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Following the Footprints of Fascinating History

Guns, Germs, Steel- Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel
World History Style


         Jared Diamond, geography professor at the University of California, Los Angeles came up with an interesting thesis to explain why some peoples of the world have become more materially and culturally richer than others.

         Diamond argues that geography more than any other factor determined how well people made the transition from hunter/gathers to settled agricultural societies.

         According to Diamond, the people of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) successfully made the transition to a settled agricultural society because they planted hardy crops like wheat and barley and created granaries to store it.  This enabled them to feed their population adequately and free the innovators in their society to come up with new technological inventions.

         The people of Mesopotamia also learned to domesticate the animals of their habitat, animals like sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs, and they spread this practice to other lands.

         The people of the fertile crescent also used fire to work with metal, thus path finding the craft of creating sophisticated weapons

         Diamond’s theory is just one of several that attempt to explain the transition of human societies from hunter/gatherers to established communities. Humans foraged for their food until about 12,000 years ago in a time period that historians and archaeologists call the Paleolithic era or the old stone age.

         Whether or not you agree with Jared Diamond, between twelve and six thousand years ago, or during the Neolithic era, the new stone age,  human communities began to experiment with the domestication of plants and animals.

         Rivers and river valleys are a common factor in the early histories of many countries, in a way reinforcing Diamond’s theory. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia, the Nile in Egypt, the Indus in India and the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers in China.

         And Diamond reinforces other historians when he suggests that settled agricultural communities stimulated the growth of larger cities, states, and gradually empires. Settled agricultural communities also encouraged the development of more sophisticated technologies.

         Specialized labor evolved as cities emerged and dense populations congregated in urban spaces. For example, the Mesopotamian economy became increasingly diverse, and trade linked the region with distant peoples.

         Another important development of a stable agricultural society in Mesopotamia was that clearly defined social classes emerged as small groups of people concentrated wealth and power in their own hands.

         Mesopotamia developed into a patriarchal society that concentrated authority largely in the hands of adult males.

         Mesopotamians also invented writing which enabled them to record information for future retrieval.  Writing soon became a foundation for education, science, literature, and religious reflection.

         Mesopotamians completed the Epic of Gilgamesh after 2000 B.C.  It is the narrative of the experiences of Gilgamesh and Enkidu and explores the themes of friendship, relations between humans and the gods, and the meaning of life and death.

         People identified so thoroughly with the stories of Gilgamesh and Enkidu that from about two thousand years, from the time of the Sumerian city states to the fall of the Assyrian empire, they  represented Mesopotamian reflections on moral issues and can be used as a metaphor for civilization and its values.

         Through city-states, kingdoms and regional empires, Mesopotamia created formal government institutions that extended their influence to other lands.

         Specialized labor in Mesopotamia created  stable economies and established long-distance trade networks.

         Mesopotamian Society broadly influenced the world around it.  Other peoples selectively adopted Mesopotamian ways and adapted them to their own needs and


         Hebrews, Israelites, and Jews came under early Mesopotamian influence and also preserved memories of their historical experiences in an extensive collection of sacred writings.

         The Old Testament of the Christian Bible recounts the story of the Hebrews in Palestine, their time of slavery in Egypt, their captivity in Babylon, and the early Jewish community.

         The Phoenicians were a seafaring people who occupied a narrow coastal plain between the Mediterranean Sea and the Lebanon Mountains. Their trade voyages extended as far as the Canary Islands and Great Britain.

         They largely adapted Mesopotamian cultural traditions to their own needs.  They also successfully adapted cuneiform into a 22 symbol alphabet of their own.

         Although Indo-European society developed far to the north of Mesopotamia, speakers of Indo-European languages migrated widely and established societies throughout much of Eurasia.

         The migrations of Indo-European peoples who spoke various Indo-European languages profoundly influenced historical development in both southwest Asia and the larger world.

         The languages of Europe, southwest Asia, and India had striking similarities in vocabulary and grammatical structure.  Ancient languages demonstrating these similarities included Sanskrit, Old Persian, Greek and Latin.

         Historians believe that these languages and sub languages such as Greek, Germanic, Italian, Celtic and English all stem from common ancestors who spoke a common tongue and migrated from their original homelands.

         Egypt was the most prominent of early African societies and began to take shape in the valley of the Nile River about 4,000 years B.C.

         Egyptian and Nubian societies like their counterparts in Mesopotamia influenced the inhabitants of the Nile valley and mixed and mingled peoples from the eastern Mediterranean, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

         Egypt and Nubia were only a small part of a much larger world of interesting societies.

         Agricultural crops and domesticated animals from southwest Asia soon made their way into the Nile Valley.

         Throughout the Nile Valley abundant agriculture surpluses supported dense populations and the construction of prosperous societies with sophisticated cultural traditions.

         Mesopotamia also influenced the development of writing in Egypt about 3200 B.C.

         Egyptians, like Mesopotamians and probably due to their influence, believed that deities played important roles in the world and the cultivation of their gods was an important community responsibility.

         African agriculture and herding first emerged in the Sudan, and then spread to he Nile River valley and to lands able to be cultivated throughout sub Saharan Africa.

         Populations were less dense in sub-Saharan Africa, but the migrations of Bantu and other peoples  helped the spread of agriculture and iron metallurgy throughout most of the region.

         The Nile River served as a trade route and communication that linked Egypt and the Mediterranean basin to the north with the Sudan and sub-Sahran Africa to the south.

         Like  the gods of the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians, Indra, the god of the Aryans, excelled in fighting, feasting, and drinking.

         The Aryans were a herding people who spoke an Indo-European language and who migrated to south Asia in large number after 1500 B.C.  They had adopted Indra as their chief god in the early days of their migration.

         Like societies in Mesopotamia and Egypt, the earliest urban society in south Asia was built by Dravidian peoples in the valley of the river Indus which supplied water for crops.

         As in Mesopotamia, agricultural surpluses encouraged the growth of complex societies in both south and east Asia.

         As in Mesopotamia and Egypt, agricultural surpluses in India increased the food supply, stimulated population growth and enabled the founding of cities and specialized labor.

         Between 3000 and 2500 B.C., the agriculture surplus o.f the Indus valley fed two large cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-daro

         Harappan society covered much of modern day Pakistan and a large part of northern India and was much larger than either Mesopotamian or Egyptian society.

         As in the Indus River valley of India, fertile river valleys in China allowed villages and towns to flourish along their banks. The most important of these valleys were those of the Yellow and Yangzi rivers which supported agriculture settlements after about 7000 B.C.

         These small settlements evolved into much large regional states by about 7000 B.C.

         Again, touching on Diamond’s geographic determinism, high mountain ranges, forbidding desserts, and turbulent seas stood between China and other early societies of the eastern hemisphere, but these geographic features did not entirely prevent China from communicating with other lands.

         They did hinder the establishment of direct long distance trade relations like the ones between Mesopotamia and Harappan Indian or the ones between the Phoenicians and other peoples of the Mediterranean basin.

         But both early Chinese and Indian cultivators organized states, developed social distinctions, and established sophisticated cultural traditions, although their languages, writing, beliefs, and values differed considerably from each other and from other societies.

         People of ancient China and India managed to trade and communicate with peoples of other societies, so wheat cultivation, bronze and iron metallurgy, horse drawn chariots, and wheeled vehicles originated in southwest Asia in ancient times.

         Again seeming to prove Jared Diamond’s theory, agriculture in south and east Asia and in other parts of the eastern hemisphere demonstrated its potential to provide a foundation for wide spread social organization and to support interaction between peoples of different societies.

         Continuing the geographical theme, human groups migrated to the Americas and Oceania long after they had established communities throughout most of the eastern hemisphere, but long before any people began to experiment with agriculture.

         They migrated during ice ages when much of the earth’s water was frozen in glaciers and world wide sea levels sometimes declined by as much as 984 feet.

         This decline created temporary land bridges that joined regions that before and after the ice ages were separated by the seas. One land bridge linked Siberia with Alaska and other joined the continent of Australia to the island of New Guinea.

         Humans used these land bridges to migrate to new lands.

         Beginning about eighteen thousand years ago when the earth’s temperate rose and the  glaciers melted, the waters rose and flooded low lands around the world. Eventually the sea again divided Asia from America with the Bering Strait, and they separated Australia and New Guinea.

         But by this time human communities had become well established in each of these areas.

         Although they were separated by large bodies of water, human migrants to the Americas and Oceania interacted with each other.

         They also developed distinctive societies of their own.

         Most historians believe that migrations to the Americas and Oceania represented continuations of the population movements that began with early man and resulted in human communities in almost all habitable parts of the earth.

         Historians also believe that the earliest inhabitants of the Americas and Oceania built productive and vibrant societies that roughly paralleled those of their counterparts in the eastern hemisphere.

         The early historical development of the Americas and Oceania demonstrates once again the tendency of agriculture to encourage human communities to construct more and more elaborate and complex forms of social organization.




World War I

  1. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk marked the ______withdrawal from World War I.
  2. This July 16, 1916 battle resulted in a million casualties on both sides.________________
  3. They were mobilized on both sides of the war. __________________
  4. Wilhelm II, the German ________, fled to the Netherlands.
  5. The Ottoman Empire perpetrated a genocide against 1.3 million Christian ____________________.
  6. The ________included Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
  7. . This dynasty was the first empire to be destroyed by World War I. _________________________
  1. This country declared war on Germany in 1917._________
  2. Great Britain, France, and Russia comprised the _________.
  3. He planned a disastrous assault on Gallipoli. __________
  4. The Allies turned the tide of war with Second Battle of the ______________in July 1918.
  5. World War I destroyed this empire. _____________
  6. Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated here. __________
  7. The Germans introduced poison gas at this battle.
  8. This Asian country provided one million soldiers to the Triple Entente. ____________________
  9. This country declared war on Germany and seized German possessions in China. ________
  10. German generals agreed to this in November 1918. __________________
  11. The American president during World War I was ___________________.
  12. American soldiers were called ___________________.
  13. This treaty which the United States did not sign, ended World War I______________________


Russian      Marne      Ottoman     Sarajevo    Central Powers       Romanov

Women   Ypres     China  Woodrow Wilson   Japan     Armistice Somme Armenians   Doughboys  Treaty of Versailles Kaiser United States Winston Churchill

Triple Entente




World War II

  1. Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt made plans for the end of the war at this conference. ________________________
  2. German lightning war. _________________________
  3. The Japa
  4. The murder of entire populations._________________
  5. nese attack on this Hawaiian base brought America into the war.____________________________________
  6. The Germans invaded this country in June 1941.________________
  7. This German general was called “the desert fox” because he was so skilled at tank warfare in North Africa. _____
  8. He made several American propaganda films called “Why We Fight.” ______________________
  9. He committed suicide in his Berlin bunker. __________
  10. The invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe began here.______
  11. Germany, Japan and Italy were called the _______powers.
  12. The pivotal battle on the Russian front. __________
  13. English slang for the Battle of Britain. _______
  14. Germany invaded this country to begin World War II. _________________
  15. This American General planned the Normandy invasion.________________
  16. This American General promised, “I shall return.”


  1. The United States stopped the Japanese naval advance in the Pacific at this battle. ________________
  2. German warfare with this type of ship in the Atlantic sank tons of allied shipping. ______________
  3. The United States dropped these on Japan to end the war in the Pacific. _______________________
  4. The last major German offensive_______________
  5. This international peacemaking organization was created after World War II.  ___________________ 



Genocide   Yalta     Blitzkrieg   Soviet Union  Pearl Harbor

Frank Capra   Erwin Rommel   Hitler  Normandy    Axis

Poland    The Blitz    Stalingrad  General Dwight Eisenhower  

General Douglas MacArthur  The United Nations   The Battle of the Bulge

Atomic Bombs   U Boats     Midway




The Industrial Revolution

1.      Encourages private ownership of property, free enterprise, and competition. ______________

2.       The ________allowed workers to use 80 plus spindles at a time.

3.       He wrote about the polluted environment and exhausted workers in his novel “Hard Times.” ___________

4.       ______________invented the telegraph.

5.       This powered the early industrial revolution._____

6.       This political theory advocates government ownership of the major means of production and distribution.__________

7.       The industrial revolution began in _________and spread to the rest of the world.

8.       Herbert Spencer popularized this theory of “the survival of the fittest,” called _______________.

9.       One of the first industries of the early industrial revolution. __________________

       10. This word describes areas with cities instead of rural areas. _____________

  1. ______to house workers were built around coal and copper mines.
  2. ________was the “richest man in the world” with his steel empire before he sold it to J.P. Morgan.
  3. ________urged the workers of the world to unite.
  4. In the trade guilds, journeymen and craftsmen were the stages before ______________________________.
  5. The ___________were the largest corporations in 19th century America.



Spinning jenny,  Socialism,   Charles Dickens, Steam , Samuel F.B. Morris

Textile, Social Darwinism, Britain, Capitalism, Company towns, Urban, Andrew Carnegie, Railroads, Master, Karl Marx