Guns, Germs, and Steel Midterm Essay
In the book Guns, Germs, and Steel written by Jared Diamond, he explains how the environment and geographic location of certain civilizations led them to advance technologically faster and thus dominate others. Diamond mentions five ultimate factors that contributed to the disparity between Eurasian and the Americas. These factors were: the date of human arrival to the continents; the distribution of large-seeded wild grasses; the orientation of axis and geographical barriers; the percentage of large mammals suitable for domestication; and the size of the continents. From these five factors, the most important one leading to the disparity between Eurasia and the Americas was the orientation of the axes and the geographic barriers that came with them.
If you analyze the shape and orientation between the continents of Eurasia and the Americas you will notice that the Americas span a much greater distance north-south and Eurasia spans a greater distance east-west. One important question when analyzing the orientation of the axes is what effects did the orientations of the axes have on human history?
The axis orientation of continents greatly affected the rate of spread of food production, animal domestication, and technologies in those continents. Analyzing the spread of food production will help us understand the impact the orientation of the axes had on human history because food production was crucial in the eventual rise of guns, germs, and steel. The rise of food production was a major determinant of animal domestication, local population size and societal complexity.
Food production proved much more suitable in some continents than in others, and the ease of its spread also varied greatly amongst these continents. Food production arose and spread rapidly along Eurasia’s east-west axis, from Southeast Asia west to Europe. On the other hand it arose much later and spread considerably slower along the Americas north-south...