Ancient Egypt’s civilization is represented to our children as the historical gold standard in building with stone. The pyramids, the sphinx, Luxor, the red sea canal any amount of gigantic statuary etc. Indeed so revered are they as builders we’re today forever being fed news articles claiming to reveal the “secret” of how the Egyptians built this that or the other thing without modern equipment like pneumatic drills and chisels, lifting cranes, excavators and so on.
Yet everything built by Egypt in the three thousand years of its recorded history before Christ does not equal the volume or craftsmanship of the stone quarried and laid in the two hundred years of the high middle ages in northwestern Europe*. A civilization also lacking modern equipment like pneumatic drills and chisels, lifting cranes, excavators and so on. This was true even given the fact that northwestern Europe’s challenging weather shut construction down a good part of every year or the fact that European builders didn’t have millions of slaves to whip to death dragging rocks around for thirty centuries.
Or, or that northwestern Europe during this period had no central government to plan their projects, no common language, currency or universal system of measures.
Hmmm? Could it be that the lack of a central government and planning, common language, currency or universal measures, that is a system much closer to the ideal of freedom than Egypt under the Pharaohs, was actually responsible for the stunning difference?
What do you think? What does your son or daughter think?
*A good history of this period for only a mildly precocious child, and a lot of adults, to read is Medieval Europe, A Short History by C. Warren Hollister where they’ll learn other very interesting, indeed fascinating, details about the society emerging in Europe during this period. And gain some additional understanding or our own society.