Archive for the ‘Arctic’ Category

History: Big domestic mammals revolutionized human society by becoming our main means of land transportation

October 27, 2007

 I am reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  At this point in the book he is talking about the role that animals played in enhancing the development of society:

Big domestic mammals revolutionized human society by becoming our main means of land transportation until the development of railroads in the 19th century.  Before animal domestication, the sole means of transporting goods and people by land was on the backs of humans.  Large mammals changed that: for the first time in human history, it became possible to move heavy goods in large quantities, as well as people, rapidly overland for long distances.  The domestic animals that were ridden were the horse, donkey, yak, reindeer, and Arabian and Bactrian camels.  Cows and horses were hitched to wagons, while reindeer and dogs pulled sleds in the Arctic.  The horse became the chief means of long-distance transport over most of Eurasia.