[LMB] OT: Romans

markus baur baur at chello.at
Sun Aug 25 21:10:09 BST 2019

Am 25.08.2019 um 21:52 schrieb Pat Mathews:
> Yes, indeed! Thanks for that neat summary.
> ________________________________
> From: lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk <lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk> on behalf of Howard Brazee <howard at brazee.net>
> Sent: Saturday, August 24, 2019 5:33 PM
> To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold. <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk>
> Subject: [LMB] OT: Romans
> I found this:  https://www.quora.com/Why-did-technological-progress-grind-to-a-halt-during-the-Dark-Ages-when-the-Byzantine-Empire-survived-until-1453 <https://www.quora.com/Why-did-technological-progress-grind-to-a-halt-during-the-Dark-Ages-when-the-Byzantine-Empire-survived-until-1453>
> It didn’t.
> Romans were excellent constructors but bad gadgeteers. Compared to the Chinese, the Romans were lousy engineers. Of all schools of engineering (civil, process, mechanical, chemical) the Romans mastered only the civil engineering. They were lousy metallurgists, lousy mechanical engineers, lousy production engineers, lousy chemical engineers and lousy gadgeteers.
> There was a reason for this, and it was slavery. Nothing is impossible for a man with a vision, ambition, skills of organizing things and an endless supply of unpaid and coerced labour. Slavery really gets things done. But it also effectively impedes all kinds of technological progress. There simply is no incentive to innovation nor develop any labour saving technology when you have slaves. Why build windmills when you have enough slaves to grind the quern-stones?
> The Roman technological process got in grinding halt in the 2nd century AD. There really were no new inventions after the 2nd century AD.
> Cue the Dark Ages and Christianity. Slavery is abolished. You can no more whip, scourge and bully slaves to work and to build things, but you have to pay your workers. It means labour is expensive. Now this is an incentive to develop labour-saving technology. And it really was.
> The Dark Ages (476–800) saw the following inventions:
> Heavy wheeled ploughshare, which superseded the ard plough
> Horsecollar, which enabled use of horses as draught animals
> Crop rotation, which saw 300% increase on crops
> Overshot waterwheel, which was much more efficient than undershot

yes, no, sort off

the romans did know and use the overshot waterwheel .. look at the roman 
"mill factory" of Barbegal

which type of wheel is more efficient is a question of available amount 
of water and drop head .. undershot does better with large amounts of 
water and very little drop head, overshot does better with little water 
and large drop head

(its similar to the question if a Pelton wheel is more efficient than a 
Kaplan turbine - and a Francis fits right into the middle between thgese 
two .. plus a number of alternative designs)



> Windmills to supersede slaves grinding quern-stones
> Lateen sail, which enabled tacking
> Catalan forge. Much better than Roman bloomeries.
> Horseshoes. Enabled much more efficient use of horses.
> Water hammer. Enabled much more efficient manufacturing than merely smiting the iron by hand.
> Spurs. Enabled controlling the horse without reins.
> Stirrups. Enabled striking downwards with a sword on horseback.
> Cantled saddle. Prevented lance charge becoming pole vault.
> Hourglass. To keep informed of time.
> Distillation. To purify and refine things and produce liquors.
> Spinning wheel. Much better way to produce yarn than spindle.
> All in all, the 325 years of the Dark Ages saw much more technological progress than the preceding 325 years in the Roman Empire.


markus baur                     SCA: markus von brixlegg
schluesselgasse 3/5             tel: +43 - (0)1 - 50 40 662
a-1040 wien                     email: baur at chello.at
austria/europe                  icbm: 48°11'39"N; 16°22'06"E

a portrait: http://www.abcgallery.com/A/arcimboldo/arcimboldo9.html

"der Markus?? .... das ist der mit dem Buch..."

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