(Part 2 of a multi-part series on The Moral Triumph of Western Civilization.)
The greatest surprise for European explorers, especially those like Columbus, was the backwardness of the people they came upon. They were stunned by the tremendous technological superiority they had. It made proud, brave peoples like the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas virtually and ultimately helpless in their defenses.
Even the highly regarded civilizations of the East like China, India and the Muslim world were quite backward by comparison with 15th century Europe.
Why had Europeans (for centuries) been the only people to “possess eyeglasses, chimneys, reliable clocks, heavy cavalry, or a system of music notation?”1 Why did the Europeans blow the rest of the world away when it came to things like “metallurgy, shipbuilding and farming?”2