How advanced could human civilization have become without ''Beasts of Burden''?

''Beasts of Burden'' such as Donkey, Mules, Llama's, Camel's, Horses, and Oxen etc. have played a critical role in the development of human civilization. They have made significant contributions in farming and perhaps the biggest impact of Beasts of Burden is that they have allowed individual human cultures to expand across great distances and interact with other cultures through trade.

I have heard that perhaps the greatest reason why the native Americans were more than a millennia behind Europe in terms of technological development is that they lacked Beasts of Burden, thus their individual civilizations were smaller and more isolated as they lacked the ability to farm, explore, conquer and trade across large distances like Europeans could with Horses.

With this in mind, I'm wondering how advanced human civilization could have become if Beasts of Burden simply did not exist anywhere on Earth? Would our countries be smaller? I expect that our development would be slowed but how slowed? Would we have an identical level of technology by the present-day or would we be a few centuries behind? Would we even make it to the 21st century?
 
The Mesoamericans managed to create large, complex societies without said beasts of burden.

It would be difficult, but people have developed methods of carrying large loads without the need of beasts of burden, as you said. Dogs still exist, after all, and can be bred to pull loads.

Waterways would be far more important. Similarly, people might have developed wind-powered land transport much sooner.
 
In addition to transport issues, lack of domesticated beasts of burden means a reduced amount of leather and hides which will certainly have some effect. Reduced protein too, but I think domesticated birds would make up for it.
The Mesoamericans managed to create large, complex societies without said beasts of burden.
This is true, but they were also rather decentralized compared to comparable Old World empires in the Bronze Age/Iron Age. Granted, Mexico is rather mountainous and their center of power was inland meaning they couldn't take advantage of sailing or river travel. States along navigable rivers and coasts in flatter terrain could do better.
It would be difficult, but people have developed methods of carrying large loads without the need of beasts of burden, as you said. Dogs still exist, after all, and can be bred to pull loads.
Emphasis on difficult. Indigenous porters in Mexico carried up 60 kg around 60 km a day. While that's useful if you're a merchant, that's going to have a huge effect on how society develops when a significant amount of men spend their lives hauling around goods instead of, say, farming or mining like slaves/peasants elsewhere did.
 

NotBigBrother

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addition to transport issues, lack of domesticated beasts of burden means a reduced amount of leather and hides which will certainly have some effect. Reduced protein too, but I think domesticated birds would make up for it.
Pigs are not beasts of burden.
 
now that i think more about it. Ukraine has the most fertile black soil in the world. without the steppe raiders huge civilizatioms could flourish there. Trypilia culture had older and larger cities than mesopotamia with populations as high as 46,000. they got destroyed by nomadic indo europeans. wont happen in this scenario. Also Vinca culture in the balkans could thrive.
 
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Pretty much tons of people dead in the gutter, because the gutter would be invented to channel water due to the lack of animals to help with serious irrigation and agirculture.
 
If the question is "by the present day" then advancement would be extremely limited. I agree that some locations would be more successful at pure agriculture and urban development without chariots, cart migrations, and cavalry.

That said, removing donkeys, cattle, horses, and camels (assuming that's it) displaces development overwhelmingly onto water power and water transport. The wheel could easily not be applied to transport by the modern day, though that's a maybe. Riverine states like Egypt, Babylon, or even Shang China would be viable, and states with other water transport could develop significantly as well: Greece or Britain is very practical, and while a Persian Empire might be a non-starter, a Mediterranean/Black Sea Empire would be technically achievable. Traditional international trade routes - centered on monsoon seasons and extending between the Sinai and Guangdong - would exist long before "the modern day."

Eurasian civilizations are more dominant in their peripheries here via soft power, but the civilizations are smaller and their peripheries may be as well. Technological levels are much, much lower, and more uneven - technological "sharing" is significantly reduced, especially away from the Indian Ocean trade. Cultures are more diverse and weird; places with limited water transport will be economically isolated and so may retain significantly different cultures from sea-going or river-valley neighbors.

If the question is just "how advanced" then I don't think it's meaningfully different from OTL, actually. It might take further millennia, but mankind could create an alternate version of what we have. There's no particular obstacle to developing writing, the loom, gunpowder, Atlantic sailing techniques, water mills, steam engines, or smartphones. Late Mayan and Incan states between Portugal and Japan could still do all of that. It's only that it happens later.
 
Pretty much tons of people dead in the gutter, because the gutter would be invented to channel water due to the lack of animals to help with serious irrigation and agirculture.
The Hohokam of Arizona built a huge amount of irrigation canals despite their relatively small population and lack of domesticated animals so it's not as much a setback as you'd think.
 
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