History, Science and Trade. (Assignment 1) By Christopher Martin
What is History?
History essentially consists of the study of how the past affects the future and the process of establishing the highest possibility of truth regarding our past events.
Historical events may be edited, falsified or simply incorrect. This is why we must verify the historical events by analyzing the best sources and asking important questions regarding each source.
Primary Source: A statement made by someone who was a witness of a participant in an event.
Secondary Source: A statement made by someone who was not present at an event bus uses primary and secondary sources to form a conclusion.
Once the sources are obtained: How valuable is each source? How much time has passed since the account was taken? Is the story teller reliable?
The proof of history needs (while all sources are consistent):
1) Reliable Witness
2) Logical Possibility
3) Observable Causes and Effects
Formation of human knowledge includes:
1) Data Collection
2) Interpretation of Data (placed into a meaningful form)
3) Evaluation (Judge the worth of the facts)
4) Act on the Findings
What is History?
Now that there is a basic understanding of how look at and analyze historical events we can begin to look at our own unique history and learn from the past.
In the film The Way We Are : The author introduces one essential point in history where the general world view began to change. Our past way of thinking involved living life without questioning our surroundings and relying heavily on myths and made up stories to explain the surrounding world. The Ionians are the first people on record to show our so familiar human desire to question and to understand the world in a practical manner. This simple but important characteristic has been past down to our generation and has changed forever our drive to improve our way of life and to understand how and why things work.
The shift in paradigm began to lead the world in two separate ways. Some who did not want or need a practical explanation for how the world worked and another who desperately desired answers for how the world works.
Before the Ionians came along the culture prevented change. It operated on the basis that all of life’s questions were found long ago and thus culture and the way of thinking remained the same. This is how it is possible for some cultures today to remain very similar to what they were thousands of years ago.
Conversely, our sense of practicality which started centuries ago is changing our culture and everything we know about the world in an ever increasing rate. Instead of resisting change we spend great amount of wealth on scientific research to attain a better grasp on the world. This is the way we are, we are willing to accept the change of our worldview in pursuit of truth.
The Journey of Man
Just as our ancestors began to ask difficult questions about their surroundings and has so changed the world for it, so Spencer Wells began asking questions about our human origin and has found some amazing discoveries of our past.
In the film The Journey of Man , Spencer Wells says he can trace back the entire human ancestry to a group of African people thousands of years ago. Wells does this by using DNA analysis to look for small changes in the Y chromosome found only in males.
Spencer Wells first travels to Africa to see our earliest genetic ancestors and to investigate a series of DNA markers which leads him to believe that our ancestors left Africa on a monumental journey around the world.
This journey is thought provoking. If his DNA evidence is correct, a small group of our African ancestors left Africa about 50,000 B.C. and ended up populating the entire world in a very short amount of time. In his discussion with the African tribe he searches for a reason to embark on this arduous journey.
Wells visits a Paleoclimatologist, Julia Lee Thorp. Thorp, along with other scientists believes there was a severe and sudden drop in temperature about 72,000. By analyzing ice and marine cores from thousands of years ago scientists are able to see a change sea levels and the size of the polar ice caps during the years which were suspected to drop in temperature.
As the temperatures around the world dropped, the polar ice caps grew and the deserts in Africa also grew in size due to the large amount of water trapped in the ice caps. The lack of resources during the ice age in Africa drove a small group of our ancestors north in search of a more prosperous land.
Next set of genetic foot prints are seen in Australia. This conclusion seems impossible. The journey over thousands of miles of ocean is unachievable and the most direct route along the southern coast of Asia produces no archeological evidence to back up this theory.
Arriving in Australia, Wells finds no archeological clues or oral narratives suggesting this journey. Perplexed he takes his journey into India to see if he can find the same genetic marker he found in the San Bushman people and the aborigines of Australia. Spencer Wells thinks that the land masses during the ice age would have been larger due to the excess ice. He thinks the land that our intrepid explorers journeyed across is covered in ocean many years after the climate has grown warmer.
The Journey of Man
While in India Wells consults with a fellow geneticist about the possibility of the journey of man along the southern coast of Asia. Again this theory is met with questioning because of the lack of archeological evidence along the present coast of India. Determined to find an answer, Wells heads out into a remote part of India to sample blood from an important group of people in which he believes will prove this theory.
Heading into the lab with his samples, Spencer Wells finds in fact his theory was correct. In this small village there was the genetic ancestor of the Australians.
Wells thinks only 10% of the group which left Africa made the final journey to Australia. The other 90% of people would journey from India to populate the rest of the world.
Tracing his steps back from the conclusions he found in India, Wells see the next set of genetic markers are seen in the middle east. From the middle east there is a one set of genetic markers leading east towards India and the next set leading north towards Europe.
Spencer Wells along with other scientists see evidence for another split in the journey of man. One set of markers head north towards Russia before turning west into Europe. The physical features of the Europeans are different because of the cutting off of an exit route from Europe due to the increasing ice formations as the climate grew even colder
The next set of genetic markers head north from the middle part of Asia during the height of the ice age 20,000 years ago.
Among the isolated tribe called the Chukchi, Spencer Wells finds the next genetic marker suggesting the next leg of the journey north and east to the tip of Russia.
From the very tip of eastern Russia the last migration of people began. Due to the ice age the current space between the two continents was nonexistent once again because of the influx of ice.
Along the ice corridor some scientists call it the descendants of the Chukchi traveled through a small passage in the ice into North America.
Discussing this story with Native Americans, Wells finds it does fit their oral tradition unlike the aborigines in Australia.
In conclusion, Spencer Wells comments on the perfect window in history to be able to investigate these facts. 15 years before the video the technology was not advanced enough to read into the DNA findings they are able to today. On the other hand, in several more years the world’s population will have intermingled so that this study isolating the remote population of people will be impossible.
David Keyes is a historian and an archeologist. Over a period of 5 years he developed an interesting theory on an ancient catastrophe. Occurring in the middle ages, Keyes suggests this event completely changed the course of history.
David Keyes first thought about his theory during a conference during the 1990’s. A Dendro-Cronologist (tree ring expert) Mike Bailey showed how the tree rings during 500 A.D. suggested a very sudden drop in temperature. Interestingly enough these results were not only found among a small region but all throughout the world at that time.
Historical texts from different regions during the 530’s comment on the decreased sunlight and the cold sweeping through the land.
With this new found information Keyes begins to see what natural disasters would be possible in order to create worldwide so suddenly.
The theory of an asteroid or comet strike on the earth would produce a large amount of debris in the air, which would be consistent with Keyes’ theory. Though an asteroid or comet could produce enough debris, there is no location in the world that has a crater large enough to suggest a extraterrestrial impact
This puzzling finding sends David Keyes to request the help of Claus Uffe Hammer, a Glaciologist. Ice cores are valuable because they tell of the components of the atmosphere of that time. Hammer’s study reveals a high level of Sulfur in the earth’s atmosphere around 530 A.D. This suggests that a volcanic eruption was the cause of the drastic climate change seen in Bailey’s tree rings.
If the conclusion that a volcano was the cause the six century catastrophe, it would have to be a volcano near the earth equator in order to envelope the entire world in ash.
Keyes heads to a volcano along the equator called Krakatoa. Krakatoa is responsible for very violent eruptions in the recent past and is a good place to look for signs that this volcano was the culprit of the world changing disaster. With the help of scientist Haraldur Sigurdsson, Keyes is able to investigate the base layers of Krakatoa.
Sigurdsson was not able to find big enough mineral deposits to carbon date but he was able to sample layers above and below what was believed to be the eruption of 535 A.D. His research suggests that there was a very large eruption of Krakatoa which falls directly into the timeline of the 535 A.D. volcanic eruption.
Corroborating evidence from Krakatoa expert, Ken Willett confirms by an explosion simulation with all the known facts of this period that in fact Krakatoa is the prefect location for a volcanic eruption of massive proportions.
With his idea of the catastrophe supported, David Keyes sets out to see what historical implications this new found discovery provides.
Evidence supports the Black plague being a result of the eruption of Krakatoa. The decreased temperature around the world increases rat populations. In addition to this, when temperature falls below 25 degrees Celsius fleas have a gut blockage due to the cold causing the fleas to bite ravenously, causing a disease to spread quickly.
The eruption could have also been the cause of the Avars moving westward and eventually influencing the fall of the Roman Empire. The Avars economy relied on horses. With the temperatures dropping rapidly the horses could not find sustenance; forcing the Avars to move west.
Keyes theorizes England was formed because of need to move to a more hospitable climate.
In the Muslim world, the climate change may have lead to the shifting of power from the city of Marib to Madirah (where Muhammad's family was established). The shifting of power and the message of Islam during this difficult time could explain the rapid growth of the religion throughout the region during the time period.
The last section of the film investigates the possibility of another volcanic eruption in the future.
Changing Interpretations of America’s Past
For years we have been taught that the Indian people of America have been characterized of small groups who left as much of the natural landscape untouched. A set of daring researchers throughout the past century have been arguing otherwise, with intriguing evidence.
In an article written by, Charles C. Mann, he outlines various discoveries that lead one to believe that the Indians did everything but leave the natural landscape alone.
First of all, the size of the Indian population is disputed by scientists. Charles Mann discusses the widely accepted fact that a vast majority of the Indians died off during the first years of settling in America. According to speculation the percent of the Indian deaths was at least 90%
Some historians such as James Mooney in 1910 argue the pinnacle of Indian civilization could contain no more that 1.15 million people.
Dobyns would disagree. If a the typical death rate of the Indian population was 95% and the lowest point known in the Indian population in 1900 was 500,000 people, then at the height of the Indian civilization the population would have been at least 10 million.
Also supporting the idea of a large population of Indians in America are the writings of Henry Brackenridge. As he journeyed to Cahokia, what is now southwest Illinois, Brackenridge notes a five square mile grouping of Indian communities that he calls a “stupendous pile of earth.” It is unlikely that communities of this size could be formed by small bands of people.
Changing Interpretations of America’s Past
Another interesting point is the dramatic increase in the size of buffalo population. A explorer named Hernandez de Soto had a large expedition covering most of the southwestern portion of North America. During all of his conquests he does not mention the sight of bison. More than a hundred years later French historian Francis Parkman comments of the French coming in contact with great numbers of bison grazing the fields. One explanation for this is that the Indians were the keystone species. With the Indians gone because of the epidemic the bison flourished in the century or so without the Indians to decrease their numbers.
Indians in the Amazon were thought also to change the land according to facilitate their needs for food. There is a bacteria present in the soil of 10% of the Amazon today. This bacteria called Terra Preta has amazing prosperities, keeping in nutrients in the soil even with large amounts of water present. This bacteria also seems to give regenerative properties to the soil making it able to regenerate itself.
Thomas H. Maugh II, in addition to Charles Mann, comes up with evidence of a large population of Indian communities that purposely changed the landscape to fit their needs. Maugh outlines the presence of 19 villages which occurred between 800 and 1600 A.D. Each of the village site was thought to be inhabited by 2,500 to 5,000 people each. Also, each site was connected with straight roads with high mounds or curbs along the edges. This group of villages was estimated to have over half of the forest cut down to be replaced with fruit and other edible plant life.
In conclusion, this is a great example in the diverse opinions in historical analysis. This discussion seems to prove what kind of people we are, desiring to know the truth and to become better people for it.
The World & Trade
Contrary to popular belief and similar to the outlook seen in the previous slide, the world was vastly uninhabited as previously thought in 1492.
In a text called The World in 1942, the author takes an in depth look into methods of agriculture, the spread of the European diseases in the Americas and the reasons why the Europeans seemed to push for the expansion of their lands more than the other cultures of the world.
The World & Trade
The world was an amazing place in the years to come after the 15 th century.