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What is the single most important invention in European history?

 
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 05:16 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
I believe fire was discovered when our African ancestors first tried barbecue
more likely DISCOVERED when some lightning hit some tinder
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 05:33 am
@OmSigDAVID,
From early NATURE articles, controlled fire was first submitted for consideration from the Swartkrans Cave in SOUD EFFRIGA.
))They found evidence of 1.2 million year old barbecue in the late 1980's-so it was past its sell-by date)
The story of lightning and fire is always a good one but theres never gonna be evidence of that event , so they look for evidence in encampnents of which they have good dates. Swartkrans has always been the chief contestant with no real competition that early
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 05:40 am
If we're gonna go with invention as opposed to simply discovery, i'd hold for copper smelting as the single most important European invention, because it lead to metalurgy (archaeologists believe that iron ore smelting derived from copper smelting). Native copper (i.e., found it its elemental state as oppsed to being smelted from ore) was known in the middle east and China as long ago as 9000 years. However, the first evidence of copper smelting was in the Balkans 7500 years ago. Alas, tin is not often found near copper, so they didn't create the bronze age. Bronze was probably first produced in what is now Iran.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 05:52 am
@Setanta,
copper was a discovery for exactly the reason youve stated. Iron sme;ting was a conplex of acts that had to follow a prescribed method. SO "Iron bloomery" made everything of an industrial nature possible. Iron bloomery was a post Bronze Age event and made things like machinery and implements a regional cheap product. Imagine that they cut stone for the pyramids with bronze chisels that had to be rehoned after several minutes of use.

Iron made possible things like plate, nails, frames, boilers, water wheels, weapons of mass detruction (starting with iron tipped arrows in caches)

OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 06:43 am
@farmerman,
I 'd be willing to BET U that thay DISCOVERED fire
before thay "CONTROLLED" it.





David
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 06:57 am
My choice would be the accurate clock, because it was used to navigate by ship and airplanes. Latitude was most easily found, but longitude was almost impossible before the accurate clock was invented.

It allowed navigation of the seas, and provided the means for trade (and immigration) around the world.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 07:01 am
@farmerman,
The Czechs, who did a good deal of archaeological research in Egypt after Nassar allied himself with the Soviets, pointed out (or alleged) that it would be impossible to distinguish between the limestone which could have been mined in blocks, and blocks made by pouring a limestone mix into a form. I don't have the knowledge to judge the value of that claim. A few years ago, though, a materials scientist published an article supporting the claim, saying the minerals and air bubbles are present in the stone blocks which do not naturally occur. I believe that everyong agrees that the granite blocks forming the burial chambers within the pyramids were quarried. Another materials scientist has pointed out that copper and bronze tools could hae been effectively over long periods of time if quartz sand were poured into drilling holes or grooves in stone to be quarried or shaped, increasing the life of the tools a great deal

I do know that archaeological research conducted in Egypt by Egyptians within the last decade has turned up a whole heap of things which we didn't know before. A lot of what we "knew" before was actually a collection of assumptions based on the centuries old prejudices derived from taking the bible as "gospel." (All puns are intended). So, for example, the evidence is that the pyramids and other monumental structures were not built by slave labor at all. Rather, they have uncovered a city on the Giza plateau which would have housed 20,000 to 25,000 laborers and their families. The evidence is that these were skilled workers in stone, whose families kept livestock and kitchen gardens in the "city" built to house them.

There was a small wooden model in the museum in Cairo that nobody had understood, although it was discovered more than a century ago, in the area where the laborers city was to be uncovered. Looking at it anew, the Egyptian archaologists wondered if it weren't a model for a device to move the massive stone blocks (whether quarried or poured) up ramps for placement on the pyramid. Effectively, this is a cradle, to which curved wooden quarter arc pieces (follwing the "model") can be attached, allowing a much smaller work force to roll limestone blocks up ramps. Building a large scale model, an Egyptian team moved a three ton limestone block up a ramp with an 18 degree gradient over a distance of one hundred feat in uncer ten minutes.

A great deal of what we don't know about pre-history arises because of assumptions made which were based on the foundational assumption that all culture and civilization arose in the middle east--basically because the Jews said so.

I can refute that quickly, though. If Jewish culture is 6000 years old, and Chinese culture is 4000 years old, what did the Jews eat on Friday nights for 2000 years? Huh, huh?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 07:02 am
Since researchers have started doing hands-on research, making their own stone tools, cutting up carcasses and bones, building things with the materials available in pre-history, we've learned more in a few decades than we had in centuries previously.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 08:36 am
I think modern sanitation and earlier sanitation efforts are important, as was germ theory and any devising related to it, but these are all later in the game.

Aquaducts were very useful - I've no idea if the romans invented that, but they worked it out rather well.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 09:12 am
@ossobuco,
They also used soft lead for the pipes, which assured that urban dwellers all suffered from low-grade chronic lead poisoning.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 10:25 am
@Setanta,
Yep. I'll take the rather well back. Was thinking more of the idea of the delivery system.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 10:32 am
@ossobuco,
Oh, i wasn't trying to slam your idea. I would say access to clean drinking water and public baths probably outweighed the effect of the lead, given that their life expectancy wasn't much past 40 years anyway.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 10:37 am
@Setanta,
True too. Aside, present day Rome is a joy to me for the public fountains, a benefit of the system.. wonderful book on that by Gabriel Faure.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 10:49 am
@ossobuco,
It was one of the greatest engineering feats of history to have brought water enough to Rome for a million people to drink and to bathe, every day if they wished. There were more than 900 public baths in Rome, and a small one could accomodate 300 people for an hour at a time. These were built over a period of about 80 CE to the early 3rd century CE. The Romans were an amazing people, especially their engineering. (Note, they had aquaducts bringking drinking water well over 2000 years ago, but the public baths provided at no cost to the clientele were not built until the 1st century CE.)
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 11:26 am
@Setanta,
Wiki has a take on aqueduct history (which I skimmed; I'd guessed Persia..)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqueduct

I've always spelled it aquaduct. Shows how much I've paid attention. Aqueduct just looks wrong to me.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 11:44 am
@ossobuco,
osso, Thanks for sharing that interesting Wiki article on aqueducts. However, I must add that I've seen more Roman aqueducts all over Europe and Tunisia (with water tanks) than any other culture.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 11:45 am
Quote:
What is the single most important invention in European history?
Invention of the weapons that brought us to the top of the food chain
(and the reasoning qua how to employ them effectively).





David
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 11:47 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

I've always spelled it aquaduct. Shows how much I've paid attention. Aqueduct just looks wrong to me.


Well, it's from Latin: either aquae ductus or aquaeductus.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 12:12 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I have a little feather in my mind telling me I'd noticed the english spelling before, years ago, and somehow repelled it with my brain. From my four years of latin, one of the words I remember is aqua, for water, whereas I wouldn't remember the latin word for aqueduct (still looks wrong, though now I admit aquaduct is beginning to look wrong too). That 'aqua' must have a part in my spelling failure.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jun, 2011 05:14 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
Rather, they have uncovered a city on the Giza plateau which would have housed 20,000 to 25,000 laborers and their families. The evidence is that these were skilled workers in stone, whose families kept livestock and kitchen gardens in the "city" built to house them.

There apparently were rudimentary guilds and there were friendly (IMHO) competitions amog th various gangs,skills, and trades. I remember Dr Hawas (I assume he got the ax when Mubarek was deposed cause he waas an imperious douche bag IMHO). saaying that the various communities had slogans and saying carved on blocks that asereved as "Guide ons" into the various dwelling units.

Im sure, in the future when some archeologist finds the rubble of the highrises in various present cities, they may come up with a thweory on how slave labopr was used to build the Empire STate Building.

0 Replies
 
 

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