Monday, July 11, 2011

Guns and Germs, Anyone?

Hey everyone!

I hope you are having an awesome summer. Just yesterday I got back from a fun and frantic month in Europe. Eiffel Tower? Windsor Castle? The tiny island of my ancestors? Russian-speaking summer camp? Check, check, check, check. Mostly I was vacationing, but every once in a while I would think about how it all fits in with human geography. The world is such a large and varied planet, and yet each place is so small. It was cool thinking, too, about how the sweep of history and the sea of humanity have collided with geography to make each place its own.

I'm looking forward to this coming semester.

And speaking of which, don't forget that by the end of this week (the 17th) your first response should be up on the blog! I leave for Yosemite on Saturday, but if you have questions or post before then, I can respond. For those of you who might have forgotten the prompt, here it is:

(Covering the Introduction and Chapters 1 through 9)
Diamond emphasizes domestication and its role in the development of civilization. Consider one of the two scenarios and develop it:

1) Suppose humans did not evolve in and spread from Africa. Rather, imagine that humans evolved in Mesoamerica and spread, via Alaska, into Eurasia and the rest of the world. How would this affect animal domestication thousands of years later? How would societies develop in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa compared to the actual course of history? Pay close attention to his argument about animal evolution alongside human evolution.

2) What would Diamond say are the three most important aspects of flora in the Fertile Crescent that made it the (first) birthplace of plant domestication? Summarize how each aspect encouraged (or rewarded) domestication by hunter-gatherers. What if these three aspects were true of the flora in Mesoamerica? Describe how the development of farming might have looked in the New World (timing, distribution, acceptance, etc).

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