Dr. Olivier Defaux

Research Interests:

History of ancient science (geography, astronomy) from Antiquity to Byzantine period, textual history of scientific texts, philology, palaeography, codicology, digital humanities.


Olivier Defaux studied Ancient History at the Université Lumière Lyon 2 and was PhD student in History of Ancient Science at the Humboldt University and the Excellence Cluster Topoi in Berlin. From 2016 to 2020 he was research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. His main research interests include ancient geography and astronomy, as well as the philology and history of ancient and medieval scientific texts.

Project Abstract

Greek Chronological Tables from Ptolemy to The Late Byzantine Period

My project will investigate the Greek chronological tables found in the manuscripts of Ptolemy’s Handy Tables. These tables cover different aspects of time computing and calendar synchronization useful to perform astronomical computations. Some of these tables were created after Ptolemy, during Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period. Historians of sciences still lack a modern complete edition of this set of chronological tables. On the basis of the most ancient manuscripts, I want to edit the tables that are still unpublished, and study their creation, their use and transmission during the Middle Ages.       

Curriculum vitae


PhD (2016), History of Ancient Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Summa cum laude)

MA (2012), History and Archaeology, Université Lumière Lyon 2 

BA (2010), History, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon


07/2016—06/2020: Research scholar

Max-Planck Institute of History of Science (Berlin), Department I

02/2016—07/2016: Postdoctoral fellow

Excellence Cluster Topoi (Berlin), research group D-1 "Space of Nature"

02/2013—01/2016: Doctoral fellow

Excellence Cluster Topoi (Berlin) and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Selected Publications

'Simplicius et la rotation des astres: histoire d'une scolie du Petit Commentaire de Théon d'Alexandrie', in Revue des Études Grecques 133 (2020/2), 411-448. 

'Le Papyrus Rylands 522/523 et les tables de Ptolémée', in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 215 (2020), 51–93.

The Iberian Peninsula in Ptolemy's Geography. Origins of the Coordinates and Textual History, Berlin Studies of the Ancient World 51, Berlin: Edition Topoi, 2017.

'Les textes géographiques en langue syriaque', in Émilie Villey (éd.), Les sciences en syriaque, Paris: Geuthner, 2014, 107–147.