It's snowing like the dickens here in Colorado and there's no pressing needs at work, so please forgive a historian for musing.

I've always been fascinated with the tech tree, I think it's one of the most clever concepts ever invented. I'm sure this has been done before, but at least for myself, I thought I would put together some observations on all of the tech advances; why those units/improvements were defined for that particular tech and why those prerequisites were chosen. This idea came from a recent statement, "What does Shakespeare has anything to do with Medicine."

This is not meant to be a scholarly work, so it'll be too brief, generalized and in some cases, probably inaccurate. I would like to get your opinions though on this first part, just to kill time…


Alphabet: Starting with markings to indicate quantities, evolving to pictorial symbols to tell of events and then to 'letters', the Alphabet systemized effective written and verbal communications between humans.

Masonry: Developed to meet one of the basic human needs: shelter. One of the earliest forms of shelter, especially one that involved considerable labor, was the place of the leader, the Palace. Primitive walls were first developed using piles of stones, lumber or animals to protect a tribe and with Masonry, solidified stones to protect a town. Carrying that to an extreme of building a wall to protect a civilization, you have the Great Wall. Pyramids were simply the shelters of deceased leaders.

Warrior Code: In order for a leader to effectively lead others in battle, whether for conquest, raid or for gathering resources, the conduct of each member must be pre-determined so as to effectively control the planning, the execution and results of such battles. Archers, a type of battle unit using pointed projectiles, perhaps developed from spear-throwers allowing for attacking at a greater distance.

Horseback Riding: The domestication of various wild animals allowed for uses as beast of burdens and as mode of transportation. The Horseman was first used as a military unit to move to the place of battle. It was not until much later that the mounted Horseman was used in battle, thus the relatively weakness of the Horseman as an attack unit.

Bronze Working: The working of the metals copper and tin creates bronze, a very durable alloy. Among the many early uses of bronze included spearheads, shields, body armor (all elements of a Phalanx unit) and of building statues and monuments like the Colossus.

Ceremonial Burial: This probably came from the importance a tribe placed on its leader and the early beliefs in animism (nature or natural objects becoming life and the existence of spirits separate from the body). Thus when someone of importance dies, their spirits must be given an appropriate 'send-off' to the next life as another object in nature.

Writing: The Alphabet was not developed before Writing, it was just a way of standardizing writings of all types. But one cannot communicate through writing if there was not been an agreed-upon use of markings, symbols and letters, thus the Alphabet being a prerequisite. A collection of writings (among other things) is simply a Library, whether private or public. Perhaps the Diplomat was put here for early availability in the game but one can make a case that the development of written documents allowed the ability to communicate with other places to become much more accurate and effective.

Map Making: Another form of Writing (cartography = the writing of charts) using symbols, pictures and letters (Alphabet). Maps allowed for Triremes and any other ancient water vessels to be more effective in journeying from one shore to another. The Lighthouse was used when maps became useless due to low or night visibility, thus a 'visual map' as they indicate shores or islands.

Code of Laws: Once a standardized Alphabet was agreed upon (whether markings, symbols or letters), a leader can better control the population by codifying rules and laws. To enforce those laws, courts or judging bodies were developed, thus the improvement, Courthouses.

Mathematics: The earliest form of writing was the use of markings to indicate quantities (the cuneiform, the earliest Alphabet). The development of Mathematics depended on an agreed-upon unit of measurement to indicate a quantity of something, or a unit of dimension (length, width, height, area, etc.). Generally, this development was systemized in Ancient Egypt in measuring plots along the Nile and in building of the tombs and Pyramids, thus the prerequisite of Masonry. One of the factors of Euclidean geometry was the determination of the trajectory, leading to the development of Catapults (or projectile weapons).