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STS203: History of Technology

Unit 1: The Ancient World   The popular statement “all roads lead to Rome” recalls a time when Rome controlled vast lands and peoples surrounding the entire Mediterranean. During that period, the Romans had the engineering wherewithal and slave labor to pave an enormous road system around the capital city. If the ancient Greeks were most famous for their science and philosophy, then the Romans were masters of technology. Remnants of their feats – the road system, irrigation systems, and large structures like the Pantheon – are still visible today. Most of these relate back to the imperial centuries, approximately between 27BC at the end of the Republic and 476AD when the first Germanic king of Rome became ruler. Roman history exemplifies how massive centralized states promoted technological advancement in the pre-modern world yet separated theoretical and scientific studies from technology and craft knowledge. This split between science and technology endured until the applied sciences of the 19th century (Unit 7), although some argue it continued to the present day (Unit 9).
 
In this unit, you will learn how Greek philosophers distinguished theory (episteme) from hands-on craft knowledge (techne), a social and intellectual distinction with long-term implications in Western history. You will then study the Roman Empire through its material forms including water engineering, mining, and construction. Much of this engineering legacy was lost to the West after the decline of the Empire but recovered during the Renaissance Movement (Unit 4) and Scientific Revolution (Unit 5).

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 8.5 hours to complete.
☐    Subunit 1.1: 1.5 hours

     Subunit 1.2: 7 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2.3: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2.4: 1.5 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- explain Aristotle’s theory of technology;  - describe how to make Roman concrete; - identify major Roman engineering feats; - explain the military significance of the Roman road system; and - explain how Roman engineers drained mines.

1.1 Greek Philosophy: Episteme and Techne   - Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Richard Parry’s “Episteme and Techne” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Richard Parry’s “Episteme and Techne” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read the introduction and sections on Aristotle and Plotinus. This reading will introduce you to how ancient philosophers distinguished “theory” and “practice.” Note how Plotinus upheld theoretical knowledge (episteme) above the practical (techne) to an extent beyond Aristotle’s formulation. Theoretical knowledge would have higher status than craft knowledge in the medieval West (Unit 3).
 
Reading and note-taking should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 Roman Engineering   1.2.1 Hydraulic Systems and Aqueducts   - Reading: University of California, Santa Barbara: Professor Fikret Yegul’s “Roman Building Technology and Architecture” Link: University of California, Santa Barbara: Professor Fikret Yegul’s “Roman Building Technology and Architecture” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and select the links to read the following sections: “Introduction,” “Roman Concrete,” “Roads and Highways,” “Bridges,” and “Water Supply Systems.” Pay close attention to how the Romans made concrete as well as how these engineering feats helped consolidate the Empire. Note that this reading also includes the topic outlined in subunit 1.2.2.  
 
Reading and note-taking should take approximately 3 hours.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.2 Concrete and Roads   Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned below subunit 1.2.1. In particular, focus on the “Roman Concrete” and “Roads and Highways” sections.

  • Reading: HistoryToday: Logan Thompson’s “Roman Roads” Link: HistoryToday: Logan Thompson’s “Roman Roads” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above, and read the entire article for a closer look at the massive road system that united the Empire. Pay close attention to the military and economic significance of this engineering feat.  
     
    Reading and note-taking should take approximately 2 hours.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.3 The Pantheon   - Lecture: The Open University Podcasts: Imperial Rome and Ostia: “The Pantheon Temple” Link: The Open University Podcasts: Imperial Rome and Ostia: “The Pantheon Temple” (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and then scroll down to find “The Pantheon Temple.” Watch this short film on the Pantheon. You may also click on the PDF icon to download a transcript of the podcast. Pay special attention to the creative use of concrete in the Pantheon’s construction. The building still stands in Rome and was an inspiration for the Panthéon in Paris, Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC, and numerous other structures around the world.
 
Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.4 Mining   - Reading: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Lynn Cohen Duncan’s “Roman Deep-Vein Mining” Link: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Lynn Cohen Duncan’s “Roman Deep-Vein Mining” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this webpage on Roman mining. Pay particular attention to the challenges of mining, such as ventilation and drainage. These are problems that course through the history of technology to the present day.
 
Reading and note-taking should take approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: New York University: Chris Rorres’s “Archimedes Screw” Link: New York University: Chris Rorres’s “Archimedes Screw” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above, and read the entire webpage, which addresses an ancient method of water drainage. Renaissance engineers would recover this information in the 15th century (Unit 4), and no less a name than Galileo would study Archimedes in the 17th century (Unit 5).
     
    Reading and note-taking should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 1 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Assessment” (HTML)

 Instructions: Complete the linked assessment.  
    
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