guess what

Before you skip down to look at the answer, read this quote and see if you can guess which outstanding advance in human history took place under the following conditions:

X was invented “within the framework of a rapidly expanding urban environment, social stratification, technological specialisation, the emergence of a politically powerful nobility, large-scale community labour projects and commodity distribution, and intercity and international exchange networks.”

The question is: Has anything that’s ever been invented, not been invented in a context like this?

Just for the record and so I’m not guilty of plagiarism, this is the scholar Margaret W Green talking about the invention of cuneiform – the earliest ever writing script, developed by an ancient people called the Sumerians over five thousand years ago. Rapid urban expansion, social stratification, technological specialisation … it seems so contemporary, but it seems like you can use the same terms to describe virtually any period of human history there’s ever been. Unless you can think of something I can’t?

MW Green (1989), ‘Early cuneiform.’ In WM Senner (ed), The Origins of Writing. University of Nebraska Press, p43.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s