DBQ #1


DBQ #1: Analysis of Han and Roman Attitudes Toward Technology
Technology has been employed by different civilizations to bring about improvements in the quality of life. Technological advancements continue to be developed and received differently by the people in the world. The Roman and Han empires were political unities that developed their technologies with different perspectives. The Han accepted technology with the perception that it was a gift that could be adopted by the government to increase the efficiency of labor. The Romans, on the other hand, had a different opinion claiming that although the technology was enriching life, it was not meant to be developed or used by enlightened people.

The Han political administrators believed using technology was important in improving the efficiency of labor. In document 1, technology is perceived as an essential part of labor in both productions and in preventing the occurrence of disasters. Also, the technology requires control by the government or relevant authority to operate correctly. The level and quality of technology will affect the outcome of labor. The author of document 1 is a government official who implies that each section must select one hydraulic engineer to oversee the operations of the waterways.

Regarding document 2 which is written by a Han government official, improvised tools are made by the government to improve the outcome of labor. Although workers previously made high-quality tools, the government monopolized the salt and iron trades which has led to an escalation of the salt prices. It is acknowledged that innovations are hard to come by and therefore the government produces them through convict labor. The government, in this case, has limited the inventions by the ordinary workers to invent tools with the aim of increasing the prices of salt and iron.
The invention of the mortar and pestle by Fuxi brought was positively adopted by the Han government. As a result, this invention was improved to further improve the efficiency tenfold. According to document 3 which was written by a Han philosopher, accepting technological advancements was important ranging from the invention of pestle and mortar, integrating the whole weight of the body to using the power of animals. Later the inventions continue to be developed incorporating the use of water power to increase the efficiency of labor.

To further show that the Hans dynasty had a positive attitude towards technology document 4 which is a government-sponsored history written in 200 CE documents the invention of a water-powered blowing engine that brought about significant benefits through reduction of labor. Additionally, his invention was widely accepted and adopted in the early Han dynasty. Evaluation of these documents depicts that the Han dynasty widely accepted technologies acknowledging that they brought about the efficiency of labor.

On the contrary, the Roman Empire had different views on the invention and adoption of technological inventions. An upper-class political leader identified as Cicero considered invention and craftsmanship as vulgar. In document 5 he states that a workshop can have anything enlightening. However, his idea is that jobs in which the labor rather than the skill is purchased are unbecoming. Any inventions carried out by craftsmen are degrading to those earning a living in such occupations.

In document 6 where a political leader is described by a Roman citizen, Gaius was anxious about using inventions in development of roads. For this reason, he was anxious about the building of roads while considering the factors of beauty and grace. Instead of embracing any inventions he employed the traditional mechanisms of paving quarried stones and compacting them with masses of sand. Any hollows in the roads were filled and bridges built across any valleys. The aim was to obtain a beautiful appearance rather than adopt any inventions that would reduce the amount of labor used.
Similarly, according to water commissioner in the city of Rome in document 7 pointed out that it would be pointless to create idle inventions as those developed by the Greeks. In this regard, the water commissioner opted for a water system that would allow easy and adequate flow of water in the city while employing the common canals. For instance, the volume of water entering the covered containers would be measured using calibrated scales. The water commissioners consider such a system more effective as compared to structures that have been implemented by the Greeks.

From the evaluation of these documents, it is evident that the Han and Roman dynasties ad different perspectives towards the development and adoption of technological inventions. While the Han dynasty readily accepted inventions and implemented them to bring about efficiency in labor. The outcomes were a reduction in the amount of labor force. On the other hand, the Roman Empire was relatively adamant in the acquisition of inventions particularly those developed by craftsmen. The reasoning was that acquiring such inventions would not be useful as the other preexisting systems and structures were already effective, and there was no need of adopting other inventions.

Outside Evidence –
Synthesis –