Ancient Models of the World

The ancient Chinese people believed the sky is a round dome, surrounding a flat square-shaped Earth. The ocean goes all around the Earth. The sun travels in a big tilted circle. At night the sun is not under the Earth, but rather on the side of the Earth.

The ancient Egyptians believed the Earth is flat. The sky is like a flat plate, supported at four places by mountains. The sun is carried across the sky in a boat, from east to west. At night, the sun is carried back to the east through the Underworld.

In ancient India it was believed that the Earth is a circular disk, surrounded by the ocean. In the center of the world is a great mountain. The sun goes around the mountain once a day. In the evening, the sun goes behind the western side of the mountain. It travels behind the mountain at night, and comes out on the eastern side in the morning.

Most ancient Greeks believed that the Earth floated in the ocean like a cork in water. One person, named Anaximander, thought that the Earth was a cylinder with a rounded top, floating in the air. The sky surrounded the Earth, and beyond the sky was a region of fire. The sun, moon, and stars were holes in the sky, through which the fire could be seen.