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  • No Decline and fall?

    This is just a bit of fun really. I once remember reading ( im afraid I dont remember where) an article that suggested that we could have had the microwave oven by the 13 th century if the Roman Empire had not have fallen and instead evolved whereby the technology of the day had not simply been overun and lost for a time due to the invasions of the barbarian tribes.

    Any thoughts anyone?

  • #2
    I once heard the theory that the reasons the Roman empire fell was because it stagnated. Technological advances were very rapid but the they sat on their laurels (excuse the pun) and stopped advancing. That from 'What did the Roman's ever do for us' a series from the BBC showcasing Roman technology.

    Any, who would have bought a microwave when they had no where to plug it in for a few hundred years?!!

    Wolster

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    • #3
      I know what your saying and I completely agree with the point, Like I said it was a bit of fun to put out there.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Wolster View Post
        I once heard the theory that the reasons the Roman empire fell was because it stagnated. Technological advances were very rapid but the they sat on their laurels (excuse the pun) and stopped advancing. That from 'What did the Roman's ever do for us' a series from the BBC showcasing Roman technology.

        Any, who would have bought a microwave when they had no where to plug it in for a few hundred years?!!

        Talk about being closed-minded.

        One would think that if The Romans had the Technology to come up with a Micro-wave Oven, they would have figured out a way to make it work that did not require electricity.

        Watch'a wanna' bet it could be done?

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        • #5
          Technical progress was basically stagnant from 500 to 1500. The same applies to arts, BTW, the great wave of classical music kicked in around the same time that science did.

          But the thing that brought us both is very simple: rich people. Both inventors/scientists and artists could only do their thing because some rich dudes payed all their expenses and let them do whatever they wanted all day long all year round. For every successful creative person there were probably 10 that didn't work out and never produced anything useful.

          It is questionable whether a large empire is a suitable setup to support the same kind of creative productivity. Granted, the cash is there. However, creative work needs more than just cash. It needs stimulation, and empires usually lack stimulation. Stimulation in sciences and arts comes from talking to peers who do similar things an entirely different way, or stimulation can come from competition. Empires lack these.

          So, in summary I don't think a Roman empire could have led to 1500's creativity earlier. What you need is some thing like an ancient Greek setup, which provides stimulation and variety.

          Personally, I think there's nobody else to blame than the rules, religious and government of the middle ages. They were interested in nothing else than stability and they were willing to suppress science and technology, including medicine which is kinda stupid of them. They were not productive enough to have rich enough people to sponsor creative people. The whole thing only broke down when lower levels of inventions led to improved siege warfare (which breaks the base stability model) and and led to discovery of new continents, which breaks the extended stability model because now you gotta hurry up and get your people over there.

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          • #6
            It was Global Cooling that foiled the Roman Empire...
            The next warm period ushered in the Bronze Age, which began about 3,800 years BP (point R, Fig. 2); this probably was the most favorable climatic period of the Holocene and is also referred to as the Holocene Maximum (9). People migrated northward into Scandinavia and reclaimed farmland with growing seasons that were at that time probably the longest in more than 2 millennia. The great Assyrian Empire, the Hittite Kingdom, the Shang Dynasty in China, and the Middle Egyptian Empire flourished (9). The Bronze Age came to an end with the "Centuries of Darkness" chill, but warming returned during the "Greco-Roman Age" from 2,750 to 2,060 years BP (9) (point S, Fig. 2). During this period, philosophy made its first important advances with the thoughts of the great Aristotle. However, the climate cooled again between 2,000-1,400 years BP and the Roman Empire came to an end.

            The next warm period was known as the Medieval Optimum (9) (point T, Fig. 2), which was just beginning near 1,400 years BP and lasted until the Little Ice Age began about 700 years later. Currently, the Earth is enjoying the latest warm period (point U, Fig. 2), which has been underway for almost two centuries...LINK
            Unless the Romans could alter the Earth's natural cycle of climate change...They were doomed to fall. I wonder if there was some guy named Albertus Goremus running around blaming the global cooling of 2,000 years ago on Roman environmental policies...

            So I guess if the Romans had only invented the internal combustion engine and caused the climate to warm…We’d all be speaking Latin today...
            Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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            • #7
              hey, they could have burned the oil reserves in arabia!
              "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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              • #8
                Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                hey, they could have burned the oil reserves in arabia!
                No, the Romans would have the same problems with oil and where's its located as we do today. Remember, they never conquered the Persian Empire. So Iran/Iraq was a problem then as well!!
                Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                • #9
                  "Personally, I think there's nobody else to blame than the rules, religious and government of the middle ages. They were interested in nothing else than stability and they were willing to suppress science and technology, including medicine which is kinda stupid of them. "

                  I dont think thats entirely fair on the middle ages in that you are correct when you say the top echelons of the church were afraid of some scientific advances it was in the monasteries where medicine, mathematics, astronomy and other academia were studied. The arab world was certainly quite progressive in those terms bu they also came across the libraries in Alexandria which contained much of the learning of the Ancient Greeks which you quite rightly mentioned.

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                  • #10
                    Yes but you know how the Romans would have dealt with the insurgents in Iraq dont you? lol

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by copenhagen View Post
                      Yes but you know how the Romans would have dealt with the insurgents in Iraq dont you? lol
                      I don't know...Maybe we should ask the Carthaginians?
                      Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by revans View Post
                        No, the Romans would have the same problems with oil and where's its located as we do today. Remember, they never conquered the Persian Empire. So Iran/Iraq was a problem then as well!!
                        a non-declining Rome would have had to conquer farther and farther, including conquest of mostly un-habited Arabia.

                        .... and burn the oil for global warming!
                        "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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                        • #13
                          The Roman Empire under Trajan did conquer the area of present day Iraq but the Emperor Hadarian had the sense the withdraw to Iraq as it was not worth the cost in blood and money to keep a miltary presence there. Well some thing dont change even in 1,900 years.
                          War is less costly than servitude

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Revans
                            No, the Romans would have the same problems with oil and where's its located as we do today. Remember, they never conquered the Persian Empire
                            Originally posted by kendrick
                            The Roman Empire under Trajan did conquer the area of present day Iraq but the Emperor Hadarian had the sense the withdraw to Iraq as it was not worth the cost in blood and money to keep a miltary presence there. Well some thing dont change even in 1,900 years.
                            Actually the Romans, under the name of Byzantium, did conquer Persia in the early 7th century. However, the war was so costly that Byzantium was unable to resist the sudden northward moves of Muhammad and Islam. Had not the western empire declined, it is likely Persia would still have been destroyed while perhaps leaving Rome stong enough to keep Islam in check in northern Arabia and near the Persian Gulf.
                            The Purist

                            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                            • #15
                              You guys also seem to be forgetting the Steam engine was (almost!) invented in the Roman Empire. All it would have taken was for the inventor, Hero of Alexandria, to make that one small leap to 'steam powered carts' for use on Roman roads (didn't they have small wheel trenches?) and suddenly the Romans could have had trains!

                              From Wikipedia:
                              The first recorded steam-powered device, the aeolipile, was described by Hero of Alexandria (Heron) in 1st century Roman Egypt, in his manuscript Spiritalia seu Pneumatica. Steam ejected tangentally from nozzles caused a pivoted ball to rotate; this suggests that the conversion of steam pressure into mechanical movement was known in Roman Egypt in the 1st century, the device was used for some simple work, such as opening doors, but saw no other major uses.
                              They were already using it for mechanical means (mostly entertainment), so again that is not too large a leap!

                              Imagine how that would have helped the Romans maintain power! Trade would be increased, troops could have reached distant provinces much quicker, and we might have seen less stagnation in Rome because now people could travel much farther safer and in less time!

                              And if Rome maintained strict control over all the railroads (and was sure to tax thier use) the coffers of Rome would stay quite happily filled.

                              Of course, Rome might still have fallen: the steam device was invented around the first century, and if Hero had indeed been able to invent the steam engine, it would still have taken many years for it to become implimented (perhaps a century or so for a sizable and useful route to be built, perhaps from Rome to the south of Italy? Or maybe from Alexandria either east to Palestine/Arabia, or south down the Nile?).

                              You know, this is all quite exciting!

                              DoD's Roman title: Nerdvs Maximvs.

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