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Rice is simply declared to have been domesticated in midlatitude China, not tropical Asia. The agricultural revolution occurred in the Fertile Crescent earlier than in China because the former has a Mediterranean climate.This proposition stands unsupported except for a very thin argument: Mediterranean climate, says diamond, favored the evolution of large-seeded grains.To restore access and understand how to better interact with our site to avoid this in the future, please have your system administrator contact [email protected]
This has had "enormous, sometimes tragic consequences" for human history (p. Africa and the Americas were unable to progress throughout most of history because their "axes" are north-south, not east-west.
But Diamond is not really talking about axes; mostly he is making a rather subtle argument about the climatic advantages that (in his view) midlatitude regions have over tropical regions.
More precisely: all of the important differences between human societies, all of the differences that led some societies to prosper and progress and others to fail, are due to the nature of each society's local environment and to its geographical location.
History as a whole reflects these environmental differences and forces.
Why would one expect the origins and early development of agriculture to take place in the midlatitude belt of Eurasia?
Diamond notes, correctly, that there are thought to have been several more or less independent centers of origin, and only two lie in the temperate belt of Eurasia: China and the Near East (his "Fertile Crescent").
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The first and most basic cause is the shape of the continents: their "axes." A continental landmass with an "east-west axis" supposedly is more favorable for the rise of agriculture than a continent with a "north- south axis." Diamond divides the inhabited world into three continents (he uses the word "continent" rather broadly): Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas.
Eurasia has an east-west axis; the other two have north-south axes.