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Natural History


Byzantine scholarship of the early mediaeval period was very closely bound up with theology. The world of nature, about which Byzantine scholars could obtain information both from their own observations and from the writings of the classical philosophers and naturalists, was seen primarily as living testimony to the wisdom of God who created the world, or as a kind of living allegory: natural phenomena, the behaviour of living creatures and the mineral world were regarded as the embodiment in living, material form of eternal truths, concepts or moral admonitions.

Byzantine scholarly writings of the early Middle Ages were known in Old Russia also. Although we cannot say precisely when certain translations appeared in Russia, it is possible that they were known there even before the Mongol invasion.