I was reading on the forums today people complaining that even in a post-civilization world (one where people are basically getting together from the ruins) that they would “know” how to do all kinds of things like make bows, swords, etc.
I have a lot of friends who are active in the Renaissance and Medieval communities out there who always laugh at this kind of thing. The conversation goes something like this:
“Really, you think you can make a spear? Ok. Let’s see you do it. Let’s see you actually make a weapons-grade spear. In fact, tell me how you would do it. Do you really think you can just get a stick and sharpen it?”
Some is true about agriculture. It’s amazing that people who can’t manage to keep their house plants alive think that farming is technologically trivial. Gardening isn’t that hard but unless you’ve actually farmed some real acreage, involving a plow and doing a real harvest, it’s not something one just inherently knows how to do.
Or how about making bows and arrows. Not the kind for shooting a bird or something but a weapons-grade bow, one that could kill a soldier. It requires a level of knowledge that the average lay person, even a medieval peasant, would have no idea how to do.
As someone into this stuff, I can tell you the mechanics of how to make a bow (lots of ash trees around here). But could I make one that would be actually useful in a battle – i.e. where I’d use it over a good club? I don’t know.
And that’s before we even talk about metallurgy…