Many people consider Henry Ford to be originator of the production line, but there is plenty of evidence that the techniques he used for the mass production of the Model T were around for centuries before that.  Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations discussed the division of labour towards the end of the 18th century, and China saw weapon components produced using these methods two thousand years ago.

To be fair, whilst the techniques were known, they were not widely practiced until after the industrial revolution, which perhaps gave those who utilised them a competitive advantage.

In the Venetian Arsenal the methods they used were hidden behind huge curtain walls, and the point at which they established production lines for their galleys isn’t precisely known, but by the 14th Century the numerous workshops  behind those walls were producing prefabricated sections and individual components in such a way that a galley could be built in little more than a day.  This was probably Europe’s largest industrial site prior to the industrial revolution.

Little wonder then that the city, who had such a fleet at their disposal, became so wealthy.  It was a pattern echoed by the growth of the British Empire, with the power of the Royal Navy a critical factor.  Neptune is a valuable ally.

Venezia-14

 

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