Lands of Red and Gold

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jared, Dec 16, 2008.

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  1. Petike Sky Pirate Extraordinaire

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    Well, over here, both hens/chickens (especially chicks) and ducks (especially ducklings) are seen as symbols of the coming spring and the renewal of life after the harsh winter. Some early spring flowers are also regarded as "the messengers of spring".
     
  2. prettydragoon Arabella Mondegreen

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    This one time, at banned camp
    Obviously heavier-than-air craft are too flimsy to be used as weapons platforms. Dirigibles, now, if you build them large enough, you could make veritable warships of the air.
     
  3. mojojojo Member

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    What I meant was, is there a specific tradition of a magical duck that brings colored egg that the Easter Duck in the TL evolved from. For example in France Magic church bells bring Easter Eggs http://colettesdaughter.blogspot.com/2012/02/church-bells-bring-easter-eggs-in.html
     
  4. Petike Sky Pirate Extraordinaire

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    Never heard of that kind of thing. Maybe it's purely an ATL phenomennon.
     
  5. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    Now that is a very tempting idea...

    Merci.

    Due to the nature of their relationship with white (and what they call black) anglophones, and the nature of their own religion being resistant to conversion, Congxie have a rather hostile attitude toward Christianity. Politely put, they view it as part of the "Cavendian" tools of oppression. They define their identity as being "other-than-Christian", if you will.

    So some Congxie do look, in various ways, to criticise Christianity. While they're not usually as juvenile about it as the teenagers described here, they do make jibes about Christianity really being pagan, with Easter being Eostre-worship, and Christmas really being sun-worship (since it's timed to the winter solstice and rebirth of the sun).

    Other Plirities are, broadly speaking, much less hostile to the idea. For instance, while African Plirites refuse to become Christian, on the whole they are much less anti-Christian.

    Oh, that's very good. So propellor aircraft are described as being helidons (from the Greek for "spinning teeth"), and jet aircraft are then called pteranodons because their distinguishing feature is the lack of spinning teeth.

    I just got the name for the two kinds of aircraft, but I still haven't thought about the general term for any aircraft.

    There are various traditions of Easter Ducks around in OTL, as a quick google will show. I don't know where they originated from historically, or if people just independently made them up. Either way, it shows that the idea can catch on. ATL, it just caught on a lot more, that's all. :)

    Now I need another ATL name for dirigible...
     
  6. Petike Sky Pirate Extraordinaire

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    They sure know how to hold a grudge for several centuries... Which is what baffles me a little. Did the Cavendian or Alleghenian opression/discrimination continue well into the 20th century ?

    Skysausages. :D Or maybe cloudcaterpillars - "cloudcats" for short. ;) Alternatively, if helium gets the same name as in OTL, they could be called "helos"/"helis" once they adopt helium as their preferred buoyancy gas over hydrogen. Since there are no "helicopters", the nickname "helos"/"helis" won't be taken. :D
     
  7. mojojojo Member

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    How about windbags :p
     
  8. mojojojo Member

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    Sep 9, 2006
    So other than as an opportunity to mock Christians, do they have any interest in reviving the worship of old deities (as Wiccans sometime do in the real world)?
     
  9. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    I've got a lot of sympathy for neo-paganism, but I find it hard to believe anyone can believe in the old gods as literally existing. I gather some of the neo-pagans do have such beliefs but my introduction to it was via Starhawk, whose books took the view that "magic is liberation psychology." The sort of neo-paganism I can relate to says that the human mind thinks in more layers than just the rational level of words and stuff we can't articulate in words is still valid and important. Therefore the mythic images we think in matter, they express and shape our world-views. And neo-pagans are critical of the world view that mainstream mythos has led us to and wish to revive ritual and myth around older gods as an alternative point of view, to open our minds to more productive and sustainable ways of thinking and acting.

    I've got the impression that like Buddhism, Piirism is not strongly attached to the literal idea that certain gods actually exist; it is much more about using stories about the deities the Piirist founders inherited from their cultural background to teach lessons about how people should live their lives. If this is right, then Piirists should be pretty adept at adopting lessons from other pantheons, and as a scientific world view evolves finding little conflict between the godless world of science and the mythos they teach.

    Then, the Congxie, in their confrontational war with Christians, will be exposing themselves to many mythic traditions, but they are only trying to mock, subvert and tear down one of them. I could then see some of them getting thoughtful about the lessons and images the various contra-Christian traditions they dredge up as weapons being used instead more as intended, as positive life lessons, and thus assembling an array of traditions, excluding only orthodox Christianity.

    It all depends on how well attached the Piirists are to their original gods. And the Congxie will have a head start on religious eclecticism with their fusion of Piirist, Native American (that's just Amerindian in this timeline, right?) and African lore from their various founder peoples. Of course instead of opening them up to fusing every tradition in sight, this might simply create a new, expanded pantheon that serves them well enough and becomes canon as far as they are concerned; there might not seem to be room or need to incorporate others.

    Also, in the course of dragging up European alternate mythology in particular, which they use to confront the Christians as syncretic pirates, they might decide that the culprit in creating the sick and evil worldview they oppose is not so much Christianity after all but the whole European mindset; they might decide that the Classical Greeks and Romans and Germanics were all just as bad and maybe even find a new sympathy for Christ, if they can only purge out the stuff Hellenists, Romans, and the German barbarians infested it with. They might decide it isn't so much Christians they hate, as "white people.":p

    I guess not, if that were the trend I suppose Jared would have shown it by now. It does seem they find syncretism like Eostre more attractive than the core message of Christianity suitably pared down; they aren't sympathetic with Calvinists who would agree that the traditional Catholic holidays are generally alien to the proper spirit of following Jesus. So rather than allies the Christian Puritans are their most mortal enemies.
     
  10. Flubber Banned

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    I see Pliritism as more akin to Taoism than the western idea of religion. It's more about presenting a way of life and/or thought in and of itself than presenting a list of laws from a deity or deities. Putting it rather clumsily, it's more a philosophy than a theology.

    As for the Congxie, when a big part of your definition of yourself is "I'm/We're Not X" you tend to get hung up on X. That's the usual consequence of defining yourself via a negative, "I Am Not...", instead via a positive, "I am...".
     
  11. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    The Congxie were founded by people who escaped from Cavendian slavery at the turn of the eighteenth century by fleeing into the *South Carolina/*Georgia uplands. They thought that they had made peace there for a while, but then land-hungry Cavendians started to push them out of the uplands. This turned into the Lord Protector's War and what the Congxie see as treacherous massacres (which isn't entirely true, but that's how the Congxie remember it).

    The survivors of the Lord Protector's War fled out of the Appalachians west into the fertile soils of the *Alabama Black Belt and surrounding regions. As these posts show, during the rough equivalent to the mid-nineteenth century the Cavendians followed them west again and took over those lands too, in the process treating the remaining Congxie as being subhuman too.

    You could say the Congxie ask themselves how far they have to run before the Cavendians leave them alone.

    Or if helium gets called coronium, then they may become coronas for short...

    Not really. The Congxie have a syncretic approach to religion, but they don't drag up dead religions for serious worship.

    Whether the "gods" actually exist or are just convenient metaphors will be an eventual debate within Plirism, although probably not until the twentieth century (or socio-technological equivalent). The main canonical texts are ambiguous enough that they can be interpreted either way, although many Plirites do pray to various divine or semi-divine figures. These prayers usually amount to "help me understand the world" rather than "make this happen for me", although there is some of the latter.

    Of course, Plirism tends to be a cheerful mish-mash of any beliefs and stories which might help people understand the best approach to harmony. So they will have no problem adopting moral lessons from other faiths - including, perhaps, references to divine beings within those stories / parables - but they won't accept the divine beings as all-knowing.

    One thing which Plirism is clear on, though. Even divine beings do not know everything; at best, they can help you along the path to building your understanding. In some early Plirite texts, the Good Man argued with gods and won. They don't (usually) interpret this to mean that the Good Man was superior to gods or that the old gods don't exist, just that even the gods can be wrong. Doing something just because a god tells you to do it is not a concept which really maps onto their worldview.

    Some Plirites will absorb some moral lessons from Christianity, without doubt. The Congxie are perhaps not in the best position to accept them - though some of the parables may make their way in - but other Plirites in other places will probably be more open.

    One thing which Plirites will find almost incomprehensible, though, is the doctrine of original sin and Christ's death/resurrection as redemption for that sin. To their way of thinking, a person needs to atone for their own misdeeds, or others need to stop that person making misdeeds. The idea that someone else can absolve you from sin - especially sin you never committed, but inherited - is not one that sits easily with them.

    Congxie have certainly incorporated some other figures into their beliefs. Tsul 'Kalu (to the Congxie, just Tsul Kalu) from Cherokee mythology has been mentioned in passing, and there are others from Native American belief systems. African Plirites will have similar responses to some of their own beliefs.

    The mockery via Eostre is based on the Plirite idea that Christians "adopting" Easter as a festival is hypocritical. In other words, the Christians aren't really monotheists, but have simply stolen other faiths and rebadged them, without having the decency to admit that this refers to another god who can be learned from. They have a similar view of the history of a lot of Christian saints, who are in some cases seen as rebadged pagan gods.

    Re: the Puritans, Plirites find Calvinists even more perplexing than other Christians, because they don't get the Calvinist view of predestination at all. This isn't a cause of hostility in itself - at least in most cases - but finding the whole belief just too hard to figure out.

    Which is not helped because most Plirites came to know about Calvinism via the misunderstandings of early contact with the Dutch and then passed on, rather than later people actually asking the Dutch what they believed.

    Plirism certainly doesn't fit into the Abrahamic mould of one deity (or three) establishing a list of laws for how people should live.

    Of course, part of the problem is that even defining what counts as a religion is not easy. What is religion to a modern Christian is extraordinarily different to what a pre-Christian Roman understood by religion, which is different to what a Buddhist understands by religion (if they even call Buddhism a religion), and so on.

    Plirism is certainly more like Taoism or Buddhism in many ways than it is to the Abrahamic faiths. On the other hand, it practices the idea of exclusive truth, and it is also an evangelical religion (albeit for rather different reasons to Christianity or Islam).

    So I guess that's a long-winded way of saying "it depends what aspect you're talking about".

    This is indeed the problem. And one reason why even other Plirites often find the Congxie a bit... strange.
     
  12. Threadmarks: Lands of Red and Gold #65: Empire State of Mind

    Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    Lands of Red and Gold #65: Empire State of Mind

    The World he found was New
    And Death on swift wings Flew
    To Men who sweet maize Grew
    .”
    - From “Elegy to Columbus”, by Piety “Chancellor” Jackson

    * * *

    Taken from: “Cannon, Clocks and Crops: The Destinies of Human Societies.”
    By Julius Sanford
    Newport [New Haven, Connecticut]: Winthrop & Jessup, 1993.

    Prologue

    It is both commonplace and misunderstood that history has yielded different fates for peoples from different parts of the world. The Ice Age ended some 13,000 years ago, at a time when all humans in existence lived similar lifestyles: small, usually nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers equipped with stone tools similar to those which our prehuman ancestors had wielded on the savannahs of ancient Africa.

    In the millennia which followed, some of those peoples went on to develop literate societies with metal tools, some peoples became farmers but remained illiterate, and some remained hunter-gatherers with only stone tools. A smaller subset of those literate metal tool using societies went on to dominate the globe, conquering or exterminating the non-literate societies, and then with the twin prongs of commerce and industrialisation, overcoming even the other literate metal tool using societies.

    The legacy of these historical inequalities continues to shape the modern world. While the fact of these inequalities is one of the most basic items of world history, the cause of these inequalities remains shrouded in ambiguity and controversy...

    Examination of the differences between these societies poses a host of questions. Why were Europeans the ones who sailed to Cathay, and later dominated it, rather than the other way around? Why did Europeans conquer and settle so much of the New World, while no New World society established itself outside of the Americas? Why did Bantu farmers from West Africa settle and displace the Pygmies and Khoisan peoples from sub-equatorial Africa? Why were Austronesian peoples successful in expanding across a distance that spans half the globe, from Madagascar to Easter Island, while the more ancient farming societies of New Guinea remained confined to that land and nearby islands? Why were the Nuttana the first to contact Japan and Cathay, rather than the other way around?

    Technology clearly plays a role in many of these cases, most prominently in the European conquest and large-scale population replacements in the New World. Yet technology is not in itself a complete answer, as shown by the Nuttana who were less advanced than Cathay and Japan, but still reached those nations first.

    The answers to these questions can be found in the explanation for the differences which have shaped the modern history of the world. Where did these differences originate? What did they mean for the fate of different peoples?

    This book is an attempt to answer these questions...

    Chapter 2: Collisions of Continents

    For the first 12,000 years after the end of the last Ice Age, different human societies on separate continents largely developed in isolation. While there was some contact between them, this was usually sporadic or carried on by a chain of intermediaries. For most of their course those societies developed along their own paths. Only over the last thousand years have the different societies of the world come into direct, sustained contact.

    These collisions of continents are most dramatically demonstrated in Hernan Cortes’ conquest of the Aztecs, and Francisco Pizzaro’s triumph over the Incas. These two clashes marked the defeat of the two greatest empires of the New World by a handful of men from one society in the Old World, and would be followed by the large-scale population replacement of most of the Americas’ inhabitants with peoples from the Old World, and in some cases from the Third World.

    Other collisions of continents often lacked the same defining moments that marked the Spanish conquests in the Americas, but their consequences were profound for all peoples involved. The modern history of sub-Saharan Africa is the story of the collision of Africans with invaders from Europe and the Near East, and of a cultural though non-political invasion from Aururia. The history of the Indian continent is likewise shaped by the collision with European societies, and the different consequences for the societies within India. The modern history of Aururia is the story of multiple collisions, both as European and Polynesian cultures collided with it, and Aururian societies colliding with others across the globe.

    The different outcomes of these cultural collisions were shaped by the differences which had emerged in the societies of each continent over the last 13,000 years. These differences are simply illustrated by using the year 1500 AD as a convenient dividing line. This marked the beginning of a watershed moment, when continents were about to collide. The separate destinies of each continent became merged after that time...

    In 1500 AD, each of the continents had diverse societies, in most cases ranging from stone-tool using, non-literate hunter-gatherer bands to sedentary, literate, metal-tool using farmers at least partially into states. The gulf between the continents was vast, and these differences would quickly become pivotal in world history. For our purposes, Europe should be considered to include North Africa and West Asia, as both are joined by the Mediterranean. Europe was almost exclusively occupied by literate, metal-using sedentary farmers, with only a few herders and hunter-gatherers in the arctic and desert fringes. India was similarly controlled largely by organised states, as were large parts of Asia, although that continent also had vast northern reaches controlled by nomadic herders or hunter-gatherers.

    Other continents, however, were not at the same level of development. Aururia was occupied by several organised, literate, iron-using farming states in its south-eastern and south-western corners, but much of the southern half of the continent was still occupied only by bronze-using non-literate chiefdoms, while the northern half of the continent was still occupied almost exclusively by stone-tool using hunter-gatherer bands whose way of life had not changed significantly since the end of the last Ice Age. Africa likewise had a few metal-tool using, literate, farming states such as Ethiopia, but large parts of the continent were non-literate and were not organised beyond the level of chiefdoms. North and South America each had only one large organised metal-tool using state, the Aztecs and Incas, and most of both continents were still at a lower level of technology and social organisation...

    These differences were brought into sharp contrast as continents collided after 1500 AD. These collisions saw societies in many continents conquered or dominated, and in many cases replaced entirely, by a relative handful of organised societies, mostly from Europe.

    The collision between Spain and Inca, between Old World and New, is the most iconic example of this collision. The advantages which Spain possessed were many: cannon both as artillery and handcannon, seafaring technology, literacy, steel armour and weapons, horses, and diseases. The Incas were overwhelmed, as were the Aztecs before them and many other cultures would be in the years afterward, by cannon and the other technology that accompanied them.

    The fate of the Incas is illustrative of the collision of continents, but as other examples demonstrate, differences in technology were not the only differences that mattered. In 1500 AD, Cathay was unquestionably the most advanced society on the globe. Over the preceding millennia, Cathay had developed a host of technological innovations, including the predecessors of the same cannon which the Spanish used in the New World.

    In some measure Cathayan technology continued to develop even after 1500. Notably, though, Cathay also rejected some aspects of technology, both home-grown and foreign. Cathayan voyagers such as Zheng He had pioneered seafaring technology which extended Cathayan influence across two other continents. Yet Cathay abandoned its own maritime adventures. It also resisted superior technology when introduced from other continents. European clocks were mechanically superior timepieces than those produced in Cathay, but the Cathayans treated them merely as toys. Cathay’s spurning of practical clock technology is the best symbol of some cultures’ rejection of advances in technology...

    The world’s history since 1500 has been one of transfer, of technology, crops and animals, diseases, and populations, all moved around the globe. The fate of different societies has been determined by how they adapted to these great exchanges.

    The differences in technology made a major part in deciding this adaptation, but this provides only part of the tale. What mattered was whether each society was both capable and willing to adapt to the global transfers after 1500, including the diseases which would shape so much of later history.

    A society needed to be capable of adapting. If the gap in technology was too large, no amount of willingness would change the destiny of a society when continents collided. Such was the fate of most stone tool using hunter-gatherers who fought cannon-using literate farmers; the consequences were obvious and largely pre-destined. Early cannon, both artillery and hand cannon, were significant in the European irruption into the New World and the Third World [1]. More advanced cannon, and the broader developments in military technology which they symbolised, became more significant in later centuries as the collisions continued between Europe, Aururia, Africa, India and Asia.

    Where the gap in technology was smaller, if both sides had cannon or at least quick capacity to learn how to use them, then the receptiveness and other institutions of state mattered. If a society was prepared to take up clocks, and all of the other new technologies which they symbolise, then that society was much better-placed to triumph during the upheavals that followed.

    And, as the next section of this book will explore, it was the crops and animals that were available to each continent which largely determined whether societies got up to the starting gate in 1500 AD...

    Chapter 5: Nature’s Bounty

    Crops permit farming. That is a truism. The fact of history which takes more examination is that even in areas where domesticable plants existed, those crops were different the world over. Their differing characteristics drove much of the destiny of the societies which they fed.

    Ease of domesticability varied considerably between crops of different regions. Some regions included a diversity of crops that were readily and quickly domesticated. Others had fewer crops, or ones which needed much longer unconscious human selection before a package of crops emerged which supported agriculture. This single characteristic of regions goes far in explaining the different destinies of societies on different continents...

    The Near East, Cathay, and New Guinea were most blessed in their native crops, with agriculture emerging soonest in those regions (by 7500 BC, as shown in Table 5.2). The Andes and Aururia were intermediate in their ease of domestication, with full agriculture emerging later in Mesoamerica, while eastern North America was the most recent independent centre of domestication. For the remaining continent, archaeology has not yet determined with African agriculture emerged independently or was initiated by transfer from the Near East...

    The crop packages developed in each centre of domestication each had their own individual suite of characteristics, which shaped the societies that they fed. Two examples of this are the red yam and maize.

    The red yam is the main staple of the ancient Aururian crop package. It provided the largest source of agricultural calories for ancient Aururian farmers. Even today it is the single most calorific crop on the continent. Maize filled a similar role in Mesoamerican agriculture, and after its transfer, to pre-Columbian North American agriculture, too. It is entirely possible that without those particular crops, there would have been no independent emergence of agriculture in either Aururia or Mesoamerica, with major ramifications for world history.

    With such a dominating agricultural presence, the characteristics of these two plants had major consequences for the societies which developed on each continent.

    Red yams, like most root crops, have a decent carbohydrate yield but are very low in protein. Unlike most other domesticated root crops, red yams are a perennial crop which can be harvested and replanted for a decade or more. Red yams grow well even in arid conditions, a valuable ability in a frequently drought-scourged continent.

    Maize, like most cereals, is a high-energy crop which has a reasonable protein content. Maize provides a very high yield of calories per acre, more than most other staple crops such as wheat, and is also more water-efficient than most staple crops [2], except for red yams and cornnarts [wattles]. Maize is typically thought of as a tropical or subtropical crop, though it can be harvested in temperate zones with spring planting.

    As perennial crops, red yams needed less effort to plant and harvest than most annual crops. The tubers can stay in the soil for several months, so harvesting is not as time-critical as it is for cereals or fruit. These characteristics mean that red yams, and the other perennial Aururian crops, need fewer labourers to produce an agricultural surplus than comparable societies. In turn, red-yam-based societies can support more non-agricultural specialists. Aururian societies were notable for their larger urban populations and more vigorous trade networks.

    The drought-resistant nature of red yams meant in turn that red yams allowed remarkable agricultural stability. Aururia has the most irregular climate of any inhabited continent, plagued by unpredictable droughts that alternate with devastating floods. The stability brought by red yams allowed Aururian farmers to endure despite these natural challenges.

    Despite these advantages, red yams also placed remarkable constraints on native Aururian agriculture. Red yams are plants very well-adapted to subtropical latitudes, but are simply incapable of growing within the tropics. Not even the best modern plant breeders have produced a variety of yams which can grow productively within tropical latitudes.

    Before European irruption, this meant that productive Aururian agricultural was essentially confined to the south-eastern and south-western corners of the continent. The northern half of the continent was devoid of agriculture, and remained inhabited by hunter-gatherers. This left native Aururian societies severely limited in their available arable land and opportunities for expansion. If Aururia had been 1000 miles further south, the available farmland would have been much larger, and the history of the world would have been entirely different.

    In Mesoamerica, maize agriculture also defined the societies that emerged. Maize was the only major true cereal domesticated in the New World (and none at all in the Third World), as distinguished from the myriad cereals domesticated in the Old World. Maize provided very high farming yields per acre, allowing for the emergence of large urban centres and high populations.

    However, maize’s most defining characteristic is that it exhausts the soil. In Mesoamerican societies without animals to provide fertiliser, or alternative crops to switch to, this left them vulnerable to agricultural collapse. The pattern for maize-based agriculture was for repeated flourishing of urban civilizations, followed by agricultural collapse after soils were exhausted. The Tamochan [Olmecs], Teotihuacan, Classical Mayans, Cahokians, and Puebloans were among the maize-based urban civilizations which emerged and then collapsed in North America. The lack of agricultural stability was characteristic of maize-based cultures, and the impossibility of maintaining long-term cultural continuity had major consequences for the history of the North American peoples...

    Agriculture in the Old World’s continents did not have an equivalent of the single-source crops such as maize and red yams. From early in the emergence of agriculture, Old World farmers had a range of cereals or other staple crops to choose from, and were not so restricted by the characteristics of any single crop. Rice became the key staple in much of India and Asia, but even then rice only reached its dominant position because it was the best available crop, not because it was the only suitable staple crop. Rice was not the initial domesticate in East Asia, but its cultivation became widespread as it replaced the earlier millets that were the original cereals of East Asian agriculture...

    Chapter 9: Happiness and Head Starts

    Each different crop in the world possesses different characteristics, and thus provides different opportunities to societies that grow it. Having more crops available is an advantage to any society, as it gives more flexibility in adapting to different circumstances, and often better agricultural yield.

    The benefits of new crops were often immense. Consider, for instance, the Nuttana of north-eastern Aururia. They were one of the most well-known Aururian societies, and the main way in which Aururian culture was transmitted to the world. But the Nuttana culture was created on land that its forebears did not occupy at the time of European irruption. Indeed, the Nuttana lands were not farmed at all before European contact. The two crops which were foundational to the Nuttana, sweet potato and sugar cane, were not even native to Aururia...

    The Old World, and particularly the Eurasian supercontinent, had the twin advantages of earlier agriculture and multiple centres of domestication. Eurasians received crops from the separate agricultural origins of the Near East, Cathay, and New Guinea, and even a few crops from Africa such as coffee, sorghum and pearl millet. These widespread, earlier exchanges of crops gave the Old World a very long head start when compared to societies in the Americas or Aururia.

    In contrast, geographical barriers were greater in the New World and Third World, such as more deserts and jungles. This, combined with the later start to agriculture compared to the third world, limited the exchanges of crops between regions with independent centres of domestication. For instance, Mesoamerican and Andean agriculture transmitted only a few crops in each direction, such as maize and cassava. Other extremely useful crops such as the potato remained confined to their region of origin. In turn, this meant that the defining characteristics of the native crop packages, and their restrictions, continued in those regions until 1500 and the world upheavals that followed...

    The three continents of Eurasia between them possessed the largest areas of arable land and had access to the largest number of centres of domestication. The earlier dates of domestication, from the greater ease of domesticability of their crops, and the overall greater number of available crops, gave the most opportunity to the Eurasian continents.

    Conversely, eastern North America had the latest start of domestication, and the fewest and least useful crops. This gave eastern North America the least opportunity of any continent...

    Chapter 11: Germs and Livestock

    ...The emergence of epidemic diseases, then, is a function of two factors. The first is the number of domesticated animals, which act as reservoirs for potential diseases. The second factor is the length of stable urban civilizations, which offer the largest population pool of potential infectees for diseases to make the jump to human-centric epidemics.

    Of these factors, the Old World in general and Eurasia in particular were clearly most-suited to acquiring lethal epidemic diseases. Aururia was intermediate as an origin of diseases; a long history of large cities, but only a few domestic animals that could provide their diseases.

    Mesoamerica was the least likely region of any to provide diseases, due to its paucity of domestic animals, and regular collapse of urban centres. This resulted in the paradoxical situation of healthier, larger urban populations in Mesoamerica, but the greatest vulnerability to diseases from elsewhere...

    Chapter 13: Uneven Exchanges

    Europe, Asia and India had the largest head start among the continents, thanks to the earliest exchanges of crops and technology. The example of the Kiyungu in Aururia illustrates how even a small exchange can transform continents. The Kiyungu were one society in Aururia confined by the characteristics of the red yam, which meant that they could not penetrate further north into the northern half of the continent.

    The introduction of a single crop, the sweet potato, around 1300 AD transformed Kiyungu society. The sweet potato was capable of growing in the tropics, and the limitations on the Kiyungu were removed. In the three centuries after receiving the sweet potato, the Kiyungu advanced over a considerable portion of coastal north-eastern Aururia, and would have progressed further if not for European irruption...

    The great exchanges of world history, the Columbian Exchange and the Houtmanian Exchange, transformed the world, uniting the continents, and bringing together all of the crops from their independent centres of domestication. The greatest benefits came to those who already had a head start in both technology and capability: Europeans most of all, and to a lesser degree the Aururians...

    * * *

    [1] When compared to his historical equivalent, Julius Sandford places less emphasis on steel, because there were more iron-using cultures in Aururia and Africa that still suffered from European irruption. Likewise, while he considers germs, he views them as less decisive than they were historically, because of the presence of new diseases waiting in Aururia.

    [2] Sanford’s research is in fact partly incorrect. Some domesticated cereals, including maize and sorghum, use a form of photosynthesis called C4 carbon fixation, unlike the C3 carbon fixation cycle used by other domesticated cereals such as wheat and rice. (Most plants in general use C3 carbon fixation for photosynthesis.) The C4 process is indeed more water-efficient than C3. However, maize is a plant with extremely shallow roots, which means that it is limited to collecting surface moisture, and so is in fact not very drought-tolerant.

    * * *

    Thoughts?
     
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  13. FDW Banned

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    Jun 27, 2009
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    San Francisco
    Nice update Jared.
     
  14. Rich Rostrom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Location:
    The heights of glory, the depths of despair
    This is magnificent!

    Oh, that's cute.

    THe research level here awes me.
     
  15. twovultures Best leagues are NFL, FIFA, and Shmalkaldic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    A very funny update :)

    I also look forward to hearing more about the spread of sugarcane and sweet potatoes into the north.
     
  16. Kaiphranos Hydraulic Despot Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Location:
    Southern Hos-Harphax
    Hmm, sugarcane and sweet potatoes--is something like this going to become their national dish? :D
     
  17. Admiral Matt Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2004
    A most enjoyable choice of medium.
     
  18. forget Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2012
    As I am constantly reminded food staples are the bases of this TL.
    How interesting.
     
  19. Hnau free radical

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    TTL's version of Guns, Germs, and Steel! Sweet! :D
     
  20. Jared Voldemort Jnr

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Location:
    Kingdom of Australia
    Getting to that part of the timeline may take a while, since there's still a few areas to cover first, most notably the Proxy Wars. (The leadup to that will be covered in the next few posts.)

    In the long run, though, the spread of those crops into the north, and the society which forms there, will be one of the most significant cultures in Aururia.

    Why, yes. They even already have equivalents to cinnamon and nutmeg to flavour it. :D

    Yes, while I cover all sorts of topics along the way, ultimately this is a timeline about how a new agricultural package could have affected the world.
     
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