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How has water been perceived in different societies and across different eras of world history? How have these changing conceptions informed and influenced our ideas about society and ourselves? In 'The Idea of Water' leading international scholars explore the rich record of our ideas, from the beliefs of early societies to the latest scientific views on the nature of this unique substance. Ranging across all aspects - scientific, cultural and religious - this important work both challenges conventional interpretations and understanding of water in nature and represents one of the first attempts to provide a history of our changing conceptions of the role and significance of water in human society.