The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to prehistoric technology.
Prehistoric technology – technology that predates recorded history. History is the study of the past using written records; it is also the record itself. Anything prior to the first written accounts of history is prehistoric (meaning "before history"), including earlier technologies. About 2.5 million years before writing was developed, technology began with the earliest hominids who used stone tools, which they may have used to start fires, hunt, cut food, and bury their dead.
Prehistoric – "before we had written records," from the Latin word for "before," præ. Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history, that is, before the invention of writing systems.
Technology – making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function.
Old World prehistoric technology
Three-age system – in archaeology and physical anthropology, the periodization of human prehistory into three consecutive time periods, each named after the main material used in its respective tool-making technologies: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.
Beginning of prehistoric technology – the earliest technology began (2.5 million years) before recorded history, that is, at the beginning of the Stone Age.
Latest prehistoric technology – the level of technology reached before true writing was introduced differed by region (and usually included proto-writing)...
Latest prehistoric technology in the Near East – cultures in the Near East achieved the development of writing first, during their Bronze Age.
Latest prehistoric technology in the rest of the Old World: Europe, India, and China reached Iron Age technological development before the introduction of writing there.
Stone Age technology in the Old World
Stone Age – broad prehistoric period, lasting roughly 2.5 million years, during which stone was widely used in the manufacture of implements with a sharp edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period began with hominids and ended between 6000 and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking.
Paleolithic – prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered (Grahame Clark's Modes I and II), and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory.
Stone tool use – early human (hominid) use of stone tool technology, such as the hand axe, was similar to that of primates, which is found to be limited to the intelligence levels of modern children aged 3 to 5 years. Ancestors of homo sapiens (modern man) used stone tools as follows:
Homo habilis ("handy man") – first "homo" species. It lived from approximately 2.3 to 1.4 million years ago in Africa and created stone tools called Oldowan tools.
Control of fire by early humans – European and Asian sites dating back 1.5 million years ago seem to indicate controlled use of fire by H. erectus. A northern Israel site from about 690,000 to 790,000 years ago suggests controlled use of fire in a hearth from pre-existing natural fires or embers.
Burial – the act of placing a deceased person into the ground.
Burials – homo neanderthalensis buried their dead, doing so in shallow graves along with stone tools and animal bones, although the reasons and significance of the burials are disputed.
Homo sapiens – the only living species in the genus Homo originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Greater mental capability and ability to walk erect provided freed hands for manipulating objects, which allowed for far greater use of tools.
Burial – intentional burial, particularly with grave goods, may be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice since it may signify a "concern for the dead that transcends daily life." The earliest undisputed human burial so far dates back 130,000 years. Human skeletal remains stained with red ochre were discovered in the Skhul cave at Qafzeh, Israel with a variety of grave goods.
Tools – included Aurignacian tools, such as stone bladed tools, tools made of antlers, and tools made of bones.
Clothing – evidence, such as possible sewing needles from around 40,000 years ago and dyed flax fibers dated 36,000 BP found in a prehistoric cave in the Republic of Georgia suggest that people were wearing clothes at this time. Human beings may have begun wearing clothing as far back as 190,000 years ago.
Art of the Upper Paleolithic – included cave painting, sculpture such as the Venus figurines, carvings and engravings of bone and ivory, and musical instruments such as flutes. The most common subject matter was large animals that were hunted by the people of the time.
Mesolithic – the transitional period between the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, beginning with the Holocene warm period around 11,660 BP and ending with the Neolithic introduction of farming, the date of which varied in each geographical region. Adaptation was required during this period due to climate changes that affected environment and the types of available food.
Metalworking – copper use began as early as 9000 BC in the Middle East; and a copper pendant found in northern Iraq dated to 8700 BCE.
Numeric counting – record keeping evolved from a system of counting using small clay tokens that began in Sumer about 8000 BCE.
Proto-writing – ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols used to convey information, probably devoid of direct linguistic content. These systems emerged in the early Neolithic period, as early as the 7th millennium BCE.
Neolithic signs in China – at a range of Neolithic sites in China, small numbers of symbols of either pictorial or simple geometric nature have been unearthed which were incised into or drawn or painted on artifacts, mostly on pottery but in some instances on turtle shells, animal bones or artifacts made from bone or jade.
Stone tools – ground and polished tools were created during the Neolithic period.
Religious structures – such as the Göbekli Tepe built about 12,000 years ago.
Wheel – in the late Neolithic period, the wheel was introduced for making pottery.
Prehistoric Bronze Age technology in the Old World
Bronze Age – stage of development characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons and of developing trade networks.
General developmental stages leading from proto-writing to true writing:
Picture writing system: glyphs directly represent objects and ideas or objective and ideational situations. In connection with this the following substages may be distinguished:
The mnemonic: glyphs primarily a reminder;
The pictographic (pictography): glyphs represent directly an object or an objective situation such as (A) chronological, (B) notices, (C) communications, (D) totems, titles, and names, (E) religious, (F) customs, (G) historical, and (H) biographical;
The ideographic (ideography): glyphs represent directly an idea or an ideational situation.
Transitional system: glyphs refer not only to the object or idea which it represents but to its name as well.
Phonetic system: glyphs refer to sounds or spoken symbols irrespective of their meanings. This resolves itself into the following substages:
The verbal: glyph (logogram) represents a whole word;
The syllabic: glyph represent a syllable;
The alphabetic: glyph represent an elementary sound.
Archaic – was dated from 8,000 to 2,000 years before present. People were hunters of small game, such as deer, antelope and rabbits, and gatherers of wild plants, moving seasonally to hunting and gathering sites. Late in the Archaic period, about 200-500 CE, corn was introduced into the diet and pottery-making became an occupation for storing and carrying food.
Prehistoric art – art produced in preliterate, prehistorical cultures beginning somewhere in very late geological history, and generally continuing until that culture either develops writing or other methods of record-keeping, or makes significant contact with another culture that has, and that makes some record of major historical events.
^Skinner, A.; Blackwell, B.; Long, R.; Seronie-Vivien, M.R.; Tillier, A.-M.; Blickstein, J. (March 28, 2007). "New ESR dates for a new bone-bearing layer at Pradayrol, Lot, France". Paleoanthropology Society.
^Scarre, Chris. (2009). The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies. (2nd edition). Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-28781-3.
^Gabora, Liane; Russon, Anne. "The Evolution of Intelligence." chapter in Sternberg, Robert J.; Kaufman, Scott Barry. (editors). (2011). The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence. Cambridge University Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-521-51806-2.
The American system of manufacturing was a set of manufacturing methods that evolved in the 19th century. The two notable features were the extensive use of interchangeable parts and mechanization for production, which resulted in more efficient use of labor compared to hand methods. The system was also known as armory practice because it was first fully developed in armories, namely, the United States Armories at Springfield in Massachusetts and Harpers Ferry in Virginia (later West Virginia), inside contractors to supply the United States Armed Forces, and various private armories. The name "American system" came not from any aspect of the system that is unique to the American national character, but simply from the fact that for a time in the 19th century it was strongly associated with the American companies who first successfully implemented it, and how their methods contrasted (at that time) with those of British and continental European companies. In the 1850s, the "American system" was contrasted to the British factory system which had evolved over the previous century. Within a few decades, manufacturing technology had evolved further, and the ideas behind the "American" system were in use worldwide. Therefore, in manufacturing today, which is global in the scope of its methods, there is no longer any such distinction.
The American system involved semi-skilled labor using machine tools and jigs to make standardized, identical, interchangeable parts, manufactured to a tolerance, which could be assembled with a minimum of time and skill, requiring little to no fitting.
Since the parts are interchangeable, it was also possible to separate manufacture from assembly, and repair—an example of the division of labor. This meant that all three functions could be carried out by semi-skilled labor: manufacture in smaller factories up the supply chain, assembly on an assembly line in a main factory, and repair in small specialized shops or in the field. The result is that more things could be made, more cheaply, and with higher quality, and those things also could be distributed further, and lasted longer, because repairs were also easier and cheaper. In the case of each function, the system of interchangeable parts typically involved substituting specialized machinery to replace hand tools.
Interchangeability of parts was finally achieved by combining a number of innovations and improvements in machining operations and machine tools, which were developed primarily for making textile machinery. These innovations included the invention of new machine tools and jigs (in both cases, for guiding the cutting tool), fixtures for holding the work in the proper position, and blocks and gauges to check the accuracy of the finished parts.
The Digital Revolution, also known as the Third Industrial Revolution, is the shift from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics which began anywhere from the late 1950s to the late 1970s with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record keeping that continues to the present day. Implicitly, the term also refers to the sweeping changes brought about by digital computing and communication technology during (and after) the latter half of the 20th century. Analogous to the Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution, the Digital Revolution marked the beginning of the Information Age.Central to this revolution is the mass production and widespread use of digital logic circuits, and its derived technologies, including the computer, digital cellular phone, and the Internet. These technological innovations have transformed traditional production and business techniques.
The history of technology is the history of the invention of tools and techniques and is one of the categories of the history of humanity. Technology can refer to methods ranging from as simple as stone tools to the complex genetic engineering and information technology that has emerged since the 1980s. The term technology comes from the Greek word techne, meaning art and craft, and the word logos, meaning word and speech. It was first used to describe applied arts, but it is now used to described advancements and changes which affect the environment around us.New knowledge has enabled people to create new things, and conversely, many scientific endeavors are made possible by technologies which assist humans in traveling to places they could not previously reach, and by scientific instruments by which we study nature in more detail than our natural senses allow.
Since much of technology is applied science, technical history is connected to the history of science. Since technology uses resources, technical history is tightly connected to economic history. From those resources, technology produces other resources, including technological artifacts used in everyday life.
Technological change affects and is affected by, a society's cultural traditions. It is a force for economic growth and a means to develop and project economic, political, military power and wealth.
The Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) is a historic period in the 21st century characterized by the rapid shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on information technology. The onset of the Information Age can be associated with William Shockley, Walter Houser Brattain and John Bardeen, the inventors and engineers behind the first transistors, revolutionising modern technologies. According to the UN Public Administration Network, the Information Age formed by capitalizing on computer microminiaturization advances. This evolution of technology in daily life and social organization has led to the modernization of information and communication processes becoming the driving force of social evolution.
Prehistoric warfare refers to war that occurred between societies without recorded history.
The existence — and even the definition — of war in humanity's hypothetical state of nature has been a controversial topic in the history of ideas at least since Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan (1651) argued a "war of all against all", a view directly challenged by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in a Discourse on Inequality (1755) and The Social Contract (1762). The debate over human nature continues, spanning contemporary anthropology, archaeology, ethnography, history, political science, psychology, primatology, and philosophy in such divergent books as Azar Gat's War in Human Civilization and Raymond C. Kelly's Warless Societies and the Origin of War. For the purposes of this article, "prehistoric war" will be broadly defined as a state of organized lethal aggression between autonomous preliterate communities.
Renaissance technology was the set of European artifacts and inventions which spread through the Renaissance period, roughly the 14th century through the 16th century. The era is marked by profound technical advancements such as the printing press, linear perspective in drawing, patent law, double shell domes and Bastion fortresses. Sketchbooks from artisans of the period (Taccola and Leonardo da Vinci, example) give a deep insight into the mechanical technology then known and applied.
Renaissance science spawned the Scientific Revolution; science and technology began a cycle of mutual advancement.
The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, was a phase of rapid industrialization from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. The First Industrial Revolution, which ended in the middle of 19th century, was punctuated by a slowdown in important inventions before the Second Industrial Revolution in 1870. Though a number of its characteristic events can be traced to earlier innovations in manufacturing, such as the establishment of a machine tool industry, the development of methods for manufacturing interchangeable parts and the invention of the Bessemer Process to produce steel, the Second Industrial Revolution is generally dated between 1870 and 1914 (the beginning of World War I).Advancements in manufacturing and production technology enabled the widespread adoption of technological systems such as telegraph and railroad networks, gas and water supply, and sewage systems, which had earlier been concentrated to a few select cities. The enormous expansion of rail and telegraph lines after 1870 allowed unprecedented movement of people and ideas, which culminated in a new wave of globalization. In the same time period, new technological systems were introduced, most significantly electrical power and telephones. The Second Industrial Revolution continued into the 20th century with early factory electrification and the production line, and ended at the beginning of World War I.
Technological change (TC) or technological development, is the overall process of invention, innovation and diffusion of technology or processes. In essence, technological change covers the invention of technologies (including processes) and their commercialization or release as open source via research and development (producing emerging technologies), the continual improvement of technologies (in which they often become less expensive), and the diffusion of technologies throughout industry or society (which sometimes involves disruption and convergence). In short, technological change is based on both better and more technology.
A technological revolution is a period in which one or more technologies is replaced by another technology in a short amount of time. It is an era of accelerated technological progress characterized by new innovations whose rapid application and diffusion cause an abrupt change in society.
The timeline of historic inventions is a chronological list of particularly important or significant technological inventions and the people who created the inventions.
Note: Dates for inventions are often controversial. Inventions are often invented by several inventors around the same time, or may be invented in an impractical form many years before another inventor improves the invention into a more practical form. Where there is ambiguity, the date of the first known working version of the invention is used here.
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