01 December 2006

How Amazing We Aren't

This headline was reported the other day by several online news agencies (go ahead, read it, it's short):


Synopsis (for those in a real hurry): Basically, somebody has studied an ancient Greek device, reconstructed it and found out that it does amazing and very sophistocated and advanced things. Scientists are astonished that an ancient civilization could produce anything quite so amazing, sophistocated and/or advanced.

Stories like this always leave me shaking my head at the scientists. Well, not at the scientists, but at their reaction to how complicated ancient civilizations were.

I mean, why is it so amazing that ancient peoples could create complicated things?

This shouldn't amaze us. It's not like they were Australopithecus or Homo erectus or something. They were us, Homo sapiens sapiens. We create complicated things all the time. Why shouldn't the ancient Greeks have been able create things just as complicated? Shouldn't we expect to find complicated things in the ancient world?

2 comments:

Queen K said...

Thank you!! I SO agree with you! It's quite clear that there was a huge amount of learning and understanding before the Dark Ages and yet we assume it was somehow 'lesser' because they didn't have our level of technology. Yet in many ways our level of technology is destroying us...and we're the smart ones? Whatever!

Bethanie said...

Yet in many ways our level of technology is destroying us...and we're the smart ones? Whatever!

Well said! I hadn't even thought of it in reverse, so to speak.

For a longer news article on the subject, check ABCnews.com's story on it.

Also, the Wikipedia entry on the device, the Antikythera mechanism, has an update at the bottom outlining the Nature article.