By: Tommy Marinelli Professor Arguello History 140 Big History
What is “Big History”? Using a multi-disciplinary approach, big history examines human history from the “Big Bang” up to modern times. History is looked at on a larger scale, bringing all parts of world history together as one historical account. The aspiration for more knowledge about our world emerged during the 20th century’s Cold War and the first reaches into outerspace. The multi-disciplinary approach includes: biology, astronomy, anthropology, cosmology, archaeology, and other related fields that have been brought together using science’s latest findings to scrutinize and analyze history as a whole. Human adaption and behavioral patterns have been a key in this approach.
Dr. Spencer Wells Renound scientist, author, filmmaker, and leading geneticist known for his documentation on DNA and indigenous peoples. At the young age of 16, Wells was accepted at the University of Texas, focusing on biology. He went on to receive his Ph.D. at Harvard. he aimed to document and create the first-ever map of human migration, showing how humans came to populate the planet after leaving the cradle of Africa some 60,000 years ago Wells was determined to create the first-ever map of human migration, a map that would examine how people spread across the world beginning with Africa. Used DNA and studies on the Y chromosome to trace the migration of our ancient ancestors. Wells studied 25,000 miles of Asia in 1998 which lead to the advancement of studies on the Y chromosome.
Catastrophe Beginning in 535 AD, the most extreme climatic castatrophe occurred. Caused flooding, famine, storms, and the spread of the epidemic of the bubonic plague. Journalist, David Keys, speculates that a tremendous volcanic eruption sparked this change. This catastrophe moved society from the Ancient World into the Medieval Era.
Catastrophe Continued… The domino affect changed the world for centuries. Dendrochronology, examining tree rings, helps us examine conditions in different periods of history. Ice cores from different sites also helped scientists trace back history.
Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond examines how certain civilizations have advanced more than others due to things like, “geographical luck.” The people of New Guinea have not advanced along with the rest of the world, after inhabiting New Guinea for over 40,000 years. In appears, in the beginning, farming had a major role in the advancement of civilization and sparked the development of new technologies. The greatest civilizations share three commonalities, according to Diamond: growing populations, advancement in technology, and an organized work force.
Guns, Germs, and Steel Continued.... Crops that were highest in protein were cultivated by the most progressed civilizations, mostly the Middle Eastern tribes. Those which farmed animals advanced beyond these tribes. These animals provided more protein and resources needed to nourish a growing civilization. These animals provided milk, leather, a means of transportation, and clothes from hides and fur. Geography and raw materials that were readily available for some, but not others caused the huge gap in development between civilizations. Following this rift in development, many cultures that were separated thousands of years before were coming in contact once again. Spanish coming to America came across the Incas. The Spanish killed over 7,000 Incans and even captured their king. Europeans brought diseases like smallpox to the Americas. The Spanish had the advantage of guns, made from steel, something that put the Incans at a huge disadvantage.
The World and Trade In the 15th century, the Europeans planned to find a sea route to Asia that would bypass trade with the Middle East. They thought the entire world had already been explored. Columbus searched for this trade route and accidentally discovered the Americas. The New World produced potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and sugar. From the Old World came wheat, cattle, and horses. Lots of trade began including: coffee, tea, tobacco, sugar, and potatoes. Trade became a valuable system across the world.