Hear Ye, Hear Ye! A Medieval Science Quiz


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Did anything vaguely scientific happen in the Middle Ages? Take this quiz to learn how we got through a dark period of history while trying to figure out how the sun was revolving around us, anyway.

Why do historians think that the folks in the Middle Ages got a bad rap for being uninterested in science and learning?

The Enlightenment era prided itself on serious education and discovery -- at the expense of the earlier medieval times, which they dismissed as superstitious and over-religious.


What equine invention was NOT invented during medieval times?

The saddle was invented a bit earlier, but the Middles Ages did bring us the horseshoe and collar to harness horsepower.


What everyday object was first invented in the medieval period?

The mechanical clock was a medieval invention and used an escapement -- a balance wheel or pendulum that makes the hands tick forward. Much to Captain Hook's dismay.


What was a broad role of science in medieval culture?

The Middle Ages were really religious; science was generally pursued to explain the nature that God created.


What great medieval scientist was NOT a Catholic bishop?

Thomas Aquinas was certainly in the Catholic church, but he never made bishop.


What medieval thinker was the first to write down a recipe for gunpowder?

We have Bacon to thank for Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang."


While we usually think of Europe when we talk about medieval times, what Islamic norm was first introduced to the rest of the world in the Middle Ages?

The Arabic numeral system was spread to the world by the otherwise-awful Crusades.


What source of learning was introduced in the Middle Ages?

During this period, universities popped up after people started thinking it might be a good idea to have a place where smart folks lectured.


What crop rotation system was used during the Middle Ages?

Leaving one-third of the field fallow while planting fall and spring crops on the other two allowed for far more productive harvests than the old two-field system.


What medieval farming invention was a lifesaver for those trying to grow crops in dense, clay soils?

The heavy plow allowed farmers to dig much deeper into soils -- a very good thing for soils that needed extra oomph.


Avenzoar was a Muslim physician. What procedure did he first perform experimentally?

Avenzoar was the first to try a tracheotomy. His subject? A goat.


Avenzoar wasn't the only trailblazing physician in the Middle Ages. What did Muslim surgeon Al-Zahrawi bring to the surgery table?

Be glad Al-Zahrawi invented forceps to make birth easier. You can be a little annoyed with him, though, every time you get a shot.


What invention -- somewhat surprisingly -- came after the invention of the mechanical clock?

That's right, the hourglass actually showed up around the 14th century. (But there are some legends that claim it was invented in the eighth century by a French monk.)


People in the Middle Ages loved their iron. What was NOT a medieval invention to make iron production much easier?

The blast furnace created much more intense heat for iron production, and water wheels provided the energy to pump the air needed for the blast.


Readers can thank the Middle Ages for this invention:

If you're not squinting to read this, perhaps it's because you are harnessing the awesome medieval power of reading glasses.


What medieval creation changed the history of art?

Oil paint was first used in the Middle Ages, and it made the Mona Lisa smile.


What famous razor was first invented in the Middle Ages?

"The simplest explanation is the most likely," said William of Ockham, presumably in the midst of a shave one day in the Middle Ages.


Let's be fair: There was some science in the medieval ages that was straight-up bunk. What was one reason some in the Middle Ages pursued the field of alchemy?

By figuring out a way to transmute metals, early alchemists thought they might find the key to riches -- or the cure for disease. Instead, they helped to discover chemistry.


The plague brought us what restrictive medical practice?

To protect coastal cities from epidemics, the Italians asked for <i>quaranta giorni</i>: forty days in harbor before disembarking.


Middle-schoolers have no reason to thank Middle-Agers. What medieval discovery haunts their days?

Al-Khwarizmi was a Persian mathematician around the turn of the ninth century whose work was the basis for the concepts of algebra. Blame him for all those pop quizzes.


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