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Legacy of the Ancient World. Pre-Greek Accomplishments. Agriculture, irrigation, animal domestication Calendar Metallurgy: Mining, smelting, metal-work, casting Ceramics Glass-making. Why Agriculture?. Hunter-gatherer lifestyle provides ample food with minimal effort and ample leisure

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Legacy of the Ancient World

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pre greek accomplishments
Pre-Greek Accomplishments
  • Agriculture, irrigation, animal domestication
  • Calendar
  • Metallurgy: Mining, smelting, metal-work, casting
  • Ceramics
  • Glass-making
why agriculture
Why Agriculture?
  • Hunter-gatherer lifestyle provides ample food with minimal effort and ample leisure
  • Cultivation may be more dependable
  • Agriculture leads to:
    • Greater population density
    • Social Stratification
    • Urbanization
prerequisites for agriculture
Prerequisites for Agriculture
  • Most plants have no use as food
  • Mediterranean climate beneficial
    • Seeds can survive long dry spells
    • Perfect for storage
  • Selective breeding
    • Self-fertilization
      • Wind pollination and animal dispersal means uncontrollable offspring
    • Single mutations of desirable traits (Almonds vs. Oaks)
animal domestication
Animal Domestication
  • Taming = training a specific animal to behave as desired
  • Domestication = changes in animal genes to permanently instill desirable traits
  • Do we really care if a rabbit is tame or domesticated?
  • Ability to tolerate human proximity
  • Dominance Hierarchy that humans can co-opt
obstacles to animal domestication
Obstacles to Animal Domestication
  • Inability to tolerate human proximity (gazelles)
  • Chronically bad temperament (zebras)
  • Dangerous (bears)
  • No dominance hierarchy (deer)
  • Extremely territorial
  • Herds are territorial and won’t mix
  • Won’t mate in captivity (cheetahs)
animal domestication1
Animal Domestication
  • Self-Domestication
    • Humans create a modified environment around habitations
    • Humans gather food and vital nutrients like salt
    • Unconscious selection for low fear factor
    • Hormonal changes: more frequent mating, mottled coats, juvenile features, floppy ears
  • Have we ever deliberately domesticated any animal?
ancient metallurgy
Ancient metallurgy
  • Ancient metals: Au, Ag, Cu, Pb, Hg, Fe, plus Sn and Zn in alloys
  • How discovered?
    • Campfire Theory - not hot enough
    • Pigments? Possibly
    • Need heat for a long time, plus lack of oxygen, plus experimenting
    • Best bet: Pottery kilns
bronze and iron
Bronze and Iron
  • Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin
  • Where did the tin come from?
  • How was the alloy discovered?
  • Iron: Not better than bronze, but cheaper
pre greek accomplishments1
Pre-Greek Accomplishments


  • Stone cutting, dressing, sculpting
  • Arches
    • Post-and-Lintel
    • Corbelled
    • Circular (only in Old World, except for Inuit igloo)
    • Truss-unknown until Middle Ages-requires timber
pre greek accomplishments2
Pre-Greek Accomplishments
  • Simple machines
    • Wheel
    • Lever (wheel + lever = pulley)
    • Wedge (inclined plane, screw)
  • Heavy Woodworking
    • Catapults
    • Shipbuilding
greek technology and science
Greek Technology and Science

Major traditions

  • Ionian--mercantile, experimental.
  • Pythagorean-mathematical but mystical
  • Athenian schools: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates,
    • Emphasis on logic, deduction, idealization
    • "Golden Age" - Pericles ca. 450 B.C.
  • Hellenistic - exported during and after Alexander the Great (d. 323 B.C.)
good guys and bad guys
Good Guys and Bad Guys?
  • Ionians speak most clearly to us today, but-
  • Science often has a faith in whole numbers that Pythagoras would recognize
  • Scientists idealize all the time. Plato would find much familiar
  • Where would science be without logic and deduction?
  • It wasn’t Aristotle’s fault that people put him on a pedestal
why the greeks never developed modern science
Why the Greeks never developed modern science
  • They weren’t trying to become us!
  • It wasn’t clear that meticulous observation of nature would lead anywhere
  • They were asking different questions, e.g., why is there cause and effect?
  • They had all the elements but nobody ever synthesized them.
the etruscans
The Etruscans
  • Fairly sophisticated people, with expertise in iron working and extensive trade contacts.
  • Link between the Greeks and the Romans.
  • A couple of tidbits from the Etruscans: the letter F and the "Roman" numerals V, L and D.
  • For several centuries Rome was ruled by the Etruscans, but the Romans overthrew the Etruscans and eventually absorbed them.