Chapter 13 Summary

In 1908, a clay disk bearing writing was excavated on the Greek island Phaistos. The disk bears forty-five symbols, probably of a syllabary, which were stamped into the clay. Nobody has yet deciphered this writing. Archaeologists believe it may have been the first printing system in the world but that it dropped out of use. A similar printing system did not emerge elsewhere until 2,500 years later and 3,100 years later in Europe.

Some inventions happen because people need a technology and set out to create it. Other inventions come about because people tinker and experiment and create something for which they only later find a use. Diamond argues that this latter process is more common in history. He also believes that...

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