Strabo’s Contribution to Geography

The Romans are one of the pioneers of many scientific studies such as geography, climatology, history and medicine etc. Strabo (64 BC-24 AD) was one of those Roman scholars who made significant contribution to geographical studies. Strabo’s contribution to geography can be seen in the 17 Volumes of Geographica written by him.

Strabo’s Geography

  • He declared geography as a chorological science meaning a regional study.
  • He surpassed all the geographical writing in term diversity and size of writing.
  • Strabo was an avid traveler. Some of his writings are based on the knowledge gained from merchants and travelers.
  • He was a regional geographer and gave appropriate meaning to the term ‘chorology‘.
  • Strabo wrote 43 volumes of Historical Memoir.
  • He tried to explain the different aspects of a place i.e. geography, economy, society etc. in relation to each other. This indicates his leaning towards regional geography.
  • His Geographica and Historical Memoir provide wide information on cultural differentiation and regional uniqueness, types of social customs and governments of particular places.
  • He divided world into natural regions and gave more importance to natural boundaries than political.

Strabo’s Contribution to Physical Geography

  • He propounded two geographical principles.
    • Theory of alternative elevation and depression.
    • Deduction of larger physical phenomena from local physical phenomena.
  • Since, Roman empire annexed most of Mediterranean coast, the Romans had the privilege to observe the movement of shoreline. Therefore, Strabo observed impact of transgression and regression of seas.
  • His work revolves around the relationship between geography and history. He studied the impact of physical environment on the character and history of people of a particular region. For instance, he studied the impact of Roman environment and location on rise of Roman empire.

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Strabo has contributed to following aspects of geography.

  1. Historical Geography: Historical Memoirs about empires and politics.
  2. Principles of Physical Geography: Study seas and oceans.
  3. Regional geography, areal differentiation and natural regions.
  4. Descriptive Approach: His memoirs were descriptive and encyclopedic.
  5. Geography as different from Maths and physical science.