Industrial Power Brokers

The development of iron in the late 1600s to the early 1700s saw a series of changes, that resulted from the development of new types of fuels, and from the development of new types of iron. Initially, iron was smelted by using charcoal that was made from burning trees; however, this timber was needed for the production of homes, ships, and other industry. Abraham Darby solved this issue of limited fuel by being the first person to smelt iron using coal coke which allowed the wood to be used for other projects rather than for smelting. This development would lead to the development of cast iron and while the material was new, it was not suitable for conversion into a much stronger wrought iron. Abraham Darby’s sons, Abraham Darby II, and Abraham Darby III each contributed to society through iron development as well, with Darby the third building a bridge entirely out of 373 tons of iron and Darby the second producing iron for the new development of the steam engine.

The steam engine was marketed by Mathew Boulton, with the help of James Watts, who was the creator of the most advanced steam engine at the time. Boulton was a mastermind when it came to finding uses for the steam engine demonstrating the versatile nature of the machine. The machines could produce a wide range of items with the steam engines, everything from jewelry to coinage, and even toys. Boulton’s factories were lined with gas lamps, workers, and steam-powered machines leaving visitors awestruck.

From his achievements, Boulton developed a small circle of friends who would become known as the lunar society. These were very intelligent people that included names such as the master potter Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen, and the remarkable scientist, physician and philosopher Lrasmus Darwin. All of these members met at Boultons, “Soho House” which now serves as a museum.

In the end, the oldest steam engine that was used to recover canal water would be put on display in Birmingham’s Thinktank Museum. Darby’s famous furnace would later be recovered and rebuilt from the soil where it rested, becoming a symbol of the industrial revolution.

(359 words)

Other interesting articles include:

A Ballistic Revolution For The Greeks

Nathaniel Dekin

Richard Hirsh

History of Technology

October 13, 2018

Siege warfare in the ancient world was very different for the attacking force who only had a small handful of basic and challenging tactics they could use. These ranged from using battering rams to digging tunnels and even building ramps out of earth to gain elevation over a fortress.1 Tactical mindsets quickly changed when a new era of siege weapons emerged in ancient Greece in the 4th century. These weapons were catapults, military machines that hurled projectiles, that quickly became a great force on the battlefield.2 There were many different types of catapults that emerged but by far the one that was the most interesting is the ballista.

The first catapult saw creation in a small town called Syracuse in Greece by the Greek elder Dionysius. The innovation underwent development during the two-year siege of Syracuse, in which Dionysius and several Greek engineers came together to create a weapon to end the long conflict.3 The result resembled a large crossbow called a Gastraphete which enabled the Greeks to end the siege of Syracuse, allowing them to take the city. Impressed with its design, the Greeks created a larger version of the weapon called the ballista.4

When the ballista became a formidable weapon, two types were created that each launched different munitions. The “Lithobolos,” which fired large stones and the “Katapeltēs oxybelēs,” which fired large bolts. Both of these weapons were capable of impressive accuracy with ranges of up to 300 meters.5 The ballista functioned by having two spoked cranks at the rear of the machine which pulled back the weapons large bow.6 The spokes enabled only two men were needed to operate the weapon. The ballista then fitted with a projectile, launched it by releasing the tension of the bow. When released, a bolt could severely weaken the walls of enemy forts and could also pierce armor with ease, making the weapon a terror for the opposing soldiers.5

The ballista had a significant impact on the military powers of the time such as Alexander The Great, who was the first person to use the weapon in battle. Alexander used the ballista to support troops on the ground, and sieges allowing the Greeks to capture civilizations with ease. Due to the effectiveness of this technology, warfare began to change resulting in civilizations adapting their battle strategies and creating weapons similar to the ballista, such as the Roman Scorpio ballista.6

However, the ballista did have a series of flaws. It was difficult to construct, meaning that there would be a limited number during wartime and the firing rate of the weapon was considerably slow. It is because of its strengths that the ballista was a significant weapon and an important part of siege warfare. Although, the weapon probably played a smaller role in the expansion of empires due to its limited numbers and flaws.


(480 words)



5.Cartwright, Mark. “Roman Artillery.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. October 15, 2018. Accessed October 16, 2018.

3.M, Jackson. “The Catapult – Ancient Greece Civilization.” Ancient Greece Civilization. Accessed October 17, 2018.

1.”Ancient Siege Warfare.” Ancient Siege Warfare. June 01, 2017. Accessed October 17, 2018.

4.”Inventing the Medieval Ballista.” Ballista. Accessed October 17, 2018.

6.”Ballista – Development and Operational History, Performance Specifications and Picture Gallery.” Military Weapons. August 4, 2013. Accessed October 17, 2018.

7.”The Ballista.” Medieval Lifestyle. Accessed October 17, 2018.

2.”Catapult.” Accessed October 17, 2018.

8.Alexander, Leigh. “The Origin of Greek and Roman Artillery.” The Classical Journal 41, no. 5 (1946): 208-12.

9.Khera, Khushal, Anmol Bhatia, Sanjay Kumar, and Shailesh Mahawal. “Design & Manufacturing of a Simple Catapult.” October 31, 2014. Accessed October 17, 2018.

The Life of Agricola

Medieval mining is an important part of the expansion industry in the middle ages but for a long time, there wasn’t a lot of information about this profession. Of course all of the miners were using technology and learned techniques to extract ore from the ground but there wasn’t any substantial written literature on the subject. However, this all changed when a man know as Agricola took interest in the subject.

Georgius Agricola, whose name is a Latin form of the name George Bauer, was born in the Saxon town of Glauchau in 1494 CE. During his life, he would philology in Germany and medicine in Italy, leading him to be appointed the town physician in what is now modern Czechoslovakia. It is during his time in the town that Agricola visited the mines and smelteries of the area and became fascinated with metallurgy, wanting to study the processes the the miners used. However, he wasn’t very satisfied with the writing that was produced by the Greeks of the subject and decided to create his own book on the subject called De Re Metallica.


The book was published in 1556, a year after Agricola’s death. The book was later translated by the hoover family, who regarded the late Agricola as the first modern scientist.

In the book, Agricola proceeds to go over many of the different nuances found in medieval mining. He discusses the different mining methods for different types of minerals, as well as different technologies that went into the mining process. These machines included horse operated ball and chain pumps, and crank operated blowers for removing water and ventilation.


Other articles:


The Advantages Of The Stirrup Despite Its Geographical Usage

In the article, “The stirrup gave cavalry an unprecedented advantage, but its uses in Europe and Asia differed considerably” the author Colin Clarke, goes into detail on the many differences seen in the development cavalry combat a variety of locations. Clarke also explores what cavalry warfare was like before the invention of the stirrup and what its introduction did to the development of horseback warfare.

In Clarkes article, we learn that the impact of the invention of the stirrup varied among cultures. In ancient Greece, the stirrup lead to the use of horses for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering rather than cavalry combat. The Persians would on the other hand, utilized cavalry archers for battle, who were known for their infamous hit and run tactics by the Greeks. However, In the case of the Romans and Carthaginians, cavalry combat was utilized to a far greater extent. The Romans primarily used cavalry or reconnaissance, skirmishes, and raids, and used the cavalry to peruse and kill defeated enemies. This lead to the developed a new saddle which had four horned corners and was far more stable than that of previous designs. The Romans ended up having to fight the Germans, who only used horses for transportation into battle.

In Japan, the development of the warrior class occurred roughly the same time it occurred in Europe. In Japan though, before the sword was the principle weapon of the samurai, the skill of horse archery was a sought after fighting skill. Later developments of this horse archery also lead to the techniques of dismounting and killing an enemy horse archer. However, these skills quickly died out around the same time chivalry died out in Europe, when a Cavalry charge was replaced with muskets in Europe.

The earliest mention of the stirrup dates back to a Chinese source dating back to 477 AD. Despite this, the stirrup was developed by the nomads of Siberia though some historians argue it was developed by the Persians. The stirrup when utilized for mounted combat, dramatically improved stability in the saddle and added power to the momentum. The stirrup also allowed for a soldier to hold a lance, be carried long distances while wearing armor, and preform better in battle while riding a horse.

Although the stirrup is a breakthrough innovation, it wasn’t a quickly accepted technology. Heavily armored shock cavalry combat was not a dominate military element, as seen in Frankish armies. The Calvary was weak to spear formations, as seen in the battle Crecy where dismounted English soldiers killed 1,542 mounted French soldiers.

Overall, while the stirrup wasn’t fully utilized in countries around the world, it provided a great advantage to the cavalry of the country who took advantage of the technology. Clarke also makes his point that Calvary did evolve in areas where the stirrup wasn’t utilized and notes how their techniques and styles of fighting differed. In general, Clarke successfully makes the point that the stirrup had a great impact on cavalry combat.

Here is another article about the development of the stirrup and horse riding: