The present volume is the second book resulting from the collaboration between the Institute for Neohellenic Research (INR) of the National Hellenic Research Foundation and the Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés (LATTS), an entity common to many French education and research institutions.
Within the framework of this collaboration, another volume has preceded the present one three years ago, entitled Science, Technology and the 19th century State, bringing together a number of contributions, which attempted to explore the relationship during the 19th century between a state (Greece, France, Britain and Portugal, in this case), which thinks of itself as rational, on one hand, and on the other, sciences and technologies, instruments of a studied ‘rationalization’ on the other. This volume holds to the general theme of the previous volume since it focuses on a particular agent, the army. If the association of the army to the state comes naturally and without any surprise –war between states is endemic throughout the history of humanity and, from this point of view, the 19th century is no exception– the relationship between the military and ‘sciences and technologies’ is worth a commentary. The present volume consists of papers presented in a conference organized jointly by the INR and the LATTS in Hermoupolis (Syros), in July 2000. Although most of the papers relate to the two countries to which the above-mentioned institutions belong, namely, Greece and France, other regions and countries are concerned, such as Egypt, Romania or Japan, in particular through the action of French technical missions.
The volume comprises eight texts.
Nathalie Montel deals with the creation of the Alexandria arsenal, in the beginning of the 1830’s, which was decided by Muhammad Ali in his general effort to modernize Egypt and assigned to a French naval engineer, Charles Lefébure de Cerisy. The originality of the author’s approach consists in seeing the Alexandria arsenal as a mirror, reflecting not Egypt but the French reality of the time concerning military shipbuilding.
Anousheh Karvar describes how France helped Romania and Japan to reorganize their armies in the second half of the 19th century, a period rich in reforms for both countries, which were involved in the construction of a national and centralized state.
Patrice Bret deals with the question of the organization of the French military research between 1760 and 1830, showing that, through the creation of numerous military institutions, it is the origin of French public research.
Konstantinos Chatzis studies the organization of Engineer Corps and the multiple roles it held in 19th century Greece. An ‘army of scholars’ created in 1829, the Engineer Corps fills, until the 1880’s, functions and tasks that in reality belong to the civil engineers’ domain, while its members excel in transmitting in Greece Western knowledge and know-how.
Yannis Antoniou and Michalis Assimakopoulos describe the lengthy process of the advent and ‘acclimatization’ of the modern engineer in Greece, a process that spans from the country’s independence (1830) to the beginning of the 20th century.
Dimitris Vogiatzis’ contribution concerns the military technology used by the Greek army during the 19th century, when regular ‘western’ military formations and ‘old fashioned’ troops coexisted.
Andreas Kastanis deals with the introduction and teaching of descriptive geometry ion Greece during the 19th century. Of French inspiration, this subject was taught in the Military Academy and the University of Athens since the 1830’s.
Finally, the role and place held by Greek marine officers in the Greek scientific scene of the 19th century are dealt by George Vlahakis.