29

When Europeans discovered Americas they also imported plagues. These plagues were one factor of the collapse of the pre-columbian cultures. http://www.examiner.com/article/apocalypic-mysterious-plague-killed-millions-of-native-americans-the-1500s : The deaths of somewhere between 40 and 100 million people during a relatively short span of time was not ...


25

I am talking about Terra nullius which are lands occupied by countries, not individuals. (Most of my answer is from the Wikipedia link. I picked the most important) You can find them in : Svalbard was considered to be a terra nullius until Norway was given sovereignty over the islands in the Svalbard Treaty of 9 February 1920. Greenland Norway ...


22

This is, in fact, the big question of history. Subquestion 1 here: Why didn't Native North Americans (let's say the Mound Builders, for the sake of argument) conquer the world? The problem here, by the very logic you go over in your own question, is that the MB's were inhabiting a continent that was relatively biologically deprived. By comparison to ...


22

(Most of what I'm writing is a summary of "After the Ice: A global human history 20,000-5,000 BC" by Steven Mithen - published 2003 so it's pretty up to date as an overview of what is known). It is indeed tied to the end of the last ice age. All the sites known from the ice age and immediately afterwards are temporary hunter gatherer camps. In the ...


20

This thesis is manifestly false, and is indicative of the weaknesses of "Guns, germs and steel". For example, the making of iron tools was probably passed up the Nile, to Kush and Meroe, and then across to East Africa; they were making iron tools well before 1000 AD; evidence of iron work by the Nok of Nigeria exists as earlier than 400 BC. Nok culture - ...


19

The Inca might have been the largest non-literate society in history. Allow me to explain by way of two definitional digressions. Any society has peripheral or marginal members that are less in tune. We won't know quite where to draw the line, and of course the population data we have is worse than incomplete. More so, the concept of society that we all ...


18

The direct answer is that in modern Egyptian geographical terms, they came from central Egypt. In ancient historical terms, from "Upper Egypt". First off, I need to address a misconception in the question. Modern Egyptians mostly speak Arabic, but the Egyptian language spoken by the Ancient Egyptians was not Semitic. It was part of another branch of the ...


16

I also believe the answer is "no". It sure is tempting to put forth one's own theories here, but I'm unaware of any one that is generally accepted. I will point out one thing though: That chart you posted is essentially a chart of literacy. If you use the dates there, you are asking a question about the discovery of writing in various places, not the "...


13

Its actually a pretty astute observation that independent river-valley "cradles of civilization" tend to have their own crops associated with them. I've personally had a lot of luck researching plant domestication and its association with nearby river valleys, even in some unexpected places. The two definitely seem related. However, this isn't a hard and ...


12

The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in ...


12

Blame the weather. Larger version The reason it took so long for agriculture to develop can be summed up in this chart which shows variation in global temperature against time. The analysis in the academic paper from which this chart is taken, isn't terribly insightful. But, the chart really says it all. In a nutshell, temperatures fluctuated wildly (as ...


9

Several factors will have to come together: They look at patterns in the artifacts. How do they build their houses, make their tools, etc.? When many techniques match, they're assumed to be the same culture. Consider the Beaker Culture. Just one technique could be coincidence, but if many techniques match there seems to be a common culture. They detect ...


8

Guns, Germs, and Steel presents a very important argument that geography plays a critical role in the course of human social and economic development. To the extent that geography is important, it excludes alternate explanations that may be religious, racist, or nihilistic. GGS Argument The orientation of the continents - North-South for the Western ...


8

Europe was pretty much a poor smelly underdeveloped backwater in global terms for most of history, although the culture and civilization of the middle east and Africa often reached across the Mediterranean and especially into the areas near the middle east. The change from poor backwater to rulers of the world started with the conquering of the Americas, ...


8

Note: I asked a similar question about cradles of civilization. Let's go backwards in time from then. By around 5.5ka (3500BCE), we have several independent examples of fairly sophisticated cultures with cities, agriculture, food storage, writing, and politics. How did this come about? These technologies developed gradually, over thousands of years, from ...


7

Spengler uses one definition (around 8 civilizations), Toynbee uses another (around 23 civilizations), Huntington has its own (actually close to 10 civilizations). Therefore the question is quite open. in fact, Toynbee dedicates almost half volume to describe the definition of civilization as a study field. Under Toynbee definition: A civilization would be ...


7

These are both good answers but I think I can offer some extra points not included in them (after I have +1ed them both)! This is all cloaked in the wool of human history (there is always a counter example somewhere and a lot of this deals only in the general cases): The driver seems to be (as stated previously) the multiple states of almost equal power ...


7

The African state of Mthethwa might count. It was a nation that existed from around 1775 to 1817 that predated the Zulu Kingdom and, as far as we know, had no formal writing system. The nation used military innovations such as the system of age regiments (amabutho) that would come to be utilized by the Zulu empire. While not as big as the Inca, it was around ...


6

Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion in terms of those religions which are still recognized and practiced to this day but it is far from the oldest religion ever practiced. The first religious practices that we know of is referred to as Paleolithic Religion. Though not written, evidence uncovered by archeologists suggests that Neanderthals ...


6

You have to remember that these major cities weren't major cities when they were first built. Jerusalem was a small town for most of its existence, and had sufficient water for its population. Consider a couple of modern-day examples without much (if any) local fresh water source. Los Angeles started as a sleepy farming community, with enough water from ...


6

I understand why these statements may appear to be contradictory, but - as with many things - much of the confusion probably stems from the terminology being used. So, firstly, let's be clear about definitions. The Ancient Egyptian civilisation is generally accepted to have originated in the Neolithic with the Faiyum A culture in Lower Egypt (with evidence ...


6

For the purpose of getting a good thorough grounding in Western ancient history, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Colin McEvedy's The New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History*. It takes a base map that covers all of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East, and shows it on every other page. The only thing that changes on the map is the year it depicts, and ...


6

Bernal Díaz del Castillo obliquely compared spears of the Chinantec people to pikes (at least in translation -- I didn't check the Spanish original) and remarked that they were longer than the Castilian equivalent. Several Mesoamerican groups used spears. Here are Aztec warriors wielding tepoztopilli:


6

Many of the settlers in California during the Gold Rush were extremely hostile to Indians and the California government adopted anti Indian policies. In fact some people write about the "California Genocide" in that era. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Genocide1 A number of California tribal groups suffered large population decreases from ...


6

The Himalayas were a natural border against migrations, invasions and incursions,akin to a "wall" holding off invaders (from the Steppes). However, it is overrated insofar that it did not block all outside incursions (e.g. Alexander, the Hephthalites/White Huns, the Mughals), who mostly entered the subcontinent through the Khyber pass. The wall had holes. ...


5

This is a very good question, but not easy to answer. – "Civilization" is a term connected to the idea of an evolutionary progress of societies. It is sometimes still used as a synonym for "culture", but what you are really interested in is the concept of "archaeological cultures". – Cultures are a classification system of the very beginning of ...


5

China actually had two separate ones: The Yellow river and the Yangtze. The Yellow river is likely the initial homeland of the Han people. However, the Yangtze is where the staple crop of rice was most likely domesticated. Eventually the Han expanded and overran the Yangtze basin as well, supplanting the locals. However, they kept their rice. Other places ...


5

I believe the answer is archeology. Comparing archeological evidence with contemporary or subsequent accounts is how archeologists get at the truth of their practice. Without the historical accounts, fabulous or accurate as they may be, it would be difficult for archeologists to know what to look for. However, they do not take these accounts at face value,...


5

Europeans conquered "almost the whole world" (as we know it today), because the technology in use at the time of their ascendency (steamships and artillery), made it physically possible for them to do so. The Mongolians conquered "almost the whole world" as THEY knew it (most of modern Asia), based on the physical limits of their "technology" (mounted ...


5

It would be hard to compare with other contemporary civilisation at the time viz Egyptian or Sumerian as not much written information available of that time. However, archealogical finding suggests many technological advancements 1) Sanitation - use of covered drainage system, (what now called) WC, reservoirs, public bath, dams and step wells to name few (...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible