Writing Assignment for Guns, Germs, and Steel
Episode 1: Out of Eden
According to UCLA biologist Jared Diamond, some countries developed more rapidly than others and were able to expand and conquer much of the world because of geographic luck. The natural resources available to them coupled with the native species and climate provided by their geography led them to become more agricultural and less reliant on hunting and gathering for sustenance. This agrarian lifestyle, in turn, allowed for the development of “specialists” within the civilization who could work on developing and perfecting the technologies necessary to make these civilizations more profitable, stronger, and more powerful than others around them. Diamond asserts that those living in temperate climates with indigenous animals that could be domesticated were more likely to develop advanced civilizations.
Episode 2: Conquest
This episode explores, in more depth, the idea that geographic luck enabled some cultures to become more agricultural, thus allowing them to establish larger settlements with people specializing in many aspects of technological development. One of these was the development of steel for use in weaponry. Diamond chronicles the success of the Spanish Conquistadors and how the use of written language gave them an advantage over the Incas, along with their advanced weapons including guns and state of the art steel swords. These two things combined allowed the Spanish to overthrow a much larger Inca army, thus taking control of their empire and its riches.
Essay Prompts (You only need to respond to ONE of these questions) 1) Why is it that Europeans ended up conquering so much of the world? 2) Why were Europeans able to conquer Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians? 3) Why weren’t Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated, subjugated, or exterminated Europeans and...
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