(Medieval Stasis) Stretching Iron-to-Medieval Age Tech for... 5000 years?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Dolan, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Stephanus Meteu Well-Known Member

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    Sufficiently bad and frequent plagues/famine could "help" extend that period, as it could serve to break apart polities, fragment trade routes, and make accumulation of knowledge more difficult.

    Probably some sort of climate change based scenario could do it, but I am not sure what form exactly.

    Basically you only need to make the period in question last twice as long, so that should be doable.
     
  2. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I'd point out that when it comes to 'material' technology we're currently in a stasis now, since the 70s at least. I imagine future historians noting we abandoned SST, jumbo jets,space shuttle, fast trains and cars in favour of pocket 'porn and social media' machines, and the counter-argument being 'yeah, but those devices were very high tech'.
     
  3. Thanksforallthefish King of Dolphins

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    Are we though? Jumbo jets and cars seem to be in a golden age. True, space shuttles are not around anymore (though SpaceX seems to be building the next generation) and trains have declined, but both are more of a political decision rather than technological stagnation.

    The fact that electronic infrastructure has risen in less that two decades worldwide isn't stasis, either. It's not just smartphones and laptops, but the entire infrastructure to support them.

    And cities might have become a little static in the Western world but Asia and Africa are a entirely different story...
     
  4. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    If the roman empire remained intact and Europe experienced more peace there may be less technological progress because of the lack of conflict.
     
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  5. Jürgen Well-Known Member

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    Pocket “porn and social media” machines have completely transformed our productivity, it’s pretty much the biggest thing which have happened since the printing press. Yes it may not be as sexy as super sonic flights, but it’s a whole lot more useful.
     
  6. Canaan Osborne Well-Known Member

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    Carthage beating Rome would lead to the spread civilization to northern Europe being delayed. Although the Celts were on their way on their own.
     
  7. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The 747 is out of production, the A380 is generally seen as a failure and will end production in 2021. They are being replaced by a ultra-long-haul flights by mid-sized aircraft, QANTAS is flying from Perth to London now and Brisbane to Chicago from April 2020, which avoids landing fees and minimises the bullshit that people hate at airports. But it is basically improving on what was available in the 70s rather than making a leap like the A380 did. Cars are similar; fuel injection multi-valve heads and turbos were all available in the 60s and early 70s, which is the mechanical basis of the vast majority of cars today with an electronic overlay on this mechanical basis.

    When these Asian and African cities have built their infrastructure they will face the same stasis as the west, because a change to one piece of infrastructure will involve the destruction of another.
     
  8. Riain Well-Known Member

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    These devices and infrastructure work within the current 'material' infrastructure, indeed a lot of the time it makes the stasis useable in a changing world. For example Melbourne is going to introduce High Capacity Signalling on part of the rail network, which basically means they can go from pushing 12 trains an hour over the tracks to 24 trains. The trains aren't any better, nor are the tracks, merely the electronics.

    In any case, the electronics advances are akin to my earlier point, that while there is Medieval stasis in material terms with things like buildings, tools, weapons etc a lot of other things were moving forward in terms of thought, social and political organisation.
     
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  9. Canaan Osborne Well-Known Member

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    An extra 2 thousand years in the pre-Industrial age is bound to lead to changes in religion and philosophy.
     
  10. Mad Bad Rabbit Well-Known Member

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    Plagues like the Black Death actually forced innovation and automation by killing off the available workforce tho.

    What about "dullpox" -- a much milder form of rabies that does not kill you but gives you agraphia and dyslexia. Only a small percentage are immune and retain literacy: and as such, they are pressured by the Church to live as cloistered monks (thus failing to pass on their immunity) and hoarding and recopying what few books remain. The Renaissance is not coming anytime soon.
     
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  11. Riain Well-Known Member

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    Of course, the OTL 2.5-3k years of the iron-medieval age saw the rise and fall of empires big and small, of dark ages and renaissances, of centralised and decentralised forms of government, of cash and non cash economies, of religions rising and falling and all sorts of individual technologies coming into and out of favour. This was despite people building defensive walls, riding horses, 'sailing' ships and killing each other with swords, spears and arrows and a myriad of other things throughout the entire time
     
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  12. Riain Well-Known Member

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    If the material stasis continued for another 2000 would it be likely that some civilisation could accrue ALL of the infrastructure things that came and went IOTL? Could a civilisation have roads as good as Rome AND canals as good as China AND advanced wind and watermills dotting the landscape AND cities with water and sewerage systems etc, etc etc? What would such a civilisation look like, would be consider it 'modern'?
     
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  13. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

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    As long as that civilization still wages war using swords, spears, axes, and bows, maybe that wasn't modern at all...

    But yeah, standard of living would be quite an improvement.
     
  14. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I don't see much difference between shooting a crossbow and a matchlock musket in terms of modernity.

    I wonder about the connection between quality of life and political rights and participation. With such infrastructure can more people take a bit of time to lift their head out of the dirt and look around at bigger issues in their area?
     
  15. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

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    Crossbows are actually harder to produce, have more maintenance needed that involves specialized high-tension bowyer. They could be mass-produced, but just ask The Chinese about the quality of their mass-produced crossbow, that although easier to use than composite bows, was actually outperformed in both accuracy and cost effectiveness.

    Muskets on the other hand, is MUCH, MUCH EASIER TO MANUFACTURE, and required far less advanced maintenance to the point that trained conscript could be expected to maintain their guns. Yes they do need quality steel for the firing tube, but after that, disassembling and cleaning them is a matter of cloth, stick, and maybe a screwdriver.

    Also musketeers could use their musket as either club or spear (with bayonet) in Melee, and those things will still work afterwards. But Imagine trying to bash someone's head with a crossbow, it could be done, but the crossbow in question would be useless for shooting afterwards.
     
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  16. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

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    I think the big difference is that handheld firearms can defeat pretty much any armor that can be carried by human/equine muscle power, which can't be said for crossbows.
     
  17. A Repentant Heretic Well-Known Member

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    It is actually harder to use a crossbow, the one that is used against knights and armored horsemen, than a matchlock musket.
     
  18. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

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    Not really, considering the latter requires you to hand a matchcord burning at both ends while handling loose gunpowder. Operating a windlass is tricky, but people vastly overstate the supposed ease of use of early firearms.
     
  19. galanx Member

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    This is like saying " look how great airships and steam locomotives were, compared to the Goodyear blimp and miniature railways, and we abandoned all that technology".
     
  20. Musadutoe Well-Known Member

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    This is a really good thread. Almost too many well thought out responses to "like". With that being said....
    • Change is inevitable.
    • Time marches on.
    However.....
    This led me to the following thoughts....
    • Instead of mass kill off plagues, the lack of large plagues would maintain to some degree large populations of slaves and serfs which would limit the need for industrialization
    • Pax Romana does extend even if the empire is stagnated and the vacuum created by the slow implosion of the Roman Empire never happens.
    • The above would butterfly away much of the turbulence associated with the rise of Islam effectively creating an extended period of calm from 700 - 1400.
    • With mainland Europe and Asia Minor under a stagnated Roman rule and East Asia going through its trials and tribulations, trade would exist and even flourish, but to what extent would military and / or religipus expansion which was very much at the point of the sword exist?
    • With military innovation dampened, innovation and technological innovation would still happen, but at a much slower pace and not solely for the need of military superiority. I struggle to find a the majority of technology whose advancement was not accelerated by the needs of military superiority.
    Anyone can find fault in what I have summarized above. To that end, IMO, the means to slow down but not stop the movement from the Iron Age would be for the world to experience more periods of peace and less plagues.
     
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