Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

I was reading on the forums today people complaining that even in a post-civilization world (one where people are basically getting together from the ruins) that they would “know” how to do all kinds of things like make bows, swords, etc.

I have a lot of friends who are active in the Renaissance and Medieval communities out there who always laugh at this kind of thing. The conversation goes something like this:

“Really, you think you can make a spear? Ok. Let’s see you do it. Let’s see you actually make a weapons-grade spear. In fact, tell me how you would do it. Do you really think you can just get a stick and sharpen it?”

Some is true about agriculture. It’s amazing that people who can’t manage to keep their house plants alive think that farming is technologically trivial. Gardening isn’t that hard but unless you’ve actually farmed some real acreage, involving a plow and doing a real harvest, it’s not something one just inherently knows how to do.

Or how about making bows and arrows. Not the kind for shooting a bird or something but a weapons-grade bow, one that could kill a soldier.  It requires a level of knowledge that the average lay person, even a medieval peasant, would have no idea how to do. 

As someone into this stuff, I can tell you the mechanics of how to make a bow (lots of ash trees around here). But could I make one that would be actually useful in a battle – i.e. where I’d use it over a good club?  I don’t know.

And that’s before we even talk about metallurgy…

Comments (Page 5)
on Mar 19, 2012

One thing I never understood about ancient battles that I think would hold only more true in a post-civ:   make the summer heat your armor.   At the Battle of Monmouth, more British and American soldiers were incapacitated from heat stroke than from bullets.  And they weren't even wearing armor--that's just their uniforms.  Why can't the officers not be morons:  take off your bloody shirts and let your underwear be your uniform.  If you're in the heat of summer and you're fighting heavily armored strong men, let them wear their silly armor.  Their plate mail will turn them into human frying pans.


But usually the summer time is the only time that they can actually feed armies and could travel on roads, in the olden days. 


I know that the Kingdom of Jerusalem lost a major battle right before it's downfall due to heat exhaustion.  Have to know your terrain, man!

on Mar 19, 2012

Yeah.  So by inference, summer time tended to be when battles were fought.   The Teutonic Knights were one of those in the back of my mind when I asked that.  Heavily armored, strong--and marching in the sands around Judea.   Really smart, guys.  Guess those generals in their pretty uniforms and horse-drawn carriages never thought of that. 

on Mar 24, 2012

This is all so true. I was thinkin sometimes what would happen with the knowledge after some cataclysm.How much time would be needed to reinvent the electricity. Interesting fact. Encyclopedia Brittanica is about to stop the releasing its paper version. In not so long time whole knowledge would be stored in quite fragile containers.

A Canticle for Leibowitz comes to mind.