Wednesday, January 27, 2016

An Army of Crops

Diamond, J. 1999. Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. p.-85-113; 131-156

When I first read the title of "Guns, Germs and Steel" I don't think I truly understood what the author Jared Diamond was referring too. However, after reading a good portion of the book I feel a little more enlightened as to what factors paved way for the rise of civilization. Now when I read the title I can see that it is a synonym for civilization.

In his book Diamond describes the transition between two lifestyles: the hunter-gatherer and the farmer. Furthermore, he shows that farming can produce a much higher caloric output per acre than hunting/gathering. This gave rise to larger population densities of humans and created an accelerating relationship, which cycled between plants and people. Farms would constantly become more plentiful in size and quantity to support a growing the populations.

Diamond argued that agriculture was also responsible for bureaucracy and kingdoms. That could out compete the hunter gatherers for resources and territories by means of creating large bands of professional soldiers and using new technologies. The domestication of animals also played a significant role in transport of goods and the militarization of nations.

So where did the advent of agriculture come from? Diamond suggests that agriculture arose independently around the world in at least five different locations. These first crops are referred to as founders crops and after their transition from wild to domesticate they were continuously introduced into new areas and stimulated the harvest of new types of crops by humans.

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