Culture and Technology - Tools to Aid in Survival
Culture: “the predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group”.
Technology: “the body of knowledge available to a society that is of use in fashioning implements, practicing manual arts and skills, and extracting or collecting materials”.
Technology aids in the functioning of a group: it is what enables “predominating attitudes and behavior” to be acted upon. Therefore, initially, a culture must provide incentive for the development/adoption of a technology. Once adopted, the technology must then be incorporated into the society, requiring cultural adjustments. Always, usefulness is the key determining factor. Cultural adjustments must be worth the effort, the technology must meet a societal need. The technologies that each society chooses to adopt are the ones that they find the most useful. Societies have not developed different technologies by accident: the criteria for determining “usefulness” is culturally based.
The Near East is not a particularly fertile area. Dry land and large rivers that periodically flood characterize the landscape. Obtaining sufficient food was not easy. “The most vital need of early man in regions of scanty rainfall such as the Near East is water.” (Drower, 520). Because this was the most difficult challenge facing them, from an early stage the people who populated the area must have focused on developing effective farming practices. For them, there was probably little else that was as important as water.
Because of this, the cultures of peoples in the area centered around the water. Everything was defined by the river. The oracle of Amen, for example, defined Egypt to be “The entire tract which th...
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...ct. Everyone wants to survive: culture and technology both are merely tools to aid in survival. Usefulness is the governing factor for both. If part of a culture is no longer useful because of a change in the environment, that culture will change. If technologies may be developed to make an environment more hospitable, thus avoiding cultural change, then those technologies are focused on. What is most important to people is the maintenance of their culture.
Chant, Colin. Pre-industrial Cities & Technology. London: Routledge. 1999.
Drower, M. S. A History of Technology, from Early Times to the Fall of Ancient Empires, Chapter 19: Water supply, irrigation, and agriculture. Edited by Singer, Holmyard, and Hall. Oxford Clarendon Press, 1958.
Ehrlich, Paul R. Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect. Washington D.C.: Island Press. 2000.