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University of Toronto Mississauga
Pierre Desrochers

Lecture 6 GGR329 Apples or Indians Why did agriculture never arise in some suitable areas? - California - Europe - Australia - Subequatorial Africa Problems with - Local people? - Locally available wild plants? Failure to domesticate single major new food plant in modern times suggests that ancient peoples might have explored all possibilities… And yet, Some plants domesticated in one area, but not in another Fatal Flaw in this reasoning (Diamond) To make farming attractive: - Need package - Not single plant/animal 3 case studies - Fertile Crescent - New Guinea - Easter United States Fertile Crescent: Lecture 6 GGR329 - Mediterranean climate - High percentage of wild plants suitable for domestication - Lots of o Hermaphroditic “selfers” (usually pollinate themselves) o Spontaneous hybrids But other Mediterranean zones not so successful… Fertile Crescent Vs other Mediterranean zones (9:00 mins) 1. Larger area 2. Greatest climatic variations (season to season, year to year) 3. Wide range of altitudes and topographies (= Greater variety of wild plants) 4. Large number of potentially domesticated big mammals 5. Less competition from h-g lifestyle than elsewhere (short coastline, decimation of wild animals, etc.) IN SHORT, BETTER ODDS! New Guinea - 2nd largest island in world (after Greenland) - Rich in plants and animals - Modern people around 40 000 years (longer Western Europe) - No large land animals - Lowland people obtain much fish and shellfish - Highland people all farmers who supplement their diet with wild food Local agriculture was about 7000 BC - Sugarcane Lecture 6 GGR329 - Bananas - Nut tree - Giant swamp taro - Grass stems - Roots - Green vegetables 3 severe limitations 1. No cereal crops 2. No domesticable large mammals (1+2 = protein starvation) 3. Traditional root crops didn’t grow well high elevations - Rich soils - Suitable climate - Flora Eastern USA Local agriculture Problems (20:00 mins) - Tiny seeds (low volume) - Allergenic (hay fever and skin irritation) - Bad smell Mexican crops finally arrived AD 900: Suitable variety of corn AD 1100: Beans Lecture 6 GGR329 Conclusion Our ancestors were - Hungry - Smart Probably tried everything “in the long run and over large areas” Thus lack of food production can be explained - By local biota, - Not people living there 3. Zebras and Anna Kerenina Anna Karenina principle “domesticable animals are all alike; Every undomesticable animal is undomesticable in its own way.” Many species were tamed, but never domesticated - Eagles - Elephants - Cheetahs - Hyenas Big Domestic Mammals - Meat - Milk products - Fertilizers - Land transport -
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