Edited by Ruth Towse and Christian Handke
Chapter 11: Technological change and cultural production
The term ëtechnologyí comes from the Greek expression tÈchn_, meaning the study of ëskillí, ëcraftí and ëartí. Technology has always had a close relationship to the arts and culture. It had already been applied when the first known cave paintings of the upper Palaeolithic Age in El Castillo in northern Spain (circa 40 800 years old) and in Chauvet in France (circa 37 000 years old) (Clottes, 2003) were produced. Technology played a crucial role when cultural symbols were fixed on media such as stone, clay, skins, textiles, metal, papyrus and paper. The earliest known example of music notation ñ the cuneiform tablet from Nippur in the Sumerian realm ñ can be dated back to 2000 bc. The cuneiform fragments of the earliest Sumerian poems, which foreshadow the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, belong to the same period (Dalley, 2009). The use of technology enabled ëhighí cultures around the world to fix symbols as a form of cultural expression, thus setting themselves apart from purely oral cultures. However, the reproduction of texts, scores and images was the domain of skilled craftsmen and a very small class of intellectuals from these ancient times until the Middle Ages. Thus, the invention of movable type printing by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-fifteenth century was a milestone in human development. It enabled the mass production of texts and subsequently also of notations and images at relatively low marginal costs.
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