When was the technology of the Ancient World superseded? The views from 1599 and 1715.
Looking at all these illnesses that were much more widespread then makes me think again of something I’ve long wanted to ask someone smarter than me
When you read stuff written in the early 20th century very often you see writers complaining of needing rest because of ‘nerves’ or ulcers and the like, the Soviet Politburo in Stalins time for instance were constantly taking weeks off at a sanitarium or spa to deal with nerves or exhaustion or other illnesses you seldom hear about anymore, is this because we’ve found medicines or is it a lifestyle thing or was it all psychosomatic?
Fantastic research and very interesting. Quick question I understand you're hoping to have your work published as a book? In the meantime are you happy for me to quote your work in an academic work linked to this substack?
"collect together the minutest parts and fractions into one plain total" surely means the development of integral calculus
Fascinating. I'm reading a lot of history at the moment, and it seems to me all these histories are interlinked and intertwined in a beautiful mess: maths/logic, materials, military, political/society, medical, physics.
Maybe not quite a technology, but another omission might be that livestock breeding seems to have been much more prevalent than in the ancient world and various sheep, dog and horse breeds were more productive. Not sure if the Romans even knew selective breeding was possible.
Weapons and armour also surpass Roman standards probably in the high middle ages, suits of armour and crossbows were more advanced than the ancient equivalents, as well as the metallurgy to make them.
Great article: thanks very much.
'Not to mention “an instrument for making screws with great dispatch”'
Is this referring to using a lathe or a casting? Not sure if it was possible to use a single point tool to machine threads at this stage or not. I do know that this is close to the beginning of the heigh-day of the 'mother of all machine tools'.
By 1700, they were confident that the ancients had been outdone, but were they right? You express skepticism that some of these were new, but I think most of them were known to the ancients. There was rapid invention, but that something was unknown in 1600 or 700 doesn't mean it was unknown in 100BC.
Latitude is particularly striking. Everyone knows the ancients measured latitude!
What are these vines brought from Germany to the Canaries? Grapes? Well, it was the ancients who did the harder work of naturalizing them in France. To survive in the Canaries, they just have to revert to the ancestral type. Did the ancients have a theory of naturalizing plants? None that survives...
I wonder, did either author mention spinning wheels or horizontal looms? The Romans had neither, and if you look at the enormous labor savings from both machines in the production of clothing, perhaps the most important consumer good in pre-modern economies, is surely is worth noting.