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July 11, 2012 2:31 PM Subscribe
What could slow down the pace of change (religious/scientific/economic/cultural) in a civilization? (Please see specific details inside.)
posted by Wretch729 to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Many scifi/fantasy settings talk about centuries-old unchanging nations or dynasties. This has never seemed terribly realistic to me. None but the most ancient human societies manage more than a century or two without significant changes occurring.
I'm developing a civilization for a private worldbuilding project and I'm trying to figure out how to slow down the pace of change for a specific period. I’m not interested in normative arguments about this topic except as they apply to the feasibility of the method suggested. The details of the setting are not finalized, but would probably be vaguely analogous to Scythia and the Greek city states circa the 4th century BCE (think semi-nomadic people trading with settled city states and slowly becoming more settled themselves). I'm looking for specific ways to stretch this scenario out to about 500 years (~25 generations).
Ways I've already thought of that I don’t like:
-Strong central rule by a rigid theocratic or conservative autocratic authority (workable but doesn’t fit my story)
-Increased child mortality via plot device, keeping population growth low and forcing labor to be devoted to survival rather than innovation (haven’t thought of a good way to do this, and too depressing)
-Restrictions on travel via plot device, for example giant impassable mountain ranges on all sides (sort of ruins the trading angle, and seems very artificial)
-Periodic catastrophe that wipes out progress and returns civilization to square one (also seems too artificial)