Tag Archives: technology

The Age of How-To

What made us modern? The list of the attributes of modernity keeps growing and changing. Once modernity meant “progress”; but that one took a huge shellacking in the last century, when some of the most “modern” nation-states behaved worse than the worst barbarian states of the Dark Ages. Then it was science—until anthropologists forced us […]

Practical Alchemy in the Renaissance

In 1535, the German printer Christian Egenolff, who had recently set up shop in Frankfurt, published a 45-page booklet titled Kunstbüchlein (Little Book of Skills). This rough little pamphlet, cheaply printed on coarse paper just in time to be offered for sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair that year, would hardly seem a likely candidate […]

Water for Renaissance Madrid: Rediscovering the Iberian Qanāts

[Note: In my seminar on “The Scientific Revolution” this semester, I assigned graduate students to write a blog post that, once revised by the class during a workshop, I would publish on my “Labyrinth of Nature” blog. This is the second piece from that seminar, by Master’s anthropology student  Enrique Reyes.] When King Philip II of Spain […]

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