Phoenician Sailing, Bronze from Shang China
New technologies gave the ancient civilizations new ways of solving problems. Some solved age-old problems—for example, the plow made it easier to till the soil. Some solved new problems. Egyptians learned how to embalm the bodies of dead rulers as part of their complex beliefs about life after death.
Document A: Phoenician Sailing
The Phoenicians traded throughout the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. They were the most skilled sailors of their time. The first ships relied on rowers and did not have sails. They also lacked rudders for steering. By about 700 B.C., though, the Phoenicians had made advances. They added long steering oars in the back and a single sail, which could catch the wind and move the ship forward. Captains came to rely on the sails, though rowers had to work when the weather was calm or when the wind was not blowing from behind the ship.
a. What is the advantage of having a sail on the ship?
Document B: Bronze from Shang China
During the Shang Dynasty, Chinese artisans grew highly skilled at making bronze. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. They made bronze weapons and vessels for religious ceremonies. Bronzes were made by creating pottery molds that were carved on the inside, in reverse, to leave the desired pattern on the final object. Hot liquid bronze was poured inside. When it had cooled, the pottery molds were broken.
a. What does the intricate detail of this piece suggest about Shang society?
1. How do the ancient systems of writing differ from the way words are written today?
2. What role did trade play in the development of writing?
3. Which technological advances do you think were more important—Chinese skill in making bronzes or Phoenician skill in sailing? Why?
4. Technological changes have continued throughout history. Choose one area of life, such as land transportation, communication, medicine, or raising food. Using this textbook or an encyclopedia, find out what technology one of these ancient civilizations had in that area. Then identify technological changes in that area over the centuries. Create an illustrated time line to show how that technology has changed.
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This provides a good, short launch for discussion. One can use the information here to go a little farther, or just to let the students know about these early technologies. Quite helpful.
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