Saturday, April 06, 2002

The Atlantic Monthly has this irritating habit of not puting most of its content online until a month after the magazine appears on the newsstands, so this has been around for a little while, but I think the cover story in the March issue on the question of how large and complex were the civilisations of pre-Columbian American is very interesting.

The story that has been gradually building over the last two to three decades is that there were many more people and much more sophisticated cultures than previously realised. (The key point is that Europeans arrived, gave diseases to the locals, and then took a couple of centuries to explore the Americas, by which time most of the inhabitants and cultures were dead or greatly reduced in size. The lack of indigenous domestic animals in the Americas seems to be the main reason there were many more contagious diseases in Europe than the Americas). There is nothing in the article really new (for one thing, while Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel attempts to be about global issues, Eurasia v Americas is really the key question) but it is the best summary I have seen on a truly fascinating subject.

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

This is the weblog of Michael Jennings. I can be contacted at I am just testing to see that this works. I did write up a brief note describing myself, but received the BSOD for some reason before I managed to post it. So, that will have to wait.

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