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Dark Ages and Intellectual Tragedies

TamTam Registered User regular
edited October 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
We all know of momentous times in history when the brilliance of the human mind lights the path forward and the eras in history when reason, logic, and the pursuit of knowledge hold a central place in society. During the time of the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Indians, and Chinese (just to name a few) to the Renaissance, the European Enlightenment and the modern era of Big Science, we've taken great leaps forward in understanding ourselves, each other, and the Universe around us.

But what about the other pole? What about the events when brilliant light of human intellect is snuffed out and the juggernaut of progress slows to a pathetic crawl or stops altogether? Such dark ages are equally a part of our history.

So, D&D, which intellectual tragedies and dark ages interest you the most; which ones do you want to discuss?

For starters:

The burning of the Library at Alexandria is a tragedy that interests me quite a lot. Here was a place that held close to a million scrolls and documents- the largest library in the ancient world. It held the research of great many of the brilliant minds of the time (Archimedes, Heron, Aristotle, Sophocles, Aristarchus, etc.) and was one of the first institutions to conduct research and teach students based on the scientific method.

It isn't entirely clear when exactly the Library was burned down or even if was only once, but Wikipedia narrows it to these events:

1. Julius Caesar's Fire in The Alexandrian War, in 48 BC
2. The attack of Aurelian in the Third century AD;
3. The decree of Theophilus in 391 AD;
4. The Muslim conquest in 642 AD or thereafter

Whenever it happened, the burning of the Library at Alexandria was an immeasurable intellectual loss- it was unique in its time as a totally dedicated scientific institution and for centuries thereafter.

Tam on

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    MalaysianShrewMalaysianShrew Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    While the library of alexandria was interesting, I find that the dark ages were even more important to history. As the Roman Empire fell, the numerous languages and peoples of modern Europe were developed. Our language was a direct result of the Latin speaking Romans withdrawing from England. Languages developing in such a short time shows how distinct these people were despite being so intertwined by the trade networks of the Roman Empire.

    MalaysianShrew on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Tam wrote: »
    But what about the other pole? What about the events when brilliant light of human intellect is snuffed out and the juggernaut of progress slows to a pathetic crawl or stops altogether? Such dark ages are equally a part of our history.

    You do realize that the Dark Ages aren't called "The Dark Ages" because they were any more anti-intellectual than any other period in history, but because few written records survived, right? In other words, they're only Dark to us.

    Feral on
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    BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    ...and in fact, most historians really dislike the term 'dark ages' and try as hard as possible never to use it.

    BobCesca on
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    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    What period is usually defined as "the Dark Ages" anyway? I'm guessing between the fall of Rome and the rise of Charlemagne?

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    BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    late antiquity to early middle ages. No one really has a definite period as after Petrach's invention of the term in the 14th century (well, kind of...its complicated), the time period covered has been expanded and contracted depending on what point the person was trying to make, and even when used in popular parlance has never been the formal academic term.

    the other problem is that a 'dark age' is different for different parts of the world, and can even be thought to be different for different parts of western Europe, the area usually associated with this. I mean, the term was mostly used by the Victorians anyway, 'cos it fit into their whole dynamic of 'rise and fall'. I'm not a late antiquity specialist, so I'm finding this a little difficult to explain with any modicum of sense. Sorry.

    BobCesca on
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    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Well the period I mentioned is pretty much the only thing I can think of where Europe in general faced a regression in power, culture, and knowledge.

    But to call it the 'Dark Ages' is to ignore the golden age of the Middle East, China, and hell even the Mayans.

    So you know, fuck that.

    Kagera on
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    BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Kagera wrote: »
    Well the period I mentioned is pretty much the only thing I can think of where Europe in general faced a regression in power, culture, and knowledge.

    Except, that to a large extent it didn't. It's complicated, but to a large extent arises from past beliefs that Roman culture, specifically Augustan-Roman culture was the pinnacle of achievement up till the point that particular author is writing (so, for Petrarch, the 14th century, for Gibbon, the 19th century, etc.), and most subsequent popular-culture views have been coloured and influenced by this. Yes, there was a move away from certain aspects of the Roman empire, but not necessarily a decline. One way you could think about it (maybe) is the emergence of the American 'voice' post throwing a load of tea into some water...not the greatest analogy, but the best I can come up with before 9am. For example, in 6th and 7th century Gaul there is still a huge amount of very literate and interesting writing, taking the traditional Latin genres and molding and adapting them for the new circumstances and needs, yet many would place this directly in the middle of the Dark Ages. Again, Terry Jones did an interesting series for the BBC recently called Barbarians, which sought to dispel many of the myths that those not within the Roman Empire did not have an appropiately equal culture or knowledge base.

    Yes, in Britain, for example, some knowledge was either lost or just not praticle once there was not so easy a trade route from the heart of the old empire to smelly England, but that doesn't mean that nothing new happened or that culture did not adapt and change.

    Again, sorry, not exactly my area and its before 9am. I'll see if I can find some books worth recommending on these subjects.

    BobCesca on
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    Bad KittyBad Kitty Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Islam's 300 year age of enlightenment and it's subsequent collapse in the 12th century due to the popular influence of Imam Hamid al-Ghazali, who claimed that non-geometric mathematics were the work of the devil and espoused non-logical occasionalism, is an interesting intellectual tragedy. This example has been used by scientists I respect very much such as Neil Degrasse Tyson and Ken Miller to highlight why the prevalence of anti-science worldviews (not believing in evolution, big-bang theory, and a naturalistic explanation of the world) is a cause for concern.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQoLbPudHTE

    Bad Kitty on
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    TamTam Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Sorry, I didn't mean The Dark Ages. I meant times when not a lot is going on. I realize that makes the title stupid, but I meant the times in history when intellectual progress stagnated.

    Though it was kind of new information anyway.

    Bad Kitty- thanks, that's pretty informative.

    Tam on
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    DarkCrawlerDarkCrawler Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I certainly think that what happened to Islam and the Middle East - already mentioned - is perhaps the greatest intellectual tragedy of all time. In fact, everything that happened elsewhere then Europe sucks. I can only imagine what this world would be like if other people then Europeans had been able to keep up for a longer period.

    DarkCrawler on
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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Tam wrote: »
    But what about the other pole? What about the events when brilliant light of human intellect is snuffed out and the juggernaut of progress slows to a pathetic crawl or stops altogether? Such dark ages are equally a part of our history.

    You do realize that the Dark Ages aren't called "The Dark Ages" because they were any more anti-intellectual than any other period in history, but because few written records survived, right? In other words, they're only Dark to us.

    I want to reiterate this, and also, this loss of knowledge and records happened almost everywhere. At one point, China was the most advanced empire on the planet, and much of what they wrote was lost as well.

    Fencingsax on
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    emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    NGC had a TV doc on the other day about Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. One of the artisans, who was alive at the time, said in an interview that the people were frenzied to find any crafted things and would have turned him into the police if they found the handmade bow-and-arrow set he hid under his barn. That and the Thousand Flowers decree pretty much say to me that ol' Chairman Mao was hellbent on sabotaging his own country.

    emnmnme on
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    EchoEcho ski-bap ba-dapModerator mod
    edited October 2008
    emnmnme wrote: »
    That and the Thousand Flowers decree pretty much say to me that ol' Chairman Mao was hellbent on sabotaging his own country.

    The Great Leap Forward was such an immense clusterfuck.

    Let's order most of the population to produce steel in their backyards! Never mind that they could only produce mostly useless pig iron, let's not bother to tell that to Mao (who knew shit about metallurgy) in case he thinks I'm an intellectual.

    And then there were things like the ordered extermination of birds that ate the crops. Yeah, that fucked up the balance of nature majorly. With their natural predators mostly wiped out, locusts ate the crops instead.

    Echo on
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    ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2008
    Bad Kitty wrote: »
    Islam's 300 year age of enlightenment and it's subsequent collapse in the 12th century due to the popular influence of Imam Hamid al-Ghazali, who claimed that non-geometric mathematics were the work of the devil and espoused non-logical occasionalism, is an interesting intellectual tragedy. This example has been used by scientists I respect very much such as Neil Degrasse Tyson and Ken Miller to highlight why the prevalence of anti-science worldviews (not believing in evolution, big-bang theory, and a naturalistic explanation of the world) is a cause for concern.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQoLbPudHTE

    And even then, there was still Al-Andalus.

    Scalfin on
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    emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Echo wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    That and the Thousand Flowers decree pretty much say to me that ol' Chairman Mao was hellbent on sabotaging his own country.

    The Great Leap Forward was such an immense clusterfuck.

    Let's order most of the population to produce steel in their backyards! Never mind that they could only produce mostly useless pig iron, let's not bother to tell that to Mao (who knew shit about metallurgy) in case he thinks I'm an intellectual.

    And then there were things like the ordered extermination of birds that ate the crops. Yeah, that fucked up the balance of nature majorly. With their natural predators mostly wiped out, locusts ate the crops instead.

    Ha, I never heard about bird killing. Were they using pesticides nationwide?

    emnmnme on
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    EchoEcho ski-bap ba-dapModerator mod
    edited October 2008
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Ha, I never heard about bird killing. Were they using pesticides nationwide?

    The Great Sparrow Campaign

    Echo on
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    ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.
    I certainly think that what happened to Islam and the Middle East - already mentioned - is perhaps the greatest intellectual tragedy of all time. In fact, everything that happened elsewhere then Europe sucks. I can only imagine what this world would be like if other people then Europeans had been able to keep up for a longer period.

    The sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols pretty much fucked over Islam for the next thousand years.
    Iraq in 1258 was very different from present day Iraq. Its agriculture was supported by canal networks thousands of years old. Baghdad was one of the most brilliant intellectual centers in the world. The Mongol destruction of Baghdad was a psychological blow from which Islam never recovered. Already Islam was turning inward, becoming more suspicious of conflicts between faith and reason and more conservative. With the sack of Baghdad, the intellectual flowering of Islam was snuffed out. Imagining the Athens of Pericles and Aristotle obliterated by a nuclear weapon begins to suggest the enormity of the blow. The Mongols filled in the irrigation canals and left Iraq too depopulated to restore them.

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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.

    But they don't use it to mean that the times themselves sucked, per se. They use it in the context that we don't know much about it.

    Fencingsax on
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    InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Æthelred wrote: »
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.

    But they don't use it to mean that the times themselves sucked, per se. They use it in the context that we don't know much about it.

    But even in that context it's rapidly fading and we learn more as more about the period.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages

    The Dark Ages is a term from the 1330s. It's pretty out-dated.

    Inquisitor on
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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.

    But they don't use it to mean that the times themselves sucked, per se. They use it in the context that we don't know much about it.

    But even in that context it's rapidly fading and we learn more as more about the period.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages

    The Dark Ages is a term from the 1330s. It's pretty out-dated.
    Yeah, I know. I like it when outdated terms are not used anymore

    Fencingsax on
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    Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I have heard arguments before claiming that the Mongol Horde was perhaps the most destructive force against human cultural, political, and intellectual development in the history of mankind. That's a pretty harsh statement to make, but it passes my smell test, at least.

    Inquisitor77 on
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    Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Anyone heard of the Minoans? Apparently they were an extremely advanced state, with flushing toilets. Unfortunately a tidal wave struck the island and were unable to rebuild and were hit by invasions by Greeks then Romans.

    Anarchy Rules! on
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    tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.

    But they don't use it to mean that the times themselves sucked, per se. They use it in the context that we don't know much about it.

    But even in that context it's rapidly fading and we learn more as more about the period.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages

    The Dark Ages is a term from the 1330s. It's pretty out-dated.

    You can change the name if you want, but it doesn't change the fact that the combination of the loss of intellectual drive in Rome, the collapse of the Roman empire, and the subsequent collapse of nearly all advance civilization accross europe is a tragedy. They spent nearly a 1000 years trying to scale back up to the heights attained by it.

    However with no trade, communication, safety, or serious infrastructure and a religion which was increasingly against science they never could. To maintain that somehow the Roman Empires comparative technological advancement is somehow made up by history is absurd, almost as absurd as it is to try and maintain that the Dark Ages isn't a perfectly acceptable name for a period where there was almost no scientific research carried out in all of central and northern europe. The fall of the Roman Empire, which can indeed be traced back to the emergence of a culture of "science doesn't matter" is without question the greatest disaster of our time. If, and this is far from an impossibility, some bright spark had noticed that you could combine together various inventions they already had to use heat to move water, or pump a bellows then we would have had the industrial revolution in 300 AD.

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    BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.

    But they don't use it to mean that the times themselves sucked, per se. They use it in the context that we don't know much about it.

    But even in that context it's rapidly fading and we learn more as more about the period.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages

    The Dark Ages is a term from the 1330s. It's pretty out-dated.

    You can change the name if you want, but it doesn't change the fact that the combination of the loss of intellectual drive in Rome, the collapse of the Roman empire, and the subsequent collapse of nearly all advance civilization accross europe is a tragedy. They spent nearly a 1000 years trying to scale back up to the heights attained by it.

    However with no trade, communication, safety, or serious infrastructure and a religion which was increasingly against science they never could. To maintain that somehow the Roman Empires comparative technological advancement is somehow made up by history is absurd, almost as absurd as it is to try and maintain that the Dark Ages isn't a perfectly acceptable name for a period where there was almost no scientific research carried out in all of central and northern europe. The fall of the Roman Empire, which can indeed be traced back to the emergence of a culture of "science doesn't matter" is without question the greatest disaster of our time. If, and this is far from an impossibility, some bright spark had noticed that you could combine together various inventions they already had to use heat to move water, or pump a bellows then we would have had the industrial revolution in 300 AD.


    arrggghhh.

    Popular culture version of history once again hits. It's really not as simple as this.

    BobCesca on
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    tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    BobCesca wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.

    But they don't use it to mean that the times themselves sucked, per se. They use it in the context that we don't know much about it.

    But even in that context it's rapidly fading and we learn more as more about the period.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages

    The Dark Ages is a term from the 1330s. It's pretty out-dated.

    You can change the name if you want, but it doesn't change the fact that the combination of the loss of intellectual drive in Rome, the collapse of the Roman empire, and the subsequent collapse of nearly all advance civilization accross europe is a tragedy. They spent nearly a 1000 years trying to scale back up to the heights attained by it.

    However with no trade, communication, safety, or serious infrastructure and a religion which was increasingly against science they never could. To maintain that somehow the Roman Empires comparative technological advancement is somehow made up by history is absurd, almost as absurd as it is to try and maintain that the Dark Ages isn't a perfectly acceptable name for a period where there was almost no scientific research carried out in all of central and northern europe. The fall of the Roman Empire, which can indeed be traced back to the emergence of a culture of "science doesn't matter" is without question the greatest disaster of our time. If, and this is far from an impossibility, some bright spark had noticed that you could combine together various inventions they already had to use heat to move water, or pump a bellows then we would have had the industrial revolution in 300 AD.


    arrggghhh.

    Popular culture version of history once again hits. It's really not as simple as this.

    Really? You maintain that significant scientific research was done during the Middle ages do you (to use perhaps a less emotionally charged name)? I'm of course not talking about the middle east here, where work was indeed being done. During that time there was almost total illiteracy, even amongst the upper classes. Nearly all of the people who had free time to use intellectually, were Churchmen, who spent the time copying bibles. There was no safety on the roads, travelling long distances required you to take your life in your hands. Even if someone had produced useful scientific work, it couldn't have been distributed due to the lack of communication.

    tbloxham on
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    MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    The current anti-science administration in this country (the US) is a bit of a bummer.

    MKR on
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    ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2008
    tbloxham wrote: »
    BobCesca wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Historians do still use the term "the Dark Ages". It's not entirely inappropriate. It's scope has just been increasingly narrowed in terms of geography and time period.

    But they don't use it to mean that the times themselves sucked, per se. They use it in the context that we don't know much about it.

    But even in that context it's rapidly fading and we learn more as more about the period.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages

    The Dark Ages is a term from the 1330s. It's pretty out-dated.

    You can change the name if you want, but it doesn't change the fact that the combination of the loss of intellectual drive in Rome, the collapse of the Roman empire, and the subsequent collapse of nearly all advance civilization accross europe is a tragedy. They spent nearly a 1000 years trying to scale back up to the heights attained by it.

    However with no trade, communication, safety, or serious infrastructure and a religion which was increasingly against science they never could. To maintain that somehow the Roman Empires comparative technological advancement is somehow made up by history is absurd, almost as absurd as it is to try and maintain that the Dark Ages isn't a perfectly acceptable name for a period where there was almost no scientific research carried out in all of central and northern europe. The fall of the Roman Empire, which can indeed be traced back to the emergence of a culture of "science doesn't matter" is without question the greatest disaster of our time. If, and this is far from an impossibility, some bright spark had noticed that you could combine together various inventions they already had to use heat to move water, or pump a bellows then we would have had the industrial revolution in 300 AD.


    arrggghhh.

    Popular culture version of history once again hits. It's really not as simple as this.

    Really? You maintain that significant scientific research was done during the Middle ages do you (to use perhaps a less emotionally charged name)? I'm of course not talking about the middle east here, where work was indeed being done. During that time there was almost total illiteracy, even amongst the upper classes. Nearly all of the people who had free time to use intellectually, were Churchmen, who spent the time copying bibles. There was no safety on the roads, travelling long distances required you to take your life in your hands. Even if someone had produced useful scientific work, it couldn't have been distributed due to the lack of communication.

    As opposed to Rome how?

    Scalfin on
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    tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Scalfin wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »

    Really? You maintain that significant scientific research was done during the Middle ages do you (to use perhaps a less emotionally charged name)? I'm of course not talking about the middle east here, where work was indeed being done. During that time there was almost total illiteracy, even amongst the upper classes. Nearly all of the people who had free time to use intellectually, were Churchmen, who spent the time copying bibles. There was no safety on the roads, travelling long distances required you to take your life in your hands. Even if someone had produced useful scientific work, it couldn't have been distributed due to the lack of communication.

    As opposed to Rome how?

    In Rome significant work was always being done on the massive roadbuilding, sanitation, irrigation and other civil engineering projects which the empire undertook at its height. The legions kept the peace, and laws were enforced. Women could own and operate businesses. There was tolerance of other religions. A large network of well constructed highways crossed the empire, facilitating the flow of ideas and people, they even had service stations where you could stop and eat, buy souvenirs and so forth! International trade flourished in the Med where the roman fleet kept pirates at bay. Cartographers, census takers and officials spread accross the empire, all requiring literate underlings to carry out their tasks. There was a relatively advanced system of banking and credit, allowing loans to entrepreneurs etc.

    Now, all of these factors were lost at some point in the Roman empire before it collapsed, and the loss of each can be said to contribute to its fall. These factors don't even include the huge amounts of high technology, espescially in the areas of civil engineering, that backed them up. Rome was effectively a modern city, powered by slaves rather than electricity. It had shopping malls, and multistorey buildings, and chariot parks, and so forth.

    tbloxham on
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    cherv1cherv1 Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Weren't christians at one point persecuted in roman times

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    tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    cherv1 wrote: »
    Weren't christians at one point persecuted in roman times

    Rome did indeed go up and down in their persecution of Christians (until they all became christians) however the main issue Romans had with Christians is that that most religions were willing to say "Your religion is fine and all, it's just that our god/faith/magic tree spirit is #1" Christians said that all other religions were heretical and evil, they didn't play well in Romes multicultural society. Thus, since they hated everyone else, and told them they were miserable heretics who would burn in hell, when the Romans needed a scapegoat to amuse the people by being eaten by lions, you could assure yourself that everyone hated those darn Christians

    tbloxham on
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    thorpethorpe Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    There was plenty of scientific advancement going on in the middle ages. Its not like the entire population of Europe just decided they were going to stop thinking for a few centuries.

    thorpe on
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    HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    thorpe wrote: »
    There was plenty of scientific advancement going on in the middle ages. Its not like the entire population of Europe just decided they were going to stop thinking for a few centuries.

    Such as?

    There is a reason, I think, why it took the entire period from Rome to the Enlightenment to go from Euclidian geometry and algebra to claculus and then it was developed independantly by two people at more or less the same time. It had a lot to do with the fact that before than theology was the most important intellectual pursuit.

    HamHamJ on
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    thorpethorpe Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    The rise of universities, advances in agriculture, enormous cities allowed by said advances in agriculture, the fact that "the church killed off all science in europe" is at least partially a myth (Goliardic poets, anyone?).

    thorpe on
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    NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    tbloxham you really do not have an accurate grasp of history. First off, imperial Rome was not this wonderful multicultural society. The reason the Christians and Jews were persecuted is because they refused to worship the emperor, not because they were intolerant. The existance of Rome also relied on a pretty constant state of war and expansion against barbarains (meaning, anyone not us) bringing in money and slaves. The reason most roman technology was lost was because it was only practical in the giant Roman cities, but those cities were only practical if you had soldiers off killing other guys and taking their stuff. Once the empire fell no similar population centers existed. Other technologies that work better with small population sizes, like watermills for instance, actually flourished.
    TLDR: The dark ages is a term made up by the dudes in the Renaissance so they could think about how great they were and has no real bearing on history.

    Neaden on
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    thorpethorpe Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Rome actually was pretty tolerant and multicultural, at least in the east. They just demanded basic lip service from their conquered subjects, which both the jews and the christians were not ok with.

    thorpe on
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    Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    The Ashburnham House Fire of 1731, while a minor event in the grand scheme of things, destroyed or damaged hundreds of manuscripts collected by Sir Robert Cotton. The Beowulf Manuscript was singed around the edges, losing parts of the text, and thirteen manuscripts were lost, including The Battle of Maldon. In the field of Anglo-Saxon studies, it was a pretty big tragedy, especially as we don't have that much material to work with in any case.

    Rhesus Positive on
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    tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Neaden wrote: »
    tbloxham you really do not have an accurate grasp of history. First off, imperial Rome was not this wonderful multicultural society. The reason the Christians and Jews were persecuted is because they refused to worship the emperor, not because they were intolerant. The existance of Rome also relied on a pretty constant state of war and expansion against barbarains (meaning, anyone not us) bringing in money and slaves. The reason most roman technology was lost was because it was only practical in the giant Roman cities, but those cities were only practical if you had soldiers off killing other guys and taking their stuff. Once the empire fell no similar population centers existed. Other technologies that work better with small population sizes, like watermills for instance, actually flourished.
    TLDR: The dark ages is a term made up by the dudes in the Renaissance so they could think about how great they were and has no real bearing on history.

    Actually refusing to admit the emperor was divine was the Roman version of intolerant. Since all other faiths were OK with it, but just claimed theirs was best, they got on pretty well. Rome was a massive multicultural society. You are applying modern morality to the Roman Empire. The Christians said, "Everyone else is wrong and stupid and will burn in hell", everyone else said "Your Gods are OK, but ours are best". Which of those two statements sounds like the intolerant one designed to piss everyone else off?

    The reason Roman Technology was lost is because it relied on a base of educated people, international trade, literacy, education and stability. Not just because the people in the middle ages couldn't do enough looting. Is Road building only practical in large cities? How about plumbing? Couldn't London in 1000 AD have used a few aqueducts? Perhaps some basic sanitation? Maybe some accounting and banking techniques? How about some concrete for bridge building?

    You are also being naive. Rome was such a success because they had slaves true, but for much of the Roman period the income of the great Roman cities came from international trade, tourism, taxes and tithes and so forth. The image of just going forth and grabbing their stuff is only relevant to certain emperors, and to the end of the Republican period. Heck, for much of the Roman period you'd have been much better off as a Roman slave than as a serf in France in 900 AD.

    tbloxham on
    "That is cool" - Abraham Lincoln
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    TamTam Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I have heard arguments before claiming that the Mongol Horde was perhaps the most destructive force against human cultural, political, and intellectual development in the history of mankind. That's a pretty harsh statement to make, but it passes my smell test, at least.

    Wasn't there equality under the law, freedom of religion, and a merit-based government under the Mongols? Or is this apocrypha I've just heard?

    EDIT: Holy crap, I hadn't read about the sacking of Baghdad D:

    Man, I'm learning a lot in this thread. Thanks everybody.:D

    Tam on
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    HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    thorpe wrote: »
    The rise of universities, advances in agriculture, enormous cities allowed by said advances in agriculture, the fact that "the church killed off all science in europe" is at least partially a myth (Goliardic poets, anyone?).

    The "universities" were by and large based around a curriculum in theology. They were quite good at educating the sons of the wealthy and powerful in church doctrine, and in producing priests and religious scholars, but not so good at creating mathematicians and the other theoretical branches of science that are needed to drive the practical side.

    HamHamJ on
    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
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    InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    This seems like a relevant link for this thread:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in_Medieval_Western_Europe

    Inquisitor on
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