The Native American Empire?

Discussion in 'History' started by Ayodhya, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    No, the specified time frame was during the peak of the Pueblo civilization - that's around 1000 AD. London only had a few thousand inhabitants at that time. The civilization in question had long since collapsed by the time any Europeans showed up.

    But you do agree that there were "cities" and "civilizations" prior to the industrial revolution, yes? And so the fact that most all Pueblo labor went into food production does not disqualify them from building cities any more than it disqualified any pre-industrial European settlement from "city" status?

    If you're saying that it's easier to produce larger surplusses with progressively better technology, well, I can't disagree with that as a general proposition. But that's far short of an argument that the Pueblo peoples didn't manage to produce sufficient quantities of food in a sufficiently centralized fashion to end up building cities.

    Again, you're speaking in generalities here. The fact that Four Corners dwellers had certain disadvantages is not actually a positive argument that they didn't have cities.

    Also, they had domesticated turkeys, so it's not clear to me that the protein disadvantage of corn was a huge deal.

    The only definition of "city" I've seen in this thread is "settlement big enough to have permanent buildings and for inhabitants not to be acquainted with everyone who lives there (requiring systems of law and order)." I contend that places like Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde met that definition, whatever their handicaps regarding agriculture might have been. And I assert that such cities were centers of trade and governance for much wider surrounding areas. They were the center of a large turqoise processing and trading industry. They were quarrying blocks and felling timber from far-flung places, and then transporting it to the central cities, and using it to build structures that remained the largest in North America (which included the Aztecs, note) until well after the American Revolution. And they had a system of highways extending hundreds of miles to boot.
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Peppers were the first cultivated crop in the Western Hemisphere, the plant that marked the start of the Agricultural Revolution. In the Middle East it was the fig. However, potatoes (roots) and peppers and figs (fruits) have virtually zero protein. The only plant tissue containing a significant amount of protein is the seed, so only plants that have large seeds (like nuts, beans and sunflowers) or concentrated seeds (like grains) can provide a significant portion of our daily need for protein.

    Yet still there's a problem with that: the protein in plant tissue is incomplete. Each source lacks certain key amino acids. If you eat no protein but grains, you'll eventually suffer from malnutrition. The easiest way to combat this is to eat just a little bit of animal protein: milk or eggs--or the animal's meat itself, although that's a very inefficient use of resources since dairy cattle provide ten times as much food per acre as beef cattle. If you have no livestock then you can balance your protein by mixing nuts with your grains. But you'd better be starting off with a grain that has a reasonable protein content of its own, and corn ain't it.
    The wheel was never invented in the Western Hemisphere. It was brought here by the Christian destroyers. Without large draft animals, the concept of the wheel doesn't occur to people. The Incas had the llama but the terrain there was not suitable for wheeled vehicles.

    Contrary to what I have said in these pages before, it appears that the wheel was only invented once, in Mesopotamia around 3500BCE. The technology spread quickly from there. I have often pointed out that most technologies are 99% ideas and only 1% artifacts, which is why they spread so quickly. The wheel is an obvious exception.

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    A society can't satisfy its protein requirements by eating the flesh of its own people. Do the math.

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    There were species related to horses in the Americas up to about 10,000BCE. But it appears that when the Paleoindians crossed over from Siberia, they hunted them to extinction for their meat. By the time the Agricultural Revolution occurred in our hemisphere a little later than in the Middle East, the only large herbivores in the north were the moose and the bison, which are not easily domesticated. In the south they had the llama, and in between they had nothing but deer, boars, mountain goats and capybaras.

    Oddly enough, our Arctic people never domesticated their reindeer population, which they call caribou.
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  5. Gustav Banned Banned


    come now, fella
    it may have not been used for transport but the concept of a circle, a circular object, is hardly remarkable

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    Wheeled Toys in Mexico (1500 bc)

    did our negroes domesticate stuff?
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  7. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    It's not that odd when you consider that nobody, to this day, has actually fully domesticated reindeer. They have never been bred in captivity, for example. Likewise, reindeer don't require much domestication in order to gain a lot of benefits from (apparently wild ones will allow humans to approach them and stick around, and even milk them(!)). Or that deer in general make poor candidates for domestication - the reindeer is the only major example of domesticated deer, and it's also the most recent animal to be domesticated.
  8. mathman Valued Senior Member


    Above article seems to contradict what you said.
  9. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

  10. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

    What about bananas?
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The sun and moon are circles but it's quite a leap of logic from them to a wheel with an axle and plain bearing. I'll withhold judgment on this article until I see the final peer-reviewed version. I have a hard time believing that the Olmecs in 1500BCE had the technology to build this toy. Remember that the Bronze Age didn't begin in Mesoamerica until around 0CE. Before that their only tools were made of copper, which doesn't lend itself to precision work. This was the Chalcolithic Era, which had occurred in the Old World about 5000BCE.
    There were no "black people" or "Afro-Americans" in the Western Hemisphere until the European conquest.
    There are plenty of petting zoos with deer. I've seen deer in parks panhandling like squirrels and raccoons. In Washington DC they've lost all fear of humans and stand on the curb with the two-legged pedestrians waiting for the light to turn green. They even do that when there are no humans around; since we killed off all their predators they've been breeding for intelligence instead of speed and agility.
    I think that distinction now goes to the capybara.
    Bananas are fruit. They have no significant protein content. The only part of a plant with much protein is the seeds. That includes grains, legumes and nuts.

    Sure, if you're patient you can gather the seeds out of some fruits like apples and oranges. But it will take you a long time to get a full meal's worth, and there's an awful lot of fiber in them that you have to remove or you won't be able to digest the protein. I've never actually heard of anyone doing that so I may be wrong about it even being possible.
  12. mathman Valued Senior Member

    Don't be so snotty. The article says that reindeer are domesticated and your note said they are not fully domesticated. I guess you make a distinction between domesticated and "fully" domesticated, whatever that means.
  13. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    There's a lot more to domestication than just being unafraid of humans. For example, many bears exhibit no fear of humans at all, but that hardly makes them domesticated. And your urban examples above apply just as well to pigeons and squirrels - do you consider those domesticated as well? What you are describing is "taming," which is far short of "domestication." Domestication requires artificial selection by humans, resulting in an altered genome that (better) meets some human needs. Note that co-adaptation, wherein animal genomes change in response to pressures/opportunities relating to humans (like urban animals getting fat and good at breaking into dumpsters) doesn't count - the humans have to be consciously intervening in the breeding process.

    The usual view is that 6 properties are required:

    My impression with deer is that they're generally flighty, and not amenable to having humans be the top of their social hierarchy. There were plenty of deer where I grew up, and consequently I knew a number of people who were badly injured when they walked out their front doors in the morning and encountered large bucks feeding off of their fruit trees.
  14. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    You got exactly the response that your comment merited. If you didn't like it, try putting in more effort next time. Or, just don't address yourself to me at all.

    You guess correct. And if you'd done 30 seconds of due diligence and read the relevant Wikipedia entry, you'd know exactly what that means:
  15. Gustav Banned Banned


    why pick if implausible? a plains indian would surely be more inspired by a tumbleweed rather than a star, don't you think. eckholm suggests spindle whorls which is pretty much an axle/wheel minus your plain bearing

    is there such a thing?

    that date is way off the mark actually. it is more like the late classic period
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    An axle and a wheel don't do anything unless they're attached to something you want to move. That attachment point is the plain bearing. Without it it's just a thing that rolls around and does nothing. Like a tumbleweed.

    Some (many? most?) cultures invented the potter's wheel before adapting it for transportation. But even the spindle in a potter's wheel requires at least a rudimentary bearing to hold it still for working. Otherwise all you have is a spinning top.
    As a peer-reviewed journal article? Of course!
    That makes sense. By the middle of the first millennium C.E. they had learned to alloy copper with tin and create bronze, which is a strong enough metal to make sturdy tools.

    I think it's mighty strange for a culture to invent the wheel--one of the basic "simple machines"--for use only as a toy, without slapping their foreheads and saying, "Wow, just think what a larger version of this could for our pyramid-building projects." But just because it's mighty strange doesn't mean it can't happen.

    Other people have made the same comment about tiny toy gliders that appear to have been built in the Bronze Age. But it's not the same.

    A wheel, an axle, the bearing and the vehicle they all support are all three-dimensional. You can scale up the entire apparatus proportionally and it will function more-or-less predictably. But that's not true of an aircraft. The body of the craft which determines its mass is three-dimensional, but the airfoil that provides the lift is only two-dimensional. So the airfoil has to be enlarged disproportionally to the body. If you increase the linear dimensions of the body by a factor of two you increase the mass by a factor of eight. But if you increase the linear dimensions of the airfoil by a factor of two you've only increased its lift by a factor of four. This is why a condor's wings are larger than his body, while a hummingbird's wings are petite.
  17. Gustav Banned Banned

    two papers were offered
    one from antiquity
    another from american antiquity
    rankings are found here

    since you await the "final" word, finding those wanting, i presume you require a publication in the national enquirer a museum down the street.....befuddlement notwithstanding...

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  18. mcorazao Registered Member

    General observation: Think about where civilization emerged. 1) The Mediterranean basin, not Scandinavia or Russia. 2) The Yellow River and Indus River, not Mongolia or Siberia. 3) Central America, not Canada or Patagonia.

    The point is that civilization emerged where it was warm year round making it easy to establish agriculture and livestock husbandry. The great civilizations of the colder regions came along millennia after they were established in the warm regions, after technologies became sophisticated enough to allow civilization to thrive in the colder climates. So it is not surprising that civilization in much of North America was not well developed when the Europeans arrived simply because civilization in the Americas overall had not come as far along as in Eurasia/Africa. In Central America and Mexico it had thrived and there was some degree of civilization even in the U.S. Southwest. But civilization probably had not taken hold in too much more of North America yet just because the temperature extremes did not really encourage the more civilized peoples in Central America to want to migrate into much of North America. Even along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. which is somewhat warm, you can still get some serious cold snaps (today not such a big deal but for a more primitive civilization it could destroy a harvest sufficiently to cause a city-state to collapse); and don't forget the hurricanes which would wipe out a primitive Gulf Coast city in one fell swoop.

    Mind you, this is not to say that people did not live in the colder regions; they obviously did. This is just to say that civilization became established in areas where, once you learned the basic tricks of agriculture and construction, life was relatively easy and you could afford to invest time in building a civilization rather than worrying about making it through winter.
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The largest pyramid in the world - by volume - is just outside of Saint Louis, Missouri. The city around it incorporated the diversion of a fairly large tributary river. The people who built it had no draft animals.

    There are also remains of extensive large towns in the Amazon basin, where agriculture as we know it - planting and harvesting of annual crops - was almost impossible with stone age tech, and there were no large domesticated animals. They appear to have cultivated perennials, especially fruit and nut trees, and gardened intensively - including modifying large areas of soil by sophisticated composting techniques over many years.

    One theory as to why none of these civilizations survived to be encountered by Europeans is that they were destroyed by disease in the century after Columbus landed.
  20. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    and, then
    we have gobekli tepe
    which seems to predate agriculture
  21. river

    So it does , slowly but surely our findings like gobekli tepe put many ancient understandings of Humans evolution into question .
  22. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    What do you mean by "our ancient understanding of human evolution"? Our understanding of evolution is less than 200 years, not really ancient.
    Besides, how could a building site that is only 11,000 years old say anything about our evolution?
  23. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    cultural evolution
    architectural evolution

    meanwhile, I have often wondered about the ceramic "cart" from pre-columbian america(post 54)
    who or what pulled the cart?
    a person?
    a dog?
    a llama?

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