The passage (document 33) highlighting how Roman roads were constructed was authored by the biographer Plutarch, Gaius Gracchus. Plutarch belonged to the period that was marked by increased agitation for improved transport leading to the invention and eventually improvement of the road system of transportation. In the sections highlighting the types of transportation, an area of transport on land highlights how roads were discovered, and even constructed during the early days. In document 33, the author narrates how Gaius was especially fascinated by the technology employed in road construction, with special attention paid to paving of roads and quarried stones. He further states that road hollows were filled and bridges were thrown right across the roads. However, it is worth noting that before the improvement in road transport that is seen during Gaius Gracchus time, there existed roads that were rough in Egypt, and were constructed using old technology. “In the Bronze Age, Mesopotamia had rough stone roads; drier Egypt made do with hard-packed dirt roads; and Minoan Crete used stones laid in mortar for foundation, paved with limestone, basalt, or sandstone.” (Humphrey,2006). This shows an improvement from the old model of road construction.
Document 33 explains that Gaius Gracchus was particularly anxious about the road building technology. The passage, therefore, discusses two significant aspects mostly touching on the process of constructing the roads during Gaius time and the physical appearance of a completed road, “Gaius Gracchus was especially anxious about road building, paying attention to utility as well as to that benefited grace and beauty. For the road were carried straight through the country without wavering, were paved with quarried stone, and were made solid with masses of tightly packed sand….” (Humphrey,2006). Besides the hollows on the road are filled up, and bridges were thrown across the road, with equal sides. “…hollows were filled up, and bridges were thrown across the whatever wintry streams, or ravines cut the roads. And both sides were an equal and parallel height, with the result that the road for its entire course had a level and beautiful appearance,” (Humphrey,2006). In other words, despite the period, the Romans still had relatively advanced technological know-how which they used in road construction. The passage helps us understand ancient technology better than the classical period we are in today by demonstrating how primitive methods of road construction were used to construct roads.
Humphreys argues that the invention of coins mostly served as a media of spreading propaganda instead of serving its primary purpose as media of exchange. His argument could have been inspired by the fact that the coins could reach almost everyone despite their economic status. The coins contained messages containing politically motivated messages and public policy messages. Before coinage became the main media of exchange, people relied on barter trade. The coinage PDF contains a Roman silver. The silver has a man on it holding something that looks like a paper and dropping it in something that looks like a ballot box. This depicts how the governments were using coins to send out messages to citizens, encouraging them to vote. Looking at the Egyptian coins, one can notice the illustration Ptolemy 1 on it. Ptolemy issued the golden coins with his portrait on it, showing him as King between 304 and 295 BC (Bresson,2015). The Ptolemy coinage was used by many kings assuming a dynastic flavour.
Humphrey states that before the inception of alphabetical writing, human beings relied on other forms of writing styles to communicate. They include iconography, pictograms, ideograms and syllabaries. The nature of teaching ideograms limited the number of people that could learn how to use the pre-alphabetic writing because of the complex content involved, “The task of memorizing the “dictionary” became enormous. As a result, only a few trained scribes could read and write, giving them an advantage over the illiterate farmers who associated the mystery of writing with divine power” (Humphrey 2006). The Greek alphabet was simple, making it easy to learn. Humphrey argues that the Greek alphabet helped spread literacy because they were simple to read.
Hygiene involves the creation and maintenance of a conducive environment through cleanliness, preventing the occurrence of diseases. According to me, failure to clean the toilet, store food properly and wash clothes is a sign of lack of hygiene. To demonstrate the need for hygiene, Romans had aqua ducts in place which were used to transport clean water from one region to another. Besides, they also had aqua Claudia which was used in the transfer of sewerage to dumping points. These two crucial technologies show Romans were concerned with hygiene.
A machine is something made by human beings to make work easier. Humphrey highlights the machine called complex pressure machine, which was invented by Hero and other Alexandrian inventors, consisting of screw, axle, weights and gears, which is then combined with pressure. The machine had a bird automaton which was operated by a form of a primitive crank, which made the bird rotate hence compressing the air out of it. When the spool is switched on, it releases the metal bell into the water exerting pressure on air then forcing out the whistle. Today water pumps are used to suck water directly from wells instead of a complex pressure machine. Unlike the complex pressure machine which relied on the pressure to push out water, water pumps rely on a very complex mechanism that involves petrol or modern diesel-powered engine. Technological advancement had hurdles, one major obstacle being a social constraint called slavery. The Greek economy relied heavily on slaves to help work in the farms and other heavy duties, and no one advocated for its abolition. In other words, the heavy reliance on slaves hindered innovation. The technological impediment was a reality, and in my opinion, it was a genuine obstacle that prevented any form of innovation.
Furthermore, Humphrey argues that not all technological innovations have been beneficial to the quality of human life, which, in my opinion, is true. Some innovations have brought more harm than benefit to human life. Modern technology has brought significant innovations that have significantly improved areas of transport, making it easy to move from one region to another with ease. Some technological advances have had far reaching negative impacts that have affected the human race. For instance, the innovation of computer games has contributed significantly to laxity.