Our hero has arrived on a distant continent in the land of Ar-Piji. The Eternal Empire that reigns here is particularly exotic by his standards, however one aspect stands out in particular. A founding tenant in the Empire's theocratic government is that writing and other forms of records are strictly forbidden. Those found practicing such heresy are severely punished, or in extreme cases, publicly sacrificed to the Sun God. Mathematical diagrams and plans occupy a quasilegal state of acceptance. Most nobles look down upon such practices as a necessary evil and do not sully themselves with the work of the lowly engineer. Obviously, a great emphasis is put on memorization. Those individuals capable of reciting entire works from memory are thought of as truly gifted.
Now then, I can't seem to decide how technologically advanced this society would be compared to the hero's homeland (essentially Western European-style medieval fantasy). In one case, I can see how they would be shackled by their beliefs. Scientific development would stagnate from under-appreciation and lost works. A particularly large Empire could be a political disaster, with no way of managing citizens and armies without records. On the other hand, I could see how individual intelligence could blossom, as citizens are forced to memorize their work rather than look it up. The emphasis on learning their trade from their master, lest it be lost forever, could greatly inspire apprentices.
An oft-cited term for the role of easily accessed books, the internet and other modern resources is mind extension. That is, we don't know the information itself, but we know how to find it out if needed. In this society, the citizens are deprived of these resources, or rather, their society has developed without them at all.
So my questions are:
Would this society develop faster or slower than "normal" technologically?
If not technologically advanced, would they still be considered "cultured" (philosophically, ethically, etc)?
Or barring those, are they just technologically backwards barbarians that the civilized world must "educate"?