What is “Big History”?! Kendra Lacasella History 140-Online September 2011
How is “Big History” defined?!• The deﬁnition of “history”, is a continuous, systematic narrative of past events. Also deﬁned as a branch of knowledge dealing with past events. -Now Big History has a different deﬁnition, it is deﬁned as an examination of history on a large scale across long time frames… and gives a focus on adaptations in the human experience.• Basically we are looking at more of a general outlook on history rather than singled out events. Mainly looking at larger themes.
The Way We Are! “The Day the Universe Changed”!• Englishman James Burke begins his series by stating this, “what you think the universe is and how you react to it, is all based on what you know.”• He proceeds to say that though history and how we have viewed it through the years is what makes us…. Well us. • I believe that is what he is mainly trying to get across to us through his series.
The Way We Are! “The Day the Universe Changed” Cont…!• Another thing I noticed was that, James Burke used the style of studying Big History.• He looked at things as a whole, and putting many things together by putting themes and ideas together to get one whole idea.
Spencer Wells!• Spencer Wells is a young geneticist and anthropologist from Georgia. • He wrote, “The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey” that we recently viewed the ﬁlm on. • It explained for us how genetic data has helped us trace early modern humans that migrated outside of Africa.
The Journey of Man!• Geneticist Spencer Wells traveled the world, gathering DNA and concluded that humans may be related to a man who lived over 60,000 years ago in Africa.• This documentary says that Homo erectus evolved in Africa and expanded from there. • He makes it a point to say that modern humans evolved in Africa and left through several waves of migration.• Due to change in thoughts among people, humans started communicating and traveling which them lead them to migrate. – This then lead to people in more areas and an increase in population all over the world.
Oh, what a Catastrophe!!• This event in 535 AD, called the Catastrophe, changed the worlds climate for the worse. • Rain poured down from the sky poured down red, clouds of dust enveloped the earth, and the sun began to grow dark. • Many feared that this was the end of the world because of the drought, plague and famine that this brought.
Oh, what a Catastrophe!! Cont…!• Although David Keyes was not a professional historian, he discovered the date of this “Catastrophe” (which was 535 AD.) by the use of tree rings, ice caps and recorded records in the general time period of events in different cultures.• There were 3 possibilities for this event (two of these were ruled out for various reasons that led to a conclusion: 1. A comet 2. An asteroid 3. Or a volcano• For many years people had no idea what caused this disaster until Keyes came to his theory that it was due to a huge volcanic eruption- most likely from Krakatoa in Indonesia.
Guns, Germs, and Steel!• After reading and watching the documentary on Guns, Germs, and Steel, it helped explained how Europeans and Asians were able to come into the most control of the world. Rather than others like Africans and Native Americans.• This success was due to resources such as: – Continental Differences (in wild plant and animal species) – Rates of Diffusion and Migration – Diffusion between continents – Continental Differences (in area or total population size)• Power shifted to the west, and different empires started to rise.• Europe had barriers, but obviously they weren’t big enough to prevent ideas and technology advanced to pass to other countries. This was a problem at the time.• China had a problem with their politics that stopped many adaptations while in Europe Columbus had an opportunity to start his voyage.
The World & Trade (1400’s) !• Christopher Columbus encouraged others after his voyage to go out of what they knew. This lead to many voyages such as the voyage led by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in the 1500s.• Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo- – Led the ﬁrst European voyage to explore the west coast of the US. – He arrived at a port which is now known as, The San Diego Bay. – Through him, an established trading route between Central America and the Spice Islands off Asia was made. • Asia- – Trade goods that the Europeans wanted like: gold, different silks and spices (these were in high demand at the time) – China began replacing paper and copper currency with silver, this affected 5 continents. • Europeans – They would travel far and wide for new things to trade and learn about this new world that was introduced to them!
The World & Trade (1400’s)! Cont…!• One crop that grew majorly popular was potatoes- – They were very easy to grow and could be in harsh climates and not be harmed. – It became the second largest food crop in the world.• Then there was coffee- – The beverage was probably developed around 1400 in the city of Mocca but by the 1500s it became popular on the Arabian peninsula. – Muslims adopted it in their worship, and it spread from there as far as India and Indonesia. – The café was born in the Middle east. – But although it was so popular, Europeans were slow to adopt coffee as a habit and they had several reasons for that • Viewed as heretical, it didn’t please the Europeans because of Turkish style, and it was expensive.
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