Who wrote the book “Guns, Germs and Steel” and what was it about?
Jared Diamond in 1997
Explained why the world turned out to be the way it is
Addressed a very profound and interesting question, why is it that after human beings have evolved and spread over most of the surface of the earth, for thousands of years, all the people in the world were all the same? We were all cavemen.
In the beginning we were are equal – hunter/gatherers and lived in caves
However, after thousands of years, we became unequal (some countries became very prosperous while others remained poor)
Is it true that people gave up the lifestyle of gathering to domestication of animals and plants because they thought that it will be easier to grow plants and rear animals instead of chasing the animals down everyday?
No it is a myth.
Hunter/Gatherer lifestyle is better than the farming lifestyle – only work a couple of hours a day to hunt (no stress, no job etc.) why would they give up their chill life to work in the farms where they have to work constantly.
What does the domestication of plants and animals resulted in?
larger amount of food can be grown and stored -> surplus of food led to:
A larger population as there are more than enough food to go around, people were well nourished, body had the energy to reproduce.
The surrounding land is unable to support the larger population -> people were stuck in the farmers/agricultural life
Specialism arose because of the surplus of food, since not everyone has to grow their own food (not possible for hunter/gatherers back then because everyone have to go out and get their food) -> devoted their time to create new art/technologies -> made the societies more sophisticated/advanced
What and where is the Fertile Crescent?
The origin of the agricultural revolution (7000 - 10000 B.C.)
• Diamond’s question: Why didn’t we domesticate plants and animals everywhere?
His answer is that it was dependent on the native species available in the area (can only domesticate what is already there)
And that only certain species have the characteristics to be domesticated (e.g. wheat or rice)
Once these species were domesticated, it was easier to spread the domesticated plants laterally compared to vertically -> led to uneven distribution of domesticated plant species
Why is it easier to transfer domesticated plants and animals laterally compared to vertically?
Movement of domesticated plant species laterally was possible because the climate and environmental conditions were similar
However, vertical movement was impossible (e.g. South America to North America) as the climate and environmental conditions were drastically different
What is the first animal domesticated by humans?
What is the ancestor of modern languages?
The Indo-European language
What is a cuneiform?
Cuneiform tablets (earliest surviving forms of writing from the Sumerians about 7000 years ago)
Who invented the first alphabet system in 1200 to 150 BCE?
Phoenician (ancestor of our modern alphabet)
How did the Spaniards conquered the Incas?
Civilisation crumbled due to the disease. That is why the Spaniards conquered the Incas and not the other way around.
Before the Spaniards even heard of the Incas and before they got there, there were unbelievably horrible diseases that spread to the Incan Empire and had decimated thousands of people, including the original emperor
What is the “Black Death” ?
A plague that swept through Europe for centuries
• Why was it Europe who conquered the world and not China?
Diamond says: Europe was always politically fractured because of its mountains and so was never united – unlike China that was mostly united under a single authority because it has far fewer barriers. This is the reason for the differential success between China and Europe.
Arms race for weapon and technology (in Europe) whereas in china there is only one emperor who says we are going to do this or that and this or that will happen – JVW doesn’t believe this is convincing.
From Wiki: (for Europe) Threats posed by immediate neighbours ensured governments that suppressed economic and technological progress soon corrected their mistakes or were out-competed relatively quickly - reason of why being politically divided was good
Even though both had large populations and sophisticated technologies
What is the species of plant that can be domesticated in Australia?
Why did the Australians live as Hunter gatherers?
People lived as hunter/gatherers (why didn’t they domesticate plants and animals and grow in population like the rest of the world?
They did not have anything that they can domesticate (except for macadamia nuts) – not their fault and not because they are less intelligent than other people in other parts of the world
What are some criticisms of Jared Diamond’s work?
Geographic determinism – Diamonds is saying that geographical factors allow/permit things to develop, emerge rather than determining which direction they should advance in – wrong to say this
Should be geographical enable-lism – different things that were present in different parts of the world are the factors/constraints that made some things possible and other things impossible), not geographical determinism