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Guns Germs and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies. "In the 13,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age, …. …some parts of the world developed literate industrial societies with metal tools…. …other parts developed only non-literate farming societies….

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Guns germs and steel

Guns Germs and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies

Guns germs and steel

…and still others retained societies of hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

Inequality and extermination
Inequality and Extermination hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

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."

Yali s question
Yali’s Question hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • 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?"

Distribution of wealth
Distribution of Wealth hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • 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

Common explanations
Common explanations hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • Racial or genetic superiority?

    • No objective evidence for this theory

Common explanations1
Common explanations hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • Cold climate stimulates inventiveness?

  • But Europeans inherited from warm climate peoples

    • agriculture,

    • wheels,

    • writing, and

    • metallurgy

  • Japan inherited

    • Agriculture, metallurgy, writing

    • Industrial Revolution

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

Up to the Starting Point

Cro magnons
Cro Magnons hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • Cro-Magnons moved into Europe 40,000 years ago.

  • Tools, needles, fishhooks, harpoons, bows and arrows, sewn clothing, houses, carefully buried skeletons, art, hunting big prey.

  • Displaced or killed off Neandertals

Spreading out
Spreading Out hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • 40,000-30,000 years ago humans used watercraft to cross from Asia to Indonesia to Australia and New Guinea.

  • This time period correlates to a massive extinction of large game in those places.

Large game in eurasia
Large Game in Eurasia hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • Diamond's theory is that large game survived in Eurasia because humans took a million years to develop tools and become lethal predators of large game, giving game time to adapt.

Spreading to the americas
Spreading to the Americas hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • By 20,000 years ago, humans learned how to survive in Siberia.

  • This led to migration to Americas by 12,000 BC.

  • It took 1,000 years for humans to cover both N. and S. America.

  • Time period correlates to a massive extinction of large game in Americas: Horses, lions, elephants, cheetahs, camels, and giant ground sloths.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

A Natural Experiment of History

Chatham islands
Chatham Islands hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • In 1835, a seal hunting ship visiting the Chatham islands 500 miles off the coast of New Zealand brought the first news to New Zealand of islands where:

  • "there is an abundance of sea and shellfish; the lakes swarm with eels;

  • and it is a land of the karaka berry...

  • The inhabitants are very numerous, but they do not understand how to fight,

  • and have no weapons".

Chatham islands1
Chatham Islands hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

Maori of new zealand
Maori of New Zealand hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • Nine hundred of the native Maori people of New Zealand,

  • armed with guns,

  • arrived in the Chatham Islands

  • announcing that the Chatham Islands people (the Moriori)

  • were now their slaves,

  • and killed those who objected.

Moriori slaughter
Moriori Slaughter hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • An eyewitness account said

  • "The Maori commenced to kill us like sheep...

  • We were terrified, fled to the bush,

  • concealed ourselves in holes underground, and in any place to escape our enemies.

  • It was of no avail; we were discovered and killed

  • -- men, women, and children indiscriminately".


Maori explanation
Maori Explanation hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • A Maori conqueror explained:

  • "We took accordance with our customs and we caught all the people.

  • Not one escaped.

  • Some ran away from us, these we killed, and others we killed -- but what of that?

  • It was in accordance with our custom".

Natural history experiment
Natural History Experiment hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • This is a natural history experiment. Both the Maori and Moriori descended from the same Polynesian farmers who settled New Zealand.

Moriori hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • But the Moriori, after moving to the Chatham islands hundreds of years earlier could not farm due to the cold climate, and became hunter/gatherers.

  • They learned to live peacefully because their resources were so limited.

Maori hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • The New Zealand Maori

    • continued farming

    • dense populations

    • more complex technology and political organization

    • ferocious wars:

  • The difference was geography.

  • Competing agricultural societies are prone to warfare

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

Collision at Cajamarca

Conquest of the new world
Conquest of the New World hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • "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".

Pizarro hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • The Incas were conquered by the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro.

Pizarro s forces
Pizarro’s Forces hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • 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.

Guns germs and steel1
Guns, Germs and Steel hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • Pizarro, however, had steel armor and swords, horse mounted cavalry, and guns (a minor factor).

Treachery hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • The account of the capture of Atahuallpa is one of the most difficult passages you may ever read, due to the treachery employed by Pizarro, and the religious justification used.

  • Of course, we also know that Pizarro collected a huge ransom for Atahuallpa in gold and silver, and then killed him anyway.

Inca Gold

Conquistadors hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • In addition to horses and steel, the conquistadors

    • Had superior ocean going ships

    • Had superior political organization of the European states

    • Carried infectious diseases that wiped out 95% of Native Americans (smallpox, measles, influenza, typhus, bubonic plague)

    • Had superior knowledge of human behavior from thousands of years of written history.

Conquistadors hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • Pizarro got his treacherous ideas from the experience of Cortez.

    • The Incas knew nothing of Spaniards.

Cortez and Montezuma

Why not the other way
Why not the other way? hunter-gatherers with stone tools…

  • 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 Warrior