Understanding the rise of ancient Civilizations (Urban
revolution) Hint: Technology Systems
Ancient Civilizations began to rise when large scaled hydraulic projects were introduced because of
agriculture, also known as the Hydraulic Hypothesis. This means there is a link between the rise of early
civilization and Hydraulic products. Hierarchal politic systems grew to help with large scaled hydraulic
projects and to help coordinate workers and distribute supplies. They also mastered bronze metallurgy
(Bronze Age), which was used to help create jewellery tools and weapons. This lead to more trade and
specialization of labor (i.e. craft production, beer brewing). These civilizations also used new sources of
energy such as wind power, boats, ox plow, horse and wheeled cart, camel. Also created during the time
of the Urban Revolution were Writing, development in Mathematics(Place system & sexigesimal),
sophisticated astronomy, highly accurate calendars (Babylonians) and high scaled scale
architectural/construction projects like pyramids (Engineering).
Note: China, Mesopotamia, and Egypt (Irrigation civilization) developed similarly, adapt to environment
via agriculture, it helped them having warmer climates to grow crops faster. Restricted space so when
warfare occurs defeated, cannot move like before, thus they slaves, work farms. More people fed but
coordination is needed for distribution of food, water, and slaves, by politics.
Agriculture Revolution in Europe
In 600-1000 AD, the Europeans had created new agriculture techniques and energy sources, which
increased its population by 30%, known as the Agriculture revolution. These innovations led to more
food. At first they used 2-3 oxen but major change came when they began using heavy plow, 8 oxen; this
allowed heavier, richer land (soil) to be cultivated for farming. At this time substitution of horse for ox as
draft animal (horses could move faster and for longer periods of time than oxen). One major agricultural
innovation included development of a 3-field rotation system for planting crops (production went from
33% to 50%) as opposed to 2 field system. Most farmers could not get 8 oxen so people began to help
each out, known as communal agriculture. Communal agriculture grew and thus medieval villages had a
form of collective ownership. Since horses began being used for labor, important buildings began to get
built (Cathedral building, universities). Not only were there Agriculture developments but there were also
technical developments such as the stirrup (Chinese), men would not have to get off the horse to fight.
New energy sources also include increased use of waterwheels and windmills; helped power sawmills,
flour mills, etc… and this increased agricultural and material production. By 14th century, there is rise in
use of military technologies: adoption of gunpowder, manufacturing of guns (musket introduced in
1550‟s) and cannons meant decline of “knight in shining armor”; Military technology greatly financed by
state or royal treasuries.
Note: Land is scarce and precious commodity (Wood). Europe began importing crops from new world
like potatoes, corn. Villagers accustomed to technology,
plague between 1347-48 wiped out 1/3 of population.
domestication of animals
Debates surrounding Mechanical clock
The first technology to be made out of 100% metal, no one knows when the clock was invented and by
whom, 1272-1330 is the general timeframe. Two Different thoughts have arose about its origins, 1 is that
the mechanical clock is basically every day and will be a part of life (like time- keepers and time
indicators such as sundials, water clocks, bell ringing mechanisms) versus one that sees the clock as a
simpler branch of a more complicated technology(astrolabes). The clock was created because
monasteries needed a better way to keep time. Other time keeping devices were accurate but they were
seasonal like water close froze during winter or sundial is useless at night.
The Price / Needham Thesis Argument By: Derick Price and Joseph Needham believe that the clock is a
dumb down version/ripped off/apart/stolen of another machine like the astrolabes. Measurement of time of day is
the “left over” part of a greater technological tradition. Both say that the clock is a prototype from china,
based from an astronomical water clock devised by man named Su Sung. Both say there‟s an escapement
in the water clock which is the missing link in the development of the click. They argue that the
knowledge of the escapement was leaked and the European quickly acted by coming up with their own
escapement mechanism. More popular in Europe because of technological improvements (growing
population of clock makers), Social (Makes you look rich),
Rebuttal: The two types of mechanisms are nothing alike; escapement is based on completely different
principle, Chinese escapement use flow of water and European one uses oscillating movement of verge
and foliot, Plus there‟s no proof, based on hearsay.
Lewis Mumford and David Landes have argued that clock developed in monasteries as these were places
where activities were highly regulated; there was a regular cycle of services and parts of the day were
divided by services
Gerhard Dohrn-van Rossum that contends early monasteries not highly regulated; time important only for
Easter, vigils at night
David Landes who argues that the Chinese did not develop the mechanical clock for cultural reasons
(assault to Chinese self esteem)
Jacques Le Goff „s argument: clock was social device used by merchant class to gain control over labor
(They charged interest
Rebuttal: Not only merchants accept, others do too, like lords and other aristocrats, it provided law and
order, seen as sign of prestige, cities would compete.
Notes: People prefer first choice but second worth discussing cause cultural and technical diffusion.
Astrolabes used for astronomy and for Islam. Escapement is set of parts. Clocks were more widespread in
Europe, especially in Italy
Who created it?
Why? – Religious
Understanding the rise of ancient civilizations (urban revolution) hint: technology systems. Ancient civilizations began to rise when large scaled hydraulic projects were introduced because of agriculture, also known as the hydraulic hypothesis. This means there is a link between the rise of early civilization and hydraulic products. Hierarchal politic systems grew to help with large scaled hydraulic projects and to help coordinate workers and distribute supplies. They also mastered bronze metallurgy (bronze age), which was used to help create jewellery tools and weapons. This lead to more trade and specialization of labor (i. e. craft production, beer brewing). These civilizations also used new sources of energy such as wind power, boats, ox plow, horse and wheeled cart, camel. Also created during the time of the urban revolution were writing, development in mathematics(place system & sexigesimal), sophisticated astronomy, highly accurate calendars (babylonians) and high scaled scale architectural/construction projects like pyramids (engineering).