The world has been transformed, is transform and will transform by technology, from the wheel -which in its moment was as disruptive as the railroads-, passing through the printing press and ending with the internet, technological innovations have drastically changed our life and history, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
Despite the fact that humanity in these times of change usually put up some resistance, in the long term, these end up being beneficial for everyone. Can you imagine life being a nomad? Without industrial products? No Internet access?
All the comforts we have in our time, have been the product of changes over the centuries since these are usually relatively abrupt, they are called “revolutions.” It is through these revolutions –that being the technology of the moment the engine of these we will call “technological”– that we will travel shortly.
Neolithic Revolution (12.000 b.C. Approx.)
This change begins as a consequence of climate change at that time, the glaciation ended and the tribes of nomads had to adapt or die. It consisted of the domestication of animals and the development of agriculture. It occurred throughout the world, independently and gradually. It was here that a rudimentary genetic “engineering” began – an artificial selection of crops– and great changes are made in the way of life of the human being.
There was more food, therefore, more people, there had to be organized, so they selected leaders to administer the resources, they became bosses, then kings, and that’s how civilization was born. Neighboring communities grew in the same way if your neighbor does better than you… war born.
It is in the context of these civilizations where discoveries are made such as polished stone, rough arches, and spears, the loom, construction with clay, ceramics or the first production systems: sowing, harvesting, storage, grinding. Not everything is positive, it is with a sedentary lifestyle that diseases never seen before are born, which continue today (caries, diabetes, anemia, etc).
Metals Revolution (6.500 b.C. Aprox.)
These incipient civilizations realize that fire can serve much more than cooking meat, so they discover metallurgy. It was a long process to go from copper to iron, it was not the same everywhere, it depended on the existence of raw material.
Quickly people realized the great advantage that metals granted for war, the great empires were born. Important discoveries of that time were: the wheel, swords, sailboats, construction with stone, impressive techniques of astronomy, the domestication of the horse and, more importantly, the trade, the latter made the writing was born.
It begins to develop medicine, philosophy, physics and mathematics, therefore, born engineering, architecture, among other trades, necessary for growing empires.
During these years, important technological and scientific discoveries were made, an example of this are the great constructions such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Colossus of Rhodes or the Hanging Gardens, we also have the abacus, the compass, the clepsydra (water clock) or the endless screw. These inventions are true engineering since mathematics and other sciences were used intensively.
They even invented a steam engine (aeolipile), batteries (from Baghdad), a seismograph (earthquake detector), precise analog computers (Antikythera mechanism), high quality concrete (Roman), automata (Greek), contraceptive methods ( extinguished the plant), telescopes (Layard lens), advanced goldsmithing techniques, drills (Chinese), among many other inventions.
This can make us reflect if the ancients advanced so much why the stagnation? Although many blame religions, they do not have all the responsibility, there are a number of important factors, including wars, little connection, and fear of plagiarism.
Remember that before the CIA or the KGB did not exist, when you defeated an adversary, the knowledge it had acquired was rarely valued, destroying all traces of its development. These warriors did not know the benefits that knowledge could provide them.
Since the capitals of the empires were widely separated from each other –physical barriers– and the peoples were very different –cultural barriers– sharing knowledge was something really difficult, therefore, discoveries took generations to arrive.
The great innovators of that time thought that if they shared their knowledge, it was going to be stolen, and they would not get any credit –something that often happened– that is why they often hid their discoveries from the world. An example of this –though not from that era– is Damascus steel.
So far today’s trip, I hope you liked it, in future chapters we will analyze different revolutions and, in the end, we will deduce an interesting pattern, which can answer us: What is necessary for a full technological development?
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