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STS203: History of Technology

Unit 4: Renaissance Technology   The Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci once designed movable barricades to help protect the city of Venice and planned to literally move the Arno River. Da Vinci was one of the greatest engineers of all time. It was the Renaissance that made a fine art out of lowly crafts such as painting and machine building, which were previously confined to the workshop and pursued by anonymous craftsmen. Prior to Da Vinci’s day, few scholars would have dirtied their hands with painting, mining, masonry, and applied mathematics like machine building or surveying. However, as northern Italian princes consolidated power and larger states across Europe – Spain, France, England – centralized, scholars at the service of the state increasingly offered technological solutions to their patrons’ military and natural resource problems.
 
This unit studies the Renaissance period (roughly the 15th-16th centuries) because of its significance in the history of technology. You will be introduced to the Gutenberg press and its role in spreading technological knowledge, as well as the impressive engineering feats of the leading architects who recovered Greco-Roman traditions. Even more, this unit discusses early gunpowder technologies in the West, such as the use of muskets and cannons. Only the largest, most centralized states could adopt these new technologies on a grand scale, whether on the battlefield or on voyages of discovery. While completing this unit, think critically about the extent to which print and gunpowder technologies determined cultural and political developments and also about the ways cultural and political conditions, by contrast, steered technological developments.   

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 15.25 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4: 6.5 hours
☐    Subunit 4.4.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5: 5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.1: 3 hours

☐     Subunit 4.5.2: 2 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- identify Gutenberg’s major innovation; - identify the significance of Da Vinci in the history of technology; - explain what is most innovative about Florence’s Cathedral Dome; - describe reasons for exploration; - identify features of the caravel that made it suitable for exploration; - identify and explain major voyages of discovery; - define the Military Revolution; - discuss criticisms of the Military Revolution; and - define the Columbian Exchange.

4.1 The Status of Art   4.1.1 Art versus *Craft*   - Reading: Inter Archive: Sweet Briar College’s Department of Art History: Professor Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe’s “The Renaissance and the Rise of the Artist” and “Renaissance Art and ‘Grazia’” Link: Internet Archive: Sweet Briar College’s Department of Art History: Professor Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe’s “The Renaissance and the Rise of the Artist” and “Renaissance Art and ‘Grazia’” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the links above, and read these 2 pages to learn how artists of the Renaissance sought to distinguish themselves from craftsmen. Pay close attention to the role of Plato’s philosophy in this respect, its revival by Ficino, and the important book by Vasari on the lives of artists.  
 
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.

4.1.2 Da Vinci   - Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s Smart History: Dr. David Drogin’s “Leonardo Da Vinci” Link: Khan Academy’s Smart History: Dr. David Drogin’s “Leonardo Da Vinci” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and listen to this short lecture on Da Vinci. Pay particular attention to the importance of engineering plans in his professional development. Also, read the biography of his life on this webpage, noting how Leonardo’s career demonstrates the changing status of the artist.
 
Watching this video, pausing to take notes, and reading the biography should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
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4.2 Architecture   4.2.1 Renaissance Style   - Reading: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of European Paintings’ “Architecture in Renaissance Italy” Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Department of European Paintings’ “Architecture in Renaissance Italy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this page for an introduction to Renaissance architecture. Pay close attention to how Renaissance architects revived ancient Roman learning. Click on “View Slideshow” to learn more about the images provided. You may click on each thumbnail image to learn more information.
 
Reading, note-taking, and viewing the slideshow should take approximately 1 hour.
 
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4.2.2 Florence Cathedral   - Web Media: YouTube: Kenney Mencher’s “Brunelleschi and Florence Cathedral” Link: YouTube: Kenney Mencher’s “Brunelleschi and Florence Cathedral” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and view the entire lecture. The Florence Cathedral has a Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance history. The distinctively Renaissance component is the massive dome (Duomo) on top. This was one of the greatest engineering feats of its time. The artist-engineer was Felipe Brunelleschi, and this short lecture explains how he found inspiration in the Pantheon (Unit 1) and imagined novel technical solutions for this monumental challenge.
 
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.

4.3 Printing Press   4.3.1 Print and the Renaissance   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History: “The Printing Press” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History: ** “The Printing Press” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this lecture on how the printing press helped spread the Renaissance movement. This reading also provides an introduction to Gutenberg’s innovation with moveable metal type.
 
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.

4.3.2 Gutenberg   - Reading: The Open University: The Renaissance Secrets Team’s “What Did Gutenberg Invent?” Link: The Open University: The Renaissance Secrets Team’s “What Did Gutenberg Invent?” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read the brief webpage. This reading will add to your understanding of Gutenberg. This reading recalls prior innovations in China and Korea and questions the common assumption that Gutenberg invented the moveable type press.
 
Reading and note-taking should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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4.4 Shipbuilding and Exploration   4.4.1 Shipbuilding   - Reading: Aluismodi Cultural Association’s Dialogue between Cultures: Arturo Faraone’s “The Arsenale of Venice” Link: Aluismodi Cultural Association’s Dialogue between Cultures: Arturo Faraone’s “The Arsenale of Venice” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this selection on the Arsenale, paying attention to its high level of organization and division of labor. Be sure to enjoy the images in the photo gallery. Many famous explorers were Italian (e.g. Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Amerigo Vespucci), and the Venice Republic monopolized Europe’s long-distance trade with Asia before Spain and Portugal’s “Age of Discovery.” The Arsenale was the Republic’s shipbuilding proto-factory.  
 
Reading, viewing the images, and note-taking should take approximately 2 hours.  
                                           
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  • Reading: Texas A&M University: George R. Schwartz’s “Caravel History” Link: Texas A&M University: George R. Schwartz’s “Caravel History” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this page on the major ship of Portuguese and Spanish exploration – the caravel. What were the major advantages of this design at sea?
     
    Reading, note-taking, and answering the question above should take approximately 1 hour.
     
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4.4.2 The Voyages   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: “Lecture 2: The Age of Discovery” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Early Modern European History: ** “Lecture 2: The Age of Discovery” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above to access the lecture. Read this introduction to European exploration of the 15th century, noting the reasons for exploration and major expeditions of Portugal and Spain.
 
Reading and note-taking should take approximately 2 hours.
 
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4.4.3 The Columbian Exchange   - Reading: National Humanities Center: Alfred Crosby’s “The Columbian Exchange” Link: National Humanities Center: Alfred Crosby’s “The Columbian Exchange” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this essay on how
the Age of Discovery linked the Old and New Worlds, forever changing
the biological and cultural history of both. Prepare two lists: one
of important plants, animals, and diseases that were native to the
New World; and one of plants, animals, and diseases that were native
to the Old World. Be sure to find the “continued” link at the bottom
of page 1. You may stop after reading page 2.  

 Reading and note-taking should take about 1 hour and 30 minutes.  

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4.5 Military Revolution   4.5.1 The Theory   - Reading: University of Wisconsin, Madison: J.P. Sommerville’s “The Military Revolution” Link: University of Wisconsin, Madison: J.P. Sommerville’s “The Military Revolution” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read the entire text. Be sure to click on the hand icon at the end of each webpage to read all three sections on the Military Revolution. Another example of technological determinism is the theory that changes in warfare – especially tactics and the spread of gunpowder technologies like muskets and cannons – led to massive state centralization throughout Europe. This reading presents evidence for this theory, tying new technology to political development. After reading, take some time to construct a definition of the Military Revolution. The reading below in subunit 4.5.2 will provide a necessary correction to this theory.

 Reading, note-taking, and defining the Military Revolution should
take approximately 3 hours.  
    
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4.5.2 Revisions   - Reading: History Today, Volume 42, Issue 12: David Parrot’s “The Military Revolution in Early Europe” Link: History Today, Volume 42, Issue 12: David Parrot’s “The Military Revolution in Early Europe” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this entire article, which addresses revisions to the Military Revolution thesis presented in subunit 4.5.1. After you read this article, try to write an explanation of at least 2 major criticisms of the thesis.

 Reading, note-taking, and writing the explanation should take
approximately 2 hours.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
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Unit 4 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 4 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 4 Assessment” (HTML)

 Instructions: Complete the linked assessment.  
    
 You must be logged into your Saylor Foundation School account in
order to access this quiz. If you do not yet have an account, you
will be able to create one, free of charge, after clicking the
link.