The Collision at Cajamarca

This paper is a review of two chapters from the book (Diamond and Jared, 1997) Guns, Germs and Steel. It gives a brief description of the early life of the Polynesians. This is done by exploring their society, crop, tools, geography and their environment.

It also examines the Collision at Cajamarca and gives the factors that dictated the outcome. The reasons why Pizarro succeeded are also explored.

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The Polynesians ranged from the Chathams who were hunters and gatherers through to slash and burn farmers, to practitioners of intensive food production (Diamond and Jared, 1997). The food producers in Polynesia intensified the production of pigs, chickens and dogs. They practices agriculture based on dry land crops such as taro, sweet potatoes and yams and tree crops such as bananas, coconuts and breadfruit. The Polynesian societies were based in villages and were among the most stratified in the world at the time. They had two main social classes i.e. the chief and the commoners. Members married within their own class. Politically, the society was divided into tribal or village units. Some were brought together to form a multi-island proto-empire which boasted having a standing military establishment for invading and conquering other smaller tribes. They developed various tools for farming, fighting and making an. They even erected ceremonial buildings and massive forts.  They also made personal utensils and practiced monumental stone architecture. Their environment was influenced by the climate, marine resources, area terrain, geological types and isolation from the others due to lack of means to travel from one island to another. These environmental-related variations shaped the Polynesian society. Different parts had their own environmental factors that influenced their way of life. Geography influenced the population density, as small isolated islands such as Inuta had a population of 160. The south of Polynesia was hunters and gatherers of the Chathams. They were only five people per square mile. The islands that practiced intensive agriculture such as Tonga, Hawaii and Samoa had over 120 people per square mile.

The collision at Cajamarca was brought about by the Spanish greed for territory in the New World. General Francisco Pizarro led his men into a foreign terrain to present Atahuallpa with agreements that was to make them swear allegiance to the King of Spain, Charles 1. They were welcomed warmly only to return this favor with the massacre on the unarmed Indians. Pizarro actions were brutal and uncalled for. Various factors dictated the outcome that day. First, the Indian soldiers were caught off guard by the Spanish assault. They also did not retaliate in any way, as their King, who held absolute command, did not give the signal to attack.  Pizarro succeeded that day mainly due to his military advantage over the Indians.  They had superior weapons among them steel swords, steel armor, guns and horses as opposed to the Indian artillery that comprised of stones, bronze or wooden clubs and hand axes. The organization of the Spanish military also favored them as the attacked strategically and captured Atahualpa immediately. This prevented him to reorganize his soldiers and attack.

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