Please use the article I included to answer these questions, please paraphrase no quotation marks.
Please make the paper about 700 words long.
a) What caused these two paths of food production?
b) What were the social, technological, scientific and cultural results of the first path, which was based on agriculture?
c) What kind of technologies developed during the Neolithic Revolution?
History of technology
Written By: Robert Angus Buchanan
The beginnings—Stone Age technology (to c. 3000 bce) ………..…..… 4 – 8
The Urban Revolution (c. 3000–500 bce) …………………………………. 8 – 11
Technological achievements of Greece and Rome (500 bce–500 ce) …… 11 – 14
From the Middle Ages to 1750 ……………………………………………. 14 – 27
History of technology, the development over time of systematic techniques for making and doing
things. The term technology, a combination of the Greek technē, “art, craft,” with logos, “word,
speech,” meant in Greece a discourse on the arts, both fine and applied. When it first appeared in
English in the 17th century, it was used to mean a discussion of the applied arts only, and gradually
these “arts” themselves came to be the object of the designation. By the early 20th century, the term
embraced a growing range of means, processes, and ideas in addition to tools and machines. By mid-
century, technology was defined by such phrases as “the means or activity by which man seeks to
change or manipulate his environment.” Even such broad definitions have been criticized by observers
who point out the increasing difficulty of distinguishing between scientific inquiry and technological
A highly compressed account of the history of technology such as this one must adopt a rigorous
methodological pattern if it is to do justice to the subject without grossly distorting it one way or
another. The plan followed in the present article is primarily chronological, tracing the development of
technology through phases that succeed each other in time. Obviously, the division between phases is
to a large extent arbitrary. One factor in the weighting has been the enormous acceleration of Western
technological development in recent centuries; Eastern technology is considered in this article in the
main only as it relates to the development of modern technology.
Within each chronological phase a standard method has been adopted for surveying the technological
experience and innovations. This begins with a brief review of the general social conditions of the
period under discussion, and then goes on to consider the dominant materials and sources of power of
the period, and their application to food production, manufacturing industry, building construction,
transport and communications, military technology, and medical technology. In a final section the
sociocultural consequences of technological change in the period are examined. This framework is
modified according to the particular requirements of every period— discussions of new materials, for
instance, occupy a substantial place in the accounts of earlier phases when new metals were being
introduced but are comparatively unimportant in descriptions of some of the later phases—but the
general pattern is retained throughout. One key factor that does not fit easily into this pattern is that of
the development of tools. It has seemed most convenient to relate these to the study of materials, rather
than to any particular application, but it has not been possible to be completely consistent in this
treatment. Further discussion of specific areas of technological development is provided in a variety of
other articles: for example, see electronics; exploration; information processing.
Essentially, techniques are methods of creating new tools and products of tools, and the capacity for
constructing such artifacts is a determining characteristic of humanlike species. Other species make
artifacts: bees build elaborate hives to deposit their honey, birds make nests, and beavers build dams.
But these attributes are the result of patterns of instinctive behaviour and cannot be varied to suit
rapidly changing circumstances. Humanity, in contrast with other species, does not possess highly
developed instinctive reactions but does have the capacity to think systematically and creatively about
techniques. Humans can thus innovate and consciously modify the environment in a way no other
species has achieved. An ape may on occasion use a stick to beat bananas from a tree, but a man can
fashion the stick into a cutting tool and remove a whole bunch of bananas. Somewhere in the transition
between the two, the hominid, the first manlike species, emerges. By virtue of his nature as a
toolmaker, man is therefore a technologist from the beginning, and the history of technology
encompasses the whole evolution of humankind.
In using rational faculties to devise techniques and modify the environment, humankind has attacked
problems other than those of survival and the production of wealth with which the term technology is
usually associated today. The technique of language, for example, involves the manipulation of sounds
and symbols in a meaningful way, and similarly the techniques of artistic and ritual creativity
represent other aspects of the technological incentive. This article does not deal with these cultural and
religious techniques, but it is valuable to establish their relationship at the outset because the history of
technology reveals a profound interaction between the incentives and opportunities of technological
innovation on the one hand and the sociocultural conditions of the human group within which they
occur on the other.
Social involvement in technological advances
An awareness of this interaction is important in surveying the development of technology through
successive civilizations. To simplify the relationship as much as possible, there are three points at
which there must be some social involvement in technological innovation: social need, social
resources, and a sympathetic social ethos. In default of any of these factors it is unlikely that a
technological innovation will be widely adopted or be successful.
The sense of social need must be strongly felt, or people will not be prepared to devote resources to a
technological innovation. The thing needed may be a more efficient cutting tool, a more powerful
lifting device, a labour saving machine, or a means of utilizing new fuels or a new source of energy.
Or, because military needs have always provided a stimulus to technological innovation, it may take
the form of a requirement for better weapons. In modern societies, needs have been generated by
advertising. Whatever the source of social need, it is essential that enough people be conscious of it to
provide a market for an artifact or commodity that can meet the need.
Social resources are similarly an indispensable prerequisite to a successful innovation. Many
inventions have foundered because the social resources vital for their realization—the capital,
materials, and skilled personnel—were not available. The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci are full of
ideas for helicopters, submarines, and airplanes, but few of these reached even the model stage
because resources of one sort or another were lacking. The resource of capital involves the existence
of surplus productivity and an organization capable of directing the available wealth into channels in
which the inventor can use it. The resource of materials involves the availability of appropriate
metallurgical, ceramic, plastic, or textile substances that can perform whatever functions a new
invention requires of them. The resource of skilled personnel implies the presence of technicians
capable of constructing new artifacts and devising novel processes. A society, in short, has to be well
primed with suitable resources in order to sustain technological innovation.
A sympathetic social ethos implies an environment receptive to new ideas, one in which the dominant
social groups are prepared to consider innovation seriously. Such receptivity may be limited to specific
fields of innovation—for example, improvements in weapons or in navigational techniques—or it may
take the form of a more generalized attitude of inquiry, as was the case among the industrial middle
classes in Britain during the 18th century, who were willing to cultivate new ideas and inventors, the
breeders of such ideas. Whatever the psychological basis of inventive genius, there can be no doubt
that the existence of socially important groups willing to encourage inventors and to use their ideas has
been a crucial factor in the history of technology.
Social conditions are thus of the utmost importance in the development of new techniques, some of
which will be considered below in more detail. It is worthwhile, however, to register another
explanatory note. This concerns the rationality of technology. It has already been observed that
technology involves the application of reason to techniques, and in the 20th century it came to be
regarded as almost axiomatic that technology is a rational activity stemming from the traditions of
modern science. Nevertheless, it should be observed that technology, in the sense in which the term is
being used here, is much older than science, and also that techniques have tended to ossify over
centuries of practice or to become diverted into such para-rational exercises as alchemy. Some
techniques became so complex, often depending upon processes of chemical change that were not
understood even when they were widely practiced, that technology sometimes became itself a
“mystery” or cult into which an apprentice had to be initiated like a priest into holy orders, and in
which it was more important to copy an ancient formula than to innovate. The modern philosophy of
progress cannot be read back into the history of technology; for most of its long existence technology
has been virtually stagnant, mysterious, and even irrational. It is not fanciful to see some lingering
fragments of this powerful technological tradition in the modern world, and there is more than an
element of irrationality in the contemporary dilemma of a highly technological society contemplating
the likelihood that it will use its sophisticated techniques in order to accomplish its own destruction. It
is thus necessary to beware of over facile identification of technology with the “progressive” forces in
On the other hand it is impossible to deny that there is a progressive element in technology, as it is
clear from the most elementary survey that the acquisition of techniques is a cumulative matter, in
which each generation inherits a stock of techniques on which it can build if it chooses and if social
conditions permit. Over a long period of time the history of technology inevitably highlights the
moments of innovation that show this cumulative quality as some societies advance, stage by stage,
from comparatively primitive to more sophisticated techniques. But although this development has
occurred and is still going on, it is not intrinsic to the nature of technology that such a process of
accumulation should occur, and it has certainly not been an inevitable development. The fact that
many societies have remained stagnant for long periods of time, even at quite developed stages of
technological evolution, and that some have actually regressed and lost the accumulated techniques
passed on to them, demonstrates the ambiguous nature of technology and the critical importance of its
relationship with other social factors.
Modes of technological transmission
Another aspect of the cumulative character of technology that will require further investigation is the
manner of transmission of technological innovations. This is an elusive problem, and it is necessary to
accept the phenomenon of simultaneous or parallel invention in cases in which there is insufficient
evidence to show the transmission of ideas in one direction or another. The mechanics of their
transmission have been enormously improved in recent centuries by the printing press and other means
of communication and also by the increased facility with which travelers visit the sources of
innovation and carry ideas back to their own homes. Traditionally, however, the major mode of
transmission has been the movement of artifacts and craftsmen. Trade in artifacts has ensured their
widespread distribution and encouraged imitation. Even more important, the migration of craftsmen—
whether the itinerant metalworkers of early civilizations or the German rocket engineers whose expert
knowledge was acquired by both the Soviet Union and the United States after World War II—has
promoted the spread of new technologies.
The evidence for such processes of technological transmission is a reminder that the material for the
study of the history of technology comes from a variety of sources. Much of it relies, like any
historical examination, on documentary matter, although this is sparse for the early civilizations
because of the general lack of interest in technology on the part of scribes and chroniclers. For these
societies, therefore, and for the many millennia of earlier unrecorded history in which slow but
substantial technological advances were made, it is necessary to rely heavily upon archaeological
evidence. Even in connection with the recent past, the historical understanding of the processes of
rapid industrialization can be made deeper and more vivid by the study of “industrial archaeology.”
Much valuable material of this nature has been accumulated in museums, and even more remains in
the place of its use for the observation of the field worker. The historian of technology must be
prepared to use all these sources, and to call upon the skills of the archaeologist, the engineer, the
architect, and other specialists as appropriate.
Technology in the ancient world
The beginnings—Stone Age technology (to c. 3000 bce)
The identification of the history of technology with the history of humanlike species does not help in
fixing a precise point for its origin, because the estimates of prehistorians and anthropologists
concerning the emergence of human species vary so widely. Animals occasionally use natural tools
such as sticks or stones, and the creatures that became human doubtless did the same for hundreds of
millennia before the first giant step of fashioning their own tools. Even then it was an interminable
time before they put such toolmaking on a regular basis, and still more aeons passed as they arrived at
the successive stages of standardizing their simple stone choppers and pounders and of manufacturing
them—that is, providing sites and assigning specialists to the work. A degree of specialization in
toolmaking was achieved by the time of the Neanderthals (70,000 bce); more-advanced tools,
requiring assemblage of head and haft, were produced by Cro-Magnons (perhaps as early as 35,000
bce); while the application of mechanical principles was achieved by pottery-making Neolithic (New
Stone Age; 6000 bce) and Metal Age peoples (about 3000 bce).
For all except approximately the past 10,000 years, humans lived almost entirely in small nomadic
communities dependent for survival on their skills in gathering food, hunting and fishing, and avoiding
predators. It is reasonable to suppose that most of these communities developed in tropical latitudes,
especially in Africa, where climatic conditions are most favourable to a creature with such poor bodily
protection as humans have. It is also reasonable to suppose that tribes moved out thence into the
subtropical regions and eventually into the landmass of Eurasia, although their colonization of this
region must have been severely limited by the successive periods of glaciation, which rendered large
parts of it inhospitable and even uninhabitable, even though humankind has shown remarkable
versatility in adapting to such unfavourable conditions.
The Neolithic Revolution
Toward the end of the last ice age, some 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, a few of the communities that
were most favoured by geography and climate began to make the transition from the long period of
Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age, savagery to a more settled way of life depending on animal husbandry
and agriculture. This period of transition, the Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age, led eventually to a
marked rise in population, to a growth in the size of communities, and to the beginnings of town life. It
is sometimes referred to as the Neolithic Revolution because the speed of technological innovation
increased so greatly and human social and political organization underwent a corresponding increase
in complexity. To understand the beginnings of technology, it is thus necessary to survey
developments from the Old Stone Age through the New Stone Age down to the emergence of the first
urban civilizations about 3000 bce.
The material that gives its name and a technological unity to these periods of prehistory is stone.
Though it may be assumed that primitive humans used other materials such as wood, bone, fur, leaves,
and grasses before they mastered the use of stone, apart from bone antlers, presumably used as picks in
flint mines and elsewhere, and other fragments of bone implements, none of these has survived. The
stone tools of early humans, on the other hand, have survived in surprising abundance, and over the
many millennia of prehistory important advances in technique were made in the use of stone. Stones
became tools only when they were shaped deliberately for specific purposes, and, for this to be done
efficiently, suitable hard and fine-grained stones had to be found and means devised for shaping them
and particularly for putting a cutting edge on them. Flint became a very popular stone for this purpose,
although fine sandstones and certain volcanic rocks were also widely used. There is much Paleolithic
evidence of skill in flaking and polishing stones to make scraping and cutting tools. These early tools
were held in the hand, but gradually ways of protecting the hand from sharp edges on the stone, at first
by wrapping one end in fur or grass or setting it in a wooden handle, were devised. Much later the
technique of fixing the stone head to a haft converted these hand tools into more versatile tools and
With the widening mastery of the material world in the Neolithic Period, other substances were
brought into service, such as clay for pottery and brick, and increasing competence in handling textile
raw materials led to the creation of the first woven fabrics to take the place of animal skins. About the
same time, curiosity about the behaviour of metallic oxides in the presence of fire promoted one of the
most significant technological innovations of all time and marked the succession from the Stone Age
to the Metal Age.
The use of fire was another basic technique mastered at some unknown time in the Old Stone Age.
The discovery that fire could be tamed and controlled and the further discovery that a fire could be
generated by persistent friction between two dry wooden surfaces were momentous. Fire was the most
important contribution of prehistory to power technology, although little power was obtained directly
from fire except as defense against wild animals. For the most part, prehistoric communities remained
completely dependent upon manpower, but, in making the transition to a more settled pattern of life in
the New Stone Age, they began to derive some power from animals that had been domesticated. It also
seems likely that by the end of prehistoric times the sail had emerged as a means of harnessing the
wind for small boats, beginning a long sequence of developments in marine transport.
Tools and weapons
The basic tools of prehistoric peoples were determined by the materials at their disposal. But once they
had acquired the techniques of working stone, they were resourceful in devising tools and weapons
with points and barbs. Thus, the stone-headed spear, the harpoon, and the arrow all came into
widespread use. The spear was given increased impetus by the spear-thrower, a notched pole that gave
a sling effect. The bow and arrow were an even more effective combination, the use of which is
clearly demonstrated in the earliest “documentary” evidence in the history of technology, the cave
paintings of southern France and northern Spain, which depict the bow being used in hunting. The
ingenuity of these primitive hunters is also shown in their slings, throwing-sticks (the boomerang of
the Australian Aborigines is a remarkable surviving example), blowguns, bird snares, fish and animal
traps, and nets. These tools did not evolve uniformly, as each primitive community developed only
those instruments that were most suitable for its own specialized purposes, but all were in use by the
end of the Stone Age. In addition, the Neolithic Revolution had contributed some important new tools
that were not primarily concerned with hunting. These were the first mechanical applications of rotary
action in the shape of the potter’s wheel, the bow drill, the pole lathe, and the wheel itself. It is not
possible to be sure when these significant devices were invented, but their presence in the early urban
civilizations suggests some continuity with the late Neolithic Period. The potter’s wheel, driven by
kicks from the operator, and the wheels of early vehicles both gave continuous rotary movement in
one direction. The drill and the lathe, on the other hand, were derived from the bow and had the effect
of spinning the drill piece or the workpiece first in one direction and then in the other.
Developments in food production brought further refinements in tools. The processes of food
production in Paleolithic times were simple, consisting of gathering, hunting, and fishing. If these
methods proved inadequate to sustain a community, it moved to better hunting grounds or perished.
With the onset of the Neolithic Revolution, new food-producing skills were devised to serve the needs
of agriculture and animal husbandry. Digging sticks and the first crude plows, stone sickles, querns
that ground grain by friction between two stones and, most complicated of all, irrigation techniques for
keeping the ground watered and fertile—all these became well established in the great subtropical
river valleys of Egypt and Mesopotamia in the millennia before 3000 bce.
Prehistoric building techniques also underwent significant developments in the Neolithic Revolution.
Nothing is known of the building ability of Paleolithic peoples beyond what can be inferred from a
few fragments of stone shelters, but in the New Stone Age some impressive structures were erected,
primarily tombs and burial mounds and other religious edifices, but also, toward the end of the period,
domestic housing in which sun-dried brick was first used. In northern Europe, where the Neolithic
transformation began later than around the eastern Mediterranean and lasted longer, huge stone
monuments, of which Stonehenge in England is the outstanding example, still bear eloquent testimony
to the technical skill, not to mention the imagination and mathematical competence, of the later Stone
Manufacturing industry had its origin in the New Stone Age, with the application of techniques for
grinding corn, baking clay, spinning and weaving textiles, and also, it seems likely, for dyeing,
fermenting, and distilling. Some evidence for all these processes can be derived from archaeological
findings, and some of them at least were developing into specialized crafts by the time the first urban
civilizations appeared. In the same way, the early metalworkers were beginning to acquire the
techniques of extracting and working the softer metals, gold, silver, copper, and tin, that were to make
their successors a select class of craftsmen. All these incipient fields of specialization, moreover,
implied developing trade between different communities and regions, and again the archaeological
evidence of the transfer of manufactured products in the later Stone Age is impressive. Flint
arrowheads of particular types, for example, can be found widely dispersed over Europe, and the
implication of a common locus of manufacture for each is strong.
Such transmission suggests improving facilities for transport and communication. Paleolithic people
presumably depended entirely on their own feet, and this remained the normal mode of transport
throughout the Stone Age. Domestication of the ox, the donkey, and the camel undoubtedly brought
some help, although difficulties in harnessing the horse long delayed its effective use. The dugout
canoe and the birch-bark canoe demonstrated the potential of water transport, and, again, there is some
evidence that the sail had already appeared by the end of the New Stone Age.
It is notable that the developments so far described in human prehistory took place over a long period
of time, compared with the 5,000 years of recorded history, and that they took place first in very
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