Research area D (“Theory and Science”) investigated ancient theories of space as well as all forms of ancient science in which spatial concepts have a role to play. Research groups in Topoi II extended the research conducted in Topoi I on the interplay between space and knowledge in the development of scientific theories and practices. Topoi II emphasized additional historical, geographical, and thematic aspects.

In particular, attention to ancient views of causal relationships in Topoi II created greater methodological precision in interpreting ancient views about processes that occur in space. Reflections on causality pertain equally to spatial relationships between the heavens and the gods, to astronomical signs, and to the effects they engender. Spatial zones are differentiated with reference to the heavens and sublunary regions, to the gods and to the human body and soul. These regions undergo qualitative change, making them the causal agents for events that occur in other spatial regions. Such causal relationships are, in turn, susceptible to scientific investigation and guide the development of scientific knowledge to a considerable degree. Astronomy, meteorology, medicine, geography, and technology betray astonishing methodological parallels across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Space, knowledge, and causal relationships thus condition one another reciprocally.

The aim of the research undertaken in area D was to arrive at a synthesized image of the development of spatial knowledge over a large region and a period of several millennia.