Could the Mississippi-Missouri river system have become a cradle of civilization?

They are solitary animals, except during mating season, when Bulls will fight each other and get a Harem of Cows together.
The USSR tried Moose Domestication in the '30s. It could be done, but keeping them in pens did not work well as more dispersed ranching
Moose are solitary yes, but they're not anti social, as the Russian/Soviet Moose farms have demonstrated.
And thats a huge problem as before a lot of modern technology you need to pen an animal inorder for domestication to work before modern times.
And thats the problem that every animal looked at for domestication has in this thread, all of them have one or more issues that keep them form being domesticated before modern times. The requirements for domestication are so specific that its frankly crazy we had the bakers dozen in OTL, and non of thos live in North America. Deer are way to sitish and will brake there own nekes if put in a pin, mose will quite frankly murder anybody that trys to pin them and bears aren't werth it do to thermal dynamics even if they could be pined, which they can't.
Pens are completely irrelevant. Penning animals is not what led to domestication originally, and there's a very large body of literature to support that. Most domestic animals (and herbivores in particular) were domesticated through the prey pathway, which is fundamentally a prey management pathway. Its modified hunting behavior through and through, you kill off the population selectively (which often means aggressive males), which creates a selection pressure for docility. Herd management is barely changed from hunting strategies, and it only takes looking at herding dogs to see that. Dogs use exactly the same techniques in herding as wolves do for hunting, but the difference of course is that humans are directing the first in order to keep the herd together and safe from actual predators. You want to talk skittishness though? Take a look at the guanaco or vicuna. They're frankly more skittish than deer, but you know what? They're the wild ancestors of llamas and alpacas, which are anything but that. Animal behavior changes through domestication, that's well known. If you need more examples, feel free to look at the aurochs to cattle, wild to domestic yak, or the boar to pig.

The reality is animals aren't "undomesticable" due to some innate deterministic factor to them, domestication is a multifaceted event which requires certain societal prerequisites in place before it will happen. The prey pathway has only occurred in agricultural settings which prevent it in most of North America already. The directed pathway has always followed the prey pathway, so if you don't have existing prey-domesticates, you won't see directed events like what led to the horse, camel, or the solitary donkey (or Moose in this case).

What's frustrating is I've made more or less this exact same post before in other threads, but people keep parroting the same Diamondian crap without actually looking at the scientific literature themselves.

EDIT: I just wanted to add, part of why we know pens aren't a large part of the domestication process is by looking at the genetics of captive populations. We can see gene flow going both ways in the captive and wild populations, which also implies that there isn't some single magic gene that controls domesticability. If populations were as penned up as is being suggested you wouldn't see that, because that implies the wild and captive populations are reproductively isolated. What we see in the genetics is that wild and "captive" populations exchanged genes a great deal, which means animals were coming and going somewhat at their leisure, which in all reality looks a lot like the existing Russian moose farms that @marathag mentioned earlier.
 
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Pens are completely irrelevant.
They are important post domestication. It has the benefit to keep the animals under control, safe from four and two legged predators, so you lessen the need to keep domesticating wild replacement animals as frequently

If you can't keep them penned up, then there would be problems with both Wolves and Moose Rustlers from other settlements, if the dispersed ranching is done

From the Soviet examples, there were not problems with Wolves or Bandits as much as other times/locations might be troubled with

it might be best to think of the Moose as very large, occasionally dangerous Free Range Chickens you keep around for the Milk in place of Eggs, rather than for the meat like Hogs on reaching maturity and full weight.
 
If you can't keep them penned up, then there would be problems with both Wolves and Moose Rustlers from other settlements, if the dispersed ranching is done
And...so? There are numerous examples of this just plain not mattering in the slightest. Look at the "Wild West"--they didn't have pens (at least, not for most of the animal lifecycle), since it was impractical to fence off large parts of territory until later on (when it stopped being the Wild West). They just let the animals roam free and rounded them up periodically. Still worked pretty well overall. Or look at the Eurasian steppe--they never had pens, at least not on a large scale, for the same reason--there's not a lot of trees on the steppe. But that supported pastoral societies for thousands of years just fine.
 
They are important post domestication. It has the benefit to keep the animals under control, safe from four and two legged predators, so you lessen the need to keep domesticating wild replacement animals as frequently

If you can't keep them penned up, then there would be problems with both Wolves and Moose Rustlers from other settlements, if the dispersed ranching is done

From the Soviet examples, there were not problems with Wolves or Bandits as much as other times/locations might be troubled with

it might be best to think of the Moose as very large, occasionally dangerous Free Range Chickens you keep around for the Milk in place of Eggs, rather than for the meat like Hogs on reaching maturity and full weight.
Post domestication is an entirely different matter, animal behavior changes and domestic animals are more docile and able to be penned, but they don't start out that way. Domestication isn't something clear cut where something is or isn't domesticated, its a highly gradual process, which as I mentioned saw a great deal of wild gene flow. It's also not a short one, which is why Moose can hardly be called domesticated in spite of efforts since the 30's. Protection from predation can and does occur through means other than fencing, many of which are frankly more effective anyways. Again, I bring up dogs, which are used as livestock guardians for a reason. As for danger, we've domesticated far more dangerous animals than the Moose (say, the Aurochs), I don't think that's a problem. The problem remains that agriculture pretty much has to come first for animal domestication, which does raise the question of if the Mississippi area is best suited for development of agriculture (or as @Dave Howery pointed out, if earlier arrival is necessary).
 
The problem remains that agriculture pretty much has to come first for animal domestication, which does raise the question of if the Mississippi area is best suited for development of agriculture (or as @Dave Howery pointed out, if earlier arrival is necessary).
Would be an awesome place, had they access to South American plants on arrival. But even a thousand years sooner would be helpful.
 
Would be an awesome place, had they access to South American plants on arrival. But even a thousand years sooner would be helpful.
There's no question that its a great place for agriculture, but there has been some good discussion about whether its a good place for the development of it. Someone up thread brought up that many places where agriculture developed experienced scarcity which likely gave the initial push towards agriculture, which I think is an excellent point. From a purely practical standpoint, there's little point to innovating if what you're currently doing already works quite well. What is a good question is if the Mississippi is just too nice to provide that push towards heavy agriculture, and personally I'm not sure. The Eastern Agricultural Complex did develop in the area, but it developed later than the rest of the Americas and with many crops that were less than ideal, but it did develop some agriculture.
 
Perhaps we are overthinking domestication of animals. Mesoamerica, a cradle of civilization, had little animals as beasts of burden
 
There's no question that its a great place for agriculture, but there has been some good discussion about whether its a good place for the development of it. Someone up thread brought up that many places where agriculture developed experienced scarcity which likely gave the initial push towards agriculture, which I think is an excellent point. From a purely practical standpoint, there's little point to innovating if what you're currently doing already works quite well. What is a good question is if the Mississippi is just too nice to provide that push towards heavy agriculture, and personally I'm not sure. The Eastern Agricultural Complex did develop in the area, but it developed later than the rest of the Americas and with many crops that were less than ideal, but it did develop some agriculture.
Bolding mine.

Has there been no point at all in, say, the last 10,000 years when the Mississippi area might have gone through an extended period of scarcity? We know that Egypt, for example, has had periods when the whole area - not just the Nile River Valley - has been pretty lush with heavy rainfall. Could the opposite not be true of the Mississippi? I'm not saying it was briefly a desert, but more asking if there was a time when it wasn't quite as lush and that could've supported/spurred the necessary innovation.

I have tried looking this up on Google, but information about North American climate 5,000 to 10,000 years ago is much more basic than that regarding the Middle East.

Northstar
 
As others have pointed out the Eastern Agricultural Complex, developed in the middle Mississippi valley, is accepted as one of ten sites that independently developed agriculture
 
Is land also a contributing factor towards the lack of development towards state formation in the Mississippi?

The size of the entire Mississippi river basin is massive compared to the Nile or the Tigris/Euphrates. Perhaps agricultural settlements are too spread out for people to coalesce into a single polity. In addition, the amount of natural resources in those lands could also be a potential reason why there's less of a need to form states to acquire more resources when you have most of the stuff that you need to prosper.
 
Is land also a contributing factor towards the lack of development towards state formation in the Mississippi?

The size of the entire Mississippi river basin is massive compared to the Nile or the Tigris/Euphrates. Perhaps agricultural settlements are too spread out for people to coalesce into a single polity. In addition, the amount of natural resources in those lands could also be a potential reason why there's less of a need to form states to acquire more resources when you have most of the stuff that you need to prosper.
Well China eventually formed into a state, and expanded with each iteration, I don't see why a similar process can't happen with the Mississippians.
 
Well China eventually formed into a state, and expanded with each iteration, I don't see why a similar process can't happen with the Mississippians.
Probably when the population density reaches a point where land subdivision pressures necessitate some sort of gravitation towards feudal organization, which admittedly may take awhile given that the land is so rich and there is so much of it. That or state formation is triggered by the need for flood control as was posited upthread.
 
Perhaps we are overthinking domestication of animals. Mesoamerica, a cradle of civilization, had little animals as beasts of burden
For the most part everyone that has brought up animal domestication has also said its not essential. The people focusing on it most are the detractors.
Has there been no point at all in, say, the last 10,000 years when the Mississippi area might have gone through an extended period of scarcity? We know that Egypt, for example, has had periods when the whole area - not just the Nile River Valley - has been pretty lush with heavy rainfall. Could the opposite not be true of the Mississippi? I'm not saying it was briefly a desert, but more asking if there was a time when it wasn't quite as lush and that could've supported/spurred the necessary innovation.

I have tried looking this up on Google, but information about North American climate 5,000 to 10,000 years ago is much more basic than that regarding the Middle East.
Unfortunately you'll find that is a common occurrence with much of anything in the pre-Columbian Americas. The scholarship is very limited across the board. Its a little better from 1000 BC on, but before that can often be extremely difficult.
 
Actually considering that perhaps have been known to ride reindeer I could see them filling a similar niche to oxen and horse. Mix that in with iron working from the Northwest and you could see the Mississippians facing some nasty invasions at the hands of reindeer riders, in a Mongols-China parallel. Considering that copper based metallurgy was pretty common for a while perhaps we could see the alt-Mississippians being more of a bronze age civilization with the occasion piece of iron working by the time of contact with the old world.
The largest reindeer are barely sufficient mounts for an adult man and reindeer lack the temperment to be good cavalry since they're skitterish and would rather not charge at a wall of screaming humans. I do wonder if the very idea of people riding reindeer in Siberia (or Scandinavia) was culturally borrowed from nearby cultures with horses (i.e. Turko-Mongolic peoples etc). Even if it wasn't, horseback riding isn't the most intuitive thing and came relatively late so it's likely that given the small size of reindeer it's one of those ideas that never really takes off. Of course, if the only domestic is the reindeer, then a culture which has access to them has an immense logistical advantage over a culture which doesn't.
Has there been no point at all in, say, the last 10,000 years when the Mississippi area might have gone through an extended period of scarcity? We know that Egypt, for example, has had periods when the whole area - not just the Nile River Valley - has been pretty lush with heavy rainfall. Could the opposite not be true of the Mississippi? I'm not saying it was briefly a desert, but more asking if there was a time when it wasn't quite as lush and that could've supported/spurred the necessary innovation.
I believe there are periods of several centuries in North America which are fairly dry, and within those periods are decade-long droughts. Whether that would spur the innovations needed is debateable.
 
They are solitary animals, except during mating season, when Bulls will fight each other and get a Harem of Cows together.
The USSR tried Moose Domestication in the '30s. It could be done, but keeping them in pens did not work well as more dispersed ranching

of interest:

But then there is the whole problem of lactose tolerance that squashes that benefit in North America for most of the folks who lived where Moose roamed
Is it actually a problem? Last I heard was lactose tolerance evolved independently as many as 4 different times as cultures had opportunity. By implication, a 5th occurrence wouldn't be too surprising.
 
It doesn't explain why certain areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, fell behind Eurasia eventually despite it being the origin of our species
as much as Diamond is berated on this site, I think he's right when it comes to pointing out that the Fertile Crescent (one of the first places humans went to when they left Africa) was uniquely suited to be a cradle of civilization, due to the confluence of so many domesticate--possible plants and animals all in one area. And humans had a loooooong time to work on it there. And while I'm not sure he's right that some animals are just not ever able to be domesticated, I think it's safe to say that some are easier than others. Aurochs were domesticated in several places, African buffalo never were. The New World had a double whammy in that people got there late and there didn't seem to be a lot of easily domesticated animals. If we could change the 'got there late' factor, they could at least have more time to develop corn, potatoes, and other plants...
 
as much as Diamond is berated on this site, I think he's right when it comes to pointing out that the Fertile Crescent (one of the first places humans went to when they left Africa) was uniquely suited to be a cradle of civilization, due to the confluence of so many domesticate--possible plants and animals all in one area. And humans had a loooooong time to work on it there. And while I'm not sure he's right that some animals are just not ever able to be domesticated, I think it's safe to say that some are easier than others. Aurochs were domesticated in several places, African buffalo never were. The New World had a double whammy in that people got there late and there didn't seem to be a lot of easily domesticated animals. If we could change the 'got there late' factor, they could at least have more time to develop corn, potatoes, and other plants...
I think you’re overanalyzing the question a bit. What happened to Sub-Saharan Africa can be explained pretty neatly by two major factors: the tsetse fly and the sleeping sickness it brings making livestock spreading southward not feasible, and the presence of tropical diseases that coevolved with the human species.
 
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