2022-01-12 翻译熊 13058

Why did none of the Native American peoples enter the Iron Age?


Alex Mann
Why didn’t Europeans get sick from Native Peoples? Native peoples got sick because they were exposed to diseases they had never had contact with, and so their bodies had no defenses. Well, why didn’t it work the other way around? Why didn’t Europeans get previously unknown diseases from Natives?
This question above and the original question have the same answer- farming.
Farming is everything. It is the foundation of all human civilization. Nothing (literally) is more important than farming. Farming gave birth to the world we live in.
It goes likes this
People grow food in a community. Now you need to protect the food and form rules in the community. Thus militaries and governments are born.
If you produce excess food then you can afford to feed people who are not producing food. This means you have artisans, administrators, teachers, and every other profession that isn’t farming.
These non-farmers create things. This leads to cities, technology, and international trade.
So farming is important agreed? So how do you start farming 10,000 years ago?

1. 人们在社区里种植食物。现在你需要保护食物,并在社区中形成规则。军队和政府就这样诞生了。
2. 如果你生产多余的食物,那么你就可以养活那些不生产食物的人。这意味着你有工匠、管理人员、教师和所有其他职业,而无需从事农业。
3. 这些非农民创造了东西。这导致了城市、技术和国际贸易。

You need the right animals. Not every animal can be domesticated. In fact of the millions of species on earth, only a dozen or so can be turned into livestock. In order for an animal to become a domesticated farm animal, it needs the following traits.
Eats anything except meat. If you feed farm animals meat it’s a waste of time (just eat that meat yourself). These animals need to eat anything and everything and it must be simple easy to produce food.
Breeds a lot. You need animals to make lots of copies very quickly. If it takes 15 years for a baby to grow up that’s too long. You need farm animals to pop out babies very frequently and you need these babies to grow up fast
Social structures. In order to be domesticated animals need to have social structures. Take horses that have an alpha stallion leading the herd. If you break that alpha stallion, you break the whole herd. Chickens and cows have complex social structures that allow humans to insert themselves at the top as “boss chicken”.
Not many animals check all these categories. Europeans and Asians got pretty lucky though because pigs, chickens, cattle, and sheep all happen to be from around the area. These humans in Asia and Europe were able to develop farming and thus technology, and thus enter the Iron Age.
Do you know how many potential farm animals there were in North and South America? None.
Well, actually you had Llamas, and guess what, the Native Americans with access to Llamas built incredibly advanced civilizations (Incans). Llamas are terrible farm animals too FYI.
Diseases like COVID come from animals. A common virus infects all your cows but it’s a cow virus, not a human virus so humans are safe. That virus will mutate though and in very rare instances, spread to humans.
In order to get a pandemic, you need tons of humans around tons of animals in close proximity for centuries. These things just didn’t exist in North America.
So the moral of the story is to hug a farmer- but don’t actually.

1. 除了肉什么都吃。如果你给农场动物喂肉,那就是浪费时间(你自己吃吧)。这些动物需要吃任何东西,并且这些东西都必须是简单、容易生产的食物。
2. 大量繁育。你需要动物快速地大量复制。如果一个幼崽需要15年才能长大,那就太长了。你需要农场动物经常生幼崽,你需要这些幼崽快速成长。

Alex Mann
FYI: This theory above is not mine- it’s a vast oversimplification of the book “Guns Germs and Steel” which goes into a ton of detail and is very revolutionary.
I HIGHLY recommend it


Thomas Sayre
It’s an interesting notion. But, consider that the “earlier immigrants” to the Americas did have massive farming, massive cities, massive civilizations that spread from South America up through North America with trade routes, manufacturing, enormous monuments and massive cities long before London was anything but a few huts along a river… the American cities had huge excess labor pools and leisure time. But still did not developed advanced metallurgy.
Why didn’t they get into the Iron Age? Or even into the bronze age? That was the question.
Even during the Bronze Age, Europeans traveled as far as North America to engage in massive mining operations to procure copper and tin. Enormous pits still exist around the Great Lakes area where Europeans and Africans dug up the precious ore to haul back across the Atlantic. There was apparently no lack of opportunity for the American tribes to engage in metalworking or even procurement and use of iron, IF they could figure out how to make a hot enough fire. They did use some copper tools but did not advance beyond that until Europeans later began making permanent settlements and brought more advanced metallurgy with them.


The massive copper and tin mining operations in North America ended abruptly, at the time of the bronze age collapse in Europe/Africa.
Early Viking explorers in North America collected iron from rock formations and smelted it to make tools and nails to repair their ships. And still, the tribal groups already present had not advanced beyond copper.
What is it that drove the Mediterranean and European push into the iron age that was missing in the Americas? Clearly, it was not a lack of farming.


Guns, Germs, and Steel was quite the fascinating documentary! We got to watch it in world history class back in my first year of high school, and it seemed to make a lot of sense.

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Thomas Raphael Hyle
it does /seem/ to make a lot of sense, and it does make some sense, but IRL it was probably vastly more the germs than the guns or steel. More importantly it leaves out that the European conquering expansion of the rest of the planet began within a year or two of the pope legalizing Christians to loan money at interest, enabling the existence of modern venture capital, by which ‘exploration’ was funded.

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Thomas Raphael Hyle
side note; according to Syndey Possuelo when an uncontacted Amazonian native group is contacted by modern humans 70% die in the first year; not because of guns or steel though those do sometimes come into play when ranchers, loggers, or drug-dealers rob and enslave such groups; the 70% is just from germs.

边注:根据Syndey Possuelo的说法,当一个与世隔绝的亚马逊土著群体与现代人类接触时,70%的人在第一年死亡。

Chris Walsh
All these criticisms of Guns, Germs and Steel miss the point. These are all proximate causes, not ultimate causes. Diamond was trying to understand and explain the ultimate causes. He wouldn’t deny that modern finance was a factor in European exploration and conquest. He would point out that it was a recent factor and ask why finance was developed in Europe and not elsewhere. He doesn’t suggest that guns and steel were more of a factor than germs. He asks why Europeans germs had such a profound impact on the Americas, but American germs didn’t wipe out the Europeans. He also answers these questions. These criticisms of the explanation are unfounded.


Richard Lobb
Glad to see that you recommend the book. I was greatly impressed by it, but I’ve seen some criticism, too.


Bethany Grace
I have no idea how others criticize the book, but here are my issues with the author's points:
Africa, Australia, and the Americas all have herding animals and large fowl just as Asia and Europe. Eurasians domesticated animals by breeding the wild out of them, while others did not.
Nothing stopped people from growing their own food. If you're looking for honest answers, you'll have to address why certain groups never grew their own food.
All people of every nation made war against each other whether they harbored food and resources or not. Every nation had the opportunity to advance military strategy. Some did and some didn't.
Europe had numerous plagues, many of which were imported from foreign countries, that wiped out swathes of the population. I'm sorry, but out of all the excuses, this one is the dumbest.

1. 非洲、澳大利亚、美洲、亚洲和欧洲一样都有放牧动物和大型家禽。欧亚混血儿通过培育野生动物来驯化动物,而其他人则没这样做。
2. 没有什么能阻止人们自己种植食物。如果你想要找到诚实的答案,你就必须解决为什么某些群体从不自己种植食物的问题。
3. 每个国家的所有人都互相发动战争,不管他们是否拥有食物和资源。每个国家都有机会推进军事战略。但有些人做了,有些人没有。
4. 欧洲有很多瘟疫,其中很多是从外国传入的,导致大量人口死亡。抱歉,但所有的借口中,这一个是最蠢的。

Chris Walsh
These read like the criticisms of someone who hasn’t actually read the book.


Miles Elam
I've seen criticism of a Calculus textbook and folks calling a round Earth a hoax. Doesn't take away the truth of them though.
GG&S is very well-researched and cited. You can nitpick about details, but the overall thesis is pretty hard to argue against in good faith.


Abraham Levin
Alex, I need more follow up. I've seen heavy criticism of that book online, and you're a historian that I trust. Can you explain it?


Alex Mann
So Guns Germs and Steel offended a lot of “political” historians if that makes sense. Basically, there are a few issues a small group of historians has with the book. The most popular are
The book discounts human agency. Basically, the book states it was an environment that created society and civilization and not human action. In other words, Europe was always going to end up more advanced and conquest was more or less determined by this success.
The big issue they have is that they believe it detracts from European responsibility for colonialism and slavery. They want the narrative to be “Europeans were evil and chose to be evil” where as the book states “Europe got lucky with a favorable environment that led to quicker technological advancement and the stronger civilization usually bullies the weaker one”. Does that make sense? I am oversimplifying quite a bit here

1. 这本书贬低了人的能动性。基本上,这本书说,是一个环境创造了社会和文明,而不是人类行为。换句话说,欧洲最终总是会更先进,征服或多或少是由这种成功决定的。
他们提出的重大问题是,他们认为这削弱了欧洲对殖民主义和奴隶制的责任。他们希望故事是“欧洲人是邪恶的,并且选择了邪恶”,正如书中所说的那样,“欧洲幸运地拥有一个有利的环境,导致了更快的技术进步,更强大的文明通常欺凌弱小的文明”。 明白了吗?我描述得很简化了。

The book uses the term “Eurasia” often. To many, this is seen as an attempt to credit Europeans with advancements that took place in Asia but I disagree considering it goes both ways.
The book categorizes various sub-Saharan Africans as “blacks” when they should be categorized differnatly.
The book doesn’t mention slavery, colonialism, or imperialism enough (basically the historians who exist purely to make the “West” look evil were not satisfied). I disagree here too as I don’t think we need to talk endlessly about Imperialism in every book.
The book makes mistakes when talking about colonial economics (which is actually a valid criticism)
The book views the line between hunting/gathering and agriculture to vividly. Some suggest that the line here is foggier but that’s up for debate.
There are valid criticisms and debates to be had. The biggest issue seems to come in the way “not harsh enough on Europeans”.
Overall I think the book's central premise and its biggest points stand up very well though.

2. 这本书经常使用“欧亚大陆”这个词。对许多人来说,这被看作是试图将亚洲取得的进步归功于欧洲人,但我不同意,因为这是双向的。
3. 这本书将撒哈拉以南的非洲人归类为“黑人”,而他们不应该被如此归类。
4. 这本书没有充分提及奴隶制、殖民主义或帝国主义(基本上那些纯粹为了让“西方”看起来邪恶而存在的历史学家并不满意)。我也不同意这一点,因为我不认为我们需要在每本书中没完没了地谈论帝国主义。
5. 这本书在谈到殖民经济学时犯了错误(这是一个正确的批评);
6. 这本书生动地阐述了狩猎/采集和农业之间的界线。有些人认为这里的界限比较模糊,但这有待商榷。
有正当的批评和辩论。最大的问题似乎是“对欧洲人不够严厉”。 总的来说,我认为这本书的中心前提和最大的观点是站得住的。

Chris Walsh
People who level this and many of the other criticisms you cite must entirely miss the point of the book. Responsibility for imperialism is beside the point; the point is how imperialism was even possible and more to the point why it was so efficiently possible. If the victims of imperialism had had their own guns, imperialism would have looked like the Hundred Years War rather than rapid conquest, domination, displacement and assimilation.
I think the agency critique is more to the point. It’s been a couple decades since I studied history or historiography, so I’m sure things have changed, but my impression was that a lot of British and American historians still leaned toward the Great Man version of history in which major historical events are driven purely by individual vision and moxie. Men (and maybe Thatcher) overcome nature, and geography and economic forces;


I think it’s a very shallow view of history, but one that holds wide public appeal. It’s heroic and easy to understand and remember. No critical thinking required: the Civil War was just a series of battles between a couple generals. WWII was won by Churchill’s command of the English language and a bunch of American generals. So easy!
And it’s hard to talk intelligently about geography and economics and social forces that shape events over generations. So histories that try to take account of those things must be rejected as the histories of losers making excuses for not being heroes of individualism. Or worse - Marxism!
I’m sure G,G&S isn’t flawless, but it is deep and thoughtful and fascinating, and a much more persuasive explanation of history than any version of manifest destiny.

我认为这是一种非常浅薄的历史观,但对公众具有广泛的吸引力。它是英勇的,容易理解和记忆。不需要批判性思维: 内战只是几位将军之间的一系列战斗。二战是丘吉尔对英语的熟练掌握和一群美国将军赢得的。就是这么容易!

Theron Smith
Guns Germs and Steel was also a political book. It was clear the author knew where he wanted to go before he got there, which usually leads to ignoring evidence that doesn’t support the predetermined thesis. That in turn makes it easy to write a coherent-sounding book. That said I think I generally agree with the author’s points.

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Vance Gillenwater
Diamond's book discounts the obvious truth - that certain cultures are better at achieving higher standards of living. “Guns, steel and germs” was a diatribe that assumed that no culture is inherently superior, and that only being born in different geographical conditions was the difference in success in technological advances.
Certain cultures/ethnic groups do have higher ingenuity and ambitions. That is the uncomfortable truth. Even today we see test scores and success disparities between the SAME groups that Diamond tried to explain away. “Guns, steel and germs” shouldn't matter anymore if all cultures and ethnicities are indeed equal.
But alas, the disparities remain today. The same countries continue to produce the technological advances. Conversly, the same countries are mired in poverty and tribal infighting.
Diamond's book is based on his faulty premise of cultural equality, then he bends over backwards to create excuses for the underperforming cultures. In reality, there are measurable differences in ingenuity and ambition between ethnicities. Albeit small, but that's all that is needed to reach new technology first.