On Monday, October 12, many Americans had the day off and stores hosted sales under the name of that 15th-century Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus. But Columbus’s impact on our world reaches past a 3-day weekend and great deals at department stores. The Columbian Exchange refers to the flow of goods between the Americas, Europe, and Africa that followed Columbus’s widely advertised “discovery” of the New World. People, animals...
- ›› Keywords : Columbian Exchange
The observations about Native Americans recorded by European newcomers have led to a long-standing impression of what traditional Indian life was like. But what these European settlers saw was far from “traditional”; it was the product of a particular period in time for Native Americans that was one of adjustment and adaptation to new conditions.
Millions of years ago, continental drift carried the Old World and New Worlds apart, splitting North and South America from Eurasia and Africa. That separation lasted so long that it fostered divergent evolution. The artificial re-establishment of connections through the commingling of Old and New World plants, animals, and bacteria, commonly known as the Columbian Exchange, is one of the more spectacular and significant ecological events of the past millennium.
Charles Mann, author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (Knopf, 2005), looks at new research on the population density of pre-Columbian America.
In this lecture Elliott West, a professor of history at the University of Arkansas, describes how the introduction of Old World phenomena such as guns, horses, and new diseases affected the Native peoples of the New World.
Award-winning author Tony Horwitz discusses the research and writing process for his book A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America (2008).