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The Lever of RichesTechnological Creativity and Economic Progress$
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Joel Mokyr

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195074772

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074772.001.0001

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Classical and Medieval Technology

Classical and Medieval Technology

(p.193) Chapter Eight Classical and Medieval Technology
The Lever of Riches

Joel Mokyr

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the importance of the physical and environmental factors that affect an individuals's actions by applying these to the comparative study of classical society versus the medieval West. It examines why classical society, with its indisputable intellectual superiority, achieved so little by way of technological innovation compared to the crude and illiterate peasants of medieval Europe. The chapter suggests that the slowness of technological progress of classical society should not be equated to, or even associated with, economic backwardness or poverty since there is very little information about living standards in classical times, and there is no evidence that they were lower than in the Middle Ages or in the early modern period in Europe either.

Keywords:   classical society, medieval West, technological innovation, Middle Ages, Europe

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