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Science and Invention 200 - 630

Science and Invention and the role of the Court of Ethics, 200 - 630


The Atlanteans were by nature an inventive race, and over the early centuries of their Empire, they developed most of the scientific advances which have been also been made in the Western World throughout a longer period of time. The development of science in their Empire was, however, unique by virtue of the role of the Court of Ethics. This institution's influence varied from era to era, but when it was flourishing, it suppressed many new scientific ideas. As a result, the adoption of scientific inventions into Atlantean society proceeded in fits and starts, and was never able to sweep all before it as has happened in the modern world since the time of the Renaissance.


The idea of an overriding Court or Council of Ethics to act as a supreme arbiter in all ethical, moral and social matters was developed by thinkers in the third century. It was not till the reign of Iustos Atlaniphon, in 368, that the first official Court of Ethics was set up. As far as we are concerned in this chapter, its main role (apart from its legal responsibilities as a Court of Appeal) was to weigh up the potentialities of all new ideas and practical inventions as far as their effect on the moral and social welfare of the Atlantean peoples was concerned.

There would at this stage be no control or censorship of the expression of ideas in words or writing - only of its possible future dissemination or conversion into practical form in the case of new scientific inventions. This was linked also to another of its roles - that of judging all novel forms of behaviour or activities by the people - whether moral, artistic, sporting or whatever. But here the Court could only express an opinion ; in the case of new inventions, it could, with the Emperor's approval, actually ban them.

This side of the Court's activities seems at first to sit uneasily beside its more liberal role as a Court of Appeal and a sort of government think-tank on legal matters. But the ethos of the Second Empire, though in some ways liberal, was also paternalistic, and the Emperors and their advisors were above all concerned to maintain their society as it was, and of course their own positions within it. They did not want to censor ideas, but they saw no reason not to screen and if necessary ban new inventions, which, if adopted, might radically alter the set-up of society, and the happiness of lifestyle of Atlanteans. This was all part of that philosophy, which the Second Empire elite prized above all: that Reason and Balance were vital in society, and this was best achieved by severely limiting all unnecessary changes, social, moral and technological. Men, too, were part of a whole natural order, which should not be unbalanced by creating "unnatural" investigations into nature, or technological innovations.


Some of the most significant inventions in early Atlantean history were military in nature, though it must be stressed that some of them were not actually made by Atlanteans, but rather were taken over by them from whoever first invented them. The inventions made before 360 were quickly adopted - such as the wooden and steel crossbow and the catapult. But most important innovations, once they had come to the notice of the Court of Ethics, were usually suppressed, though there were a few exceptions. Thus printing using blocks was invented somewhere in the late 200s and used a little in Atlantis in the 300s, but was then banned. Printing using moveable type appeared outside the Atlantean Empire after 480, but as soon as examples appeared within the Empire, they were also forbidden.

Other inventions vetoed include the microscope or magnifying glass (around 500), spectacles (about 420-430), water-wheels (400s), and gunpowder/rockets (used in fireworks after the 400s, outside the Empire). On the other hand, the telescope, though closely related to the banned magnifying glass, was allowed into production after 530 for military use. The same was true of the mechanical semaphore, relays of which rapidly spread across the Empire after 460, and the windmill, which was surprisingly permitted in the 500s.


When the Second Empire was overthrown and the Republic established after 587, the Court of Ethics was abolished in the territories under republican control. The Republic considered the "censoring" role of the Court to be ridiculously old-fashioned and pointless, and inventions were henceforth encouraged. Quickly all those innovations made and suppressed in earlier times were released from their wraps - printing (though Government controlled at various times), spectacles, microscope and water-wheels. In the remaining territory of the Emperor, the Court of Ethics at first still kept its powers, but as the old Empire split up and the Imperialists noticed how fast the Republicans were overtaking them in the field of new inventions, the Court was done away with here as well, and innovations were seized on as quickly as possible.

Gunpowder, as applied to military weapons, had already been experimented with by the Basquecs, and these ideas were taken over by the Imperialists even quicker than by the Republicans. This led to rockets, cannon and handguns coming into production around 590-600 - the great Atlantean inventor and adapter was Ceindol. Many other inventions were adopted in this period, including the magnetic compass, the technique of cast iron, stirrups for horses, the pendulum clock, the barometer, and the basics of the steam engine. Many of these were actually invented abroad, but the clock, the steam-engine, cast-iron and the compass were definitely of Atlantean origin. (Bueccan, who lived in Tilrase in the Republican Province of Atlantid´eh , was the Atlantean theorist who wrote about the practical possibilities of steam. He was killed in 628 when the Imperialists stormed Atlantis.)

This heady period of innovation came to an abrupt end after 650, when the establishment of the Third Empire by Ruthopheax produced strict controls on all inventions once again - this time also in neighbouring states.

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