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  • Writer's pictureArjun Patel

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Part 2

Hi everyone! I am back today to talk more about the book I am reading, Guns, Germs, and Steel, which I enjoy reading daily. This time, I will discuss Part 2 of the book and what I think about it. I look forward to reading Part 3, especially since it is about transitioning from food to the book's title.

In Part Two, Diamond discusses the emergence of agriculture and why it originated in specific regions and not others. Archaeologists have used carbon-dating technology to determine that the first sites of agriculture were in Mesopotamia (in the Middle East), followed by Mesoamerica and China. Agriculture developed in these areas due to a few reasons. Most people at the time were hunter-gatherers who hunted game and gathered nuts and berries for sustenance. However, round and fruit were becoming scarce in the regions where agriculture first emerged, leading people to experiment with new forms of food production.

In ancient Mesopotamia, people used trial and error to learn how to plant large seeds in the ground, which resulted in crops that could be harvested and turned into highly nutritious foods. These early people also domesticated wild animals, leading to the breeding of familiar modern animals like cows, dogs, and horses. Humans used their domesticated animals to assist with agricultural work while learning to domesticate certain wild crops, ultimately breeding most of the world's familiar modern crops. This section is similar to the one in Sapiens, where Harari discusses the Agricultural Revolution in detail. I found this section enjoyable and would like to learn more about Mesopotamia.

Agriculture was first developed in Mesoamerica and China due to soil fertility, domesticable animals, and the availability of edible crops. However, agriculture took longer to replace the hunter-gatherer way of life in other regions. Once agriculture was established in different parts of the world, it spread to the neighboring areas. According to Diamond, it is easier for ideas, goods, and foods to spread from east to west than north to south because areas with the same latitude share similar climates and environments. Archaeological records show that agricultural innovations spread faster east and west than north and south. This section intrigued me as it revealed that technological advancements were not evenly distributed across societies worldwide but depended on geographical location.

Part Two of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari was an enlightening read for me. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in medical anthropology or human evolution. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to returning in a few weeks. Happy Thanksgiving!

- AnthroManTalks

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