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ggr329 Lec 9.doc

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Pierre Desrochers

Lecture 9 GGR329 19 Century Dominant perspective “Whig” history Progression - From savagery - To civilization Key hallmarks of transition: - Agriculture - Metallurgy - Complex technology - Centralized government - Writing Writing: Made possible transmission of knowledge >> - Accuracy - Quantity - Detail From more - Distant lands - Remote times Lecture 9 GGR329 By and large, literate societies prevailed (few) exceptions: - Incas (Empire without writing) (Aside) Inca Khipus 3D language of binary code recorded in knotted strings? Diamond’s questions: 1. Why did some people, and not others develop writing? 2. How many separate time was it developed? 3. Why in some places earlier than others? 3 basic strategies underlying writing systems: 1 written sign can be: - Single basic sound - Whole syllable - Whole word Alphabet - Unique sign (letter) - For each basic sound of language (phoneme) Most alphabets - Are about 20-30 letters Lecture 9 GGR329 - Number of phonemes > number of letters Logograms - One written sign - Stands for a whole word Syllabaries - Use a sign for each syllable - E.g. linear B syllabry (Mycenaen Greece) In practice, no actual writing system employs 1 strategy exclusively: - Alphabetic English has many logograms ($, +, %) - “Syllabic” linear B had many logograms - “Logographic” Egyptian hieroglyphs had many syllabic signs 2 undisputed independent inventions: - Sumerians < 3000 BC - Meso America < 600 BC Perhaps also - Egyptians 3000 BC - China 1300 BC Sumerian cuneiform Originated in trade (John 27 fat sheep) Lecture 9 GGR329 - From pictures - To abstract cuneiforms - To development of phonetic representation - Conventions emerged (horizontal rows, left to right) Meso America - Olmec - Maya - Zapotec - > dozen systems of writing - ? almost derived from timekeeping (astronomy/calendar) rather than accounting Diffusion of writing - Blueprint copying (copy/modify available detailed print) - Idea diffusion (basic idea; reinvent details) Geography? Alphabet Invented once, area around Modern Syria to Sinai. Happened around 1700 BC Geographical location: - Modern Western alphabet around Phoenicians and Greeks - Hence localization was key Chapter 13: Necessity’s Mother Lecture 9 GGR329 Technology always crucial - Weapons - Transport Why did technology evolve at such different rates on different continents? Phaistos Disk (Crete) First evidence of printing, 3000 years before Gutenberg… Can we generalize about history of technology? Assuming everywhere similar levels - Intelligence - Curiosity Why so much variation across - Continents - Time periods? Theories: - Heroic theory of invention - Societal receptivity (or lack of) to innovation “Necessity is the mother of invention” - True in many cases Lecture 9 GGR329 - But often enough o Curiosity o Love of tinkering o Desire to create beauty Many inventions created without demand Others - Invented for one purpose, - Eventually mostly used for something else o Inventions in search of a use o Solutions in search of a problem Edison’s 10 potential uses
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