Why was agriculture delayed in some areas?

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In Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, his primary thesis is that geography, not any kind of racial superiority, is the reason that some cultures developed agriculture and some didn't.

In places like the European continent and the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, geography and topography produced...

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In Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, his primary thesis is that geography, not any kind of racial superiority, is the reason that some cultures developed agriculture and some didn't.

In places like the European continent and the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, geography and topography produced fertile soil in relatively stable, temperate climates, meaning that farming happened earlier than, say, Mexico, most of Africa and Australia, each of which have significant deserts.

Desert climates dictated more hunter/gatherer food production because of the obvious difficulty of growing plants in sand and the lack of water. Most of those areas also have dense, impenetrable rainforests, which would have required the labor of hundreds of people to clear. Most humans lived in relatively small groups, and how does one obtain food when they spend all day clearing forest?

He also argues that the climate in areas like those, even when primitive societies could develop agriculture of any kind, was especially inhospitable to food plants. In short, everything burned up.

Europe, by contrast, has long growing seasons, very fertile soil and stable climate bands from east to west, where rain is plentiful and extreme temperatures are relatively rare throughout at least 9 months a year. Those cultures developed the technologies to preserve food, leaving more time for other forms of industry, specialization of labor (certain clans or tribes became blacksmiths, for example) and methods of exchange where other items could be traded for food.

Because of agriculture, European, etc. societies began to domesticate animals they could actually feed with excess food production. Those animals brought with them viruses and disease that jumped to human populations, just as they do today (the bird flu, etc), giving Europeans immunities to disease much earlier than their counterparts in other parts of the world.

All of this gave those cultures time and resources to begin to explore the world, taking disease and steel with them, resulting in conquest of most of the world.

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