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Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science$
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Mirko Canevaro, Andrew Erskine, Benjamin Gray, and Josiah Ober

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421775

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.001.0001

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Technology and Society in Classical Athens: A Study of the Social Context of Mining and Metallurgy at Laurion

Technology and Society in Classical Athens: A Study of the Social Context of Mining and Metallurgy at Laurion

Chapter:
(p.529) 19 Technology and Society in Classical Athens: A Study of the Social Context of Mining and Metallurgy at Laurion
Source:
Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science
Author(s):

Kim Van Liefferinge

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.003.0020

Technology is a ubiquitous aspect of the everyday world. Although hard to ignore in this day and age, Classical scholars have shown little awareness of this observation in their research. Technology has primarily been studied from a restricted angle, most notably a technical or economic one. The former perspective views technology as a purely technical force, concentrating principally on tools and techniques. The latter focuses on innovation, and its capability to increase production outputs and trigger economic growth. Both approaches, however, neglect the complex range of factors that actually contribute to technological change, inevitably leading to misconceptions about the role of technology in the ancient world. This chapter presents a different way of approaching Classical technology. Using the sociological theory of Social Construction of Technological Systems, it argues that technological change always occurs against the backdrop of interdependent environmental, social, economic and political factors. It applies this approach to the case study of the Athenian silver mines in the Laurion. The focus is on the practice of silver production, with special attention to social groups and their interaction in a broader environmental, political and economic context. This framework enables a more contextualized and thorough understanding of technological change in Athenian society.

Keywords:   Social Construction of Technological Systems, Laurion mines, Ancient technology

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