Article

Greek and Roman Technology

John Peter Oleson

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online July 2014 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0169
Greek and Roman Technology

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This bibliography is designed to survey the role of technology in the Greek and Roman cultures and their respective technological accomplishments, from approximately the 8th century bc through the 5th century ad. Technology consists of those human activities that intentionally alter the environment or natural materials to ensure human survival or simply a more comfortable lifestyle. All human societies build their technologies on the basis of what previous cultures have achieved. The Greco-Roman accomplishments in technology, however, were significantly more diverse than those of the earlier cultures of the Near East or the Mediterranean. They also show a coherent developmental sequence that reflects the shared attitudes and experiences of the Greek and Roman cultures themselves. The references collected here are not intended to be a compendium of literature concerning all the technological procedures, devices, and machines in use in the classical world. The objective was creation of a critical summation of our present knowledge of the Greek and Roman accomplishments in technology and engineering and the evolution of the technical capabilities of these cultures over the defined chronological period. Each section is designed to review the main issues surrounding that topic and then to list recent scholarly contributions that define the capacities and accomplishments of the technology in the context of the society that used it, the available “technological shelf,” and the resources consumed. Obviously, not all the important sources can be listed here, but they can be found in the bibliographies within the books and articles that are included. Important online sources are listed when they have stable addresses and a significant history. The material is organized in nine main categories: surveys, reference works, and periodicals; literary, visual, and artifactual sources; primary, extractive technologies; engineering activities and complex machines; secondary processes and manufacturing; technologies of movement and transport; technologies of war; technologies of the mind, including reading, writing, timekeeping, and calculation; and a final section concerned with inventors, invention, and attitudes toward innovation. The materials presented in this bibliography make it clear that the classical world was marked by remarkable technological advances in many areas, often fostered by the elite, and spread widely throughout the population. A technological Greek and Latin literature composed of both sophisticated compendia and workshop manuals did exist, although much of it has been lost, and both inscriptions and visual representations show that craftsmen and craftswomen were proud of their work and their products.

Article.  22466 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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