Technological development describes the process of the continued improvement of technology, the application of knowledge, more commonly defined as the use of tools or processes, has developed along with civilization throughout the course of history. From the use of a sharpened stick to splitting the atom and the Internet, one technological advancement has built on preceding developments. Most technological advancements can be categorized as focused on one major area of human life:
- Building & Construction
- Health care
- Information & Communication
As even a cursory examination of the history of the development of different technologies for these categories would suggest, one particular invention is used for all of them. Probably the most basic example would be the wheel. No one would deny that this one invention made lasting improvements in every area of life.
It should be noted that most technological revolutions occur immediately after a precedent significant political or cultural revolution.
Most historians would probably list agriculture as the single greatest technological development of all time. Though some reference both positives (provided for the possibility of surplus food, a measure of predictability and structure, allowed for population increases) others point out negatives (most early farmers only had one type of crop which lead to some malnutrition, if they lost their crop the population would suffer tremendously). The other major influence of agriculture was the division of the population into classes, i.e. farm workers and everyone else. This allowed individuals to specialize in other areas of life, trade, warfare, health care, communication, building, etc. which subsequently allowed them to develop other technologies.
- Original Tools required: Axe, Hoe, Sickle, Quern
- Early Improvements: Plow
- Subsequent Developments: Archimedes Screw, Irrigation – One of the main systems required for Civilization. This one technology required major structural systems. A political and social class structure would have been developed around the implementation of any irrigation system, requiring one human to work for the benefit of another. This led to political organization and mathematics as well as astronomy.
- Mathematics – plans for ditch slopes needed to be precise when the flood cycle only came once per year.
- Astronomy – everyone needed to know when those floods would come.
- Modern Techniques: Pesticides, Tractor, Combine, Automated Processing, Bio-Engineered Plants
Agriculture is the basis for every civilization until the 1800s.
The development of an object with constant value which everyone is willing to trade for their goods or services.
- Accounting – Denise Schmandt-Besserat described the first uses of clay tokens and bullae for keeping track of income and expenses.
- Pottery – Made out of clay, wood, gourds, baskets.
- The more sophisticated included coloring.
- The Potter’s Wheel shaped items more accurately and allowed faster production.
- Plaster – The first material man learned to shape / mold.
- Metal Working –
- Gold – The first metal used by man. Found in ‘native’, i.e. pure, state without further processing. Gold is exposed in some alluvial deposits by erosion.
- Copper – Can be found in ‘native’ form but is usually found in ore. The use of copper drove people to discover the art of Smelting to purify the more easily accessible ores.
- Bronze – First appeared circa 4000 BC. Early forms were copper mixed with arsenic. Later forms used tin. The desire to have consistent access to both copper and tin led to the first long distance trade routes. Led to the development of the ‘lost wax’ method of metal casting.
- Iron – Developed by the Hittites circa 1600 BC.
- Steel – Developed by the ??? circa 1400 BC.
- Glass – Started in Mesopotamia before 2000 BC as a mix of quartz (sand) and sodium carbonate (soda).
- Hand-to-hand Weapons - Club, Axe, Spear, Knife, Sword, Pike
- Chariot – First major technological advancement in warfare. The horse plus chariot could reach speeds up to 20 mph.
- Missile Weapons - Javelin, Atlatl, Bow & Arrow
- Siege Engines - Catapult, Trebuchet
- Gunpowder Weapons - musket, rifle, revolver, cannon
- Explosives - TNT, Nuclear Weapons
- Wheel – Invented by Sumerians circa 2100 BC. It was possibility inspired by the Potter’s Wheel. The first wheel was probably a three piece member. Later the spoked wheel was developed by the Hittites circa 1600 BC.
- Internal Combustion Engine
- Watercraft - The first implements were probably hollowed out loges and rafts made from the bundling
Buildings and Construction
Methods of Construction
- Rammed Earth
- Molded Brick – formed by placing mud in forms.
- Fired Brick – heated by heating molds to speed drying and increasing strength.
- Stone work
- Post & Lintel
- The Arch
- Steel Frame Construction
- Water & Sanitation System
- City Walls – First example is Jericho.
- Temples – Early Ziggurat’s of Mesopotamia, namely Ur.
- Obelisks – Egyptian monuments to the Sun God.
Communication & Information
- Writing – The stylus was developed in Mesopotamia for making impressions on clay tablets. This became standardized as Cuneiform by 2000 BC. Developed a specialized class of citizens called Scribes.
- Mathematics – Originally used to determine the precision of irrigation plans.
- Alphabet – First standardized by Phoenicians.
- Paper – Earliest example is papyrus used by Egyptians.
- Printing Press
- Canals and inland waterways Technological development Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Scientific and Technological Development In China.