Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > Natural Environment
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Natural Environment How Human History has been impacted by the environment, science, nature, geography, weather, and natural phenomena


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old October 11th, 2017, 11:11 PM   #1
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2012
From: Northern part of European lowland
Posts: 1,786
Historians: look not much at peoples, look at their environment


I hope this is not seen as too much a repetition of my earlier posts on Historum.
Would that give better insight and understanding of much of history?
I for my part think so. That for understanding different histories for different peoples (though with reservation it is less clear for history of individuals), to look at maps, globus, study ancient environments and environmental change could give much.
To give an example: The ratio land to sea is very unevenly distributed on planet earth. With the exception of Antarctica, located largely outside human history and human settlement, there is generally speaking a higher and higher proportion of land to sea the more we look to the north, until we reach the Arctic Sea.
So, no surprise, the first humans moving between the European/Asian/African("old world) landmasses to the one side, and the Americas moved at the very North. From the East Siberia - or from the chain of Islands to the South (Aleuts) the Americas were settled, the shortest way possible. Later the Northern peoples from Scandinavia (Scotland, Ireland?)
made voyages into the Atlantic and step by step (Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, all in not so great distance to the next) came to the northern parts of the North American continent.
Later, from the most western end of the european (/Asian) mainland, a more
proper colonisation took place. But I think it is rather easy to find a lot more examples, all over the planet and all over human history.
Fantasus is offline  
Remove Ads
Old October 12th, 2017, 01:52 AM   #2

Frank81's Avatar
Guanarteme
 
Joined: Feb 2010
From: Canary Islands-Spain
Posts: 4,360

Geography can never been downplayed, it is part of everything that happens in history. But to what degree? Geography must be balanced with human factors.

Lets put a example: the colonization you point from western Eurasia. October 12th 1492 Columbus and his Spanish crew crossed the Atlantic and landed in the New World. A critical factor was the development of a mixed Mediterranenan and Atlantic naval tradition in the Iberian Peninsula. Here the geographical factor is obvious. But why in Iberia and not Morocco, which enjoy the same geographical position? Geography can't explain everything, probably not even most part of things. Here human factors are a must.
Frank81 is offline  
Old October 12th, 2017, 02:06 AM   #3
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2012
From: Northern part of European lowland
Posts: 1,786

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post
Geography can never been downplayed, it is part of everything that happens in history. But to what degree? Geography must be balanced with human factors.

Lets put a example: the colonization you point from western Eurasia. October 12th 1492 Columbus and his Spanish crew crossed the Atlantic and landed in the New World. A critical factor was the development of a mixed Mediterranenan and Atlantic naval tradition in the Iberian Peninsula. Here the geographical factor is obvious. But why in Iberia and not Morocco, which enjoy the same geographical position? Geography can't explain everything, probably not even most part of things. Here human factors are a must.
We should not ignore human factors. That said I have an idea of why Spain and not Morocco.
1: Spain are located on the northern, european, Meditterranean side. The Northern Meditterranean shores are far more "inserted", and I bet longer, than the southern shores. And in general Europe has so many peinsulas and offshore islands, where Africa has little of it. A longer shore would be much more favorable for navigation and for trade at sea.
2: The same could be said about the Iberian peninsula relative to Morocco. The former is a peninsula, the later can hardly be seen as one.
OK: that was just an idea, and I don´t know enough to say for sure.
Fantasus is offline  
Old October 12th, 2017, 03:34 AM   #4

Tuthmosis III's Avatar
Kulturphilosoph
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: the middle ground
Posts: 3,678
Blog Entries: 6

It sure is a complicated interaction, as you both point out. I did a blog entry on this years ago: “Thoughts on geographical determinism”. I still like my ‘nature sets the stage - man moves the props’ analogy, even though that too is a simplification.
Tuthmosis III is offline  
Old October 12th, 2017, 03:53 AM   #5

Tulius's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2016
From: Portugal
Posts: 2,857

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantasus View Post
We should not ignore human factors. That said I have an idea of why Spain and not Morocco.
1: Spain are located on the northern, european, Meditterranean side. The Northern Meditterranean shores are far more "inserted", and I bet longer, than the southern shores. And in general Europe has so many peinsulas and offshore islands, where Africa has little of it. A longer shore would be much more favorable for navigation and for trade at sea.
2: The same could be said about the Iberian peninsula relative to Morocco. The former is a peninsula, the later can hardly be seen as one.
OK: that was just an idea, and I don´t know enough to say for sure.
Off topic, and in some way implied in Frank’s words, Morocco, in its Atlantic coastline has an intense maritime tradition, even if it is not a peninsula. In the Iberian Peninsula, especially in the Atlantic coast, that Moroccan sea tradition was mostly known by their pirates and their attack to the coasts. One of the most known bases for these pirates in the Atlantic was Salé. And yet, with all its coast, it was not the Moroccans that begun to explore the West Coast of Africa, to reach India, even if in geographic terms they were closer, and it was not the Moroccans that sailed to the West to reach America. Like we already talked in other thread, Geography can be forgotten in History, it is a discipline that it is in its area of cross-disciplinarily.

But let us not forget that history is the discipline/science/area of knowledge that studies the man, across time. It is a social and human science. It doesn’t exist without the human component.
Tulius is offline  
Old October 12th, 2017, 04:08 AM   #6
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2012
From: Northern part of European lowland
Posts: 1,786

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulius View Post
Off topic, and in some way implied in Frank’s words, Morocco, in its Atlantic coastline has an intense maritime tradition, even if it is not a peninsula. In the Iberian Peninsula, especially in the Atlantic coast, that Moroccan sea tradition was mostly known by their pirates and their attack to the coasts. One of the most known bases for these pirates in the Atlantic was Salé. And yet, with all its coast, it was not the Moroccans that begun to explore the West Coast of Africa, to reach India, even if in geographic terms they were closer, and it was not the Moroccans that sailed to the West to reach America. Like we already talked in other thread, Geography can be forgotten in History, it is a discipline that it is in its area of cross-disciplinarily.

But let us not forget that history is the discipline/science/area of knowledge that studies the man, across time. It is a social and human science. It doesn’t exist without the human component.
I can and will not deny it is a human science.
On the other hand: If we look to history more at a "collective" level: peoples, cultures etcetera, and especially over longer periods, I think a geographical approach can be used with succes. Even at the individual level, sometimes.
Tell me if I am wrong that Genua had strong traditions at sea and then we see a famous captain (Columbus). Or that the same was the case for many other explorers, captains, conquerors.
Fantasus is offline  
Old October 12th, 2017, 06:43 AM   #7

Tuthmosis III's Avatar
Kulturphilosoph
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: the middle ground
Posts: 3,678
Blog Entries: 6

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantasus View Post
Tell me if I am wrong that Genua had strong traditions at sea and then we see a famous captain (Columbus). Or that the same was the case for many other explorers, captains, conquerors.
I don't think it's in doubt that geography is important. It takes one glance at a map to know why Switzerland was never a naval power. But more explanation is needed to know why 18th-c Prussia, while having a coastline, was not (more pressing threats on land). Or why Ming China prioritized other concerns over the naval power it did have in the mid-15th-c... or why Genoa's strong traditions at sea were eventually eclipsed by those of Venice...
As you said, the longer the time scale, the more helpful geography becomes in the explanation. But the strangest events and developments can influence political decisions on smaller scales, and have a great deal of impact on "the course of history". Like Frank81 said, it's about balance.
Tuthmosis III is offline  
Old October 12th, 2017, 08:59 AM   #8
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2012
From: Northern part of European lowland
Posts: 1,786

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuthmosis III View Post
I don't think it's in doubt that geography is important. It takes one glance at a map to know why Switzerland was never a naval power. But more explanation is needed to know why 18th-c Prussia, while having a coastline, was not (more pressing threats on land). Or why Ming China prioritized other concerns over the naval power it did have in the mid-15th-c... or why Genoa's strong traditions at sea were eventually eclipsed by those of Venice...
As you said, the longer the time scale, the more helpful geography becomes in the explanation. But the strangest events and developments can influence political decisions on smaller scales, and have a great deal of impact on "the course of history". Like Frank81 said, it's about balance.
For Prussia I would think it has much to do with location. Its coastline was largely Baltic, and the Baltic Sea was - almost - to be seen as a great "lake", since there are only narrow passages to the world ocean (like the Black Sea, and the Meditterranean). All Western European countries that became great colonial powers were located at the Atlantic - or North Sea. They were at the western oceanic "edge": England/Britain, Spain, Portugal,France, the Netherlands. The other colonial powers were not as influential, like the Belgians (since they only became independent lately), Germany (not that favourable location, except for Baltic), Italy ("locked" in the Meditterranean), Denmark-Norway (not a very populous part of Europe) and Sweden (more a Baltic nation).
Fantasus is offline  
Reply

  Historum > Themes in History > Natural Environment

Tags
environment, histor, historians, peoples



Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Difference between proto-Mongolic peoples and proto-Sinitic peoples purakjelia Asian History 57 August 24th, 2013 07:56 PM
Are we all products of our environment? hardtime Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology 8 July 20th, 2012 08:49 PM
Free Will Vs. Environment Robespierre Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology 72 November 21st, 2011 04:00 PM
Question for all Bulgarian historians, and, indeed, historians of Bulgaria. Vixen History Book Reviews 19 October 22nd, 2010 03:52 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.