Friday, August 26, 2011

The Importance of Livestock

The use of livestock in Eurasia gave its people an advantage over the rest of the world. These animals didn’t only provide meat for the families to be fed, they provided things such as milk, material for clothing, manure for crops and above all: muscle power. Native Americans had the llama, but unfortunately this furry animal was not enough to help create a strong society.

A European farmer was able to transform farming with a little help from the horse. The horse gave them enough muscle to immensely increase the productivity of crops. More crops meant farmers could feed more people, and if they had more people they could increase the complexity of their society. Europeans did not originally have the livestock that they ended up with before they started colonizing different parts of the world. These animals, which Europe should be thankful for, came from the Fertile Crescent. This is why, if Americans had the livestock that Eurasia was able to get through the Fertile Crescent, then America would have become the dominator of history. It’s simple, although the Fertile Crescent wasn’t located in Europe, it was still close enough to domesticate the livestock from there and increase the complexity of their societies.

Another reason for why it was so easy for Europeans to conquer Native Americans was because the Indians were not immune to the diseases Europeans brought from their homeland. Before Pizarro even came to conquer the Inca Empire, the Incans were already severely ill through diseases that had spread from Mesoamerica into South America. This weakened the regime and made it easier for the Spaniards to conquer the New World. Suppose Native Americans had the immunity against the diseases Spaniards brought, what would have happened then? It would have certainly been a much harder task for the Europeans to take control over these people.

Europeans had horses for a very long time and learned how to ride them for easier mobility and control over other animals. Automobiles weren’t available at the time so transportation via horse was the fastest way to get to places and the quickest way to scare people that were unaware of the animals from the Old World.

These livestock animals gave Europeans the greatest advantage over the rest of the world and allowed them to take over others much more easily. Native Americans could have enjoyed the help of these fascinating animals in daily farming, riding, and feeding. Unfortunately, they were an ocean away from the Americas, and traveling across the great waters was definitely not an intention that the Native Americans had.


  1. I think you make some very good points about animals, but there is one advantage to animals, more specific horses, that I think you overlooked and it is their military importance. During the 1400’s the horse was basically a tank, the cavalry unit was of great importance and the horse changed warfare throughout Eurasia and Africa. They could be attached to war chariots or be ridden by swordsman in the case of the Spanish against the Incans. One of Pizarro’s most valuable assets when his 169 man army took on Atahualpa’s much larger Incan army was the cavalry unit. The cavalry unit enabled him to route large parts of Atahualpa’s army. This occurred before the European diseases had been able to decimate the Native American population so the Incan empire wasn’t affected by germs, none the less the Spanish 169 man army was able to capture Atahualpa in 15 minutes and defeat the rest of his army.

  2. Wow both you guys have changed some of my views on the importance of the animals that would have been the essential key for Eurasia to dominate in power and in advancement. For example, Otilio makes a great point talking about using horses not only as food source and material use (clothing and stuff)but as great useful military power. Now that I think about, I realize that the horse by itself has put Eurasia at a high stand above from everywhere else. The horse was a master strategy that was key to the success Diamond expresses over and over again of Europe.

  3. Alan, I agree with the different points that you made and I also agree with the points that Otilio and Ana made as well. Looking at different views has made me think on a higher level and think of some other ways as well. Repetition is the key and I guess that’s what Diamond was stressing. I enjoy the fact that we all can add our different inputs and share our opinions on each topic and that also shows a great advancement as well as being exposed to blogging through Chinquapin.

  4. Which is my point exactly on the livestock's contribution on the germs. If these germs would have been given to the Incas instead of the Europeans, we would see a whole new ball game where Incas would prevail. They would use those diseases (unknowingly) and numbers to destroy the Spanish army. All their technology and advancement would have been useless if they cant focus because they were sick.