According to Guns, Germs, and Steel, where did food production develop independently?

2 Answers | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The answer to this can be found in graphic form in Table 5.1.  This table gives five places in which food production arose independently as well as a number of places where "founder crops" came from elsewhere and allowed food production to start.  The five places in which it is certain that food production arose independently were:

  • Southwest Asia around 8500 BC.
  • China by 7500 BC.
  • Mesoamerica by 3500 BC
  • Andes and Amazonia by 3500 BC
  • Eastern United States by 2500 BC.

Diamond lists other places where food production might have arisen independently, but these five are the only ones that are certain.

thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

For Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, one of the most important causes in the different amounts of "cargo" produced by different cultures traced back to the neolithic revolution in food production. Essentially, if cultures can produce surplus food, then they are in a position to allow for division of labor, in which artisans devote time to developing crafts or technologies which they can trade for surplus food. Without this surplus, everyone in the community needs to focus exclusively on finding food. 

As mentioned in the previous answer, Diamond identifies five places where food production (as opposed to hunting and gathering) arose independently: in Southwest Asia, China, Mesoamerica, Andes and Amazonia, and Eastern United States. Although other places developed food production, it is impossible to tell if they did so independently or borrowed the ideas from other nearby areas. 


We’ve answered 317,385 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question