12. What were the main advantages of horses over llamas? What are the
main qualities that Spaniards were looking for in a sword? How were these
The horse was fundamental to the farming success of Eurasian societies, providing
not only food and fertilizer but also, crucially, load-bearing power and transport
transforming the productivity of the land. The Inca relied on llamas for meat, wool
and fertilizer but the llama was not a load-bearing animal. Llamas can't pull a plow,
nor can they transport human beings. The main qualities that Spaniards were
looking for were stronger, longer, sharper swords, toughness, hardness, sword to
have a certain pliability, an ability to bend and spring back into shape. These
qualities were achieved via metal-working technology which had evolved from the
simplest ore-extraction of the first Neolithic villages, to the highly-sophisticated
forging of steel, in cities like Toledo and Milan plunging it into cold water, immense
amount of experimentation,. Geography had endowed Europe with rich sources of
iron and wood, and a climate conducive to high-temperature metallurgy
16. Why did Diamond once argued that agriculture was bad for human
health (at least compared to the type of food collected by hunter-
gatherers)? What are the main counter-arguments used by people who
argue that the hunting-gathering lifestyle was not superior to farming?
According to these latter people, why would hunting-gathering people
remain stable over time?
Why agriculture is bad for health? (14:00 mins)
1. Diet (cheap calories but poor nutrition)
a. H-G: varied diet = better nutrition
b. Early farmers: 1 or few starchy crops
2. Greater risk of starvation if crop failure
3. Crowding: living with large animals spread of parasites and infectious
- Very low birthrate
- High death rate (40% children died < 15)
- Infanticide and senilicide
- Very high homicide rate
- Life expectancy (20 < X < 29) H-G populations stable because
- Low meagerness of resources
- Low fat intakes
Might have resulted in
- Low birth rate
- Spontaneous abortions because not enough food to support baby
18. Draw Jared Diamond's schematic overview of the chains of causation
leading up to proximate historical factors from ultimate historical factors
(or, in other words, the factors underlying the broadest patterns of
25. In Diamond's opinion, why is an east-west continental axis preferable
to a north-south continental axis?
Axis orientation affected rate and spread of
- Writing - Wheels
- Other inventions
Advantages of East-West Axis
- Same day length
- Seasonal variations
(To a lesser degree) Similar
- Regimes of temperature and rainfall
- Habitats or biomes (types of vegetation)
Problems with the North-South Axis: “Buffer Zones”
27. Why does H. F. Dobyns argue that the first Europeans who moved
inland into the Americas encountered recently depopulated landscapes?
Because diseases swept from coastlines to inland areas
Why are some scholars critical of the high numbers of then recently
diseased people put forward by Dobyns?
1. Smallpox spreads slowly, and not very far
2. Different strains of smallpox. In Americas perhaps not the deadliest and
3. Early accounts not by first-hand witnesses. Link smallpox to 10 plagues of
4. Local (American) diseases?
- spread - do not fit any recognizable epidemiological paradigms
5. Epidemics, millions died, but diseases
- cannot explain first stages of conquest - took several decades to have an impact, disease was after conquest.
28. What are the diverse ways by which microbes spread from one person
to another, and from animals to people?
1. Wait for their host to be eaten by other host. Examples: salmonella
bacteria in eggs and meat; worms in meat
a) Insects to humans. Examples: in saliva of insect that bites old host, and
flies off to find a new host (malaria, plague, typhus, sleeping sickness spread this
b) From mother to fetus (syphilis, rubella, AIDS)
3. Modify anatomy / habits of hosts to facilitate transmission
- genital sores (syphilis)
- skin lesions (smallpox)
- cough and sneezing (flu and cold)
- diarrhea (cholera)
- biting frenzy (rabies)
4. Attack directly the host (hookworms, schistosomes)
Why should a germ evolve the apparently self-defeating strategy of killing
- Unintended by-product of host symptoms promoting efficient transmission of
- Providing that each victim infects on average more than 1 new victim, still winning
29. How do humans physiologically cope with germs?
1) Fever, an attempt to bake germs to death.
2) Immune system, white blood cells and other cells some immune effects are
temporary or permanent (Vaccinations) the problem is that some germs evolve not
to be recognized by immune systems through their antigens.
3) Natural selection, some people more resistant than others voluntary effect on
people repeatedly exposed to a particular pathogen. 30. What are the main characteristics of infectious diseases that visit us
- spread quickly and efficiently
- "acute " illnesses (either die or recover quickly)
What is the reason why these characteristics tend to make a disease run
- people who recover are immune for life
- tend to be restricted to humans
31. According to Diamond, why did agriculture launch the evolution
of infectious diseases?
-Sustains much higher population densities
-Good breeding ground (Use of sewage in agriculture, Fish ponds, Farmers
surrounded by disease transmitting rodents)
-Development of trade routes(Good for carrying diseases in people, fur, etc)
-Diseases among animals similarly require large and dense populations
32. According to Rodolfo Acuña-Soto, what was "cocolitzli" (and what was
it not)? According to Bruce Stutz, what is Acuña-Soto's explanation of
what happened in Mexico during the epidemics of 1545 and 1576?
Coclitzli was a local hemorrhagic fever rather than old world disease,it laid
dormant in most likely rodents. Drought increased the concentration of rodents
which started spreading the infection, Rains ~ >>> rodents spread virus to
humans, humans transmitted virus to other humans. The Epidemics of 1545 and
1576 seemed to be another disease other than smallpox and was not related to it.
The Aztecs called those outbreaks by a separate name Cocolitzli. Acuña-Soto says.
"Cocolitzli brought incomparable devastation that passed readily from one region
to the next and killed quickly." Acuña Soto has come to agree with the Aztecs: The
cocolitzli plagues of the mid-16th century probably had nothing to do with
smallpox. In fact, they probably had little to do with the Spanish invasion.
33. According to Heather Pringle, what did the Chinchorro mummies
taught us about the vital statistics of these people?
Despite healthy conditions 25% children perished in less than 1 year,
33% infections eroded leg bones, 20% women vertebrae so porous
splintered from weight of own flesh. The average life expectancy of 25
years. 34. What is Charles Kay's "keystone species" theory and what are its
implication for the observed number of American bisons and other
species in the second half of the nineteenth century?
Native Americans were the ultimate keystone predator who once
structured entire ecosystems. Native hunting controlled the
distribution and number of bison on the northern Great Plains. The
only place Lewis and Clark saw bison, and especially large numbers,
was in the center of aboriginal buffer zones between warring tribes.
if it had not been for warring tribes and buffer zones, there would
have been few bison anywhere in North America. Thus, optimal-foraging
theory would predict that when native people entered aboriginal buffer
zones, they should have concentrated their hunting on the larger
species, such as bison and elk.
35. According to Robert Nelson, how did the rinderpest epidemics affect
Southeast Africa's ecosystems a century ago? How does it still affect our
current perception of these ecosystems?
According to Robert nelson, the rinderpest epidemics had the following affect:
- a) Humans died from smallpox but
there was greater impact on animal population (cattles)
- b) Between 1884 and early 1900s,the
rinderpest plague killed 90 to 95% of all the cattle in Africa, goats and
sheep were also affected.
- c) Whole areas where livestock raising had traditionally taken place were
- d) For the many African tribes that depended on livestock, their
economic means of support was decimated (66% of maasal in Tanzania might
- e) Over wide areas of Africa, the existing populations of buffalo, giraffe, most
small antelopes, and warthogs were virtually wiped out.
- f) As a result, ordinary Africans suffered the loss of this traditional source of
Whole ecosystem transformed
- The ecological balance that had kept the tsetse fly under control was in turn disrupted
- Cattle grazing traditionally had kept the grasslands from growing into dense
fields and thickets.
- With cattle removed and much of the wildlife gone also, these grasslands could
grow without any check from the clipping and thinning of animal foraging.
- The new habitat that grew up was much better suited to the tsetse fly. In
Uganda, an estimated two hundred thousand people died between 1902-1906 from
sleeping sickness spread by new hordes of tsetse flies.
- Wildlife population were immune to tsetse fly than domesticated cattle.
- He rinderpest bounced back in early 20th century and was more abundant than
36. According to Michael Coe, what are the traditional and currently
controversial view of the past inhabitants of the Amazon and Orinoco
basins? What is the main evidence put forward by the revisionists to
support their argument? What do other authors similarly argue regarding
the Pre-Columbian history of the Caribbean Islands?
According to Michael Coe, the traditional and currently controversial view is that-
the tropical- forest peoples of South America considered of little more than small
bonds and tribes of immigrant Andeans, demoted from a previously civilized state
to a simple slash and burn farming existence by finding themselves in an extremely
limiting environment. He also believed that humans were in the Americans before
the Clovis hunters arrived.
- The revisionists believe that it cannot always have been the case that only small
groups lived in those forests, because the very first Europeans to explore the
Amazon saw extensive towns along the river systems, with very large populations.
- According to other authors, humans were the apex predator in the pre-
37. What is terra preta? How much of the Amazonian basin is it thought by
some researchers to cover? What are its main characteristics according to
Terra preta is a type of soil in the Amazon basin. It covers 10% of the Amazonian
basin, size of France
- In the past, archaeologists usually argued that terra preta represented ancient
deposits of volcanic ash or former pond bottoms. But most researchers now believe
that terra preta is created from old middens (deposits of waste).
38. What use did Charles Kay make of the Lewis and Clark journals? What
was his main conclusion regarding the areas in which wildlife thrived at the time of the expedition?
Researching the Lewis and Clark expedition 200 years ago, provide insight to the
western United States before the white man came. "They represent conditions out
here in the West prior to direct influence of Europeans." Kay used the journals to
identify what was lost and what did the two explorers find. Kay constructed a
timeline of their journal using their wildlife observations to see what they found and
reported as they moved west to the Pacific from the Mississippi River and St. Louis
and then returned. As Lewis and Clark approached areas inhabited by Native
Americans, the wildlife numbers would drop off. As they left the inhabited areas,
wildlife numbers would increase. Kay said the greatest wildlife numbers appeared to
be in buffer zones between warring tribes. If it had not been for buffer zones, Lewis
and Clark would have found little wildlife anywhere in the West. Kay's research
demonstrates that humans were the apex predator in the pre-Columbian Americas.
39. According to Clark Erickson, what is the "myth of the pristine
environment"? How does it relate to biodiversity? According to William
Cronon, what is the "myth of wilderness"? In his opinion, how natural is
wilderness (and what does he mean by his answer)?
The myth of wilderness, is that we can somehow leave nature untouched by our
passage. In his opinion “Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all
the more beguiling because it seems so natural,” he says. By glorifying pristine
landscapes, which exist only in the imagination of romantics, Western
conservationists divert attention from the places where people live and the choices
they make every day that do true damage to the natural world of which they are
40. What were the two main ways by which writing was diffused?
According to Diamond, what are the four main factors influencing the
acceptance of new technologies? What does he mean when he says that
the history of technology was an auto-catalytic process?
Diffusion of writing:
-(copy/modify available detailed print)
-(basic idea; reinvent details)
4 Factors influencing acceptance of new technologies:
-advantage over alternatives
-social value and prestige
-compatibility with vested interests
-ease of seeing advantages
Technology's history ~ auto-catalytic process: (speeds up at rate that increases with time)
-advances depend upon previous mastery of simpler problems
-new technologies & materials make it possible to generate still other new
technologies by recombination
Autocatalytic process: that is, one that speeds up at a rate that increases with time,
because the process catalyzes itself advances depend upon previous mastery of
simpler problems, New technologies and materials make it possible to generate still
other new technologies by recombination. TECHNOLOGY BEGETS more technology;
the importance of an invention's diffusion potentially exceeds the importance of the
41. According to Diamond, what are the factors involving economics or the
organization of society that explain differences in receptivity to new ideas
and technologies among societies? Explain each briefly.
Economies/organization society (pros and cons):
-cheap slave labour (No need for technology if you have slave labour what would
the slaves do)
-patents and property laws
-opportunities technical training
-financial rewards to inventions
-individualism (financial returns not divided among all relatives)
42. According to Diamond, how does life expectancy affect the differences
in receptivity to new ideas and technologies among societies? What
ideological reasons also play a role in this respect?
Long life expectancy:
-time to embark on adventures
-tolerance of diverse views
43. According to your professor, what are the main processes through
which "collective creativity" actually occurs?
1. Multidisciplinary teams within a firm;
2. Employees adding to, or switching product line;
3. Individuals moving between different lines of work;
4. Individuals observing a product/process in another setting and incorporating it
into their main activity; 5. Individuals possessing different skills and working for different firms
collaborating with each other
44. How does Diamond distinguish bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states in
terms of membership?
Bands – dozens
Tribe – hundreds
Chiefdom – thousands
State – Over 50, 000
45. According to Diamond's historical analysis, how did elite groups
maintain a lifestyle considerably higher than that of the commoners? In
this context, what is Diamond's view of religion?
1. Disarm populace and arm elite
2. Redistribute tribe in popular ways
3. Use monopoly of force to promote happiness (to maintain public order and to
4. Construct ideology/religion-justifying kleptocracy
• Supernatural beliefs used to
• Justify central authority
• Transfer of wealth
• Maintain peace between unrelated individuals
• Gives people motive for sacrificing their lives on behalf of others • Leader: special connection with gods
• Priests ~ kleptocrats providing ideological justification for chiefs
46. In Diamond's opinion, how did food production contribute to specific
features of complex societies?
Food production led to societal complexity given that food production requires
seasonal labor and after harvest labor used for public work and wars of conquest.
The surplus of food was stored and this led to economic specialization and social
stratification, chiefs, elites, scribes, crafts people, specialists. Also the stored food
was used to feed politicians while they are conducting public work. Moreover food
production requires sedentary living, important for possessions, technology, crafts,
public work, and control of people.
47. According to Diamond, how were population density and the fate of
defeated people related?
The Fate of defeated people depended on population density. A low density
survivors need only move further away from enemies. In a moderate density
population survivors no large vacant areas remain to flee not much employment as
slaves either no incentive to have survivors except women. In a high density
population 2 options slavery or pay tribute.
48. Why does Diamond argue that Australia is by far the most distinctive
(and less hospitable to humans) continent? Why does he argue that
40,000 years ago Native Australian societies enjoyed a big head start over
many societies on other continents? What were the main characteristics of
Australia has by far the oldest, most infertile, most nutrient-leached soils of
any continent, because of Australia's little volcanic activity and its lack of high
mountains and glaciers. Australia is one of the driest areas on earth. Native
Australian societies enjoyed a big head start over societies of Europe and the other
continents. Native Australians developed some of the earliest known stone tools
with ground edges, the earliest hafted stone tools (that is, stone ax heads mounted
on handles), and by far the earliest watercraft, in the world. Some of the oldest
known painting on rock surfaces comes from Australia. The Aboriginal Australian
substitute for food production has been termed "firestick farming." The Aborigines
modified and managed the surrounding landscape in ways that increased its
production of edible plants and animals, without resorting to cultivation. In
particular, they intentionally burned much of the landscape periodically. That
served several purposes: the fires drove out animals that could be killed and eaten
immediately; fires converted dense thickets into open par