Greek Historical Figures, Philosophers Lead MIT World’s Greats List

FILE - Tourists visit a statue of Alexander the Great, at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Six of the world’s top 10 great figures were Greek, a list compiled for the Massachusetts Institute of Techology Pantheon Project shows, although Homer is identified as Turkish and number 11, Archimedes, as Italian based on methodology identifying people from ancient times based on maps of today.

That confusing way of listing figures showed that the father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk was technically Greek because he was born in Thessaloniki and that the great Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet as well because he was born in Greece.

The project lists every ancient Greek figure born in Asia Minor – which was part of Greece –  as born in Turkey – a country that did not exist at the time they were born and living.

Number one is Aristotle, followed by Plato, Jesus Christ, Socrates, Alexander the Great, Leonardo Da Vinci, Confucius, Julius Caesar, Homer and Pythagoras in the top 10.

The project, part of the MIT Media Lab, aims to create a data-driven view of history by collecting and analyzing data on the biographies of major historical characters but also indicates Herodotus – the so-called Father of History – was Turkish, as were the ancient philosophers Thales, Heraclitus and Diogenes.

Project officials told Greek Reporter 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 without explaining why that doesn’t distort history.

Because of the method used, Turkey at 6.7 percent, was listed above Greece at 5.95 percent as the birthplace of globally known philosophers, none of whom were Turkish. That also meant that only 2 percent of politicians were from Greece while 4.77 percent were from Turkey, giving today’s country credit for people who weren’t born there.