Three Capetian French scholars consulting an astrolabe, ca. AD 1200
I claim it as established that all books that have been written, or have existed in every region of the earth, all tools, records, inscriptions on wax tablets, epitaphs, all paintings, images, and sculptures; all crosses, of stone, iron, or wood set up at the intersections of two, three, or four roads, and those fixed on monastic houses, placed on top of churches, of houses of charity and bell towers; pillories, forks, gibbets, iron chains, and the swords of justice that are carried before princes for the sake of instilling fear; eye extractions, mutilations, and various tortures of bandits and forgers; all posts that are set up to mark out boundaries; all bell-peals, the clap of wooden tablets in Greek churches, the calls to prayer from the mosques of the Saracens; the blarings of horns and trumpets; all seals; the various dress and tokens of the religious and the dead; alphabets; the insignia of harbors, boats, travelers; inns, taverns, fisheries, nets, messengers, and various entertainers; knights' standards ,the insignia of arms, and armed men; Arabic numerals, astrolabes, clocks, and the seal on a papal bull; the marks and points on knucklebones, varieties of colors, memorial knots, supports for the feet, bandages for the fingers, the lead seals in the staves of penitents; the small notches that seneschals, administrators, and stewards make in sticks when they pay out or receive household expenses; the slaps that bishops give to adults during sacramental annointings; the blows given to boys to preserve the events of history in the memories; the nods and signals of lovers; the whispers of thieves; courteous gifts and small presents--all have been devised for the purpose of supporting the weakness of natural memory.
Boncompagno da Signa, "On Memory" in The Medieval Craft of Memory edited by M. Carruthers and J.M. Ziolkowski. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p.111
I love the historical features of this account such as 'eye extractions'. We know that fear, pain and difficulty is more likely to cement long-term memories than mundane affairs. Still, it's rather shocking to consider torture as a tool of memory.
As I read this I think of Sterelny's account of how human civilization has shaped its environment to suit cognitive tasks larger than the mind of a single individual.