Apr 30 2019

Turkey tops Greece as birthplace of greats - MIT

A new project by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) lists every ancient Greek figure born in Asia Minor as born in Turkey, despite the fact that the country did not yet exist.

The Pantheon project, which is part of the MIT Media Lab, aims to create a data-driven view of history by collecting and analysing data on the biographies of major historical characters.

Pantheon’s database says that not only were Homer, author of perhaps the two greatest works of ancient literature, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and Herodotus, the so-called Father of History, born in Turkey, but so too were ancient philosophers such as Thales, Heraclitus, and Diogenes.

Born in Turkey, MIT's Pantheon
Born in Turkey, MIT's Pantheon

Of course, some figures widely seen as Turkish were attributed to Greece. Kemal Atatürk, the father of Modern Turkey, is listed under Greece, as he was born in Thessaloniki. The great Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet is also listed under Greece.

Born in Greece, MIT's Pantheon
Born in Greece, MIT's Pantheon

MIT’s Pantheon told U.S.-based Greek Reporter that they attribute individuals by their country of birth based on today’s political map.

“This means that Albert Einstein is an export of Germany (since he was born in Ulm) and that individuals born in the ancient city of Babylon were assigned to Iraq,” MIT said.

Critics say that Pantheon’s approach distorts history as it ignores the national or cultural background of the historical figures, said Greek Reporter.

Turkey (6.7%) sits above Greece (5.95%) on Pantheon’s list of the birthplace of globally known philosophers. The disparity is much wider when it comes to politicians -- just two percent of globally known politicians were born in Greece, while nearly five percent (4.77) were born in Turkey, according to Pantheon.

Politicians born in, MIT's Pantheon
Politicians born in, MIT's Pantheon