Technology in Early Societies

Topics: Asia, South Asia, Iron Age Pages: 5 (1775 words) Published: October 28, 2005
The Role of Technology in Early Societies

In the absence of technology, it would be extremely difficult for early societies to expand and flourish to their full potential. Since the beginning of history, we have seen technological advances occur in all growing societies. The first example of technology was seen in the early complex societies dating from 3500 B.C.E. to 500 B.C.E. With expansion of societies, we have witnessed advances in technology from peoples from Africa, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, and those inhabiting the Americas and Oceania. Technology is another method to help empires and dynasties posses advantages in terms of resources for expansion. As a result, technology plays a key role in the building of societies, city-states, and economies.

Technology was seen first in the development of specialized labor at the well-known neolithic settlement of Catal Huyuk located in south-central Anatolia. Discoveries dating from 7250 to 5400 B.C.E. have been made of the early manufacturing of pots, baskets, textiles, leather, stone, metal tools, wood carvings, carpets, beads, and jewelry. It is also said that the beginning of obsidian production took place at Catal Huyuk as well. Despite the production of leather, carpets, and beads, there were only three major craft industries: pottery, metallurgy, and textile production (24). Pottery was discovered around 7000 B.C.E. and aided in the storage of food, and other products. The next industry which required some form of technology was metallurgy. Early forms of the trade dealt mostly with copper, only because of its initial natural and pure form. The material could be worked with a simple stroke of the hammer. By 6000 B.C.E., societies had made technological advances with the use of furnaces to melt copper. Soon after this discovery, villages began smelting and casting copper to easily produce jewelry, decorative items, and most importantly tools like knives, axes, hoes, and weapons. Finally, copper metallurgy served as a foundation later for the working of gold, bronze, iron, and other metals (25). During the time period before history is when the first examples of technology surfaced.

Just as in the early paleolithic and neolithic societies, technological advances were observed in the early societies located in Southwest Asia as well. Thanks to the advances of copper metallurgy, bronze metallurgy was developed from innovations from previous generations. Around 4000 B.C.E., craftsmen discovered that copper–in its pure form–is too soft to serve as an effective weapon or tool. Knowing this, next, Mesopotamian metal workers discovered that copper alloyed with tin produces a much stronger material more suitable for weapons and strenuous labor. Even cheaper and much more resourceful than copper and tin–iron quickly became the metal of choice for upcoming empires and dynasties. First attempted by Mesopotamian craftsmen, iron metallurgy was later refined by the Hittites. Early iron products produced by Mesopotamian metal workers proved to be too brittle for effective battle tools. Soon after this discovery, iron production spread through societies of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and other regions as well.

Also in Southwest Asian societies, technology assisted the rise of trade networks with the building of wheeled vehicles and ships. Wheels made their first appearance around 3500 B.C.E. and assisted greatly in long distance trade. Sumerians built wheeled carts and wagons which enabled the transportation of heavy loads of bulk products–grain, bricks, and or metal ores–over long distances (40). Sumerians also dabbled in maritime ship building; however, the Phoenicians proved to be superior sailors and built the best ships. Sumerians built water crafts which enabled trade with Harappan society via the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. With the domestication of horses next, along with the use of wheeled carts and wagons, societies in Southwest Asia began hitching horses...
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