Talk:Columbian Exchange

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Beans?[edit]

Beans are listed as bring from the "new world" this is only partly true. Some varieties of beans were in the "old world" some have come from the "new world". ie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adzuki_bean You get the point. I don't have time to figure how to make that entry work anyone? -GreenFeather —Preceding unsigned comment added by GreenFeather (talkcontribs) 02:46, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

Red Deer - domestication[edit]

I've been reading an archaeological summary that talks about the domestication of a species of red deer by peoples in southern Guatamala and Panama. It was a strong element of the cultural traditions of the people of this region at the time of European contact, but the practice was not current at that time. This oblique Wiki reference from a Spanish source: Pipil. Could anyone else find a confirming source before I add red deer to the list? WBardwin 01:36, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Domesticated rats and mice????[edit]

I find very odd that rats and mice are included as domesticated animals in pre-Columbain times. Either they are both removed from the list, or the word "domesticated" is eliminated. 80.32.35.36

Look at it this way,
we have domesticated Rats and Mice today, and if anything we don't interact with animals as much as they did back then. today we use tractors to plow fields back then they had to use oxen, cows you know. So if anything this very beliveable, their whole society is based on interaction between themselves (humans) and animals.
Besides what else did boys have as pets? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 168.103.211.149 (talk) 16:56, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Syphilis[edit]

Yes, the disease in this context is controversial and the exact original location of these "bugs" is probably ultimately unprovable. But -- because of dated teaching in schools, statements by historical figures, some new material, and probably purient interest -- the topic resurfaces in this article and related ones as well. You might look over an older (archived?) discussion on the Syphilis discussion page. We could list it parenthetically as (controversial) or (under investigation). Best Wishes. WBardwin 23:58, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Something else to think about:
I think as far as I'm aware, that the current thought is that both sides of the exchange had syphilis. That the native population had a benign form, and that the sea ports in europe actually had the virulent deadly form. They exhumed some bodies of 13th century monks a while back and said that they had died of syphilis. I think the reasoning as to why syphilis didn't show up in the general population was because most of the population would die of other things before showing even stage two of syphilis. The symptoms were probably seen as unrelated especially since large outbreaks were probably unknown except in sea ports where there was constant population turn over anyway. This is just what i had heard from the discovery channel or history channel or some such. --- jinxintheworld, keep it shiny

k — Preceding unsigned comment added by 168.216.176.195 (talk) 19:17, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

Disease exchanges[edit]

I don't know if this is the appropriate place to ask but I have a question regarding disease exchanges in this period. It always struck me that the west seemed to have donated more, and more noxious, diseases than we received in return.
It is possible that a much more cramped and unhealthy Europe rapidly bred much more virulent diseases, but that's my only theory, and it's a poor one.
So can anyone here suggest why this is so, or whether it is perhaps a misapprehension.
Thanks Water pepper (talk) 03:46, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
I know of one significant reason. The vast majority of human diseases (at least the current ones) had their initial disease vector in animals. So, as humans associated with their domesticated flocks and herds, they came in contact with bacteria and viruses that crossed the species line and became adapted to a human host. The new world, North, South and Central America, had very few domesticated animals compared to the Eurasian continent. This is usually considered a primary reason for the low disease transfer from the Americas to the Old World. But it does not mean that the people of the Americas were disease free, as they had many fungal diseases and parasites as well as a few infectious diseases. I'm sure an epidemiologist could give a few more reasons for the disparity as well. Best wishes. WBardwin (talk) 04:15, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks! That does make a lot of sense. Appreciated.
Water pepper (talk) 01:02, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

hjgyuvguyg —Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.27.126.36 (talk) 19:34, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

Benefits to people of the Americas[edit]

It's true that the Columbian Exchange had important ramifications on the ecology, agriculture, and culture of the world, but who benefited and who lost out? Europeans at the time undoubtedly benefited from improved diets associated with the introduction of the potato and maize. Also, their economies grew with the importation of colonial grown tobacco and sugar. The positive effects did not go both ways though, and the existing populations of the American Continents of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were devastated by the introduction of new diseases and the exploitation of the natve peoples by the European explorers and settlers.

The Europeans colonized areas of the Caribbean islands, South and Central America, and North America at the expense of the people that already ingabited these lands. One major example of the negative "gifts" to the New World is small pox, which had a destructive effect on Native Americans who had no built up immune defenses like the Europeans. Also, malaria, which had previously been unknown in the Americas, was devastating to both Native Americans and Europeans alike. This was a convenient justification for the importation of slaves from Africa to work the sugar plantations, as they had a natural immune defense against that disease. Wintermann 19:39, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

You might take a look at Population history of American indigenous peoples, an interesting and sometimes contentious article dealing with these issues. GwenW (talk) 05:56, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Introduction by Softballangel566[edit]

The following material by Softballangel566 was moved from the Introduction for discussion. Items of concern: POV? Source? Copyright? Wiki links. WBardwin 19:13, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

The Columbian Exchange was one of the most influential exchanges in history, along with being one of the most detrimental. The Columbian Exchange has also been labeled the American Holocaust because ninety percent of the people and the culture were destroyed by this exchange. The main mission of the sailors and explorers that did the Columbian Exchange was to spread Catholicism and basically Christianity in general to the Native American population. Because of this great need to convert the native people most of their religion and culture was lost. The Exchange also brought about some good points such as the introduction to new foods, cultures, and religions. Even though not all of these things were apprecitated they were introduced to the Europeans. Not everything that was introduced was a good thing. The Europeans brought over diseases, such as smallpox. The Natives were exposed to these new diseases and in the long run died from them because their bodies were not immune to the disease. Smallpox wiped out alot of the Native population, but it was not the only thing that caused the decline of the Native culture. The need to spread Christianity became of issue of violence. The Europeans were forcing these people to become Christian by either enslaving them or killing them. There are some good points and some bad points about the Columbian Exchange, but nevertheless it is one of the most influential exchanges in history.
Bad prose and mostly wrong, as far as I can see... Random Nonsense 10:18, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Chagas desease exchange[edit]

I don't think this desease should be listed as a desease which has been exchanged. This desease is too specific to "Southern American" continent. Anyway exchange can't be compared with the same scale with desease such as cholera. Pixeltoo 20:17, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Proper spelling?[edit]

Which is the proper spelling: Columbian or Colombian? There are Wikipedia articles for both. I would think that Colombian would be the proper spelling, but the article at Columbian is better. I propose moving this article to Colombian exchange. — D. Wo. 19:43, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Since the term is a derivative of Christopher Columbus, not the country Colombia, "Columbian" is the proper spelling. Also compare google searches: "Columbian exchange" vs. "Colombian exchange". -- bcasterlinetalk 22:23, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Raccoons and coca.[edit]

I'm going to perhaps overstep the bounds of my expertise and say that raccoons have never been domesticated anywhere by anyone. And that coca needs to be on the list of plants domesticated in the Americas. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.20.24.121 (talk) 00:27, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Appropriate category?[edit]

I came across the following category: Crops originating from the Americas. It has no lead article, as of yet. Would this be appropriate for this article? GwenW (talk) 05:11, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Tuberculosis Found to Be Old Disease In New World[edit]

nytimes.com, March 15, 1994, Tuberculosis Found to Be Old Disease In New World By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

ONE THOUSAND years ago, a woman in southern Peru died at the age of 40 to 45 and was buried in a stone tomb in a river valley near what is now the coastal community of Ilo. As sometimes happened in the desiccated climate of the Atacama Desert, her body dried out and was spontaneously mummified. Now, modern scientists have come along and conducted a revealing post-mortem examination of the well-preserved body.

Their research offers new evidence that pre-Columbian Americans may already have been infected with some of the devastating diseases that were thought to have been brought to the New World by Columbus and other early explorers.

In the mummy's right lung and a lymph node, the scientists found scars of disease. These were small, calcified lesions typical of tuberculosis. Extracting fragments from the tissue, molecular biologists isolated genetic material betraying the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The woman probably died of something else, but she had harbored the infectious agents of the dreaded communicable disease.

"This provides the most specific evidence possible for the pre-Columbian presence of human tuberculosis in the New World," the scientists are reporting today in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. . . . --Apl1 (talk) 00:30, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Dogs & Cotton too[edit]

Dogs were on both sides of the animal swapping list. I deleted both, but I assume the idea was that different breeds were traded, and it would be good if someone could supply specific breeds. --68.227.223.133 (talk) 00:07, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

I was thinking the exact same thing, about specific breeds, but to be honest I dont see how some dogs originated in the old world, and some dogs (of the same biological family) originated half a world away. The only explination I can think of, and I may be wrong - Is that while most dogs came from the old world to the new world, Huskies came from the old world to the new world because they crossed the ice bridge with the Clovis Indians thousands of years earlier. 71.17.167.178 (talk)
Current thinking is that wolves were probably first domesticated, thereby becoming dogs, in the Old World and brought to the New World by the Paleo-Indians. The other possibility is that wolves were domesticated a second time in the New World. To me, their inclusion in both lists makes sense, since it lets readers know that dogs were not overlooked by wikipedia editors, and since, as mentioned above, different breeds had developed in various parts of the world. ClovisPt (talk) 23:19, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't think this is the usual use of Columbian exchange: normally people are talking about things which did not exist (rather than existing in different forms) in either the Old or New World as of 1492. Specific dog breeds might qualify for inclusion, but if you're going to include 'dogs' as a general category you should also include humans. Conjuringrock (talk) 03:36, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

A similar problem exists with cotton - several varieties domesticated in several places around the world. However, the new world variety provides the largest portion of modern cotton crops, and is grown around the world. WBardwin (talk) 06:30, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Encephalitis[edit]

Encephalitis is a group of diseases and almost certainly not part of the Columbian exchange. I've removed it. Conjuringrock (talk) 03:36, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Hepatitis[edit]

Hepatitis is a group of diseases and almost certainly not part of the Columbian exchange. I've removed it. Conjuringrock (talk) 03:36, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Polio[edit]

Polio first emerged as an epidemic disease in the late 19th century, too late to be a part of the Columbian exchange. There's a cite on the Poliomyelitis article that confirms this. I removed it. 03:36, 12 October 2011 (UTC)


Proposed addition to External Links[edit]

Hi all, in the course of some work I've been doing on Shmoop, a new educational website, I've written a pretty extensive article on the Columbian Exchange. (I'm a PhD student in US history, and I've done a fair amount of work in environmental history.) In my own (no doubt biased) view, I think it would certainly add something of value to the External Links section here; the Crosby article on Encyclopedia of Earth is great but so short, and the other links here now treat only certain aspects of the Columbian Exchange. My Shmoop Columbian Exchange article covers a lot more territory and is, I think, the most in-depth examination of the subject currently on the web, with much content and original analysis unavailable elsewhere. (But as I said, I'm surely biased.) Therefore I'd propose that we add this to the External Links section:

That said, I'm a bit hesitant to even propose this because I don't want to run afoul of either the letter or spirit of Wiki's COI standards. Would another editor be willing to take a look at my link and, if he/she deems it worthy, add it to this page's External Links?

Many thanks, Nate Portlandnate (talk) 23:03, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm fine with adding this - maybe the various middle schoolers doing history projects can wander there instead of messing with this page. ClovisPt (talk) 00:03, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Done 98.96.125.102 (talk) 23:10, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Limiting this article's scope[edit]

My understanding of the term "Columbian Exchange" is that it is almost always used to refer exclusively to the cultural-ecological transformations in crops, livestock, and diseases. As such, I propose editing this article correspondingly. Thoughts? ClovisPt (talk) 17:38, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Grand Exchange[edit]

I've heard this referred to as the "Grand Exchange" by some, and some pages on Wikipedia even reference it as that, but it doesn't show up on a Google search. For the sake of convenience at the very least, I think the article should include the "Grand Exchange" name in some way. --the_hoodie 04:13, 14 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by The hoodie (talkcontribs)

Examples: African items[edit]

The list of examples included African items (malaria especially) as New World to Old World exchanges. This is incorrect - Africa is part of the Old World and there was established if sporadic trade from Africa to Asia and Europe - and the rest of the article reflects that. I fixed the ones I spotted but I may have missed some. Conjuringrock (talk) 03:36, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Examples[edit]

Maybe I'm reading this wrong but it seems to be "significant" that 1/3 of crop value within the US originated in the Americas. Since the US is actually IN the Americas isn't it MORE significant that fully 2/3 of the crop value DIDN'T originate in the Americas (at least in the context of this article)? I assume much of that 2/3 would be wheat. NevarMaor (talk) 03:06, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Examples[edit]

I have a question about "Hepatitis" listed as a disease transmitted from the New World to the Old World. I understand why "Syphilis" is listed here, but I searched all over the place for information on ANY of the many forms of hepatitis having originated in the New World and being carried back by explorers (or anybody) to the Old World and could NOT find ANYTHING at ALL on this topic. This includes on Wikipedia! Does anybody know WHY hepatitis is listed as a New World-to-Old World disease??? I will really appreciate any help anyone can give as this reference caused me problems! Thanks. - gailcats Gailcats (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 05:25, 7 March 2010 (UTC).

Good catch. This 2001 Royal Society paper states there is no conclusive evidence for the origins of human hepatitis viruses. [1], pages 11, 12. On page 7 they mention an out-of-South-America hypothesis for Hepatitis B, but dismiss it. I'll take it out. Novickas (talk) 16:35, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Eastern and Western Hemispheres[edit]

I have come across this usage elsewhere, but can we eliminate it from this article? Apart from being misleading, it's also inaccurate, since the Old World is far larger than the New World.--MacRusgail (talk) 16:08, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Coca and Kush[edit]

Just to explain my recent reverts, as there wasn't enough room in the edit summary: Coca came from west to east. Kush originated in Afghanistan and probably doesn't fit in here at all.

Yaws??[edit]

Yaws is listed as being exchanged both to and from the new world. This doesn't seem possible.Soraxtm (talk) 13:23, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Moved Grapes[edit]

I moved grapes from New World->Old World to Old World->New World. Removing it completely might be an option, as there were other species of grapes in the Americas prior to the European arrival. However the common grape is native to the middle east and the reference to using fox grapes as rootstock (which is not my addition) indicates that it was this species which was meant. --Kaanatakan (talk) 06:13, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

I agree. The way the article is written makes it seem like all grapes came from an American creation. Furthermore, his link to that information is vague, it only cites food production, not any specific information about the grape. I´m just going to go ahead and remove this phrase: "...while a sixth, grapes, is most commonly a European plant grafted onto an American rootstock". If someone else wants to clarify it later, then they can re-add it.Editfromwithout (talk) 05:46, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

Article should explain the origin of the concept Columbian Exchange[edit]

I believe the phrase originated with Crosby. (One of the links states this - http://www.shmoop.com/columbian-exchange/ , and the Wikipedia article on Crosby mentions this.) This seems important to mention. The article contains a couple of references to Crosby, but leaves out this important fact.

I'd put it in the introduction, something like The Columbian Exchange -- a term introduced by Alfred Crosby [hyperlink Alfred W. Crosby artlicle] -- also known as the Grand Exchange, was a dramatically widespread exchange.... This fact is important enough to be prominently mentioned, I think. I'd make the change if I was better with Wikipedia syntax. Omc (talk) 22:34, 4 August 2012 (UTC)