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Planet Earth

Russia is all about location

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJanuary 11, 2008 6:57 PM

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My post which sketched out the model of Slavic expansion northeast into the lands of the Finnic peoples generated a fair number of comments. I tend to agree with those who suggest that Slavic access to more efficient or superior agricultural traditions is probably the explanation for why they absorbed the Finns, and not the reverse. But while thinking about these topics, I thought it might be useful to make explicit an idea which I think we're all using implicitly as a background assumption: location matters. The Slavs were more likely to have access to innovations because they were connected to many more peoples and lay athwart several trade routes (e.g., the amber route north-south, others going west-east). An analogy might be the advantages that native peoples had when they were the first to gain access to European weaponry and horses; they were more likely to use this against their further antagonists, who for reasons of historical coincidence or geography did not have access to European goods and know-how then they were against the aspiring colonialists. An analogy from my post on graph theory also works; the Slavic heartland was a "high temperature" nexus, sandwiched between civilization and Finns, polar opposite elements if there ever were such things! (evidence for the last assertion below the fold)

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