1. Explain the main idea/write a summary of Diamond's main points in Chapter 12 of Guns, Germs, and Steel.
2.Cite two pieces of evidence from Chapter 12 that support the main ideas that you claim. (include page numbers)
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According to Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, writing is a technology that is very useful. Societies that have writing are able to become more powerful through writing. Writing gives them the ability to store information and to disseminate it to people who need it. This gives them great advantages over people who do not write. The question, then, is why more people did not learn to write. If writing is so useful, wouldn’t everyone invent writing?
One point that Diamond makes in this chapter is that only people who had agriculture were able to develop writing. Hunter-gatherers do not invent writing partly because they have no real use for it. They do not need to keep inventories of their goods or rolls that show who has to pay how much in the way of taxes. One piece of evidence for this, shown on p. 236, is that the societies that first invented writing were also the societies that first developed food production in their regions.
A second important point in this chapter is that most societies develop writing by borrowing it from other societies. At the very least, they develop writing when they hear about the idea of writing from other societies. What this means is that societies will only develop writing if they are relatively near to societies that have already invented writing. A piece of evidence for this is shown on p. 237. There, Diamond shows us that isolated areas like Tonga, Hawaii, and even the Inca Empire in the Andes did not develop writing because there was no one they could borrow it from.
Thus, the point of this chapter is that writing generally comes about only if societies A) have agriculture and B) are close to other societies that have already developed writing.
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