Unit 2: Technological Revolutions

Technology is about humans learning to control the environment, but it took a long time to get a sense of conscious control.

The major technological revolutions (see also  Five Industrial Revolutions )

  1.   about 7000 BCE
  2. the development of cities about 3000 BCE
  3. the medieval technological revolution approx. 800-1300 AD
  4. the age of exploration and the scientific revolution approx. 1400-1700
  5. the British Industrial Revolution approx. 1750-1830
  6. Mass production of metal goods (American system, assembly line) approx. 1840-1920
  7. The computer 1946-
Or another approach that is more useful for the modern period:
graph of waves of innovation
this is taken from the work of the economist Joseph Schumpeter

Reminder about dates.  There is no zeroth century, so the first century AD is from 1 to 100 and the 19th century from 1801 to 1900.  There is also no year zero, which is why the 21st century technically starts in 2001.  Historians are beginning to use BCE (before the common era) instead of BC, and, less often, CE (common era) instead of AD (anno domini: year of our Lord).  For more on the history of calendars see:  Centuries, Millenia, and Calendars

stone tools, Detroit Institute of Arts, PEM photo

Agriculture, Irrigation, and Civilization

 Mesopotamian writing

Key ancient civilizations:

  natural resources of the eastern Mediterranean
  1. River valley civilizations arise about 3000 BC: Mesopotamia, Egypt ( pyramids )--based on irrigation
  2. Beginning of the Iron Age: Hittites (1500-1200 BCE), Assyrians (1000-612 BCE), Phoenicians (1150-850 BCE)--increasing warfare and trade
  3. Birth of Philosophy: Greece 5th century BCE, focus on trade, beginnings of scientific knowledge
  4. Roman Republic (509-31 BCE) and Empire (31 BCE-410 AD)--effective large-scale bureaucracy

  Urbanization in the Roman Empire
What held back technology before the Middle Ages? (see Florman ch. 3)


This page written and copyright  Pamela E. Mack
 History 122
last updated 9/19/05