Monday, February 12, 2007

"Dark Ages"? Not for Mechanical Engineers

Here's a thought for the non-thinkers:

By the middle of the 12th century the Cistercians had reached the cutting edge of hydro-power and agricultural technology. A typical monastery straddled an artificial stream brought in through a canal. The stream ran through the monastery shops, living quarters, and refectories, providing power for milling, wood cutting, forging, and olive crushing. It also provided running water for cooking, washing, and bathing, and finally for sewage disposal. . . .

We're too often told that this period of history was a Dark Age. The reason is that the people who wrote Medieval political history were remote from the world of making things. The scribes of the kings wrote about armies and slaughter. They didn't devote much time to the engineers who were really changing the world.

Silly monks, developing hydro-power. We don't need all those "manufactured" things.

By the way, the Cistercians also developed the science of mining during the "Dark" Ages.

Lots at this link, and a HT to In Illo Tempore.

1 comment:

Other Side said...

No doubt where the word "cistern" comes from?