2000 Florida Anthropological Society Inc.
The Florida Anthropological Society Inc. holds
source text of the Florida Anthropologist
considered the copyright holder for the text
all rights to the
and shall be
and images of
The Florida Anthropological Society has made this publication
available to the University of Florida, for purposes of
digitization and Internet distribution.
The Florida Anthropological Society reserves all rights to this
publication. All uses, excluding those made under "fair use"
provisions of U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 107 are restricted.
Contact the Florida Anthropological Society for additional
information and permissions.
'ntIm zof ofogiJt
DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH
CIVILIZATIONS IN HOT CLIMATES
Adelaide K. Bullen, Guest Editor
DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH
CIVILIZATIONS IN HOT CLIMATES
AUd" 4 i tre
liorida Anthropological Society
MEMBER EASTERN STATES ARCHEOLOGICAL FEDERATION
9fo ida :-:nt7opoflogit
i7ie 91ordoa In4t'o/olo it
Vol. VI December, 1953 No. 4
INTRODUCTION .................. Adelaide K. Bullen, Guest Editor 101
HOT WEATHER AND HIGH ACHIEVEMENT ....... Frederick R. Wulsin 103
DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURES IN NUCLEAR AMERICA. Hale G. Smith 121
A GEOGRAPHIC INTERPRETATION OF CIVILIZATIONS IN
TROPICAL AMERICA ......................... Donald R. Dyer 123
SOME RELATIONS OF GEOGRAPHY AND CULTURAL
ANTHROPOLOGY .................... .. Robert Anderson 129
BUILDING IN FLORIDA ..................... Edward M. Fearney 139
SEMINOLE INDIAN CLUES FOR CONTEMPORARY HOUSE FORM
IN FLORIDA ........................... William T. Arnett 145
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE ............. ...... ........ 149
Adelaide K. Bullen
A symposium on THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH CIVILIZATIONS IN
HOT CLIMATES was presented under the Social Sciences Section of the
Florida Academy of Sciences at its eighteenth annual meeting, December
4, 1953, at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. It was the hope of this
symposium, whose papers are presented here, to stimulate thought on the
potential development of peoples in hot climates. We wished td do this,
not only because it affects Florida, but because it is a matter of concern
to many other similar areas in other parts of the world. As we learn from
these peoples, we hope they may also take an interest in these research
beginnings in the United States.
Dr. Frederick R. Wulsin, professor of anthropology at Tufts College
in Massachusetts, came to Florida to give the key opening speech. Many
years of research and field work in hot climates made Dr. Wulsin uniquely
qualified to speak on this subject. The shorter papers, which followed
his, touched upon pertinent aspects of cultural anthropology, geography,
After these speeches, Dr. Wulsin made a few concluding remarks
which included the following definition of "high civilizations":
"In the course of our discussion, we have had to ask ourselves what
constitutes a high or a great civilization. It is not easy to find a good
definition, one which recognizes the imponderable elements in culture
and yet avoids the vice of subjectivism. Too often people say 'This is a
high civilization' when they are quite unable to give a persuasive reason
for their opinion and really mean simply that they like the civilization in
"I suggest the following as criteria by which you can recognize a
high civilization, or perhaps I had better say a great civilization, when
you see one:
(1) It has an advanced technology for its period; that is, its people are as
good as their contemporaries elsewhere, or better, as far as technology is
(2) It has lasted a fairly long time, at least a few centuries. The internal
machinery of the culture must work, if this is to happen.
(3) It has originated a good many things ideas, practical devices, insti-
tutions, cultural traits of any sort you choose to mention which other
cultures have copied.
"You see, the first two of these criteria allow for the practical things,
which are important but are not everything. The third allows for ideas and
things of the spirit; but it lets the rest of mankind judge them, instead of
the speaker, and thus avoids the vice of subjectivity."
With Dr. Wulsin's definition in mind and with a realization of the vast
scope of a subject like THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH CIVILIZATIONS
in any climate, it becomes only too apparent that in the time available to
the symposium it was possible to consider only a few aspects of the prob-
lem. It seemed logical to start with the human organism and his physio-
ogy and proceed to practical problems such as clothing and housing in hot
It is hoped another program here or elsewhere can give its attention
to some of the less tangible, but highly important, social and psychologi-
cal determinants. We should like to hear what the social sciences and
philosophy have to say on these matters. A consideration of values or
different expression of values in various cultures in hot climates might
provide clues as to the direction and emphasis of a culture's development.
Observations on the reward system or use of time and money in a society
might provide measurable data.
The present papers have been left essentially as given. Editing has
been a matter of technicalities in most instances. One paper, by the Dean
of the College of Architecture, University of Florida, has been added be-
cause of its relevance to the subject under discussion. Moderator for the
symposium was Frederick W. Sleight, president of the Florida Anthropo-
logical Society. We are grateful to the society for the prompt publication
of these papers in its journal. In the back of this issue, the reader will
find brief accounts of the contributors.
FLORIDA STATE MUSEUM
HOT WEATHER AND HIGH ACHIEVEMENT
Frederick R. Wulsin
Mr. Chairman, members of the Florida'Academy of Sciences, ladies and
It-is a great pleasure and a great honor for me to be here today. You
are good enough to let me speak on a subject that I have thought about for
a long time, and on which my early views were most unorthodox. These
views are a little more respectable now, though they have not changed,
because orthodoxy is not quite what it used to be.
I. THEORY OF "LASSITUDE"
The question I want to discuss is this: do hot climates as such,
whether wet or dry, have an adverse effect on the development of civiliza-
tion? The program of statesmanship, as far as the development of many
regions on this earth is concerned, will depend on the answer.
Many geographers (Semple 1911, Huntington 1915, 1951), and very dis-
tinguished ones too, have argued for the affirmative side of this question.
They maintain that hot climates make for lassitude and leave men unable
or unwilling to do the large amount of hard work on which any high devel-
opment of civilization must depend. Huntington said he felt a loss of
energy in hot weather and blamed the heat for it; he apparently believed
that everyone else felt the same way, and from this he inferred that no
high civilization could ever arise in a hot climate, least of all in a hot
wet climate. lie pointed out that the most vigorous modern civilizations,
as judged by wealth, by production, and by military and political power,
were to be found in temperate latitudes. Historic examples of high civil-
izations in regions unsuitable by Huntington's criterion the Maya civil-
ization for example were explained by appropriate changes of climate
within historic times. The whole argument was heavily supported by
statistics and was made very plausible, but I believe it is false. That
is what I am here to talk about.
I first became interested in the problem in 1914-15. I was in East
Africa, travelling on foot and hunting, for a period of several months. At
that time people out there commonly believed that the equatorial sun was
terribly dangerous to the white man and that he must guard himself against
its deadly rays at all times, so I wore a tropical helmet and a spine pad,
like everybody else. One would hear stories about the poor fellow who
walked across the street at noontime to visit a neighbor, without his helmet,
and was dead in half an hour. In March, 1951, I was hunting on the Tana
River, just south of the equator, miles from any settlement, and I wanted to
see what was on the other side. So I took off my clothes and helmet and
swam across, puttered around on the far bank for an hour or so, and then
swam back. This was in the middle of the day. A few hours later it oc-
curred to me that I ought to be dead or dying from the effects of the tropical
sun, to which I had so rashly exposed my uncovered head and spine; but in
fact I had never felt better.
That experience sowed the seeds of doubt. Ten years later they sprout-
ed and grew mightily, because of some observations made in Indo-China. We
were travelling in the mountainous country south of the Chinese border, in
midsummer. Our party consisted of two Americans, four Northern Chinese,
and a number of natives of the country. Our French friends had earned us
against the sun and had told us that we would find ourselves much stronger
than the natives when it came to things like lifting heavy boxes, but that
the natives would be able to outwalk us every time.
Marching was hard hot work at first, all up and down hill in high heat
and humidity, but we were far from any settlement and I remembered my
African experience; so we took off our shirts and after that we got along
splendidly. We felt cool, and we found we could walk as far as any native.
Shirts had to appear when we came to settlements with Europeans, and at
once we were hot again, and our endurance was reduced. Finally it dawned
on me that clothes, and especially European clothes, were to blame for the
tropical lassitude about which I had heard so much. We wore them on ac-
count of false ideas of prestige and modesty, and we would never be com-
fortable or efficient in the tropics until we got rid of them.
Still, this argument was just as subjective as Huntington's, and I might
be simply the rare individual who thrives on hot weather; so I let the whole
subject rest. Then from 1942 to 1945, I had the good fortune to work in
the Research and Development Branch of the Office of the Quartermaster
General, in Washington. We were occupied with the design of uniforms and
equipment for different climatic conditions. A committee was set up by the
National Research Council, which directed a systematic program of experi-
mentation and found out a great deal about man's responses to heat and
cold and the effect of clothing upon them (Newburgh 1949). Some of the
findings fitted in with my earlier observations made in the field. Later I
had occasion to look up the records of ancient civilizations. These mate-
rials have made it possible for me to approach afresh the problem stated
at the beginning of this paper.
So today I want to talk to you about three things: (1) the physiological
mechanisms by which the-human body adapts itself to a hot environment;
(2) the effect of clothing on these mechanisms; and (3) the record of the
great civilizations that have originated and grown to maturity in hot
countries. Incidentally we shall have occasion to see whether the climates
of the regions in which these civilizations developed have changed during
historic times. With the information so gathered, we shall be in a position
to form an estimate of the future of our own civilization in the warmer
Let me begin by talking about the physiological mechanisms, which
make it possible for man to remain alive in a great variety of environmental
II. PHYSIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS
In health the temperature of the human body is very uniform, at or near
98.60 Fahrenheit. It may be raised temporarily by vigorous exercise or
depressed for a while by cold, but unless the subject is ill it soon returns
At first sight this constancy is rather surprising, for there are many
influences incessantly at work, warming and cooling the body: for example,
the outside influences of air and sun, the internal burning of foodstuffs
with consequent production of heat, and the evaporation of moisture at the
surface of the body. Clearly the effects of all these influences must bal-
ance if the temperature of the body is to remain constant; and balance they
do in the long run. This fact can be expressed by an equation, in which
the various quantities are indicated by symbols and their sum is shown as
equal to zero. It is usually given as follows:
M-E +R+V+D+S=0 (1)
Here M stands for heat production within the body; E, for heat loss by evap-
oration; and R, V,and D stand for heat gain or loss by radiation, convection,
and conduction, respectively. S stands for storage; that is, change in the
amount of heat stored in the body.
All of these quantities are expressed in kilogram calories per unit of
time, usually per hour. Let me discuss each of them briefly.
M stands for metabolic heat; that is, for heat generated in the body by
the processes and activities of life and derived at the last analysis from
the oxidation of foodstuffs. The amount is least during sleep. It increases
on waking and with every increase of activity. It varies also with the size
of the individual: a big man uses more energy for heart beat and respiration
than a small one, and he also uses more to perform a given task that in-
volves moving the body, like running, because his body is heavier. Aver-
age figures for different tasks are given by IHowells (1941) as follows:
Man at rest, awake, sitting up 100 kg.cal/hr
Man at light muscular exercise 170 "
Man at severe muscular exercise 450 "
Extreme values might be of the order of magnitude of 50 or 60 kg.cal/hr
for a small individual fasting and asleep, and 500 or 600 kg.cal/hr for a
large individual at very severe exercise,
There are two minor influences, which may modify total metabolic heat
production, that should be mentioned in passing. For one thing, the meta-
bolic rate is increased somewhat for an hour or two after eating, especially
if the food is protein. For another, energy which is stored in potential form
when a man works say the energy stored when he lifts bricks and piles
them on a raised platform or carries his own weight up a mountain fails
to show up as heat, The modifications of total heat output due to these
two influences are usually small, and in most cases they can be neglected.
So much for M, the first symbol in our equation. As long as the subject
is alive, his metabolic processes will always produce some positive amount
of heat, which has to be dissipated if the left side of the equation as a
whole is to remain equal to zero.
The next quantity which we have to consider is evaporation, denoted by
the symbol E. Evaporation always cools the body, and the effect can be
very great. Primarily we shall be talking about the evaporation of sweat,
though apart from this there is also some evaporation from the lungs and
some sheer drying out of the tissues. These two influences combined may
take off something like 25 kg.cal/hr for an average individual, which is not
very much. They operate at all times. True sweating, on the other hand,
operates only when there is need for body cooling, and it is the most power-
ful means of heat elimination at the disposal of the body. Let us see how it
In the first place, 580 kg.cal. of heat are required to evaporate one
liter of sweat from liquid into vapor, and that is the amount of heat removed
from the body with every liter of sweat that evaporates on the skin. Under
favorable conditions a man can sweat more than a liter an hour. Of course
any sweat that drips off the body in liquid form is entirely wasted, as far
as cooling effect is concerned, and so is sweat that is absorbed by clothing
and not evaporated at all. Sweat evaporated on the surface of clothing at a
little distance from the body has some cooling effect; but it is hard to tell
how much, for part of the latent heat of evaporation is taken from the cloth-
ing and the surrounding air instead of the body.
True sweating generally begins when the temperature of the skin reaches
about 93%YF., whether the body is clothed or unclothed. It starts when
other influences are not sufficient to remove all of the heat load. Heat piles
up in the body; the skin temperature rises and sets off the sweating. If heat
balance is maintained, the temperature of the sweating skin stabilizes at
about 950 for the nude individual, somewhat higher if he is clothed. The
amount of sweat is very narrowly adjusted; in well-acclimatized persons, to
the amount of body cooling required. When everything is going well, the
skin is moist but not wet, and cool to the touch; and the individual remains
in thermal equilibrium.
Nevertheless the process has its limits. First, a man cannot keep on
sweating at a very high rate for an indefinite period; Robinson (1949a)
found that the rate fell off by 10% to 80% in six hours of very severe ex-
posure to heat stress. Second, there is a limit to the amount of evaporation
that the air will accept from a wet surface of the area of the body, and at
the temperature of the skin, in a unit of time. Just where this limit lies
depends on the temperature and the relative humidity of the air and the
amount of air movement (Hardy 1949). To take an extreme case, if the air
is fully saturated and at a temperature equal to or greater than that of the
skin, no evaporation at all can take place; hence there can be no evapora-
tive cooling. Fortunately such conditions very rarely occur. They would
be fatal if long continued.
All the water which is lost from the body, including that lost by sweat-
ing, must be replaced, and fully replaced, if one is to work effectively.
The old idea that a man can train himself to live on reduced rations of
water, without impairment of function, is a delusion (Robinson 1949a).
Evaporative cooling is very much affected by the presence or absence
of clothing. We shall return to that subject later. First let us discuss the
remaining quantities in our equation.
We have seen that the symbols R, V, and D stand for radiation, convec-
tion, and conduction. Heat can flow in either direction through these chan-
nels. It flows, of course, from the warmer to the cooler body, and the
amount of flow is very roughly proportional to the amount of temperature
difference. Now let us consider each channel separately.
The term radiation refers to the transfer of thermal energy between
bodies without the intervention of any tangible medium. Light and heat
come to us from the sun in this form, through empty space. In general, all
bodies in nature emit radiation, the amount varying directly as the fourth
power of the absolute temperature of the emitting body. When two bodies
exchange radiation, it is the net flow from the warmer body to the cooler
one that interests us.
When radiation strikes a material body it is either transmitted, or re-
flected, or absorbed; or there may be a combination of the three effects in
varying degrees. What happens depends on the character and surface of the
body and on the wave length of the radiation. For instance, a highly pol-
ished metal surface reflects nearly all the light that falls on it, a dirty one
relatively little, and glass may absorb some wave lengths and transmit
others. A body which absorbs all the radiation that falls on it is called a
black body. Such a body is also the best emitter of radiation.
White human skin reflects 30% to 40% of incident sunlight, negro skin
about half as much (Hardy 1949); both reflect little and are good absorbers
and emitters in the infra-red. Much of the time in warm climates the sur-
roundings are at about the same temperature as the skin, and as a result
radiation exchanges with them do not amount to much; but solar radiation,
received direct or reflected from rocks and soil, may convey much heat to
the body. The amount is usually difficult to calculate, but Adolph (quoted
in Robinson 1949a) found experimentally that nude men sitting in the sun in
the California desert gained an average of 143 kg.cal/hr by radiation from
sun and sky. This is a considerable amount, but still it is less than the
heat load to be expected from moderate muscular exercise.
The term indicated by the symbol V in our equation is convection, that
is, the transfer of heat to and from the body by air, chiefly moving air. The
amount of heat transfer due to convection is given by the expression
C = ~- (Ts Ta) (2)
where C stands for cooling power in kg.cal/M2/hr, wv is wind velocity in
miles per hour, and Ts and Ta are the temperatures of the skin and the air
in degrees Fahrenheit. When Ta is greater than T,, the expression becomes
negative, and the wind heats the body.
When the equation is plotted, it becomes clear that heat exchanges in-
crease rapidly with wind velocity up to 5 miles per hour, then more slowly,
and that above 10 miles per hour the further increase can be neglected. If
either Ts-Ta or wv is very small, the heat exchanges by convection become
insignificant; and if either of these quantities is zero, the whole expression
reduces to zero.
In practice the air near the body is never entirely still, because of the
movements due to respiration, and one need not consider air velocities less
than 4 mile per hour or 22 feet per minute. The value of the term Ts Ta is
usually small in the wet tropics, and as a result heat exchanges due directly
to convection are of little consequence. Yet the ultimate effect of air move-
ment on body cooling in the wet tropics may be very great, for it takes away
almost saturated air from near the body and replaces it with somewhat drier
air which can still take up water vapor; thus it assists evaporative cooling.
In deserts, on the other hand, where humidity is low and temperatures are
extreme, the effect of air movement on evaporation is trifling; evaporation is
rapid anyway. However, hot winds by day and cold winds by night rasp the
nerves and bring on large direct convective heat exchanges. Clothing of
any sort breaks the wind, more so if it is tight-woven, and reduces all the
effects of convection that have been mentioned.
Next we come to the symbol D, which stands for Conduction. This term
refers to the transfer of heat through a more or less solid body or from one
such body to another in contact with it. One feels the effects of conduction
in walking barefoot over hot sand or when one sits on a piece of ice.
The flow of heat through a material varies directly with the difference in
temperature between the two sides and inversely with the thickness of the
material. It is also influenced by the nature of the material: pure copper
passes heat about 10,000 times as readily as cork. Still air is an excellent
insulator: that is, heat passes through it very slowly. In practice you have
to confine the air in little pockets; otherwise there will be air currents on a
minute scale, and you get heat transfer by convection. Textiles generally
contain many such little air spaces, and it is to this that they owe their
usefulness as insulation against cold.
The resistance to heat flow of a layer of textile material can be meas-
ured in the laboratory. When several layers are to be worn as clothing,
you get their combined effect by adding together the resistances to heat
flow of the layers taken separately and then adding on the resistances of
the air spaces between the layers. That is why it is advantageous in cold
weather to wear several thin layers of clothing rather than one thick one.
You get added insulation from the spaces between the layers, and they
don't weigh anything. It is disadvantageous to wear several layers of
clothing in hot weather for the same reason.
We have now discussed the various avenues by which heat comes to
the body or is taken from it. When the quantities of heat that move along
these avenues add up to zero, our basic equation is satisfied; and this
does happen in the long run. But from moment to moment the quantities
may not add up to zero: environmental conditions change or the metabolic
rate changes, and there is a time-lag in regaining thermal equilibrium.
During this interval gains and losses do not balance, and this shows itself
in a change in the total amount of heat stored in the body. Such changes
are represented in our equation by S, which stands for storage. For alge-
braic convenience, storage is taken as positive when the body is cooling.
The amount of storage is calculated from the temperature of the skin,
as measured by thermocouples, and the temperature of the deep regions of
the body, as measured by rectal thermometer. These are given what seem
appropriate weights and are combined in an effort to estimate the mean tem-
perature of the body. We know that the muscular tissues below the skin are
often cooled, but it is hard to tell in particular cases how deep the cooling
extends. This may render the calculation somewhat precarious; nevertheless
the results reached are generally fairly satisfactory.
We must now consider the movement of heat within the body. Heat origi-
nates deep in the tissues and can be got rid of only at the surface. We know
that it is got rid of for the body maintains an even temperature; thus there is
no doubt that it flows to the surface; and the skin must be cooler than the
deep regions for this flow to take place. If the skin temperature rises till
it approaches the deep body temperature, the flow is checked; then heat
piles up in the deep regions and raises their temperatures until the differ-
ential necessary for heat flow is reestablished. The organism has a fever,
more or less severe, while this is happening.
Heat is conveyed from the deep regions of the body to the surface in
two ways: by direct conduction through the tissues and by the moving blood
stream. The blood is heated in the deeper regions and loses some of its
heat as it passes through the vessels close under the skin, where the tis-
sues are a little cooler. This heat then passes by conduction to the skin,
and at the surface it is transferred to the environment by some or all of the
channels we have been studying. If the environment is warmer than the
skin, the whole burden of heat dissipation is thrown on the evaporative
The amount of blood which circulates through the vessels close to the
skin is controlled by a heat-regulating center in the thalamus, which allows
the surface vessels to dilate when the body needs to lose heat and contracts
them when the body is chilled and its heat must be conserved. In the cold,
when the superficial vessels contract and the blood flow through them is re-
duced, less heat comes to the surface where it can be dissipated; and both
the skin and the subcutaneous tissues become cooler. In consequence the
skin loses less heat by radiation and convection to the environment, and the
depth of the thermal gradient in the tissues is increased. These cooled tis-
sues then act as so much clothing for the vital organs deep in the body,
slowing down the movement of heat from the central regions to the surface
by conduction. All these mechanisms act together to conserve the heat of
When the body is hot and the surface vessels are dilated, quite different
effects are produced. Increased blood flow through the superficial vessels
brings more heat to the surface where it can be dissipated. The depth of
the thermal gradient is reduced, and this facilitates heat flow from the deep
regions to the surface by conduction. Under these influences, the tempera-
ture of the skin tends to rise, and this further facilitates heat flow from the
skin to the environment.
All these changes help the body to get rid of heat, but they have their
price. Increased blood flow to the surface means more work for the heart.
Moreover, the dilated surface vessels have their capacity increased and
hold more blood. This must come from somewhere; and if adequate blood
flow and blood pressure are to be maintained, there must be a compensating
vasoconstriction elsewhere in the body or the total blood volume must be
increased (Robinson 1949a). Either or both of these changes may occur;
there is some individual variation in the matter. Increases in blood volume
of the order of 10%, during severe short exposures to heat, are reported; and
there is also a quasi-permanent increase in blood volume associated with
In times of severe and unaccustomed heat stress, the pooling of blood
in the surface vessels may leave the heart without enough blood to work
on, and thus cause cardiac embarrassment.
III. EFFECTS OF CLOTHING
Now let me summarize what we have found out so far. With minor ex-
ceptions, the body as a whole remains at a uniform temperature throughout
life. This occurs because the influences which tend to warm it and the in-
fluences which tend to cool it are in balance; and this balance is maintained
by the automatic action of a number of physiological mechanisms, which we
have examined. The most important source of heat gain is metabolism, the
heat generated by the energy transformations associated with life. 'Heat
gain from the environment is usually a minor matter by comparison, even
in hot climates. On the side of heat loss, the most powerful mechanism
available to the body is the evaporation of sweat. It does not begin to func-
tion till a slight rise in skin temperature signals that other agencies are not
removing heat from the body fast enough to maintain it in thermal equilibrium.
There is a complex relationship between skin temperature, blood flow in the
superficial vessels, and heat loss at the surface of the body.
The mechanisms we have examined work.in the same way whether the
subject is clothed or not; but the values assumed by the various quantities
under different conditions are very much affected by the presence or ab-
sence of clothing, and by its character. For further information on these
points, let us turn to the results of experiment. The first findings that I
want to lay before you come from the John B. Pierce Laboratories of Indus-
trial Iygiene in New Haven (Gagge, Winslow and Herrington, 1938). Here
healthy young men were placed in a chamber called a calorimeter, where
the thermal environment can be completely controlled: temperature and
humidity of the air, rate of air movement, and radiation from the walls. The
metabolic rates of the subjects and their heat gains and losses,-through each
of the avenues we have discussed, were measured. When all was done, the
investigators had a complete picture of what had taken place.
For one set of tests, in which both clothed and nude subjects were used,
the environmental temperature was varied from 500F., to 1040F., with the
relative humidity constant at about 50% and air movement % mile per hour.
In this situation, with subjects seated at rest, the experiments showed that
there are three zones of thermal adaptation, as follows:
(1) A middle zone, in which the body is neither cooling off nor sweating.
Variations in blood flow through the surface vessels are sufficient to bal-
ance heat losses against heat gains. In the experiments we are considering,
this zone extended from air temperature 770 to air temperature 840 for cloth-
ed subjects, and from 840 to 880 for nude ones.
(2) At lower environmental temperatures, a zone of body cooling, in
which there is positive storage. Evaporative heat loss, due to respiration
and insensible perspiration, is small and fairly constant. Heat loss by
radiation and convection increases as the environmental temperature is
(3) At environmental temperatures above those of the middle zone, a
zone in which the body must sweat to remain in thermal equilibrium. The
amount of sweat required increases as the temperature arises. As long as
the environment is cooler than the skin, radiation and convection help to
cool the body; but as soon as the environment becomes warmer than the
skin these agencies add to the heat load, and evaporation alone bears the
whole burden of body cooling.
Of course the limits of these zones vary with the metabolic rates of the
subjects. Personally, I believe they vary also with other conditions, such
as acclimatization (Wulsin, 1949, p. 30). Moreover, the boundaries of the
zones are not sharp: the transition from one state of affairs to another is
These experiments give us an opportunity to study the effects of cloth-
ing in a hot environment. Let us see what they are.
In the first place, clothing cuts down heat flow by radiation and convec-
tion, in either direction. Of course at low temperatures this helps to keep
the body warm, as we all know. At high temperatures, clothing still reduces
heat exchanges by radiation and convection; and if it happens that the en-
vironment is hotter than the skin, this helps to keep the body cool. During
these particular experiments, the walls were at the temperature of the air;
and when the air was at 1040F., the subjects were receiving radiation
from walls at 1040F. This added to their heat load, and it added more
when they were nude than when they had the protection of clothing. Con-
sequently they sweated more.
The second thing to note is that the temperature of the clothing,
throughout the experiments, was intermediate between the temperature
of the clothed skin and the temperature of the environment.
Third, skin temperatures were uniformly higher with clothing than with-
out. -In the cold, this was an advantage; in the heat, it was a handicap. As
we have seen earlier, in a hot environment elevation of skin temperature
must have one of two results: either body temperature will rise or the
mechanism for conveying heat to the surface will have to make up, by in-
creased blood flow, for the advantage it has lost by decreased temperature
difference. In these experiments body temperature did not rise, >so there
was increased blood flow, and the heart was obliged to work harder. The
experimenters estimated that, at an air temperature of 1020F., the cardiac
output for clothed subjects was increased 21% to 24% over normal, as
against 10% for nude subjects under the same conditions. Later work by
Robinson (1949a) shows that under very severe conditions of heat stress,
rectal temperature rises higher and breakdown of the sweating mechanism
comes sooner and is more complete when men are clothed than when they
So far the score with respect to clothing stands as follows: it reduces
the heat load from radiation and convection when the environment is hotter
than the body. It increases skin temperature and thereby adds to the load
on the heart. Under very severe conditions of heat stress in the laboratory,
it hastens breakdown. Let us now turn to further experiments, to learn the
effect of clothing on evaporative cooling.
During the war we were working on the problem of uniforms for troops
in hot climates. We sent several outfits to the Pierce Laboratories for
testing in the calorimeter (Ilerrington and Shulman, 1943, summarized in
uulsin 1948). They were tried out first in a simulated jungle climate,
with temperature 850F. and relative humidity 85%, then in a simulated
desert climate, with temperature 1100F. and relative humidity 15%. The
subjects wore the uniform to be tested and carried rifle, cartridge belt, and
pack. They worked at 270 kg.cal/M2/hr on a stationary bicycle. Here M2
indicates that the rate is per square meter of body surface. Assuming a
body surface of 1.8 M2, which is about right for a man of 5 ft. 7 in., the
total rate was 486 kg.cal/hr, which is high. The sweat losses worked out
as shown in Tables I and II.
EFFECT OF CLOTHING ON EVAPORATION IN A SIMULATED
(Temperature 850F. and relative humidity 85%)
Total sweat Evaporative Sweat ab- Evaporative
secreted heat loss sorbed by efficiency
to air clothing %
Clothing gm/hr/man gm/hr/man gm/hr/man
1) 2-piece HBT
leggings 752 232 520 30.9
2) Same, under-
shirt removed 476 194 282 40.8
3) Same without
stripped to waist 438 352 86 80.4
4) Wearing only
shoes, socks, &
athletic supporter 260 216 44 83.0
It is clear from these tables that every reduction in the amount of
clothing worn and every increase in the amount of skin exposed reduced
the total sweat secretion and reduced the amount of sweat wasted in the
clothing. Such changes also increased the thermal efficiency. The differ-
ences are very striking for simulated jungle conditions: evaporative effi-
ciency rises from 30.9% for the man who is fully dressed to 83% for the
man who is stripped, and he needs to sweat only 1/3 as much. In dry heat,
the improvement is less marked but none the less real: when clothing is
discarded, evaporative efficiency rises from 73.7% to 98% (Table II).
The explanation of these startling differences is not far to seek.
Clothing traps a layer of air around the body; this air becomes saturated
with moisture from the evaporation of sweat, and the body is soon in the
equivalent of a hot damp climate, where evaporation is very difficult. With
each movement of the body a little fresh air reaches the skin through the
openings in the garments, less in the presence of underwear than without
it, and this helps somewhat; but most of the sweat has to soak through a
layer or two of clothing before it reaches air dry enough for evaporation to
take place. Then, since the process is concluded at a little distance from
the body, some of the latent heat of evaporation is taken from the air and
some from the clothing, which must then cool the body as best it can by
conduction. The whole process is highly wasteful and inefficient. On the
EFFECT OF CLOTHING ON EVAPORATION IN A SIMULATED
(Temperature 1100F. and relative humidity 15%)
Total sweat Evaporative Sweat ab- Evaporative
secreted heat loss sorbed by efficiency
to air clothing %
Clothing gm/hr/man gm/hr/man gm/hr/man
1) 2-piece HBT
leggings 746 550 196 73.7
2) Same, under-
shirt removed 798 608 190 76.2
3) Same without
stripped to waist 596 570 26 95.6
4) Wearing only
shoes, socks, &
athletic supporter 652 642 10 98.0
other hand, when a naked man sweats, the moisture evaporates on his
skin and takes its latent heat of evaporation from his body. The process
is highly efficient, and there is little waste.
It is clear from the results cited so far that in a hot damp climate a
man is better off without clothing than with it. Ile will need to sweat much
less, his skin temperature will be lower, and there will be less load on his
heart. The question is to what extent these results can be extended to hot
climates, where evaporation is easy and solar radiation constitutes an im-
portant part of the heat load. Such climates were represented, somewhat
inadequately, by a laboratory temperature of 1100F. with a relative humidity
of 15%. One set of laboratory findings shows that clothing reduces evapora-
tive efficiency, but that in a hot dry climate the reduction is not very great-
only about 25%. To this extent clothing is a handicap. Other experiments
at the same laboratory have shown us that clothing reduces heat gains from
radiation and convection at high temperatures. To this extent it is an ad-
vantage; and the reduction of heat gain may be a very important matter in
the presence of desert sun. Which of these influences carries the most
weight? Again we turn to experiment for the answer.
In the California desert, Adolph (1949) had men sit and walk in the sun,
both fully clothed and in shorts. The air temperature was 1040F., the wind
velocity 14 miles per hour. He found that they sweated less when they
were fully dressed. Robinson (1949a) made similar experiments in Indiana
in the summer. lie confirmed Adolph's results for low metabolic rates, but
he found that when the men were working hard, they were cooler and sweat-
ed less if they were stripped. The reversal took place at a metabolic rate
of 240 kg.cal/M2/hr. Below that level of activity clothing was a help;
above that level it was a handicap.
Summarizing all these results, we can say that clothing is always a
disadvantage in damp heat or in any sort of heat if one is in the shade. It
is a disadvantage in dry heat in the sun if one is working hard. It is use-
ful in dry heat if one is to be at rest'or doing light work in the sun. The
ill effects of clothing manifest themselves in an increased load on the
heart, an increased load on the sweating mechanism, and an earlier break-
down point under severe conditions.
IV. HIGH CIVILIZATIONS AND HOT CLIMATES
This completes our examination of the experimental findings. We have
learned much about what happens to the human body when it is subjected to
heat stress. Now let us see what bearing all this has on the theory we are
examining, namely, that hot climates are inimical to effort and intrinsically
debilitating. I maintain that it is not the hot climates themselves, but the
excessive clothing that people have worn in hot climates, which should
We must remember that the theories I am criticising rest largely on ob-
servations made in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and we
must go to that period to find out what their practice was in respect to
clothing for hot climates. Here is an extract from Hints to Travellers, pub-
lished by the Royal Geographical Society in I ondon, edition of 1889:
"The surface of the body should be maintained as far as
possible at an equable temperature always. With this view
flannel, as the most effective non-conductive and absorbent
material, should be worn next to the skin by day and by night.
In very warm climates shirts made of a mixture of silk and
wool may be preferred; they are very light yet absorbent .
In warm climates a short shirt of very fine flannel, or of flan-
nel and silk without sleeves, fitting very loosely around the
neck, and reaching only as far as the hips, may be worn under
a thin linen or calico shirt, while the abdomen is supported
and protected by a long wide silk scarf wound two or three
times round the body. In tropical countries, where the night
temperature differs little from that of day, if a fine flannel
undershirt be worn, the rest of the body and limbs may be
clothed in any thin cotton or linen fabric . The traveller's
night clothes should consist of a long India flannel shirt,
opening down the front, and fastening with linen buttons,
or, preferably, with tapes, and a pair of long wide trousers
of the same material, or of thin calico in very warm coun-
tries, capable of being drawn together round the waist by
a running string . The head and spine should be ef-
fectively protected; the level rays of the sun at morn or
eve are often more dangerous than the vertical."
These recommendations represented the best opinion available at the
time, the mature judgment of experienced explorers and tropical physicians.
Of course their observations were complicated by the presence of malaria;
everyone was full of it. A chill was likely to be followed by an attack of
fever, and there was good clinical reason for their desire to keep the skin
at a uniform temperature. They also kept it at a high temperature, and
they did not realize how much they added to their burdens by doing so.
Re need not wonder that people so dressed found any warm climate
fatiguing. They blamed the climate itself, and not their own excessive
clothing, for the lassitude they felt; and some were inclined to explain
the great civilizations in warm regions, for which there is ample historical
and archaeological evidence, by invoking a deterioration of the climates
in question from earlier excellence, within historic times. This at least
was Iluntington's argument. lie supported it with great learning, and it
has had wide influence, so it deserves careful examination.
The problem has several parts. First, is there good evidence for the
deterioration of the climates of these regions since the days of the great
civilizations that once flourished there? If not, and if we must conclude
that the climates in question were always hot, we must explain how the
people in the old days managed to do so much hard work in spite of the
heat. So we must see how they lived and in particular how they dressed.
Finally, if change of climate does not explain the downfall of these great
past civilizations, or at least their slipping from the first place in human
affairs which they once held, what does explain it? These questions can
be answered very briefly.
There have been some changes of climate during historic times without
any doubt, but I do not believe that they have all been in the same direction
or that they explain the rise and fall of ancient culture. Let us consider
four of the greatest hot-climate civilizations, past and present, to see what
the evidence is; and let the examples be the ancient Egyptian and the
Sumerian civilizations, for hot dry climates, and the Mayan and the Indian,
for hot wet climates. One might question the Indian, for there is a cool
winter in northern India, but we need only shift our attention to Java to
find an offshoot of the Indian civilization in a climate that is uniformly hot
and moist. Nobody doubts that these have been great civilizations. The
question is whether the climate has changed since they flourished. I find
no reason to think so.
The climate of ancient Egypt was apparently about like the climate of
today except that there seems to have been more moisture; for in Middle
Kingdom days it was still possible to find big game in the desert near
Luxor, which is now utterly barren. But an increased humidity would have
made heat balance problems worse, and not better, so it need not detain us.
For Mesopotamia, we have copious records. The ancient literature de-
scribes the Sumerian climate much as we should describe it now, and the
crops grown today are the same as in antiquity, as far as I can judge. The
downfall of Mesopotamia as a great center of civilization came in 1258 A.D.
when the Mongols under Ilulagu sacked Baghdad and deliberately wrecked
the irrigation system that had been built up over 4,000 years.
The Indonesian and the Mayan civilizations were going concerns in the
16th century A.D., and we have contemporary descriptions of the climate.
There is no evidence of change from that day to this. Furthermore, we can
say with confidence that the climate of the Peten district of Guatemala,
which is now notoriously hot and steamy, was just as bad during the period
of the greatest creative activity of the Mayas, that is from the 4th to the
9th century A.D. We know this because the ancient Mayas used the trunks
of the chicle sapote tree for beams in their temples. It flourishes in the
district today, and it can live only under the climatic conditions that now
exist there (Kidder 1950).
So.I think we can dismiss the theory of climatic change. Then how can
we explain the ability of these peoples to do so much work in climates that
we find so trying? Simply by the fact that they wore very little clothing,
usually nothing above the waist. I have treated this subject at length else-
where (Wulsin 1949). As a result the climates in which they lived were not
very severe for them.
At this point someone may ask why other naked peoples in the tropics
have accomplished so little. The answer is that taking off your clothes
means you can work in a hot climate, but it does not mean you are going
to, unless you have some motive that seems to you valid for doing so. The
people who achieved great things apparently had such motives. To find
out what they were would be a very interesting inquiry, but it is not the one
on which we are engaged.
Finally, we may ask ourselves why these civilizations fell upon rela-
tively evil days, after they had once been so great. I think the answer lies
in historic causes of one sort or another, not in climatic ones. The fall of
Baghdad before the Mongols is a good example; the wrecking of Mayan
culture by the Spaniards ig another; the absorption of Egypt by Rome is a
third. As far as India and Indonesia are concerned, we cannot say that they
have deteriorated in any sense, but only that they have gone through a period
of foreign domination, as has befallen many other peoples.
So we can discard the theory that hot climates are intrinsically fatiguing
or deleterious or inimical to the highest levels of human achievement. We
need not worry about climate. Psychological and political conditions are
far more important in determining the fate of civilizations. Among the in-
fluences which conduce to great achievements, two in particular may be
mentioned. They are pride in the community, combined with faith in its
future, and cooperation and unity of purpose among different elements in the
Adolph, E. F.
1949. "Laboratory and Field Studies Desert." In Newburgh, 1949.
Gagge, A. P., C.-E. A. Winslow, and L. P. Herrington
1938. "The Influence of Clothing on the Physiological Reactions
of the Human Body to Varying Environmental Temperatures."
American Journal of Physiology, Vol. 124, pp. 30-50. Baltimore.
Hardy, J. D.
1949. "Heat Transfer." In Newburgh, 1949.
Herrington, L. P., and L. E. Shulman
1943. Interim Report to the Office of the Quartermaster General on
the Comparative Physiological Efficiency of Modifications of
the Standard Two-piece Battle Dress. (Summarized in Wulsin,
Howells, W. H.
1941. Textbook of Physiology, 14th ed., W. B. Sanders Company,
1915. Civilization and Climate. Yale University Press. New Haven.
1951. Principles of Human Geography, 6th ed., revised by Earl B.
Shaw. Wiley, New York; Chapman & Hall. London.
Kidder, A. V.
"Introduction." In Smith, 1950.
Newburgh, L. H., editor
1949. The Physiology of Heat Regulation and the Science of Cloth-
ing. W. B. Sanders Company. Philadelphia.
"Physiological Adjustments to Heat." In Newburgh, 1949.
1949b. "Laboratory and Field Studies Tropics." In Newburgh, 1949.
Semple, E. C.
1911.. Influences of Geographic Environment. Henry Holt. New York
Smith, A. Ledyard
1950. Excavations at Uaxactun, Guatemala, 1931-37. Publication
588, Carnegie Institution. Washington.
Wulsin, Frederick R.
1948. Responses of Man to a Hot Environment. Report No. 139,
Environmental Protection Section, Research and Development
Branch, Military Planning Division, Office of the Quarter-
master General. Washington.
1949. "Adaptations to Climate Among Non-European Peoples."
In Newburgh, 1949.
DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURES IN
Hale G. Smith
If we abstract out from the total cultural development in the New
World those specific cultures that attained a relatively high development
between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, we are con-
fronted with the prehistoric cultures that were in the Valley of Mexico,
Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula, and in Peru.1
In any discussion of the development of these cultures, the factors of
time and space must be kept in mind. All of the higher cultures in the
Americas developed out of a similar basic type of culture. The first
migrants to this hemisphere were hunters and collectors. This pattern
spread from the Bering Straits to Tierra del Fuego, and still persists in
some areas today. In nuclear America there were, in pre-Columbian times,
three culture patterns: hunting-gathering, semi-nomadic agriculturist, and
One of the prime factors in the advancement of the higher cultures was
the advent of the domestication of plants. The botanists now believe that
the center of domestication for many of the plants was South America,
and the plants were probably lowland in origin. For certain plants where
two or more species are represented it is believed that domestication was
accomplished independently in Middle and South America. Other plants
seem essentially local in origin.
Maize, an important and basic food plant in the Central Andes, is be-
lieved by botanists to have had its origin in the grasslands of the Chaco
which are marginal to the tropical forest. It was not until maize had been
transplanted to the Central Andes and other areas outside of the Chaco
that it figured to a large extent in the development of a higher civilization.
In the three areas where the centers of the high cultures were present,
culture patterns had basically the same form and content. Ilowever, be-
cause of various local conditions the particulars of these three groups
varied to some extent. Naturally, the cultures of Mexico and Central Amer-
ica did not have the llama and the alpaca since the wild forms were not
present in the area. The general culture pattern was based on agriculture;
hunting, fishing, and collecting were secondary. The religious activities
1The books, Andean Culture History, by Wendell C. Bennett and Junius B. Bird,
1949, and The Science of Culture by Leslie A. White, 1949, were utilized to a
great extent in the writing of this paper.
were centered around the agricultural cycle. The crafts such as pottery,
weaving, and metallurgy were advanced. Warfare was well organized. A
class system was developed, and the political and religious power was
concentrated in a small group of individuals.
These cultures had about reached their maximum development with the
technological system that they possessed when disrupted because of Euro-
pean intervention. At this time we see various traits had diffused into North
America and agriculture was well established. In the eastern part of the
United States such features as temple-mound complexes were welldeveloped.
In Panama almost all the things that were present in the cultures of the
Yucatan-Guatemala area and that of Peru were present but not as highly
developed. Impressive earthworks or structures of stone were not construct-
ed even though the Republic of Panama was the crossroads of migrations of
peoples and ideas. In this particular area the culture was not ready or re-
ceptive to some of the ideas from the higher developed areas.
The material culture of Panama at a late date was very meager when
compared to those of the areas to the north and the south. Panama's most
outstanding feature was the working of gold. Also, atthis time certain groups
in Panama were sedentary agriculturist. In the early Spanish accounts we
see that much of the land that is now jungles was at the time of discovery
cleared and planted in maize. The country was therefore more opened than
it is today. When a large part of the indigenous population was exterminated
by European-introduced diseases and the practice of slavery, the jungle
again grew up and the European culture tradition began to operate as it did
in the other nuclear American areas.
The culturologist would say that the development of high civilizations
need not necessarily be in the "temperate" climates but could be in any
area where man through cultural means could develop a surplus of energy
which could be put to work for the benefit of man. The next step from the
hunting-collecting stage has been universally that of the domestication of
plants and animals. Here was a means of storing energy that freed some
individuals of the group from food producing and allowed the culture to
further develop. Therefore, the culture level is dependent upon the amount
of energy harnessed and put to work for man per capital per year multiplied
by the technological level of development.
This could happen in a hot climate as well as a temperate one. For
such developments to come about is the result of a combination of factors:
geographical, climatic, historical, and cultural.
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
A GEOGRAPHIC INTERPRETATION OF
CIVILIZATIONS IN TROPICAL AMERICA
Donald R. Dyer
The point of view that is presented in this paper, dealing with the gen-
eral topic of the development of high civilizations in hot climates, is based
upon the present-day economic manifestations of civilizations grouped geo-
As has been noted by people in many fields, some geographers have
argued that high civilizations could arise only in regions blessed with
"stimulating," or cool variable, climates and so it would seem from pure-
ly empirical evidences of historic trends in the movements of centers of
culture from early Egypt and Babylonia northwestward to Greece and Rome
and, later, to western Europe. However, only is an extremely limited word,
and its use almost immediately brings forth strong reactions. Consequently,
some geographers have taken a nearly opposite view of the relationships of
civilizations to such elements of the natural environment as climate, saying
that man himself is the determiner of his fate and can fashion the environ-
ment to fit his desires at will. Still other geographers hold a view inter-
mediate between the two extremes. They do not believe that the natural
environment is either (1) entirely deterministic in that it whispers (or shouts)
to man, telling what he will do or cannot do, or (2) entirely passive in that
it can be changed easily and profoundly by man. They do believe that inter-
acting relationships of man and environment vary widely because of a com-
plex of reasons rather than simple determinism or simple passivism. Within
a given society with given technological abilities, some alterations can be
made and some limitations do exist.
In order to make a geographic interpretation of civilizations in hot cli-
mates, one must establish working definitions of both high civilization and
hot climate. Geographically, this interpretation will be limited to the tropics
of the western hemisphere.
A definition of a high civilization is that of an advanced state of mate-
rial and social well-being. Various criteria have been used for measuring
such an advanced state, among which are agricultural practices and produc-
tion, industrial activity, transportation network, trade, income, man-food
ratios, education, and public health. It seems that reliable indices of a
high civilization would be a high income per capital, high yields of crops,
and low infant mortality rate, among others. In more general terms, a high
civilization could be described as a center of new inventions, institutions,
and ideas, of military and political power, a place where industry is most
active and where art and science flourish. Many have defined stages of
civilization from'primitive hunting, fishing, and gathering societies to com-
plex urban-industrial and -commercial societies. The definition of high
civilization as applied in this paper refers to the generalized and there-
fore dangerous simplification of stages of civilization. The stages lend
themselves readily to geographic delimitation of regions and to analyses of
the interrelationships of human activities and natural resources.
A definition of hot climates, meaning hot wet climate and hot dry climate,
is based upon average temperatures, and, since hot weather exists for some
length of time even at high latitudes, one must restrict the definition to con-
tinuously hot. A hot climate, then, is one in which the mean monthly tem-
perature is above the limit of comfort. Estimates of the upper limit of com-
fortable mean temperatures range from 18 degrees Centigrade (64.4 degreesF.)
to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. An average of estimates, therefore, would be
about 68 degrees F. generally considered a comfortable room temperature.
The result of the application of the limit of 68 degrees for the mean tem-
perature of the coolest month is the following delimitation of hot tropical
America (Fig. 1). The continuously-hot lands extend as far north as the
northern Bahamas, north of Miami, the Gulf coast of Mexico north of Vera-
cruz, and the Pacific coast of Mexico south of Mazatlan, excluding all of
the Mexican Plateau and the highlands of southern Mexico and Central
America above 3000 feet elevation. Around the equator in South America
one must rise to nearly 5000 feet to pass from the continuously hot to con-
tinuously mild temperatures. The hot lands extend as far south as northern
Peru on the Pacific coast and Rio de Janeiro on the Atlantic coast, exclud-
ing highland areas again.
As defined above, one notes that, on the basis of national territory, only
part of the countries have a large proportion of their areas within the hot
belt. The proportions within the high temperature zone range from nearly all
of the Guianas, British Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, and Cuba to less than
one-fourth of Mexico (Table 1). The countries sharing the major part of the
vast Amazon basin Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru have between one-third
and three fourths of their national territory within the hot zones.
PROPORTIONS OF NATIONAL TERRITORY WITH CONTINUOUSLY
Mexico 20% Cuba 95% Fr. Guiana 100%
Br. Honduras 100 Jamaica 85 Surinam 100
Guatemala 65 Haiti 75 Br. Guiana 100
El Salvador 95 Dominican Rep. 75 Venezuela 90
Honduras 65 Puerto Rico 80 Colombia 80
Nicaragua 95 Lesser Antilles 95 Ecuador 65
Costa Rica 60 Peru 35
Panama 90 Bolivia 35
O CONTINUOUSLY-HOT LANDS
M ea Montkhly TeMperatures
above 68 Dreyes F.
i LANDS WITH AT LEAST ONE MONTH
BELOW 68 DEGREES F.
* City of more than 100,000 ~#btants
A City of 5o,00 to 100,006
R A Z I
Tro ic f Cpricorn
One should hasten to note, however, that the amount of territory with
hot climates does not necessarily indicate their importance to the country.
The number of inhabitants, for example, varies considerably with area. In
Mexico, only a little more than 10 per cent of the people live in the hot
lands, whereas 20 per cent of the national territory has hot climates. In
Central America, the proportion ranges from a low of 18 per cent in Guate-
mala to nearly 100 per cent of the populations of Panama and Nicaragua
(Table 2). In Honduras, the population is about equally divided between the
hot, banana-producing lowlands and the cooler highlands; whereas in Costa
Rica only one-fourth of the population lives in tropical lowlands.
PERCENTAGES OF POPULATION WITHIN ZONES OF HOT CLIMATES
Mexico 12% Cuba 100% Fr. Guiana 100%
Br. Honduras 100 Jamaica 95 Surinam 100
Guatemala 18 Haiti 95 Br. Guiana 100
El Salvador 95 Dominican Rep. 95 Venezuela 90
Honduras 55 Puerto Rico 95 Colombia 20
Nicaragua 95 Lesser Antilles 100 Ecuador 35
Costa Rica 27 Peru 8
Panama 100 Bolivia 15
The countries with positive correlations, that is, with a higher pro-
portion of population in hot climates than proportion of land area with con-
tinuously high temperatures, are the West Indies and Panama. In other
words, the population has been concentrated in the lowlands rather than in
the limited highland areas. Negative correlations exist in most countries.
In the equatorial countries with part of the country in tropical lowland and
part in cool highland, the most development has been in the cool highland,
although climate alone is not the controlling factor.
Probably at this point one should note the difference between hot wet
lands and hot dry lands, since the degree of humidity has considerable im-
portance for man's comfort and for the utility of the environment. Marked
contrasts are noticeable in the Caribbean and Pacific coastal lowlands of
Central America. The Caribbean lowland, with its superabundant moisture,
is less populated than the drier Pacific lowland. This difference can be
noted in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua where by far the most people
live in the Pacific lowlands: in Panama only 15 per cent live on the Carib-
bean side; in Costa Rica only 5 per cent (with 22 per cent on the Pacific
side): and in Nicaragua only 8 per cent on the wet Caribbean side. Such
contrasts demonstrate the limiting effect of high sensible temperatures on
man's comfort. Of importance also has been the effect of high humidity in
limiting crop production because of serious plant diseases.
Close correlations exist between stages of civilization mentioned
earlier and density of population. A dense population almost always de-
velops a more complicated economic and social system to satisfy its needs
than does a population which is widely spaced. Such development stems
not only from a seeming necessity to provide additional opportunities for
the support of a large population, but also from the elaboration of ideas
that result from the interaction of many people upon one another. One can
make broad generalizations regarding the ratio of population to land area
for the following generalized stages of civilization:
(1) subsistence hunting, fishing, gathering, and shifting cultivation
less than 1 inhabitant per square mile
(2) pastoral stage 1 to 5 per square mile
(3) sedentary agricultural stage 5 to 1000 per square mile
(4) urban-industrial and -commercial stage more than 1000 per
What correlations are there between stages of civilization and the hot
climates? And, if positive correlations do exist, are they explained by
cause and effect? The regions of the most advanced material and social
development within the tropic lines in the Americas are those on the outer
margins or just above the hot climates. Considering national boundaries
rather than such physical boundaries as climate, the most advanced coun-
tries of the American tropics are Cuba and Mexico within the northern tropic
line and Brazil within the southern tropic line.
Cuba, with its large per capital trade ($110), relatively large consumption
of power per capital, and close network of transportation lines, has made
more advancement than most tropical countries. The close geographic prox-
imity of Cuba to the tropical fringe of the United States has been a factor
of considerable importance in the development of Cuba. An average of 1
mile of railroad for every 5 square miles of land area (about the same as for
western European countries) and 20 telephones for every 1000 people
(Belgium has 10) indicate advanced development in communications. High
yields of crops indicate good soils and farm management. A relatively low
infant mortality rate (almost double the United States, but about one-half
that of other Iatin American countries) indicates a fairly high level of
In contrast, Nicaragua, with more than 90 per cent of its area and popu-
lation in tropical lowlands, has experienced only limited advancement.
Among the American republics, Nicaragua stands near the bottom in income,
trade, electric power, and transportation. Its per capital consumption of
power is only one-fifth that of neighboring Costa Rica, predominantly a
highland country. Its index of railroad coverage is 1 mile per 250 square
miles of land area.- far below Costa Rica's 1/30 or Cuba's 1/5. Its all-
weather highway coverage is somewhat better, being 1/105, but is still the
lowest of Central American nations. Telephone communication is limited
Considering now the boundaries of climate, as mentioned earlier, one
notes that a large part of the continuously hot lands is forested; and, al-
though forestry is carried on in some places, the characteristic stage of
civilization is that of subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering, plus some
shifting cultivation. The extensive Caribbean lowlands of Central America
and the Amazon Basin are particularly exemplary of such limited develop-
ment. In some parts of the wet lowlands, tropical plantations have been
established, but many of them have been abandoned to plant diseases, in-
sects, and dense vegetative growth.
Whereas parts of the hot lowlands are wet and have the characteristic
stage of civilization mentioned above, parts are dry, such as the Pacific
coastal lowland of Central America and leeward sides of mountains in the
large West Indies. Livestock ranching predominates in the dry lands, al-
though irrigation projects have been established in favored places. When
crops, such as corn, are grown without irrigation, yields are extremely low.
Thus, there are broad correlations between the hot climates and limited
advancement in material and social development. Is the limited develop-
ment caused by the hot climate? Again, one hastens to repeat that the inter-
pretation is not that simple. Climate is only one of the natural conditions
that man must face; others are relief of the land, vegetation, soils, and
minerals. Moreover, one should note that the optimum climate is not the
same for all stages of civilization.
In early civilizations, such as those of Egypt and Babylonia, the optimum
climate was determined by the conditions of winter; i.e., a winter only as
cold as one could comfortably stand the temperature; the summer was not
critical. Following the inventions of techniques to keep men warm and dry,
the limiting conditions of winter were taken care of artificially and the opti-
mum climate was determined by the unpleasant warmth of summer. Follow-
ing the same line of reasoning, possibly we are now in the third epoch, in
which men are developing techniques to modify the uncomfortable conditions
of heat and high humidity in summer. Perhaps the rapid and widespread
advancements in air conditioning and refrigeration will reverse the trend
toward the poles and focus future developments toward the equator.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
SOME RELATIONS OF GEOGRAPHY AND
The composition of this panel is recognition that problems relative to
the existence of highly developed cultures in areas of the earth subsumed
under the rubric "hot climates" are the domain of no single science. The
field of physical and cultural anthropology, geography, and architecture are
here represented. But the sociologist, political scientist, economist, and
historian, and the climatologist, geologist, soil chemist, and economic botan-
ist, to name but a few others, would find in the reality between the arbitrary
lines of the low latitudes of the earth material for organization and analysis
and would perhaps claim that their studies are relatable to the topic of this
symposium, "High Civilizations in Hot Climates."
It is not proposed here to examine the relations of man, culture, and
environment, which have in some of their aspects been considered by pre-
ceding discussants, but to consider two fields of study, as such, which are
concerned with human behavior in different settings. Possibly my allotted
portion of labor belongs more properly to the philosopher or historian of
science than to the anthropologist, but sciences may be viewed as cultural
complexes, and in this sense their relations are a cultural problem.
Anthropologists and geographers, to a greater degree than the other
specialists I have mentioned, have been concerned with the whole of human
life and the resources from which culture is constructed. The goals and
scope of geography, indeed, appear to be broader than those of cultural
anthropology, but we have shared, and do share, certain problems and short-
comings which it might be interesting to examine. Invasion of another dis-
cipline is hazardous, but when I depart from my own field, I shall use geo-
graphical authorities as informants in the manner of the field anthropologist
among native peoples. Ilowever, the analytical tools which I shall employ
are gaining currency in cultural anthropology, although they are not the
exclusive possession of this field.
Perhaps cultural anthropology (although not necessarily the science of
culture which is emerging from it) is familiar to geographers, some of whom
work concurrently in two disciplines. Geography, however, has not been
understood clearly by some anthropologists, if by geography we mean the
central or core study and not some of its specialties (see Taylor, 1951, and
Ilartshorne, 1939). In 1934, the geographer Isaiah Bowman took to task the
eminent Franz Boas himself for a statement about what geographers are sup
posed to propound with respect to the relations of culture and the non-cul-
tural environment an aspect of the geographer's study from which some
anthropologists derive their notion of the geographer's total field. "In view
of the work of Brunhes and many others," Bowman wrote, "it is with aston-
ishment that one notes the dictum of Dr. Boas, in his address as President
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that 'geogra-
phers try to derive all forms of human culture from the geographical environ-
ment in which man lives.' This helped the climax of the argument he was
trying to make but was inexcusable from the standpoint of fact. Boas had
early training as a geographer, but he is obviously unaware of the realities
of modern geographical research and philosophy. His argument is applicable
only to that sketchy 'environmentalism' or 'determinism' which was early
rejected by all but a handful of writers who were seduced by the pretty
phases about 'influences' or 'factors'" (Bowman, 1934, p. 70).
I quote this at length, not in criticism of Boas, but because for good or
ill it is what many anthropologists believe geographers to maintain, and it
has been fashionable to set up a straw man of "geographical (more properly,
environmental) determinism" and to knock him down. Perhaps anthropolo-
gists cannot be blamed, because what was only a passing phase in Germany,
the nurturing ground of much of geography, became, largely through the in-
fluence of Ratzel and a few of his students, "for half a century the dominat-
ing concept in American geography, namely the study of the relationships
between nature and man" (ltartshorne, 1939, p. 120). However, geography
is said to be no longer a study of that relationship in itself.
When the sociologist Ogburn and the anthropologist Goldenweiser in
1927 assembled contributions for their book, The Social Sciences and Their
Interrelations, geography was not represented. I do not know whether the
reason for its omission was doubt among non-geographers as to whether
geography is to be regarded as a "social" or a "natural" science. As a
matter of fact, although some geographers have developed specialties, the
dualism within geography itself, as a whole, has rested on methodological
grounds that is, upon regional and systematic (or special) geography,
rather than on human-cultural and non-cultural or physical content (Iart-
shorne, 1939, p. 572).
However, anthropology, too, has its dualism, and I do not speak of the
commonly recognized one of physical or biological anthropology and cultural
anthropology. In the present phase of our science, a more important one,
which, like regional and systematic geography, rests on methodological
(as well as conceptual) grounds, is a schism within cultural anthropology
itself. This lies between those who view culture in terms of the behavior of
human beings (including the psychological and the social-interactional as-
pects of behavior) and those who deal with culture as a self-contained class
Sof events separable from its organic carriers and who extract the cultural
aspect, thus defined, from the totality of human behavior (White, 1949, p.
It is interesting to contrast the titles of two modern theoretical works
by anthropologists of the latter persuasion with one in the field of geography
of comparable scope. Kroeber and White have entitled their works The
Nature of Culture and The Science of Culture. Ilartshorne named his The
Nature of Geography. While we should not belabor the point, I believe that
the emphasis on a central concept in the first two works is more than for-
tuitous and represents a maturity and definiteness in cultural anthropology
not yet achieved by geography. This rests in turn upon orientations in the
respective fields about which I wish to speak briefly.
Geography, to follow Ilartshorne in the book I have cited, is a choro-
graphic study. It is concerned with the areal differentiation of the earth's
surface. It is interested in the totality of conditions in any area, but only
insofar as they combine to produce a distinctive character that is recog-
nizably different from all other combinations or areas. This emphasis on
combinations of distinctive character holds true whether the study is to be
regional or whether it is to be systematic. In studies of the latter type, one
would trace the occurrences, or world distribution, of any particular phe-
nomenon but always would relate it to the varying contexts in which it is
found and which give it a differing character in different regions.
The geographer works on the assumption that there are intercausal re-
lations between the phenomena which he studies. "If no causal relations
existed between the different places on the earth, and if the different phe-
nomena at one and the same place on the earth were independent of each
other, no special chorological conception would be needed; since, however,
such relationships do exist, which by the systematic and historical sciences
are comprehended only incidentally or not at all, we need a special choro-
logical science of the earth or the earth surface" (Ilartshorne, 1939, p. 142,
quoting the German geographer Ilettner). Watson (in Taylor, 1951, pp.465-6)
speaks of this concept of the unity of nature and the scope of things con-
sidered interrelated: "The concept of terrestrial unity is fundamental to
modern geography, and includes in its orbit, not only nature, but man, and
not only the physical aspects of man, but the ethereal as well."
A revealing comparison is made between geography and history. "The
use of the term 'region' in geography corresponds in a sense to the his-
torian's use of the word 'period' (Iartshorne, in Schmidt, 1938, p. 325).
Commenting upon a suggestion by Kroeber that the distinctive feature of
the historical approach lies in its "descriptive integration," Ilartshorne
writes (1939, pp. 283-4): "We might say that both history and geography are
attempts at descriptive integration, but that in history the integrating factor
is time the association of phenomena taking place at approximately the
same place but related to each other in the sense of time whereas in geo-
graphy the integrating factor is space the association of phenomena at
approximately the same time but related to each other in spatial terms, i.e.,
in terms of relative location.'"
By "descriptive" Kroeber means "that the phenomena are preserved in-
tact as phenomena, so far as that is possible; in distinction from the approach
of the nonhistorical sciences, which set out to decompose phenomena in
order to determine processes as such" (Kroeber, 1952, p. 63).
On the basis of these statements, we may say that geographical analysis
consists of the descriptive integration of phenomena which exist over a
given area of the earth's surface at a given time and which are assumed to
be intercausally related. In this analysis, phenomena are preserved intact
as phenomena. If this is a fair statement, geography is not a pursuit to be
contrasted with history, but rather one which is essentially historical. The
geographer's regions are historical configurations, the temporal connection
between phenomena being one of contemporaneity rather than succession.
Now, to the degree that geography is an historical science, prediction
is precluded. On grounds other than this one, geographers may admit that
condition. "...Geography is, by its nature, one of the branches of science
from which we are to expect relatively little knowledge of the future of such
a degree of certainty as to justify the word 'prediction' (Ilartshorne, 1939,
p. 433). Some geographers speak more optimistically of "understanding."
However, if geography's goal is scientific understanding of all the phe-
nomena of the earth's surface deemed significant in terms of regional wholes,
it has set itself to a task that is one of the most intimidating in the history
of science, because there are, at this stage of scientific advancement, al-
most insuperable theoretical and practical difficulties in the way of its
James Spuhler once observed in a review in The American Anthropolo-
gist that the word science has no proper place in scientific discourse. It
is a fetish word, assumed to have the magical property of imparting author-
ity to loose discussion. And geographers may not be overly concerned
about labelling their activities one way or another. Be that as it may, it is
relevant here to speak of geography in terms of science, and the bold gen-
eralizations I have made should have support.
I should like to call attention to White's illuminating observation that
the scientist, or person who sciences, that is, who "deals with experience
according to basic assumptions and with certain techniques" (1949, p. 3),
analyzes reality in three ways. lie deals with unique things and events in
A more extended discussion of White's logical basis for distinguishing these three
processes and the methods of analysis which correspond to them was inserted
parenthetically during presentation of this paper in Rollins College. Readers of
this journal unfamiliar with the general argument are referred to White's explica-
tion in his essay, "Science is Sciencing," in The Science of Culture, 1949.
terms of purely tempor l relations, which is to say he arranges them chron-
ologically. le grapples with reality in terms of spatial relations exclusive-
ly, suppressing the as ect of uniqueness and temporality of events in repeti-
tively-occurring forms or structures, within which the parts are functionally
related in a simple mathematical sense. And he regards reality in terms of
space-time, which produces a temporal succession, not of unique events,
but of forms or structures in fine, an evolutionary analysis.
History, we see, is one of the scientist's tools. "'History' is that way
of sciencing in which events are dealt with in terms of their temporal rela-
tionships alone. Each event is unique. The one thing that history never
does is to repeat itselfJ.." ibidd., p. 8). It is important to grasp the fact
that history, as defined here (and White, of course, is speaking of an ana-
lytical technique, not of the activities of a guild called historians), rests
equally upon the uniqueness of events and upon their temporal context.
What distinguishes the formal- or structural-functional context from the his-
torical is not alone exclusive concern with spatial relations, but the con-
comitant condition that forms or structures are repetitive and not unique.
The degree to which one can predict depends upon one's success in deter-
mination of structures within which the parts stand in functionial relations.
And given structure, the way is opened for greater predictability by recog-
nition of succession of structures which is to say evolution.
Kroeber, although he holds a broad definition of history and the func-
tion of historians, has this to say: "The attachment to contiguity in space
and time, to continuity of the spatiotemporal relations of the phenomena,
coupled with attachment of the phenomena themselves, is what gives the
historical aspects of phenomena their immediate reality. It is also the
factor which prevents the historical approach as such from attaining to
'laws,' to general theory, to exactness of measurable findings, and to
genuine verifiability, as by experiment. It is also what gives historical
findings their quality of uniqueness, their individuation, their physiognomic
property" (1952, p. 101).
Now one additional fact relating to the method of science as viewed
here is highly important. That is the proven utility of separation of reality
into levels of organization: the inorganic, organic, and super-organic or
cultural (sometimes confused with the social).2 "The distinctions be-
tween these levels, or strata, of reality, are valid and are fundamental for
science," according to White (supra., p. 15). Kroeber remarks, "What is
2Like our discussion of methods of "sciencing," the presentation of the material
on levels of organization must be unfortunately brief. The reader is referred to
Kroeber's essays entitled "'The Concept of Culture" and "White's View of
Culture" in his The Naturq of Culture, 1952, as well as to White's contribution
clearest about the levels is that certain properties or qualities of the phe-
nomena of each are peculiar to it...That which is specifically characteristic
and distinctively significant of phenomena of a level is intelligible only in
terms of the other phenomena, qualities, or regularities of the same level"
(Kroeber, 1952, p. 120).
I suggest that as a consequence, at this stage in the development of
science, we can no more achieve reliable and economic results by attempt-
ing to form structures cross-cutting two or more levels than we can by
"reducing" the phenomena of one level to a lower for interpretation. As
Kroeber says further (p. 121), "...It appears that the total work of science
must be done on a series of levels which the experience of science gradual-
ly discovers...Apparently, true progress is made when every science is
autonomous in its procedures, while also realizing its relation of depen-
dence on subjacent ones, and of support to the independent overlying ones.
It is investigation on autonomous levels that is a precondition of most ex-
tensions of our understanding of the world." We are, White notes, able to
"inquire into the relationship of one level and another" (supra., p. 17),
but he would second Kroeber's observation that autonomy in investigation
by level is a condition of progress.
Now let us return to geography. Geographic method rests upon no one
of these levels of organizations of reality. The chorological approach in
essence is relation of all phenomena whatsoever, deemed significant in
terms of juxtaposition or, as it is termed, "spatial relationship."
But we come to the important consideration that the term "spatial rela-
tions" of the geographer, or choreographer, does not have the same meaning
as the term "spatial relations" as I have used it and which, I believe, is
current in several sciences which deal with reality on one level. "Spatial
relations" to the choreographer means co-existing at the same time and in
the same general area: that is to say, at the same time and in the same
place. It does not have the meaning of exclusively spatial, in terms of
structure, with suppression of the aspects of temporality and the unique-
ness of things and events. If this is true, one cannot distinguish repeti-
tive structures or forms in the mass of phenomena which comprise the geo-
graphical region. The things and events of geography, I emphasize again,
are unique things and events related simply by simultaneous existence.
Time never is excluded; it is here and now, or a given point in time, and
time is always relevant.
Further, the concept of an interrelated universe of things is defensible,
certainly, but can science deal efficiently with the universe as one entity
at present? One may be concerned finally with wholes other than levels
of organization that is, with the whole man or even the whole universe -
and postulate with confidence that the parts of the whole are interrelated.
But analysis of the whole is efficiently accomplished neither in one piece
nor by manipulating discrete events related only through juxtaposition. It
must -be separated into aspects in terms of the levels which science has
found productive to recognize. Analysis, judging by experience, must pro-
ceed on the appropriate levels, and then finally the aspects may be reinte-
grated. Thus, human behavior as a whole may have its mechanical, physio-
logical, psychological, social-interactional, and cultural aspects; but the
experience of anthropology, at least, has been that simultaneous investi-
gation and relation of, say, the psychological and cultural leads to con-
fusion and frustration.
In one respect, the analog in anthropology of the geographer's region,
with its interrelated components, is the concept of culture, but only in the
respect that each provides a focus for study and an organizing device for a
group of investigators. Culture defined as a superorganic phenomenon as
an aspect of reality, the analysis of which sheds much light on man's total
behavior and his relations with the rest of nature is an extremely useful
tool. It limits the phenomena to be studied, indicates their essential
characteristics, and provides for productive research consonant with the
canons of science, including that concerning the utility of organization by
levels. On the other hand, speaking brashly for one outside the field of
geography, it would appear to me that the choreographic concept would be
a comparatively dull tool. It does not limit the phenomena to be studied,
does not indicate their essential characteristics in any exact sense, and
it groups phenomena on disparate levels in such fashion that discovery of
intercausal relations must be extremely difficult.
What I have said is not meant to be axe-grinding. It is offered as an
anthropologist's incomplete analysis of what might be termed a cultural
complex, geography, in terms of its own goals, approach, and relation to
the larger cultural complex of science. As a matter of fact, cultural an-
thropology has had similar barriers to progress. Cultural anthropologists
who have cast their lot with a definition of culture couched in terms of
one level of reality, the superorganic, are a minority. A smaller minority
is willing to recognize, much less employ, the evolutionary method of
analysis; and until recently American anthropology has been rather largely
historical, suspicious of regularities and laws based upon structural-formal-
functional relations (see for discussion of these points publications of
White and Meggers cited in the bibliography).
I might observe, as a final point, that anthropology and geography have
had an interesting similarity in their histories and development. Both have
their roots in antiquity. Both became sciences, however, only after the
facts of the earth were thrown open by discovery. As Bowman said, "...The
Age of Discovery threw geography into a state of intense development. Not
only were striking facts coming to light, but there was the stimulating sense
that no one could say how far the search might lead... For all of that, there
was little advance in the 'science' of geography for two hundred and fifty
years after Columbus' first voyage in spite of the mountains of new facts
piled up. In a fever of inquiry men spent their time not so much in inventing
theories or testing assumptions as in exploring for facts about the outer
world that lay on the farther shore of the Sea of Darkness" (op. cit., p. 15).
Sowie, commenting on an identical situation in anthropology, wrote:
"...Theory can proceed sanely only on a wide foundation of fact. That is
why all branches of anthropology lagged behind until geographical discovery
enlarged their scope...(But) even when the facts are established, it takes
time for sound concepts to mature" (Lowie, 1937, p. 4).
The maturation took place with astonishing rapidity, once the time was
ripe. The clustering of giants in geography in the time of Humboldt and
Ritter is matched in anthropology at the time of Tylor. Interestingly and
importantly, the chorological concept of geography and the superorganic
concept of culture in anthropology were mapped out by the pioneers. In both
sciences, there followed deviations and dispersions from the basic approach-
es and during later times a return to them. (These developments have been
charted by Hartshorne, White, Meggers,and others.) If, as Kroeber has ob-
served, "Geniuses are the indicators of the realization of coherent pattern
growths of cultural value" (1944, p. 839), it might be suggested that the
two sciences considered so briefly here offer an extremely interesting field
for study in purely cultural terms.
It has taken some temerity to invade an alien field, and one may feel
that this discussion has strayed unfortunately far from civilizations and hot
climates. But there can be profit, I believe, in a mutual examination of our
concepts in the cool climate of symposiums.
1934. Geography in Relation to the Social Sciences. New York.
1938. "Human Geography." In Man and Society: A Substantive
Introduction to the Social Sciences (Emerson P. Schmidt,
editor). New York.
1939. The Nature of Geography: A Critical Survey of Current
Thought in Light of the Past. Annals of the Association
of American Geographers, Vol. 29, Nos. 3-4. Albany.
Kroeber, Alfred L.
1944. Configurations of Culture Growth. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
1952. The Nature of Culture. Chicago.
Lowie, Robert H.
1937. The History of Ethnological Theory. New York.
Meggers, Betty J.
1946. "Recent Trends in American Ethnology." American An-
thropologist, Vol. 48, No. 2. Menasha.
Ogburn, William Fielding, and Alexander Goldenweiser
1927. The Social Sciences and Their Interrelations. Boston.
Watson, J. W.
1951. "The Sociological Aspects of Geography." In Geography
in the Twentieth Century: A Study of Growth, Fields, Tech-
niques, Aims and Trends (Griffith Taylor, editor). New York.
White, Leslie A.
1949. The Science of Culture: A Study of Man and Civilization.
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
BUILDING IN FLORIDA
Edward M. Fearney
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
My topic is "Building in Florida," and I would first like to discuss some
of the things that affect building in Florida.
Planting certainly is an important appendage in building here. I think a
flashback of the story of why we plant as we do would be most informing and
illustrative of much of our building thinking. In the middle of the 18th Cen-
tury people of taste thought it was amusing to have ruins in their gardens.
If their taste was classical, of course, they had a Greek or Roman ruin; and
if Romantic, a Gothic ruin. These ruins had bushes growing near them to
show that they were accidental. Vines were permitted to grow up these
man-made ruins in order that they might look as if they had naturally been
there for 1,000 or 1,500 years, which was their pretended age.
As time went on, these people of taste sometimes remodeled their ruins
into pavilions for their gardens but did not destroy the foliage for it was
pretended that this was still an accident. The rage for this sort of thing
reached a height at the Desert de Montville, a large house in France which
was built to resemble a huge broken Roman column peeking up through the
foliage, and at Founthill Abbey, built for William Beckford by James Wyatt,
which was a full scale cathedral in wood and papier-mache. The tower was
over 450 ft. high and collapsed during a thunderstorm. This in no way
dampened Mr. Beckford's enthusiasm for he immediately had it rebuilt.
Heretofore buildings had always been built and plantings arranged so
that they might appear new as long as possible. Plantings generally did
not come any closer than 50 ft. to the building, and there was always a
stone walkway at the base of the building at least 5 to 12 ft. wide depend-
ing upon the building's importance. Everything was done to preserve the
freshness and smartness of the material and prevent deterioration as long
The practical, new middle class who ventured out to see these follies
of the ancien regime mistook them for the way buildings should be handled.
Bushes were planted up against the side of the building, those "insidious
ornaments," vines, were encouraged to deteriorate the stone and brickwork;
and buildings, in a word, became ashamed of themselves in this new peeka-
boo style hidden behind foliage. In fact, this idea has progressed so far
that the idea has been suggested that buildings grow out of the ground,
though my experience has been that they do not.
Here in Florida we have multiplied this folly 100,000 times; and where-
as the sports of the 18th Century might have spent 20 to 30 thousand pounds
on their jokes, we in all seriousness spend billions of dollars every year on
what has obviously become a very poor joke and really not amusing at all.
The climate here does not permit plantings against a building without
dire results to the clothing and furniture fabrics inside. Plantings hold the
moisture against the building and prevent its ever being thoroughly dried
out during the wet season, and during the dry season it is necessary to
water these same plants in order to keep them alive. In addition to this we
mulch our plants heavily, and this mulch is a culture for cockroaches,
snakes, and mosquitoes which stand and wait at our front and back doors to
come in as we do. These plantings also prevent the passage of the elusive
summer breeze, and since more and more people are spending their summers
in Florida, this is a real consideration. I have cited this particular section
of our planting history in order that several other aspects of the type of
building we do show up in a true light of sentimental appendix.
Here in Florida we have terrific opportunities for the development of
clear thinking, for in truth we have left a great many of our possessions,
both mental and physical, in some other area. A great deal of experimental
work is going on here that may eventually lead to a sensible scientifically-
planned shelter for our domestic activities.
The scientific spirit is indigenous to America and is coming into its
own here and now in the building industry. Modern architecture in its best
sense is a scientific solution of personal needs and climate control with
the materials that will permit economic building. Many architects, so many
in fact that to name a few is to wrongfully ignore the large group, in Florida
are working on these problems all the time. I shall show you a very few
slides that suggest the care and planning that goes into building thinking.
First, I will show you a slide of a house (Fig. 1) that I built and criticize
The sun here is our enemy. I built this house at the height of the all-
glass period. It is a very exciting house, and I use the word in the exact
meaning, and is wonderful for a party. But the amount of glare and vibra-
tion is so great that the next morning it fills the room and the head and
makes rest absolutely impossible. I solved, of course, many of the local
problems, and I have changed some of the glare areas into solid areas so
that there are cool dry caves into which one can retire.
Figure 2 is the cocoon house by Twitchell and Rudolph of Sarasota,
showing another method of construction and experiment in tension. This
is a screen cage, You can see here the imagination and experimentation to
promote pleasant living in Florida. I want to suggest the next step -large
Fig. 1. Florida house built by the author, Edward M. Fearney.
Fig. 2. Cocoon House built by Twitchell and Rudolph of Sarasota, Florida.
(Photograph by Ezra Stoller.)
Fig. 3. The Williams house under construction, Hibiscus Island, Miami, Florida.
Fig. 4. The completed Williams house.
screened patios with the screen roof in tension and every other section in
canvas to provide shade.
Figure 3 shows the Williams house, Hibiscus Island, Miami, Florida,
designed by Rufus Nims, A.I.A., architect. Here we see a house under
construction that resists the rigors of the Florida climate dampness, sun,
winds, rot, and termites and illustrates openness of plan.
Figure 4 shows the finished, polished house in which privacy and ven-
tilation have been achieved by careful placing of vertical planes with space
top and bottom for window openings or with full-length adjustable louvers
on the periphery of the shell. The lower floor in this house is used for
service area, bathhouse, and guest room. Upstairs are two bedrooms, living-
dining room, and kitchen.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
SEMINOLE INDIAN CLUES FOR
CONTEMPORARY HOUSE FORM IN FLORIDA
William T. Arnett
Until comparatively recent times, few houses have been better adapted
to the Florida climate than those of the Seminole Indian. In peninsular
Florida, characterized as it is by hot, damp summers, it would be difficult
to conceive of a house form better calculated to provide comfort.
Climate has been called the great misunderstood barrier which cuts man
off from the fullest enjoyment of life. In buildings and out, probably no
single factor influences man's daily life more than climate, and yet little
effort has been made to understand it or to take full measure of its good
and bad aspects.
An uncomfortable building, like constant under-feeding, is a drain which
saps productivity and efficiency. The human being performs best when
neither too hot nor too cold, for if the body is only a little too hot or a little
too cold, it must spend energy fighting discomfort which might be used for
a better purpose.
The climate of peninsular Florida poses a problem and opens an oppor-
tunity. The problem is prolonged heat with high humidity; the opportunity
is the fact that the climate permits outdoor living the greater part of the
Although extremely high temperatures are unknown in Florida, there is
a long continued period of uncomfortable summer heat, particularly in the
afternoons. Indoors, or away from a breeze, high humidity can be a prob-
lem most of the year.
The opportunity which the Florida climate affords for outdoor living
is one of the state's greatest assets. This opportunity makes it possible,
if we design uith nature rather than against it, to provide an answer to the
twin problems of temperature and humidity by permitting the free movement
of air in, through, and around our buildings. For perhaps 85 per cent of
the time in peninsular Florida, a person can be more comfortable under the
shade of a tree than when he is enclosed by the solid walls and small
windows of an ordinary structure.
Buildings in Florida, especially houses, tend to have characteristics
which place them in one of two groups. The first has most of the fully-
enclosed characteristics of a packing box; the other has most of the open-
sided characteristics of an umbrella.
The box form, illustrated in Figure 1, tends to cut off the occupants
from the natural movement of air. Even though windows of ordinary size
may be introduced on one or both sides, there is a tendency for pockets of
dead air to form and for the occupants to be uncomfortable during warm
weather. On the other hand; the umbrella form (Fig. 2) provides the same
shelter from sun and rain but permits and encourages the free movement of
air, without which there can' be little comfort during Florida summers.
FIG. 1. THE BOX
SIG. 2. THE UMBRELLA
FIG. 2. THE UMBRELLA
The reason air movement is essential for comfort in Florida is based
on the prevailing vapor pressures. Vapor pressures, actually much more
useful factors than relative humidities for determining heat exchange,
express the force exerted by molecules of water vapor in the atmosphere.
Below 10 millimeters of mercury there is a sensation of chilliness, even
with temperatures in the 70's. When the summer vapor pressure rises above
15, there is a sensation of discomfort, and a tendency for the body to
sweat. Summer pressures in the 20's become almost unbearable, unless
offset by a cooling breeze.
Dr. Paul A. Siple has pointed out (Saylor, 1950) that for at least half
of the year in peninsular Florida, vapor pressures are high enough to re-
quire ventilation for comfort. Also, for an additional quarter of the year,
vapor pressures are in the extremely uncomfortable zone above 20 and
consequently demand air movement.
The typical Seminole Indian house (Fig. 3) takes full advantage of the
outdoor living qualities of the Florida climate and provides a living space
completely open to the breeze. The raised platform places the occupants
above dampness and permits free circulation of air above the floor and
beneath it as well; the wide sheltering roof of palmetto thatch protects the
interior from the summer sun and from the drenching rain; the completely
open sides admit the breeze and make maximum summer comfort possible.
There is remarkable similarity in concept between some of the forward-
looking houses of Florida architects and the traditional houses of the
Seminole Indian. Figure 4 shows the cross-section of one such house in
South Florida. The floor, like that of the Indian house, has been raised
above the dampness, and space has been provided under the house for the
breeze to blow through. Since the necessities of urban living generally
require a house to be more than one room deep, the roof has been pitched
upward so as to provide clerestory ventilation in all of the principal
rooms. By orienting the house toward the prevailing wind, the breeze enters
at the right and blows through the high openings at the left, inducing a
free flow of air through the building.
In such houses, as in those of the Seminole Indian, the customary dis-
tinction between walls, windows, and doors is largely disregarded. Walls
on the south or east side of the house are of the folding or roll-back vari-
ety so that the house can be completely opened to the prevailing breeze.
Thoughtful Florida architects, taking their clues partly from the Semi-
noles perhaps, are demonstrating that living in Florida houses need not be
a difficult or uncomfortable task. In a few, and as yet isolated, examples
throughout peninsular Florida, we see the prototypes of what may well be
a new, but yet ancient, architecture an architecture which works with
the Florida climate.
FIG. 3. SEMINOLE INDIAN HOUSE
FIG. 4. FLORIDA HOUSE CURRENT VERSION OF SEMINOLE IDEA
Saylor, Henry H., supervising editor
1950. "Regional Climate Analyses, South Florida Miami."
Bulletin of the American Institute of Architects, Vol. 4,
No. 1. Washington.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE
Adelaide K. Bullen, anthropologist at the Florida State Museum,
initiated and planned the symposium on "High Civilizations in Hot Cli-
mates," presented at the December, 1953, meeting of the Florida Academy
of Sciences at Rollins College, Winter Park, and is guest editor of this
issue of the Florida Anthropologist.
Frederick R. Wulsin, professor of anthropology at Tufts College, Med-
ford, Massachusetts, has done extensive field work in the Middle East,
Africa, and eastern Asia. From 1942 until 1945, Dr. Wulsin did research
at the Research and Development Branch of the Office of the Quartermaster
General, Washington, D.C. His work involved consideration of different
climatic conditions and man's responses to heat and cold.
Hale G. Smith is associate professor and head of the Department of
Anthropology and Archaeology at Florida State University. He has made
several field trips in the Caribbean area and is well known for his contri-
butions to Florida archaeology.
Donald R. Dyer is assistant professor of geography at the University of
Florida and has just been named associate editor of the Quarterly Journal
of the Florida 'Academy of Sciences.
Robert Anderson is assistant professor of anthropology at Florida
State University. The historical and logical relations of the social sci-
ences is his current theoretical interest. He has done field work with the
Northern Cheyenne in Montana.
Edward M. Fearney, assistant professor of architecture, has been at
the University of Florida seven years. He is currently director of the
Florida Association of Architects.
William T. Arnett is dean of the College of Architecture and Allied
Arts at the University of Florida, and director of the University's Bureau
of Architectural and Community Research.
FLORIDA ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
First Vice President:
Second Vice President:
Frederick W. Sleight, Mount Dora
H. James Gut, Sanford
Raymond F. Bellamy, Tallahassee
James A. Gavan, Orange Park
Ripley P. Bullen, Gainesville
Robert Anderson, Tallahassee
D. D. Laxson, Hialeah
Leigh M. Pearsall, Melrose
John M. Goggin, Gainesville
Membership in the Florida Anthropological Society is open to everyone
interested in its aims. Dues are $3.00 per year. Members receive the Florida
Anthropologist, the Newsletter, and other publications of the Society. Appli-
cations should be sent to the Treasurer, who should be addressed also con-
cerning receipt of publications. His address is 103 Seagle Building, Gaines-
General inquiries concerning the Society should be addressed to the
Manuscripts and publications for review should be sent to the Editor, at
the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Florida State University,
Address items for the Newsletter to the President, Box 94, Mount Dora
Student Membership $1.50.
LIST OF PUBLICATIONS
FLORIDA ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
The Florida Anthropologist
Vol. I, Nos. 1-2, 3-4 Vol. IV, Nos. 1-2, 3-4
Vol. II, Nos. 1-2, 3-4 Vol. V, Nos. 1-2, 3-4
Vol. III, Nos. 1-2, 3-4 Vol. VI, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4
Each Single No. Each Double No.
Members $ .50 $1.00
Non-Members .75 1.50
Newsletter, Florida Anthropological Society
Nos. 1-24 . . ...... ....... 15 cents each
Publications, Florida Anthropological Society
No. 1 "Two Archaeological Sites in Brevard County, Florida,"
by Hale G. Smith. 32 pages, 4 plates . .50 cents
No. 2 "The Safety Harbor Site, Pinellas County, Florida,"
by John W. Griffin and Ripley P. Bullen. 42 pages, 4
plates ...........................50 cents
No. 3 "The Terra Ceia Site, Manatee County, Florida," by
Ripley P. Bullen. 48 pages, 7 plates . 50 cents
All publications may be ordered from the Treasurer:
Ripley P. Bullen
103 Seagle Building