At the time of the first Europeans arriving in the 1400, the
indigenous population of the Americas was estimated over 90 million individuals
What caused them to disappear?
Nope not the Spanish, they killed a lot of people, but their
death count is a drop in the ocean compared to the real killer: Plagues At the
height of the black death 1/3 Europeans died but when the deadly diseases hit
the Americas 19 out of 20 people died…
But why didn’t Europeans get sick? If Native Americans were
vulnerable to old-world diseases, then surely Europeans would be vulnerable to
new world diseases.
But, there was no new disease spreading. Had that disease existed
it would have deemed European ability for expansion extremely difficult.
To answer why this didn’t happen: we need first to distinguish
regular diseases from what we call plagues.
quickly between people.
kill you quickly or you become immune.
The answer to this question is that the new world didn’t have plagues for them to catch. They
had regular diseases but there were no plagues.
why? Cities are the key to our complicated lock
Historically in cities, plagues killed faster than people could have
children. Cities grew because more people moved to them then died inside of
So, the deeper, answer is that The Americas didn’t have plagues
because the Americas didn’t have big cities for places to thrive.
But the Americas weren’t completely devoid of cities. And they
weren’t isolated, otherwise smallpox and the rest of the diseases in the 1400s
couldn’t have spread.
Cities play a large part in the game, but cities don’t create the
germs that start the plagues — those germs come from animals
Cows alone is responsible for measles, tuberculosis, and smallpox.
The delicious pig well he is responsible for the flu, ring worn and salmonella.
The thing is most germs don’t want to kill you, germs live in you.
For the cow these diseases are no big deal. But when cow germs
get in humans it makes us Deadly sick. Germs jumping species like this is rare.
But in a colonial-age city there used to be animals everywhere,
horses pulling , livestock in the streets, slaughterhouses, meat markets and a
river of literal human and animal excrement running through it all.
But, why were
European cities filled with animals, but The Americas weren’t? That is because of Domestication.
The Americas didn’t have good animal candidates for
domestication. Almost everything big enough to be useful is also was to too
dangerous too big or too agile.
Meanwhile Europe had: cows, sheep, pigs, goats and horses. In the New World the only
native animal up for the job was: llamas.
which is probably why the biggest cities existed in South America.
We have domesticated maybe a
dozen of unique species the world over. These early European tribes weren’t smarter.
Europe had more valuable and easier to domesticate animals.
The lack of new world animals to domesticate, limited not only
exposure to germs but also limited food production, which limited the population,
which limited the size of cities, which made plagues in the Americas an
In Europe, exactly the opposite.
And therefore, a continent full of plague and two continents devoid of it.