosthenes, Hipparchus and Ptolemy view the inhabited world as well as the different ideas of their mapping representation. He also gives additional attention to the comparative study of the geographical horizon and the world concept between the West and the contemporary China.

In his dissertation "A Study on Ptolemy’s Geography" he first researches Ptolemy’s work and the ancient Greek history of geography from the perspective of intellectual history in China. He explores the theoretical frames of the work in three aspects: the metrological traditions, the land survey and astronomical distance measurement, and the data processing methods. Then he discusses the three important Ptolemaic mapping systems and reveals the ideas of the Euclidean optics, geometry and his mathematical epistemology hidden behind. Also, he analyzes Ptolemy's description of the East Asia based on the contemporary Chinese (Han Dynasty) historical records and the methodology of the historical geography, and unveils a corner of the exchange condition of the geographical knowledge between the two ends of Eurasia from as early as the 1st century.

At ISAW, he will continue to work on the study of Ptolemy’s Geography and extends his interest to the relationship between Ptolemy’s mapping, the optical theories and the linear perspective. One of his goals is to show that by virtue of the assumption of the "visual point", the Ptolemaic cartography manages to endow the seemingly omniscient world image with a human perspective, thus foreshadows the subtle connection between the map-making and the painting in the Renaissance.

Once serving as a cultural journalist after receiving his BA and MA in Chinese Philology and Literature from Beijing Normal University (2011), he took his PhD in History of Science from Tsinghua University in 2022.