Study Questions for Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapter 3, Collision at Cajamarca

How would you characterize Native American culture before 1492 as portrayed at the start of chapter 3?



Pages 69 through 74 contains an account of Pizzaro’s conquest of the Incas in 1532. Because it is written by eyewitnesses of the battle, we call this a primary source. Keeping in mind that it was written by participants, what do we know about the nature of colonization?

~How did the authors characterize the Inca; what terms do they use to describe them?



~What is the role of religion in the account, specifically, the Catholic Church?



~How was the Spanish mission of salvation used as a way to legitimize political conquest?



~What did Pizarro tell Atahuallpa’s messenger? What does this say about the nature of European-Native American relations?



~What event precipitated the battle? What was the last thing the friar said before the fighting began?



~Pizarro had 168 soldiers. How many Incas were slain? Specifically, what class of Incas were slain and how did Pizarro turn this to an advantage in taking over the empire?



Diamond moves on to discuss some of the advantages that the Spanish conquistadors had over the Inca. What were some of the military advantages?



What was the state of the Inca empire before the battle? How did European colonization cause this state of affairs? How is this an example of ecological imperialism?




How did European political organization enable Pizarro’s colonization of Peru?




How did writing and literacy figure in Pizarro’s conquest?




Diamond considers the European advantages (military technology, horses, infectious diseases, maritime technology, centralized political organization, and writing) proximate causes of Pizarro’s victory. What does Diamond mean by "proximate"?