I’ll use this example of N.N. Taleb reaching muh African Einsteins levels of wokeness here to answer a common counter to critics of race differences in IQ.
North European backwardness was a function of late demographic development; in those regions, intensive agriculture became technologically possible relatively late:
Michael Mitterauer, “Why Europe?”
White identifies agrarian technology as key to the social-dynamic shift in question. He lists the heavy plow, the use of horses in farming (because of the horse collar and the horseshoe), and the three-field system—the rotation of winter planting, summer planting, and fallow fields—as the crucial agrarian innovations. He ranks the cultivation of recently imported crops lower. A comparison with other cultures, however, shows that the cultivation of introduced crops is the decisive factor in agricultural revolutions. This is clearly evident in the transformations in agriculture simultaneously underway in China and Islamic countries.
Janet Martin, “Medieval Russia, 980-1584”
Peasants maximized their chances for reaping sufficiently large crops by planting twice a year. Archeological evidence suggests that as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries northern communities were planting both winter and spring crops. Winter rye was typically sown late in the year. The seeds were protected over the winter by an insulating layer of snow and sprouted as the snows melted in the spring. Spring crops were planted after the danger of winter frosts had passed.
Low agricultural yields resulted in generally low urbanization – barring trade entrepots like Low Countries – and consequently, lower literacy until around the midpoint of the second millennium.
Yet despite climatic challenges, and the challenges stemming from that, it’s worth noting that European cultural achievements seem to have been considerable – maybe even superlative – in the deep past.
Does Sub-Saharan Africa have anything contemporaneously comparable to… the Shigir Idol, possibly humanity’s earliest example of proto-literacy?
Lithic wonders such as Stonehenge or Newgrange?
The hitherto unprecedented explosion of artistic talent observed in cave paintings and Venus statues, which only appeared in Europe and nowhere else?
Or even intricate bone armor of Siberian hunter-gatherers 3,900 years ago?
In contrast, the only genuinely S.S. African pre-colonial cultural artifacts that I found to be genuinely impressive by was Benin metalwork. (There is a good collection at The British Museum).
But exceptions proves the rule. Benin was a coastal civilization with significant demographic resources, and it created those masterpieces within the past millennium.
Meanwhile, Sub-Saharan African literacy rates outside Ethiopia and areas where Africans interacted with Arabs were at flat zero percent (no indigenous writing systems or even quasi-writing systems like quipu) until 19th century. The sole exception was Nsibidi, an ideographic script developed a millennium ago. It originated from south-east Nigeria, in an area densely packed with Igbo – an ethnicity that seems to have substantially higher IQs than the Sub-Saharan African average. Incidentally, that also happens to be the approximate location of the origin of Sub-Saharan African iron metalworking.