In early human history, we started out as a hunter - gatherer society. As time went on, we began developing tribes and fighting each other for territory and resources in order to survive the harsh environment. Warfare and competition pushed innovation and improvements to technology. This set the ground for nations to form, which led to the creation of empires.

This setting takes place on a super continent that never broke up. The landmass is covered in mega fauna and is very lush, with a warm to hot climate. There are fewer predators than in our world, with planimals being more numerous. Resources and land are plentiful. Most societies began along the coastline and slowly moved inwards. This has led to cultures and religions being more homogeneous and connected. Society is broken down by communal clans, with property and wealth being shared and decisions being made among groups.

In this world, humanity evolved under different factors. Without the need for agriculture, and warfare along with competition for resources and land gone, how can I ensure that nations develop technologically and progressively? What pressures must there be to spur innovation?

  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't sound like your humans evolved under different factors at all, everything you describe is true of known human societies. Hunter gatherers live in marginal land today because that is all that is left, hunter gatherers existed is is many many places with abundant resources. You may want to look at Potlatches which were part of one of the most resource abundant hunter gatherer societies in human history. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potlatch $\endgroup$ – John Oct 13 '18 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ "This set the ground for nations to form, which led to the creation of empires": empires precede nations (in the modern meaning of the word) by several thousand years. Before the 17th or even 18th century a "nation" was simply the set of people speaking the same mother tongue; there was absolutely no expectation of a common political organization of that set of people, and if there ever was such a common political organization it happened strictly by accident. At best a pre-modern "nation" might have some common quasi-religious events, such as the Olympic games for the Greeks. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Oct 13 '18 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ Nice hand-waving, but "Resources and land are plentiful." needs more thought. No resource level will suffice for a sufficiently high population density. What is going on so that the population does not exceed the carrying capacity of the land? In the American West, pre-Columbus, the answer was simple: tribal warfare. What have you got to replace it? $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Oct 14 '18 at 3:09

I have never heard the phrase, "war is the mother of invention"

Necessity is the mother of invention. Granted, war tends to make defensive and offensive technologies necessary and it's immediacy tends to force rapid development. but it is by no means the only necessity driving invention.

The Wheel could have easily been invented when some poor slob trudging along with a sheaf of wheat on his back happened to notice a dung beetle bookin' along with its sphere-o-food and said, "wait a minute...."

Fire was most likely invented when some hunter-gatherer caught out of camp at night was nearly struck by lightning and suddenly realized he could see the wolves circling around him thanks to the burning tree.

I can also imagine Alcohol being invented when some guy chomped a bit of fermented fruit and thought to himself, "I have got to have more of this!" (probably the original definition of the word "Schnapps" ... much like "Eureka!" probably meant "My bath water is too hot!" (my thanks to Tom Baker!))

My point is, there are a lot of needs. Technological development stops when there are few needs. It's been postulated that one of the reasons the polynesian peoples didn't develop technology as quickly as other areas is that they had no reason for agriculture, winter housing/heat, and no winter boredom.

And don't dismiss winter boredom too quickly

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "idle hands are the devil's workshop." And what have those idle hands created? Cellphones The pyramid of thought, experimentation, and dreaming — often done during idle winter months — helped push technology along (because they needed something to do!). During the winter months, you want to keep the kiddies from getting into too much trouble. So you send them to school.

So, the goal here is to NOT create a paradise. People stagnate in paradise. We want challenges! Give us problems to solve! Too many people? We need more food! Long nomadic trip? We need wagons! You get the picture. Give them imperfection ... your readers will appreciate it and relate to it.

Oh, and BTW, you'd be surprised on a world covered in megafauna how quickly machete's are invented.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that the wheel is kinda purposeless without axle and grease. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Oct 13 '18 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ And in a "a warm to hot climate" is there ever winter boredom? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Oct 13 '18 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn, I very much doubt that grease came before the wheel, but it might have. Animal fat and all. And while there's certainly boredom in consistently warm climates... no, there generally aren't 4-8 months of no growing season. $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 14 '18 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ Animal fat (specifically from sheep, since they were so common ) definitely was the first axle lubricant. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Oct 14 '18 at 2:42

One of the most significant factors in the development of human technology comes down to the availability of resources.

Every culture has developed their technology to the limits of the resources available to them. It was the availability of readily accessible resources in Europe and Asia that allowed these particular communities of humans to develop to the extent they did. Gold, iron, copper, were all surface materials. The particular type of flora and fauna made clearing the land easy. There was an abundance of water for irrigation. There was no 'jungle' that had to be continually pushed back, nor horridly arid land where water had to be continuously found and conserved. A culture can not learn iron working unless iron is available. A culture can not farm if the jungle keeps encroaching onto the cleared land.

Take the Inuit of northern Canada, for instance. This is a society that has developed some very extreme technology, limited only by what they had available. They made use of every part of the animals and fish that they hunted. Needles from bones, warm clothing from seal skin, threads from sinew, fires from animal blubber, the list goes on. It begs the question be asked, if they lived in a temperate climate with easily available minerals and resources, how advanced would their technology have been?

And they developed it, not because of war, and not really because of necessity, but because it made their lives easier. Comfort, not necessity, is behind the development of fire, I posit. Same with housing. Humans, it turns out, will go to great lengths for comfort. That pretty much drives our technological development today, and there is no reason to suppose it was any different thousands of years ago.

The other motivator for development is status. Jewelry, exotic clothing, mirrors, makeup. It is all about vanity. Even chimpanzees show inventiveness when it comes to vanity and play.

And one must never discount the availability of leisure time. It is absolutely no mystery why the greatest technological developments were done by nobles, priests, courtesans, royal families, and the wealthy. There has to be a critical mass of workers, that are productive enough to allow a certain class to be involved in education, learning, leisure, play, and applied science. Newton was not a pauper who had to work 20 hours a day just to stay alive. He had the luxury of time. Time to learn, time to explore, time to just think. He didn't NEED to develop his theory of gravity. It had no evolutionary benefit to him. His offspring had no advantage. It was not because of war or pestilence. He did it because he had the luxury to think. Boredom, and the desire to play games, is a great motivator in itself.

Lastly, plain and simple, the greatest drive and motivation to technological development is intelligence. Intelligent animals think, and the more intelligent they are, the more they think. And the more thy think, the more they teach. The more they are taught, the more they learn. The more they learn, the more they think. I have a very intelligent cat, who takes great pleasure in thinking of ways to outwit my attempts to prevent him from going outside. His only reward, is that he is now outside and can look at me, licking his paws, waiting for me to pick him up, and thinking 'I win again.'

My cat conspires against me because he can, and because he enjoys it.


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