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COMPLETE Modern History II Notes: Part 4 -- got 92% in the course!

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HIST 1082
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1491/1492: TheAmericas Before and After Columbus 10/10/12 • Columbus wasn’t first to reachAmericas  Norse • 1507 – first map to depictAmericas as continents separate fromAsia (separated by ocean) o Hypothesized idea of Pacific Ocean • Columbus’discovery gradually became aware to Europeans o His voyages and discoveries kept interest and kept Europeans investigating in Americas  Received maximum publicity in Europe • Exploration in Americas gave way to conquests o Already in habit of conquering territory, especially if that territory was not run by Christians • Italian control of Mediterranean inspired other countries like Portugal to find another place to invest and find silver and gold • Idea about taming the “barbarians” in theAmericas • Spanish had conquered islands of the Caribbean and were ruling over the group of people called Tainos in 1519 o Hernan Cortes attacked the powerful and populous Aztec empire  Within 2 years, Cortes was ruling Mexico • Similar force of 600 men under Francisco Pizarro conquered Incan empire of Peru • Spanish were able to conquer these empires through superior weapon technology, disease, and local allies o Doesn’t do technology of america’s justice  Didn’t have horses, the wheel, guns, steel, germs, etc. but it is now unlikely that Europeans didn’t really have that much technological superiority overAmericas  mainly germs • Americas had different technologies of their own that gave them an advantage over Europeans o Agricultural technology  far more advanced than European agriculture  Staple crop in Europe = wheat  Staple crop inAmericas = maize, which was unknown to rest of the planet at the time o Wheat is a grain that grows wild but by planting they can weed and take care of crop more to yield more  Unlike wheat, maize is not really found in the wild  product of bioengineering • Relative of a wild mountain grass called teosinte o Isn’t a viable source of food but it has ears like maize and are only an inch long with very little, nutritionless seeds  Selected non shattering stems for planting wheat  No natural occurring teosinte that doesn’t shatter (needs 16 gene mutations) • Manmade o Process of creating it probably took a number of generations o Maize was probably made by crossing teosinte with eastern gamagrass  When crossed, different plant with massively reordered DNA • Repeatedly crossbreeded results year after year until they ended up with maize • Milpa  maize field but refers to complex polyculture o Field in which farmers plant several kinds of crops at once  Beans and squash grow where teosinte grows (vines up teosinte stalk) • Beans and squash then cultivate soil with nitrogen • Many other farmers planted one crop per field o Would have to move fields different years to let soil recover  Also had to fertilize field heavily with manure or else soil would become exhausted • This is not needed with milpa o Plant for 4,000 years without ever needing fertilizer  Grew much more food on smaller fields • Didn’t have to use animals and didn’t have to worry about supplying non-farmers with food • Crops planted in milpa are nutritionally complimentary o Very few grains and plants contain all amino acids people need to be healthy  Maize and beans lack in 2 essential amino acids • Beans contain the 2 that maize are missing and maize contains the 2 that beans are missing o Squash, tomatoes, melons provide other nutrients and avocados provided fat • Milpa is the only agricultural system that allows so many calories and a healthy diet o Maize is the most important food crop grown on the planet today • People living in Aztec city, Incan, and Mayan had all the other things Europeans had o Aztec empire had population of about 250,000, making it as large as European cities at the time o Mayan astronomers calculated length of solar year with more precision than Europeans  Also invented the number 0 o Centralized bureaucracies comparable to Ottoman Empire o Healthier society than Europe • Did Americans have answer to European military technology? No and yes. o Didn’t know how to work iron o Few domesticated draft animals inAmericas (no wheel either)  Llamas were used to carry things inAndes  Dogs we
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