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Guns Germs and Steel The Fates of Human Societies

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Presentation on theme: "Guns Germs and Steel The Fates of Human Societies"— Presentation transcript:

1 Guns Germs and Steel The Fates of Human Societies
By Jared Diamond 1997 Text extracted from Chapters 1-10


3 After the Ice Age Human societies began to change 13,000 years ago
when the last ice age melted

4 After the Ice Age Different societies resulted:
Some literate, industrial Some illiterate, agricultural Some hunter gatherers retaining stone tools

5 Inequality and Extermination
“Those historical inequalities have cast long shadows on the modern world, because the literate societies with metal tools have conquered or exterminated the other societies."

6 Yali’s Question Yali, a New Guinea politician asked
"Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?"

7 Distribution of Wealth
To rephrase, "why did wealth and power become distributed as they now are, rather than in some other way?” Distribution of Wealth in the World

8 Common explanations Racial or genetic superiority?
No objective evidence for this theory

9 Common explanations Cold climate stimulates inventiveness?
But Europeans inherited from warm climate peoples agriculture, wheels, writing, and metallurgy Japan inherited Agriculture, metallurgy, writing Industrial Revolution

10 Conquest of the New World
"The biggest population shift of modern times has been the colonization of the new World by Europeans, and the resulting conquest, numerical reduction , or complete disappearance of most groups of Native Americans".

11 Pizarro The Incas were conquered by the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro.

12 Pizarro’s Forces Pizarro had 168 soldiers.
They were in unfamiliar territory, ignorant of the local inhabitants, were 1000 miles away from reinforcements, and were and surrounded by the Incan empire with 80,000 soldiers led by Atahuallpa.

13 Guns, Germs and Steel Pizarro had steel armor swords
horse mounted cavalry guns a minor factor

14 Conquistadors In addition to horses and steel, conquistadors had:
Superior ocean going ships Superior political organization of the European states Carried infectious diseases that wiped out 95% of Native Americans smallpox, measles, influenza, typhus, bubonic plague Superior knowledge of human behavior from thousands of years of written history.

15 Why not the other way? Still, why was it that the Europeans had all of the advantages instead of the Incas? Why didn't the Incas invent guns and steel swords, have horses, or bear deadly diseases? Inca Inca Warrior

16 Unequal Conflicts "Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots: between peoples with farmer power and those without it, or between those who acquired it at different times."

17 WHY?

18 Advantages of Agricultural Societies
More food, more people. Domestic animals Meat Pull plows, carts Transportation, war Furs, fiber Fertilizer Deadly germs

19 Advantages of Agricultural Societies
Sedentary Existence Short birth intervals higher population densities Grain Storage Support specialists: Kings bureaucrats soldiers priests artisans.

20 Independent Crop Domestication
Middle East (8,000 BC) Wheat, pea, olive China Rice, millet Mexico (3,000 BC) Maize, squash, beans Andes mountains Potato USA Sunflower Other people adopted these crops (and domesticated animals) later as a cultural package


22 Adoption by Hunter-Gatherers
Sometimes domesticated plants and animals were adopted by hunters/gatherers Native Americans in U.S. Sometimes hunters/gatherers were displaced by agriculturalists European expansion in Australia, Tasmania Trugannini, last Remaining Tasmanian Aboriginal, 1868

23 Head Start "The peoples of areas with a head start on food production
thereby gained a head start on the path leading to guns, germs and steel. The result was a long series of collisions between the haves and have-nots of history."

24 Food Production Food production often led to poorer health
shorter lifespan harder labor for the majority of people.

25 Early Plant Domestication
Humans unknowingly selected for traits: seed size, fiber length lack of bitterness early germination selfing dispersal mutations wheat that does not shatter seeds that stay in pods

26 80% of World’s Production:
Wheat Maize Rice Barley Sorghum Soybean Potato Cassava Sweet potato Sugar cane Sugar beet Banana

27 Major Domesticated Crops
No new plants domesticated in modern times All of these domesticated  thousands of years ago. Need a suite of domesticated plants to make agriculture work Thus new plants domesticated where agriculture already successful

28 Fertile Crescent

29 Fertile Crescent Attributes
Mediterranean climate. Wild stands of wheat Hunter/gatherers settled down here before agriculture, living off grain High percentage of self pollinating plants -- easiest to domesticate. Of large seeded grass species of the world, 32 of 56 grow here. Big animals for domestication: goat, sheep, pig, cow

30 Meso America In Meso America, the only animals domesticated were turkey and dog Maize was slow to domesticate. Occurred 5,000 years after domestication of wheat

31 Big 5 Domesticated Animals
Horse Cow Pig Sheep Goat All from Eurasia

32 Large Animals Of 148 large herbivorous or omnivorous species in the world Eurasia had 72 Africa 51 Americas 24 Australia 1 Most cannot be domesticated

33 Why have 134 out of 148 big species not been domesticated?
Diet too finicky koala Growth rate too slow elephants, gorillas Won’t breed in captivity cheetah, vicuna Nasty Disposition. grizzly bear, African buffalo, onager, zebra, hippo, elk

34 Why have 134 out of 148 big species not been domesticated?
Hard to herd (no dominance structure) deer, antelope Tendency to panic. deer, antelope, gazelles Solitary only cats and ferrets domesticated Territorial rhino

35 Easier to spread East-West
It was easier for domestic plants and animals later, technology like wheels, writing) to spread East-West in Eurasia than North- South in Americas.

36 Evidence Some crops domesticated independently in both S. America and Meso America due to slow spread lima beans common beans chili peppers

37 Evidence Most crops in Eurasia domesticated only once.
Rapid spread preempted same or similar domestication. Fertile Crescent crops spread to Egypt, N. Africa, Europe, India and eventually to China.

38 Africa East-West spread of plants, animals easier
due to same day-length, similar seasonal variations. Temperate N. Africa crops did not reach S. Africa until colonists brought them Sahara Tropics Tropical crops spread West to East in Africa with Bantu culture, did not cross to S. Africa due to climate.

39 Americas Distance between cool highlands of Mexico and Andes was only 1,200 miles but separated by low hot tropical region. Thus, no exchange of crops, animals, writing, wheel. Only maize spread.

40 Americas It took 2,000 years for maize to cross 700 miles of desert to reach U.S.A. It took another 1000 years for maize to adapt to U.S.A. climate to be productive

41 Not a Cultural Issue Some species like cows, dogs, pigs independently domesticated in different parts of the world. These animals were well suited for domestication. Modern attempts to domesticate: eland, elk, moose, musk ox, zebra, American Bison are only marginally successful.

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