Launching Ecological Imperialism: Agrarian Civilizations hst 489D. Administrative



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2011 Feb 2 Launching Ecological Imperialism: Agrarian Civilizations HST 489D

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  1. Administrative: AP#2 due Monday 7 February; Sign-up list for Week 6 (transitions to early modern era)

Week # 5 Readings: Read for AP #3: Christian, pp. 283-332; Richards, pp. 58-85

  • What were the environmental implications of urbanization in the ancient world, and how did ancient civilizations adapt?

  • How did climate change influence the emergence of Europe as an engine of global change in the early modern period?

  • How did the organization of agrarian civilizations influence global networks of exchange and resource extraction?

  1. Last Meeting: Inter-regional exchange and the Neolithic Transition

  1. Extensification and human transformations of the natural environment (firestick farming)

  2. Social organization as a growth logic with escalating energy demands

  3. Transitions to agricultural lifeways as a non-reversible adaptation (pp. 224-225)

  4. ecological implications of agriculture—simplification and intensification

  5. Agrarian vs Agricultural civilizations (see p. 249 in Christian)

  6. Christian, pp. 245-282: Power over nature and Power over People--"Civilization" (Katie, Griselda, Rodman, Jerrod, Andrew)

  1. When and how did urban systems begin to emerge? What were the implications for environment/ecology?

  2. what is the relation between different forms of agriculture and population density?

  3. how does the innovation of draft animals and irrigation influence the nature of agrarian ecologies?

  4. how does the organization of power within a civilization relate to the ecology of the systems of production?




  1. Today: How did the Organization of agrarian civilizations influence global networks??

  1. Christian, pp. 283-306: Early Agrarian Civilizations—Ancient to Medieval Eras (Taylor, Amanda, Patrick)

    1. What is the difference between agrarian and agricultural?

    2. How does scale and diversity of civilizations affect environmental impacts?

    3. How does a tribute-taking society differ from one oriented toward gifting?

    4. What accounts for the surge in population and urbanization, after the first millennium BCE?

    5. What accounts for the rise of “universal religions” in the first millennium BCE?

    6. How does increase in scale of civilization influence innovation? Environmental implications?

    7. How does population growth relate to technological innovation? Environmental implications?

    8. How did disease epidemics affect Eurasia differently from other world centers? Why?

    9. Why were early empires limited to about 1 megameter in scale? Why did that change?




  1. Richards, pp. 58-85: Climate and Early Modern World Environmental History (Nick, James, Jerrod, Miles, Andrew)


  1. Christian, pp. 306-332: Innovation, Malthusian cycles, Population Growth--Transitions to early modern systems (Duke, Heather, Griselda)


  1. How did the transitional space of the shoreline affect the way people thought about Nature and Wealth?

  1. The oran laut (Malaysian Sea people, pp. 299-302)—poverty as a defense? (The Mawken)

      1. 2-fold knowledge of nature (building materials & food)

      2. Sea as (a) resource base & (b) highway

  2. Narrow shores (Phoenicia & Scandinavia)

      1. Biblical prejudices vs Canaanites

      2. Roman prejudices vs Carthaginians (Malta & Ba’al)

      3. Emergence of Carthage as center of Phoenician world ca BC (Persian & Babylonian expansion)

      4. Roman conquest of 146 BC

  3. Linkage of Phoenician alphabet & Norse Runes (WHY?)

  4. Viking “marauder” image & comparisons to Phoenicians

      1. The “Atlantic Edge” (Rimland)—seashore as unifier vs barrier

      2. Selective memories of 20th-century (modern perversions of Norse account




  1. Why didn’t Seaboard peoples of the Americas “discover” Europe? (or aboriginal Australians?)

  1. trade winds & currents explanation?

  2. Typhoon Systems of trade & commerce in Asia:

  1. Maritime Japan as a seaboard people

  2. Arabs & the Monsoon Caravans (desert & sea)

        1. coastal fringe as cradle of Arab civilization

        2. Sorghum & Oman culture (ca 5000 BC

        3. Monsoons & the Eastward (vs Westward) spread of Islam (600-1600s AD)

        4. Indian Ocean and the Moslem lake of Seaboard civilizations

  1. SE Asia & Maritime Empires of the Monsoon seasons:

  1. Fukien & Funan Empires (200-700 AD)

          1. Srivijaya (on the Sumatran Coast (ca 600s AD)—relation to Khmer Kings

          2. Javanese empires & problem of deforestation (600-1600s)

          3. Ships as large as 50 meters long (150+ ft long) & 500 tons by 600s AD

  1. India & spread of Buddahood:

  1. Artificial landscapes of Chola

  2. Gujarat & Gulf of Camba (Hinduism & trade/environment)

            1. The port of Diu & “Lords of the Sea” (Gujarat Sultans)

            2. Linkage to Portuguese interests ca 1500s

  1. Fukien China’s Seaboard culture:

  1. Population growth, 600-700 AD & Fukien (South Sea Trade)—p. 343

  2. Smuggling traditions in Sung Dynasty (960s-1279 AD)

  3. Influence of Fukien merchants through 1500s (20 ships/year visiting Manilia from Fukien by 1580s—cornerstone of Spain’s Manila trade)

    1. Almost the Last Environment: The Rise of Oceanic Civilizations (pp. 378-402)

      1. Indian Ocean as the Muslim Lake

      2. Vasco de Gama & the spread of Islamic Geography into the Atlantic Rim (p. 390)

  1. What were environmental costs of maritime travel and how did that affect ideas about Nature and Value?

    1. Geographic location of western Europe (the “dregs” of Eurasian History?)

    2. Atlantic seaboard populated by people “driven from” other parts of Europe (Celts driven out by Germanic invaders, Suevic fugitives in Galicia & Portugal

    3. Paradox of Europeans as sea-phobic mariners!! (p. 311-313)

    4. Celts as water-phobic peoples

    5. Druids & the professional learned class of Celtic peoples (Gauls)—forest-oriented people driven to the sea ca 400 AD—600AD

    6. Holland and the Dutch pattern of marginal trade & commerce: (316)

      1. Ideology of “freedom of the sea” (sea as a zone of free access & exploitation)

      2. Cheap shipping & commercial re-investment (vs “ennoblement” of merchants—land scarcity)

      3. Legacy of piracy & open-ness to resources

      4. Common folk & high art (commercial value of landscape paintings)

      5. Hidden landscapes of interior landscapes vs apparent sameness of Calvinist exteriors

Terms (Week 5)

Epic of Gilgamesh (3800 BP) Uruk (ca 4700 BP)

Hamurabi Sargon (of Akkad)

Hrappa (ca 2000 BC) Brick-lined sewer systems

Shang Dynasty (ca 1600 BCE) Teotihuacan (ca 150 BCE-700 CE)

Persepolis (ca. 500 BC) Aksun (ca 1 AD)

Zoroastrianism

Ahura Mazda (fire and light) Mithras

Zagros Mountains Plains of Isfahan

Intensification shifting agriculture

Secondary products draft animals

Irrigation coercive power

Consent-based power tribute-taking societies

monsoon winds Straits of Malacca


The Monsoon trade Arab “lateen” rig (dhow rig)

Chinese “Junk” rig Typhoon corridor (Japan sea)

Japan current Japanese script

Gujarat sultans (maritime trade Molemo Conaqua (guided de Gama,)

Fukien merchants (Manila trade, 1500s) South China Sea trade

Yung-Lo-s treasure ships (Ming Dynasty) Cheng Ho (Eunuch Admiral, 1405-33)

Fukien Coast the “Muslim Lake” (Indian Ocean)
Lhasa Valley Shangri la (inside)

Barley Tibet Buddhism ( ca 790s)

The Great Zimbabwe (ca 1100-1500 AD) Tenochtitlan (ca 1400 CE)
The Ouran laut (Bay of Bengal) the Mawken (“the sea-drowned”)

Phoenician alphabet Norse runes

Cult of Ba’al Carthage

“Vomit of the Sea” “open sea”

Mughal Empire (ca. 1520s-1700s) Bengal Delta (rice production)

Chatgaon (Portuguese Port near Bengal) Bay of Bengal

Zamindari rights (local headman system diwan system (salaried tax officials)

Chatgaon (Portuguese evicted, 1665) Ganges Delta (eastward migration)


Dutch Republic William of Orange (1572 “Protector”)

States General stadtholders

Dutch East India Company (VOC, est. 1600) “rich trades”

The Beurs (Amsterdam merchant arcade) bills of exchange

Herring busses windmill pumping

Archimedean Screws (windmill upgrade) North Holland Beemster polder


Bewindhebbers (VOC managing partners) participaten (subordinate)

Joint stock companies (Amsterdam exchange) Batavia (est. 1619—Java)

Batavian fleets (2-year cycle) Batavia bullion (Asian trade)

Taiwan deerskin trade Ft. Zeelandia (Taiwan, est 1624)

Annual Delegate Assemblies (Taiwan convention, 1636) Dutch Reformed Church

Chinese-Taiwan Rebellion (1652 vs Dutch) Ming Taiwan (est 1662-1683)



Qing (Manchu) Taiwan (est 1683-1824) Qing Quarantine Policy (Taiwan, 1683)

Soujourning migrants (Taiwan, 1683-1824) Taiwan cattle industry (est. 1740s)


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