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In Chapter 5 of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond is discussing when various areas of the world came to have farming. In Chapter 4, Diamond argued that farming gives societies major advantages, allowing them to become richer and more powerful than societies that do not farm. In Chapter 5, he is describing which areas of the world came to have farming (he also calls it “food production”) first and how food production spread to other areas. His main point is that people in a few areas of the world invented farming for themselves and that the idea of farming spread from those places to other areas. Furthermore, he argues that farming never did reach some areas until modern times.
One piece of evidence for Diamond’s thesis is found in Table 5.1. There, he shows which areas of the world developed farming on their own. He shows us that farming developed independently in Southwest Asia, then in China. These were the only areas of Eurasia that developed farming independently. There were also three areas of the “New World” that developed farming on their own. These were Mesoamerica, the Andes and Amazonia, and the Eastern United States.
A second piece of evidence is that there were some places of the world that still did not have farming in modern times. He tells us on p. 102 that literate Europeans established that there was no farming in places like California, the Argentine pampas, and Australia when they arrived in those areas. For some reason, farming never managed to make it to those areas even though those areas were ecologically suitable for farming. In the next five chapters, he will discuss why some places got farming first and why it spread to some places and not to others.
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