author of Guns Germs And Steel
Next book (Collapse): I'm exploring the romantic mysteries that all of us were interested in in school, why is it that Greece of Homer, Greece of the Trojan War, why did Mycanaeum Greece collapse? Why did the Western Roman Empire fall? Why did the Indus Valley civilisation of India collapse? Why did Angkor Wat in Cambodia get abandoned? There are many civilisations that collapsed, and we're now realising from archaeology studies in the last decade or two, many of these societies destroyed their resource base, and thereby destroyed themselves, so that people starved, in some cases the area was completely abandoned.
- Feb'2013: Jon Udell on research by Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo that contradicts Diamond's theory about Easter Island.
on Agriculture (in 1987) - In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.... Scattered throughout the world, several dozen groups of so-called primitive people, like the Kalahari bushmen, continue to support themselves that way. It turns out that these people have plenty of leisure time, sleep a good deal, and work less hard than their farming neighbors... One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in Body Height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5' 9" for men, 5' 5" for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B. C. had reached a low of only 5' 3" for men, 5' for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors... Thus with the advent of agriculture an elite became better off, but most people became worse off... As population densities of Hunter Gatherer-s slowly rose at the end of the ice ages, bands had to choose between feeding more mouths by taking the first steps toward agriculture, or else finding ways to limit growth.