End of The Stone Age
There are two major discoveries in human history that essentially have informed human society ever since. The very first was the change that stopped the Stone Age and began the Bronze Age.
Most historians believe this happened accidentally. If you think about how they get bronze, they find bronze in the form of an ore which is bronze mixed with other kind of rock and they probably put this rock into a fire and then they saw this bronze kind of melt out.
In the morning when the fire was cool they found this metal that was a different shape and it was just as hard as rock. It didn’t take long to figure out that they could find more of this ore, melt it all down take this bronze out of it and use this bronze to make tools and weapons.
Sticks and Stones
Up until that point they had to make tools and weapons from sticks and stones literally. The next huge advance came when they started to figure out how to deliberately get wealth from the earth.
This was something that took a long time. They think maybe it took about 1000 years. The way it worked was back when the Ice Age ended there was a very small number of people and they could easily go out and get the food they wanted. They didn’t have to really think too much. They just kind of foraged and they could find food.
As the number of people got bigger and bigger they had to figure out how to deliberately get food of the ground. They couldn’t rely on just going out foraging. They had to plan. They had to think. They had to figure out how to create wealth.
This was the kind the first time in human history where people had to learn how to deliberately create wealth, whereas before they had the idea that if they wanted something they had to go out look for it until they found it. When the population got big enough this put a lot of pressure on early humans to learn ways to create wealth deliberately and not just create wealth but to store wealth as much as they could.
Then something happened around 1200 BC. There was a few of these kind of early agriculturally based societies and they all kind of collapsed at the same time. This is what is called the Bronze Age collapse and what happened next was the second iteration of how people learned to create wealth, a new idea of how to create wealth and this started with Athens.
Athens created wealth through trade. Instead of just deliberately creating wealth out of the ground, instead of deliberately growing things like cereals and grains that they could store and the more they store the more this represented time with a didn’t have to work, they started to think in terms of trading with other cities.
Wealth By Trade
Athens purposely set up a whole bunch of cities that were kind of like mini copies of Athens all around the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. They purposely did this so they could trade with them.
This is a second iteration of wealth generation by growing what you can by creating whatever wealth you can and then trading that with the wealth that other people create. Once they figured this out, this led to a whole bunch of new ideas and thinking processes and philosophies in mathematics and things like democracy and senates and republics.
There was a guy who lived on the outskirts of one of these early agricultural societies. One night a meteor fell out of the sky and landed on his farmland. Because they didn’t really understand what meteors were back then they figured he was being contacted by the gods.
Angry Gods or Happy Gods?
The problem was his neighbors the people that lived around him they didn’t know if he was going to be punished by the gods or if he was going to be rewarded by the gods. So they were kind of reluctant to even go near his place for a while.
This guy ,he noticed this meteor was sitting in his backyard and after he didn’t have any conversations with these guys and after nothing happened he went out to check with the meteor. It looked like a very very strange rock. It reminded him of those ores that they would use to create metal to create bronze to create tools.
He couldn’t really understand it and so he was kind of worried that it might be very very valuable and then somebody would come and steal it from him. So he buried it in his backyard and eventually the townspeople on his neighbors came by and they wanted to find out what the message of the gods was and he said it was nothing, that he just saw a light. That he hadn’t talked any gods and eventually they lost interest.
Free Wealth From The Earth
Once he felt that it was safe he dug up this meteor in his backyard and he found that the meteor had interacted with the earth around the meteor and turned it into gold. This made him very very happy because back then they knew gold was very very valuable. They knew it wasn’t useful as a tool or weapon because it was so soft but it seemed to be worth a lot. This is why the kings of even the most ancient societies recognized that gold was very very valuable.
This guy kept burying this meteor in his backyard. He kept digging up every couple of months and he amassed a huge fortune in gold. He notice that no matter how many times he did this the meteor never changed in size. Eventually he became one of the richest men in antiquity.
If you think about the Athens strategy for creating wealth, where they would create something or individual cities would grow something create wealth in the trade with other people this is essentially the exact same way that people make wealth today. You have some kind of skills, people pay you for those skills, and then you take the money they pay you and take that money to go and buy whatever you need.
Trade Increases Wealth
This is exactly what Athens had discovered. The same type of wealth generation structure has been around for two 3000 years. One of the biggest changes in human thinking when they started to have to figure out how to deliberately grow stuff from the ground rather than go out and find it was the long-term thinking strategies.
If you are a very very ancient human, if you are a forager, it didn’t take a lot of planning to get your needs met. You just woke up, if you are hungry you went out looking for food until you got food and then you were fine. Once they started to have too many people for this strategy to work they had to think of a different strategy.
They had to plan ahead. They had to think in terms of months rather than hours. Once humanity was forced to think long term, to think longer than before, this created a whole lot of interesting ideas and creativity and thought processes and this is essentially what led to everything that we have today the ability to think long term rather than short-term.
Tools And Weapons
One of the interesting things that happened way back then that is still happening today is every time humans discover a new technology they immediately use it for two specific purposes. The first purpose is to use it as a tool to make more wealth and the second purpose is to use it as a weapon to control other people.
When they first discovered the idea of bronze and how they can shape bronze into hard things very easily, a lot more quickly than they could take a rock and make a blade out of it, they used these to both create better more efficient farming tools, but they also use this as weapons a sword so they could control other people.
Every time they invent a new technology, every time we humans invent a new technology, it’s always used for those two purposes. Some people use new technology to create wealth, other people use new technology to control other people by using it as a weapon.
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