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History and Geography of the Ancient Americas

History and Geography of the Ancient Americas

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History and Geography of the Ancient Americas

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  1. Middle School Workshops Session IV Craig Benjamin History and Geography of the Ancient Americas What was different about the history of the American ‘world zone’? What challenges did the environment and geography of the Americas create for the first human migrants? What were some of the earliest cultures that appeared in the Americas?

  2. W2 WHG Era 2 (p 47) Early Civilizations and Cultures and the Emergence of Pastoral Peoples, 4000 to 1000 B.C.E./B.C. Describe and differentiate defining characteristics of early civilization and pastoral societies, where they emerged, and how they spread

  3. W2.1 Early Civilizations and Early Pastoral SocietiesDescribe the characteristics of early Western Hemisphere civilizations and pastoral societies. • Early agrarian civilizations and pastoral societies emerged. Many fundamental institutions, discoveries, inventions, and techniques appeared • Pastoral societies developed cultures that reflected the geography and resources that enabled them to inhabit the more challenging physical environments such as the tundra and semi-arid regions of North and South America.

  4. Describe the characteristics of early Western Hemisphere civilizations and pastoral societies (contd) 6 – W2.1.1 Explain how the environment favored hunter gatherer, pastoral, and small scale agricultural ways of life in different parts of the Western Hemisphere. 6 – W2.1.2 Describe how the invention of agriculture led to the emergence of agrarian civilizations • seasonal harvests • specialized crops • cultivation • and development of villages and towns

  5. Describe the characteristics of early Western Hemisphere civilizations and pastoral societies (contd) 6 – W2.1.3 Use multiple sources of evidence to describe how the culture of early peoples of North America reflected the geography and natural resources available E.g. • Inuit of the Arctic • Kwakiutl of the Northwest Coast • Anasazi and Apache of the Southwest 6 – W2.1.4 Use evidence to identify defining characteristics of early civilizations and early pastoral nomads • government • language • religion • social structure • technology • division of labor

  6. First … Big Questions about the place of the Americas in World History • How do the histories of the different world zones differ? • How is the history of the American world zone • Similar to and • Different from • The histories of the Australasian and Pacific zones? • The history of the Afro-Eurasian zone? • What can these differences and similarities tell us about human history in general?

  7. Comparing the American, Australasian & Pacific Zones: Similarities and Differences • Settlement Dates: • Australasia, from c. 60,000 years ago • Americas, from c. 13,000 years ago • Pacific: • Melanesia from c. 30,000 years ago • Polynesia from c. 3,000 years ago

  8. The Americas, Australasia & the Pacific • Historical Evolution: • Australasian World Zone: • Agriculture only in Papua New Guinea • No agrarian Civilizations • Pacific World Zone: • Agriculture in many Pacific communities • Powerful chiefdoms in some of them (Tonga, Hawaii) by 1,000 years ago • Americas: • Agriculture from c. 4,000 years ago • Powerful chiefdoms from c. 3,500 years ago • Agrarian Civilizations from c. 2,000 years ago Moorea

  9. The Americas, Australasia & the Pacific • Summary: • The American world zone was • Larger • More populous • Evolved larger communities • Evolved more productive technologies than the Australasian and Pacific world zones • How do the Americas compare with the Afro-Eurasian world zone?

  10. Comparing the American and Afro-Eurasian world zones 4 Major Differences: • The Americas are settled later • The geographies are different • Agriculture appears later in the Americas • Agrarian Civilizations appear later Social/beringia.htm

  11. 13,000 Ys ago Many new technologies required 40,000 Ys ago New hunting techniques; adaptations to cold 60,000 Ys ago Sea-going technologies Chimp range Range of Early humans The 1st Difference: Later Settlement

  12. Early Migrations to the Americas Humans may have arrived earlier, but they certainly reached the Americas by 13,000 years ago, traveling either by sea, along the W. Coast, or inland between the great ice sheets

  13. American History Started Later • Humans arrived with technologies adapted for the north and north east of Eurasia • The Americas were a new land • The first Americans had to learn new techniques • They had to become familiar with new animals and plants • American animals and plants had to adapt to the presence of humans

  14. E-W axis N-S axis The 2nd Difference: Geographical Orientation

  15. Traveling south through the Americas meant adapting to many different environments The Biologist, Jared Diamond has pointed out that: • Migrating east through Afro-Eurasia was fairly easy • Climates and environments did not change too much • So it was easier to adapt familiar technologies • Migrating south through the Americas was tougher • Climates and environments changed as you moved towards and away from the equator • Still, humans migrated all the way in c. 2,000 years (a sign of the increasing adaptability of humans by 13,000 years ago) • But exchanging technological ideas was tougher

  16. E-W Travel N-S Travel N. America: Climates Traveling E-W you encounter less climatic variety Traveling N-S you pass through many different climate zones

  17. E-W Travel N-S Travel S. Americas: Climates

  18. Mississippi valley S.W. Asia N. China Egypt S. China Pakistan Mesoamerica S.E. Asia W. Africa Papua New Guinea Andes The 3rd Difference: Agriculture appears later Phase 3: after 4,000 BCE Phase 2: 7,000-4,000 BCE Phase 1: 9,000-7,000 BCE

  19. The Potato, a native of Peru Turkey, domesticated by the Aztecs Quinine comes from the bark of the Cinchona tree Alpaca Wild Cavy Major American Domesticates? • How many could you have named? • Tomatoes • Potatoes • Chili • Beans • Squash • Quinoa • Alpaca/llamas • Guinea pigs

  20. Why does agriculture appear later in the Americas? Possible answers: • Species were different:- • Many American plants were harder to domesticate • Many potential animal domesticates were driven to extinction • Humans arrived later:- • So they took longer to learn how to use American plants and animals • Problems of overpopulation emerged later

  21. Modern varieties of maize are larger and much more nutritious; but they took a long time to get that way Teosinte, the ancestor of maize, is small, weedy and not too nutritious, but it can survive in the wild Maize was less ‘pre-adapted’ for domestication than wheat

  22. Extinct N. American megafauna included potential domesticates Horses evolved in the Americas, but were hunted to extinction there. Species of elephants, including mastodon and mammoth, were hunted to extinction. Many species of camelids evolved in the Americas, such as this guanaco. Some survived.

  23. = Zones of Agrarian Civilization 4th Difference: Agrarian Civilizations arrived later in the Americas

  24. Agrarian Civilizations in the Americas: Chronology • c. 1500 BCE: • towns, powerful ‘chiefdoms’ amongst Olmec, Mesoamerica • 500 BCE: • cities and small states, Mesoamerica (e.g. Monte Alban) • 500 CE: • large states (e.g. Teotihuacan, Mayan regions) • 1500 CE: • large empires (Aztecs, Incas)

  25. Afro-Eurasian & American agrarian civilizations shared much, even though there was no contact between them • They were based on agriculture • There was an elaborate division of labor, with specialist artisans, traders and warriors • They built monumental architecture devoted to the gods • They engaged in warfare • They had powerful and wealthy leaders • They had large cities • They had taxation and writing

  26. Early Civilizations of Mesoamerica • c. 1500 BCE: Olmecs • c. 500 BCE: Small States (e.g. Monte Alban) • C. 500 CE: Large States (e.g. Teotihuacan, Mayans)

  27. Chichen Itza Teotihuacan MAYAS AZTEC EMPIRE Tikal Tenochtitlan Monte Alban OLMEC

  28. The Olmecs • By 1200 BCE, along the southern Gulf Coast of modern-day Mexico, Olmec society was wealthy and organized enough to construct sophisticated drainage systems and royal burial structures at a number of sites • By 400 BCE Olmec culture had declined, but the cultural developments they facilitated in the region culminated eventually in a Mesoamerican ‘golden age’ • Best known of the successors to the Olmecs were the Mayas, but equally impressive were the achievements of the society that constructedMonte Alban, and Teotihuacan, one of the most remarkable cities in world history

  29. Olmec monumental and religious art, c. 1600 BCE, La Venta, Mexico

  30. Other Small Cultures Flourished in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico Between 500 BCE and 500 CERuins of Monte Alban, Oaxaca valley

  31. Monte Alban Site • Monte Albán is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca • The site is located on a low mountainous range rising above the plain in the central section of the Valley of Oaxaca where the valley's northern , eastern, and southern branches meet • Founded around 500 BCE, Monte Albán was the capital of a large-scale expansionist culture that dominated much of the Oaxacan highlands and interacted with other Mesoamerican regional states such as Teotihuacan to the north Pyramid Temple at Monte Alban

  32. Remains of the main square, Monte Alban

  33. Teotihuacan History • Teotihuacanis located in high valley of Central Mexico, a region dominated by lakes • Like river-valley farmers everywhere, early settlers constructed irrigation systems that helped sustain a successful agrarian lifeway • Over time, principal settlement of the valley grew from a large agricultural village into a major city • By 500 CE Teotihuacan was 6th largest city on the planet: population of 200,000 people! Ceremonial gate, Teotihuacan

  34. Teotihuacan Decline • Residents constructed two colossal pyramids in the heart of the city, the temples of the Sun and Moon • Government was theocratic, with power balanced between priests and a secular ruling class • By 600 CE Teotihuacan was experiencing debilitating military pressure from surrounding peoples • By the 8th C city had been sacked and burned by invaders

  35. Teotihuacan (Temple of the Sun) flourished c. 200-600 CE At its height, 200,000 people may have lived in Teotihuacan. It traded over a large area of Mesoamerica

  36. Early Mayan History • In the Yucatan Peninsula and present-day Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador, the civilization created by the Mayans flourished at more than a hundred regional centers • Ancestors of the Mayans may have been migrants who moved into the region from the northwest coast of California sometime in the third millennium BCE • Early farmers established many successful agrarian villages, some of which evolved into important ceremonial centers, particularly Chichen Itza and Tikal Ceremonial Procession

  37. Chichen Itza Tikal Regions of Mayan Civilization

  38. Tikal • By start of 6th C CE, Tikal had become the leading Mayan center, and from roughly 600 to 800 CE it had a population of 40,000 people • City dominated a surrounding hinterland that may have included half a million people • Public architecture of the city was monumental in scale, and included the 154-feet high, steeply-stepped Temple of the Giant Jaguar

  39. Temple of the Giant Jaguar, Tikal, Guatemala, c. 200 CE Like all monumental architecture, these pyramids almost certainly had deep religious significance

  40. Mayan Government • Each Mayan center governed by a hereditary priest-king, who was believed to be a descendant of the gods • Kings had deliberately intimidating names like Smoking Frog, Stormy Sky, and Great Jaguar Paw • Administration levied taxes upon the hinterlands, supervised local village leaders, and administered justice • Priest-king and advisors also conducted wars fought between the various competitive Mayan regional centers Mayan King acknowledges his people who are probably lesser lords in this scene of royal Maya court life

  41. Mayan War • Large-scale military operations unusual because the armies consisted mainly of nobles who were more focused on capturing their rivals in hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield, than on killing them in large numbers • Great prestige accrued through the capture of high ranking opponents, who were often forced to endure ritualized torture and public sacrifice • Small size of the noble armies may have limited their effectiveness, although the warriors fought ferociously enough with obsidian-bladed weapons

  42. Warfare was an important aspect of Mayan civilization Bonampak frescoes, c. 792 CE. Battle scene above Mayan warriors guard prisoners of war (r)

  43. Chichen Itza • Not all the Mayan centers engaged in this regular blood-letting, however • In the 9th C, rulers of Chichen Itza attempted to welcome war captives into their society, rather than destroy or sacrifice them • Succeeded in delaying the decline that began to afflict most other Mayan centers after 800 CE • As Mayan cities in the south became increasingly depopulated, cities of the Yucatan and Guatemala highlands like Chichen Itza continued to flourish

  44. The ‘Observatory’ at Chichen Itza in Mayan Yucatan, built c. 1050 CE

  45. Chichen Itza flourished after other Mayan centers had collapsed

  46. A reconstruction of Mayan monumental architecture – Chichen Itza

  47. Eventually southern centers succumbed to the jungles, but in the north Mexicanized ruling elites created a synthetic Mayan-Mexican culture • The achievements of the Mayans in writing, mathematics and precise calendar calibrations remained impressive long after their demise Mayan Decline Overgrown Mayan ruins, Cozumel

  48. Mayan Writing System • The Mayan writing system is considered by archaeologists to be the most sophisticated system ever developed in Mesoamerica • Maya wrote using 800 individual signs or glyphs, paired in columns that read together from left to right and top to bottom • Maya glyphs represented words or syllables that could be combined to form any word or concept in the Mayan language, including numbers, time periods, royal names, titles, dynastic events, and the names of gods, scribes, sculptors, objects, buildings, places, and food • Hieroglyphic inscriptions were either carved in stone and wood on Maya monuments and architecture, or painted on paper, plaster walls and pottery

  49. Mayan writing, from the Madrid codex, c. 1500

  50. Mayan and Aztec calendars were amongst the most accurate in the world Aztec Calendar Stone