Conclusion: Surveying Technological Confluence

  • Adam Max Cohen


This study’s structure is potentially misleading because the chapter divisions suggest that innovations in one technological field can or should be studied in isolation from others. In fact the early modern period saw many examples of what I will refer to here as technological confluence. Arnold Pacey has noted that at certain moments in history multiple technology families converged to produce unprecedented and long lasting effects:

One way of rethinking our concept of progress may be to take an altogether broader view of the many factors which interact in “mutually enhancing” ways at especially creative moments. At such times, the various technical, organizational and cultural workings of technology-practice seem all at once to start meshing together in new and more harmonious, effective ways. A new pattern emerges, and people experience a new awareness of practical possibility.1


Sixteenth Century Early Modern Period Revolutionary Technology Commonplace Book Technological Confluence 
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    Arnold Pacey, The Culture of Technology ( Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983 ), p. 28.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rudi Volti concurs that the proliferation of printed maps and globes “gave a great impetus to voyages of discovery.” See Rudi Volti, Society and Technological Change (New York: St. Martin’s, 1988), p. 138.Google Scholar
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    Ifor M. Evans and Heather Lawrence, Christopher Saxton: Elizabethan Mapmaker (West Yorkshire: Wakefield Historical Publications, 1979), p. 42. For more on surveying’s relationship to the construction of defensive fortifications seeGoogle Scholar
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    This summary of technologies used in surveying is drawn from ibid., pp. 84–93. For studies of surveying instruments see F. R. Maddison, “Early Astronomical and Mathematical Instruments: A Brief Survey of Sources and Modern Studies,” History of Science 2 (1963): 17–50;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Thomas Hariot, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1590), p. 27.Google Scholar

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© Adam Max Cohen 2006

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  • Adam Max Cohen

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