Since the beginning of civilization when men learned to till the soil, domesticate animals, and construct the first large urban centers made of mud bricks they were usually led by a charismatic individual who showed natural leadership skills. later becoming know as “Kings”. When enough food was available for everyone this gave people time to “think”. And what they thought about was the things they saw everyday. That bright glowing ball of fire that rose in the east and set in the west. The less bright orb that lit up in the darkness. The twinkling lights that all seemed to move in unison except for a few that wandered.
A certain cast of the tribe took on the task of observing the sky and over many generations learned that the movements of the sun, moon and stars followed the same patterns year after year. Calendars could be made, Solstice’s could be predicted and most importantly times to sow and reap. The people who had the knowledge to make these predictions over time morphed into a priestly class, becoming trusted advisors to the ruling elite or even becoming rulers themselves.
Of course some things couldn’t be predicted like droughts. When it didn’t rain for a long time crops failed and people starved. Unfortunately the weather channel was 3000 years or so in the future. Things that could not be predicted or explained were the venue of the gods and their whims. So the problem must be that the gods were displeased. Those gods who were responsible of the sun in the sky. Who sent bolts of lightening and roared with thunder. and who sent or withheld the rain. What could be done to please the gods?
Pyramids were constructed, alters were built and what was required from the masses was…sacrifice, blood sacrifice, animals, and in some civilizations, human sacrifice.
But certain people were blessed with curiosity and intelligence.
Mathematics, geometry in particular seems to have been developed in varies cultures. This aided in the building and alignment of those pyramids and temples. In ancient Greece Euclid, and Archimedes among others brought great advancements.
The Greek astronomer Eratosthenes of Cyrene in 240 B.C. came remarkably close to figuring the circumference of the earth through observation and geometry.
Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato, pillars of philosophy, There names are well known today.
The Greek Hippocrates and Galen who practiced in Rome brought advancements in medicine.
An understanding of the workings of the natural world was taking it’s first small steps. How but not so much why.
There would be a long ways to go.