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The inevitability of discoveries

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Serge L View Drop Down
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  Quote Serge L Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The inevitability of discoveries
    Posted: 10-Apr-2007 at 17:37
It's pretty much common ground that science and technology proceed for necessary steps, so that at a certain level of development someone has to invent something or discover some scientific principle, and he progress follows, so to say, obliged steps.

Evidences of that are many. For instance, language and fire were invented independently many times in several different places; besides, pretty much every civilization passed through the usual ages denoted by the most used material for tools(rough stone, machined stone, copper, bronze, iron).

Moreover, the same fact many modern inventions (the radio, the telephone, the television just to name a few) were disputed among several people is proof that many of them were working on the same field and obtaining similar results pretty much at the same time.

There could be similar principles involved in other "bordering" field, e.g. the social-economic development.
For example, did anybody noticed that societies, like Russia or China, that are introducing capitalistic economy are apparently forced to pass through some form of "primitive", "savage capitalism" resembling that of  England in 1800?

However there are some limited counter-examples. for instance, pre-Colombian civilizations, while very advanced on many fields, apparently did not invent, or at least, did not extensively use some that we would consider basic inventions, like writing and the wheel.

Please discuss.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2007 at 23:11
Yes and no.
 
There are several inventions that have been created in parallel. Like paper, the zero, writting, metalurgy, hunging bridges, textiles, etc. However, there are some particular inventions that were invented only once. Some of them are: the alphabet and the string musical instruments (only in Eurasia).
 
So, it is inevitable things are invented? Perhaps MOST are, but there is a chance some inventions are more difficult to figure out than others.
 
Originally posted by Serge L

...
However there are some limited counter-examples. for instance, pre-Colombian civilizations, while very advanced on many fields, apparently did not invent, or at least, did not extensively use some that we would consider basic inventions, like writing and the wheel.

Please discuss.
 
Well, the wheel was invented in the Americas as well. However, it was used only in toys. Nobody though in applying it to transportation or machinery, like the pottery wheel, for instance. Native Americans also have the abstract concept of wheel, like Maya calendar shows, but somehow they never figure it out theeted wheels and other machinery of that sort.
 
Very advanced forms of writing existed in Mesoamerica, of which the Maya writing system excel. It is strange, though, that writing didn't spread to the rest of the Americas and stayed confined to a relatively small Mesoamerican region. Now, in the Americas nobody invented the alphabet, but that's not a big deal: Chineses didn't invent it either.
 
 
Pinguin
  


Edited by pinguin - 11-Apr-2007 at 23:16
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  Quote Honestus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Apr-2007 at 05:58
Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel sort of touched on the pre-Colombian civilizations lack of inventivness. Essentially, he says they didn't have the leisure time nor the necessity to branch out (so to speak).

It's also important to keep in mind that technology spreads. Someone sees something somewhere and bring that idea home with them. There were many more people in the Old World and the potential for an idea or technology to become invented in the first place and then later to spread like virus was more likely there than in the New World. This is illustrated by the invention of the wheel, as Cecil from The Straight Dope will tell you.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Apr-2007 at 22:52
I don't agree with Diamond on that. Native Americans invented thousands of things by their own. As a South American, I have been amazed all my life with the discovery of new things invented by the Ancient Americans.
 
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Apr-2007 at 09:31
Originally posted by pinguin

I don't agree with Diamond on that. Native Americans invented thousands of things by their own. As a South American, I have been amazed all my life with the discovery of new things invented by the Ancient Americans.
 
Pinguin
 
 
I don't agree with Diamond on a lot of things, that's one of the major ones though.  The other is the assumption that there was a greater population in Europe than the Americas.  I know Pinguin doesn't agree with me on this but there is a large and growing group of scientists that believe the opposite was true.  Whatever, it's just arrogant though, to assert a lack of inventiveness because certain things evolved differently here than there.
 
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Apr-2007 at 10:16
Well, the wheel was invented in the Americas as well. However, it was used only in toys. Nobody though in applying it to transportation or machinery, like the pottery wheel, for instance.
 
 
 
In recent years there has been a renewed discussion of the use or existance of the potter's wheel in the PC Americas.  The rediscovery of journals written by Henry Mercer, who led an expedition to the Yucatan for the U of Penna. Museum in the late 1890's, renewed the controversey.  He had observed local potters using a device similar to ones found in several digs that had been identified as being used for things other than a potter's wheel.
Pottery was my field of study when in uni. Having closely studied  the pottery of certain precolumbian cultures I've seen many examples of ware that had at the very least been finished on a wheel.  The best evidence I've seen was in fragments, where you could get a cross section view.  Wheel made pottery has certain characteristics that can be easily seen from a cross section.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Apr-2007 at 12:47
Originally posted by red clay

...
 
I don't agree with Diamond on a lot of things, that's one of the major ones though.  The other is the assumption that there was a greater population in Europe than the Americas.  I know Pinguin doesn't agree with me on this but there is a large and growing group of scientists that believe the opposite was true.  Whatever, it's just arrogant though, to assert a lack of inventiveness because certain things evolved differently here than there.
 
 
I completely agree with you in the topic of inventiveness of Amerindians, because I have seen it first hand. Just remember besides English language source I have access to a large literature in Spanish, besides the fact I have wonderful museums and archaelogical sites in here. So my impression is that Natives were extraordinarily creative.
 
Now, in the topic of population I don't agree simply because doesn't match historical facts. Native Americans were invaded by the Europeans when they were in the beginning of a process of growth and building of national states. Regions like Amazonia, Patagonia and the Great plains never had a large density of population at all. During the conquist of Brazil, for example, that huge country had populations in the order of hundred of thousands and not tens of millions.
 
There was an important demographic impact of illness in the Americas, but people tend to forget the main factor of the decline of Native cultures was the spreading of Western civilization, Catholic religion and above all intermarriage. The theory of huge populations in the Americas is just a form to exagerate genocide, I believe for political reasons. As far as I know, intentional genocide was limited, and more common was the death in the battlefields, but that is also small when compared with the deads by illnesses. However, the most important impact of all it was intermarryage by a very large factor.
 
For instance, in the countries of the Caribbean, where Tainos were supposed to be extinct, a large degree of Amerindian blood was found by researchers, that make between 30% to 60% of the mtDNA of the population, particularly in Puerto Rico, but also in Cuba and DR. What that means? It means the Tainos culture become extinct because Europeans married too many Native American women. Curiously enough, record of it exist in the chronicles, but nobody has payed much attention, as far as I know.
 
Tainos of the Caribbean are fighting to be recognized as a living people, and not an extinguished race, as history pretends.
 
Pinguin
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 21-Apr-2007 at 12:51
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Apr-2007 at 12:55
Originally posted by red clay

... 
In recent years there has been a renewed discussion of the use or existance of the potter's wheel in the PC Americas.  The rediscovery of journals written by Henry Mercer, who led an expedition to the Yucatan for the U of Penna. Museum in the late 1890's, renewed the controversey.  He had observed local potters using a device similar to ones found in several digs that had been identified as being used for things other than a potter's wheel.
Pottery was my field of study when in uni. Having closely studied  the pottery of certain precolumbian cultures I've seen many examples of ware that had at the very least been finished on a wheel.  The best evidence I've seen was in fragments, where you could get a cross section view.  Wheel made pottery has certain characteristics that can be easily seen from a cross section.
 
 
That's interesting.
 
I know for certain that the Natives in my country didn't use pottery wheels, but it could be interesting to know if other peoples of the Americas invented it.
 
All your refferences would be very welcomed.
 
Pinguin
 
 
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 09:03
Originally posted by pinguin

Originally posted by red clay

... 
In recent years there has been a renewed discussion of the use or existance of the potter's wheel in the PC Americas.  The rediscovery of journals written by Henry Mercer, who led an expedition to the Yucatan for the U of Penna. Museum in the late 1890's, renewed the controversey.  He had observed local potters using a device similar to ones found in several digs that had been identified as being used for things other than a potter's wheel.
Pottery was my field of study when in uni. Having closely studied  the pottery of certain precolumbian cultures I've seen many examples of ware that had at the very least been finished on a wheel.  The best evidence I've seen was in fragments, where you could get a cross section view.  Wheel made pottery has certain characteristics that can be easily seen from a cross section.
 
 
That's interesting.
 
I know for certain that the Natives in my country didn't use pottery wheels, but it could be interesting to know if other peoples of the Americas invented it.
 
All your refferences would be very welcomed.
 
Pinguin
 
 
 
 
 
Pinguin-
 
The pottery I'm referring to is mainly Mayan, and is confined to ware of the type used everyday.  Utilitarian only, possibly as close to mass produced as work from that era can come.  Recognizable by an obvious lack of skill on the potter's part.  Referrences for that I don't have right off.  That's an educated personal observation.  I'm not the only one to have made that observation, I just don't know if anyone has published anything.  As to the other,  Henry Mercer"s journals or parts of them have been published.  I don't know where you would find them, jstor maybe.  I will see if I can find a link.
 
 
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 09:21
Ping.-
 
 
I was just running over some ideas in my mind,  the device Mercer was referring to would not have to be a "wheel" in the sense you and I would visualize.  The Japanese used [ and it may still be used somewhere] a potter's wheel that was square and had holes in it that the potter would put a stick in to spin it.  They also had a device that had no "wheel"
 at all but rather 4 posts braced together, top and bottom.  It sat on a pivot and was powered by a potter's helper lying on his side pushing against the posts with his feet.
The main point to this is the important idea is the "pivot" or "bearing" used in conjuction with a shaft,  adding weight to this in the form of a wheel would be helpful, but not critical.
 
 
 
 


Edited by red clay - 22-Apr-2007 at 09:37
"Arguing with someone who hates you or your ideas, is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter what move you make, your opponent will walk all over the board and scramble the pieces".
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Apr-2007 at 10:30
Amazing!
 
If nobody has published as yet you should do it.
 
So far, the official archaelogy does not know about it.
 
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  Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-May-2010 at 19:52
Pinguin, wrote a long time ago;

"Well, the wheel was invented in the Americas as well. However, it was used only in toys. Nobody though in applying it to transportation or machinery, like the pottery wheel, for instance. Native Americans also have the abstract concept of wheel, like Maya calendar shows, but somehow they never figure it out theeted wheels and other machinery of that sort."

There remains a big question! If children could make wheeled wagons/carts/chariots with the use of child sized wheels, just why did no one else bring them up to full size?

The obvious anser is that the full sized vehicles were used, but the dating of the toys is wrong?

It seems an almost obvious thing, but children tend to copy adults!

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Edited by opuslola - 27-May-2010 at 19:53
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  Quote Baal Melqart Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Apr-2011 at 20:58
But then Meso-america is practically all covered by thick jungles, it would seem futile to drag carts or chariots in such a terrain. Unless The Aztecs/Mayan had a proper road system in their major cities, I am not sure they did.
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  Quote unclefred Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Oct-2011 at 11:55
Originally posted by Baal Melqart

But then Meso-america is practically all covered by thick jungles, it would seem futile to drag carts or chariots in such a terrain. Unless The Aztecs/Mayan had a proper road system in their major cities, I am not sure they did.
Many cities of the Yucatan Maya, and other sacred sites, were connected with a network of raised stone roads. Remnants of these Sacbeob or 'white ways' can be seen today at the Maya cities of Chichen Itza, Coba, Uxmal and others. Some of them have been incorporated into modern roadways, but most of them have been covered with jungle and are hidden from view. The roads were mostly built with limestone blocks and rubble fill, coated with a white limestone stucco. They generally are elevated from 1 to 1.5 meters and were leveled, which must have taken intense effort and seems to highlight the symbolic aspect of them. Used heavily for commerce and travel, the roads were also very sacred to the Maya.
Spanish chroniclers left records of these roads, Diego Lopez Cogolludo recorded in 1688, "There are remains of paved highways which transverse all this kingdom and they say they ended on the east on the seashore...so that they may arrive at Cozumel for the fulfillment of their vows, to offer their sacrifice, to ask for help in their needs, and for the mistaken adoration of their false Gods".
Considering that the Maya had no beasts of burden or even used wheeled carts, the spiritual importance of these labor-intensive and carefully built roads, is easily highlighted. At the ends of some roads, such as at Labna and at Kabah, large arches were built with religious iconography. Having walked one of the sacbe at Coba, which runs 62 miles to the city of Yaxuna, I can assert the amazing aspect of these ancient highways.

Click the image to open in full size.
The Arch at the terminus at Kabah:
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  Quote Starsucks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Nov-2011 at 16:22
One should also keep in mind the availability of certain resources when comparing either "World's" ingenuity against the other. Certain fruits and vegetables, types of trees, and horses come to mind.
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