Big History


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Big History

  1. 1. Big History David Robarge HIST 140
  2. 2. Theme: Humans are curious Journey of Man The Way We Are The World and TradeIn The Way We Are, Burke points out that humans are what theyknow. Their desire for knowledge is human’s distinguishingcharacteristic. Knowledge has become a valuable resourcebecause it defines who we are. Lose this information and we aresomeone else.In The Journey of Man, Wells shows that human life started inAfrica, and because of their curiosity, some groups ventured outof Africa to better land.In The Way We Are, Burke points out that the ancient Greeksare a good example of early desire to find explanations behindthe world’s mysteries.In The World of Trade, it was the question of whether there wasanother route to trade with China was what brought Columbusto discover America.
  3. 3. Geography is Important The World and Trade Guns, Germs, and SteelIn Guns, Germs and Steel, Diamond explains how the locationof the fertile crescent in the Middle East allowed European andAsian powers to become so advanced. The fertility of thecrescent gave birth to crops and farm animals which allowed forlarge amounts of food production and prosperity.In The World and Trade, the geographical nature of the MiddleEastern and Chinese trade route made it difficult for Europeansto achieve the profits of the Muslims. The Muslims had adominant control over trade with China. The Europeans had noway around the Muslim dominated route to China.In Guns, Germs, and Steel, it is shown that the similar daylengths and climate from West and East of the fertile crescentallowed a spread of knowledge, whereas the different climatesfrom North to South in the Americas made information spreadcumbersome.
  4. 4. Climate Affects History Catastrophe! Journey of ManIn Catastrophe, Keys finds that a volcanic eruptionblocked out the sun and caused colder conditions acrossthe globe. Such an event is detailed by many civilization,indicating it the resulting cold weather damaged crops andcreated harsh conditions.In The Journey of Man, about 50,000 to 70,000 years agothe world was under an ice age. Fertile land becamedesert and food for humans was hard to find. Because ofthis climactic event, some humans in Africa made aquantum leap of thinking and decided to leave Africa andcolonize the rest of the world.
  5. 5. When Two Worlds Meet, Both Are Changed The World and Trade Guns, Germs and SteelIn The World and Trade, Columbus’ discovery changed the NewWorld and the Old World. The discovery of the potato gaveEurope a crop that could resist cold weather. Europeans alsodiscovered vast amount of wealth in South American gold, andnew commodities like cacao beans. The New World changed inethnic background, work animals were introduced from Europe,the land was industrialized, and a new society of Spanish andItalian settlers made the country a new trading post.In Guns, Germs, and Steel, it is shown that the diseasesSpaniards brought to the new world were devastating, and asmany as 95% of the population of South America was wiped out.In this case, though, Natives had no deadly diseases to passback to Europeans.
  6. 6. Disease Can Change History Catastrophe! Guns, Germs and SteelIn Catastrophe, the presence of the cold brought about in 6thcentury allowed for the Bubonic Plague to spread rapidly, killingmillions in the Roman Empire. The result was economically andmilitarily devastating, and crippled the Roman Empire.In Guns, Germs, and Steel, the presence of smallpox carriedover by Spaniards to South America made the conquest of thecontinent much easier than before.The Bubonic Plague changed the political shape of Britain. TheCeltic Britains in the West had their population drop dramaticallybecause they traded with Romans and caught the plague. Thisallowed for the Angles and the Saxons in the East to conquerthe Celts and create a unified British country.
  7. 7. Civilizations Differ in Speeds of Advancement The World and Trade Guns, Germs and Steel In Germs, Guns, and Steel, certain civilizations developed more slowly for varieties of reasons. Some spent much of their time acquiring food, such as New Guineans, and so did not have the food surplus to feed people specializing in metalworking and other advanced fields. People of Eurasia, for example, developed quickly to due large surpluses in food and could concentrate on advancing the way of life. In The World and Trade, China in the Middle Ages was the richest and most powerful empire in the world. The climate, as well as the work animals which spread from the Fertile Crescent, allowed the Chinese to become agriculturally productive and invest energy in research. The inventions of China helped it advance beyond other nations. In the World and Trade, it is noted that some civilizations advance farther in certain areas due to their needs. The Incans had sophisticated farming techniques to cultivate their potato crops, and the Sumerians had the first system of writing with which to record
  8. 8. Institutions of Change The Way We Are Guns, Germs, and Steel The World And TradeIn The Way We Are, Burke explains that change comes fromhumans desire to lean everything there is to know about nature.Some civilizations believed in gods and myths and already haveexplanations for the world around them. People like the Greekshad practical questions about how things worked. For thesepeople, change was a a way to more productive life.In Guns, Germs, and Steel, radical change came at a price oflife. The Spaniards conquered the Incas because the Spanishhas an institution for change. They invested resources in menand leadership to discover the new world.In The World and Trade, Columbus discovered the New Worldbecause Europeans had a desire to change the trade situationwith China. Muslim traders had no need for such changebecause they had a virtual monopoly over the China trade route.
  9. 9. People Are Always Looking For A Better Deal The Way We Are, Guns, Germs and Steel, The World And Trade In The Way We Are, the Ionians left Greece to settle elsewhere in search for a better way of life. In The World and Trade, European merchants were anxious to find a way around the relatively high costs of trading with Muslims. They wanted to find a way to increase their profits. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Conquistadors left Spain for a chance at riches. In The World and Trade, the Spanish discovery of the potato was eventually capitalized upon by Europeans for its nutritious properties and strength against harsh conditions.
  10. 10. The World Is Always Changing The Journey of Man The Way We Are CatastropheIn The Journey of Man, Wells finds evidence that humans havegone through a constant process of change, in terms of howthey look, where they live, and what they do. Humans started asone group in Africa, and have stemmed into many uniquecultures.In The Way We Are, Burke points out that to Westernculture, the only constant is change. We emphasize the pursuitof change, and grab onto whatever effects we desire.Sometimes we cannot see the effects of an innovation, and thefinal effects are felt far in the future.In Catastrophe, it is to be noted that the climate is everchanging, and the result of this is adaptations by humans to dealwith the results of harsh conditions, like those following theKrakatoa explosion in the sixth century.
  11. 11. The Unity Factor Guns, Germs and Steel The World and TradeIn Guns, Germs and Steel, Diamond points out thatChina’s early unification led to its early advances becauseinnovations could easily spread through the empire. Non-unification in other early cultures such as those in Europeand the America’s led to less spread of knowledge.Later, the non-unification of Europe would allow it tocontinue innovation .In The World and Trade, the splitting of several largeempires in South America with the Aztecs, Incas andMayans gave the Spanish an easier time in conqueringthe continent.