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America before Columbus. This presentation contains some highlights of life in the Americas Most of the information is from the book “1491: New Revelations of the America’s before Columbus.” by Charles Mass.

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America before columbus

America before Columbus

This presentation contains some highlights of life in the Americas

Most of the information is from the book “1491: New Revelations of the America’s before Columbus.” by Charles Mass



The last ice age
The last ice-age country or small, isolated villages with minimal population


Origins of people in america
Origins of People in America country or small, isolated villages with minimal population


Neolithic new stone age revolution
Neolithic (new stone age) Revolution country or small, isolated villages with minimal population


Pre columbian civilizations five examples
Pre-Columbian Civilizations; country or small, isolated villages with minimal populationFive Examples


Inca country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

What does it take to build this?

  • Machu Pichu


Inca country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • By 1491 it was the world’s largest empire

  • Covered 32 degrees of latitude and every type of terrain

    • Forest, coastal, desert, alpine, steppe, etc

  • Terrain limited their contact with the outside except for immediate neighbors


Inca country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Inca absorb/conquer many different languages and beliefs.

  • For record keeping they use a system of knotted ropes (khipu or quipu)

    • Can be used in an empire with diverse languages

  • People were forced to donate service to the state

    • Could be far from home for many months

      • Farmers, builders, soldiers

  • No money, no markets

    • All food and goods were supplied by the state

Still being studied – first string may be ones, second string tens, etc.

Or may be unique form of writing like a binary code


Incan conquests
Incan Conquests country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • When the Inca expanded and a foreign people were conquered, Inca settlers from far away would be brought in and slowly absorb the foreign culture into the Inca.

    • China does this today

  • Conquered people allowed to keep old customs, clothes, etc, but they had to speak the language of the Inca


Incan technology
Incan Technology country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Sail boat with cotton sails, could sail 300 miles from shore

  • Metallurgy focused on ornamentation

  • Monumental architecture

  • Woven fibers as tools

    • Suspension bridges with cables 1’ thick


Incan weapons
Incan Weapons country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Multi-layered cotton body armor

    • Comparable to European plate?

  • Club, mace, bows, javelins, 5’ sling, later bola’s

    • Sling stones heated in a fire, dipped in pitch and quickly thrown; would burst in to flame in mid-flight

  • Incan command structure did not allow for individual creativity on battlefield

    • Slow to develop new tactics

    • Problem when Spanish arrive


Maya country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Maya and Aztec maps overlaid

    • Their empires existed at different times


Maya country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • A collection of city-states and surrounding towns, each run by a king

    • From 526-682 AD the cities of Calakmul (or Kaan) and Tikal (or Mutal) fight for dominance

    • Tikal will eventually win


Mayan civilization
Mayan Civilization country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Architecture

    • Step pyramids

  • Writing, most complete pre-Columbian

  • Mathematics, and zero

Chichen Itza


Mayan writing
Mayan Writing country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Each picture is a syllable

  • The most advanced written language in the America’s prior to Columbus


Fall of the maya maybe
Fall of the Maya (maybe) country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Population probably exceeded the carrying capacity of the land

  • Cut down much of the regions forests for fuel and agriculture

    • Loss of tree cover leads to large scale erosion and flooding

  • As population grows farmers using less productive land

  • System is barely hanging one when a long dry spell (about 800-900 AD) hits the area

  • Society disintegrates

    • Civil War?

  • Mayan cities fail in 800’s

  • Civilization collapsed by 900


Aztec or mexica
Aztec or country or small, isolated villages with minimal populationMexica

  • Part of a triple alliance

    • Tula, Teotihuacan, Tenochtitlan (dominant)

  • By 1519 Tenochtitlan had a population of 200,000

    • Easily larger than any city in Europe at that time

    • City reached by boat or walking across one of three causeways


Aztec writing
Aztec Writing country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

Consists of pictures to interpret, not as advanced as Mayan writing

Almost all Aztec records are destroyed by the Spanish


Aztec architecture
Aztec Architecture country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

Also build step pyramids

Much of Tenochtitlan will be destroyed by the Spanish


Aztec religion
Aztec Religion country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • The Aztec/Mexica are the keepers of the cosmic order

  • At the top of celestial harmony is Ometeotl (the Lord of the Close Vicinity) who sustains the cosmos

  • Ometeotl has four sons

    • Huitzilopochtli is a martial god, Aztec patron diety

  • The four sons compete for supremacy

    • History is a record of their struggle

  • One will eventually wrestle himself to the top and the other three create a balance below


Aztec religion cont
Aztec Religion, cont. country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

Sacrificial knives

  • The one in domination links himself to the sun, upon which all life depends

  • When the balance comes apart the brothers resume their struggle, winner reignites the sun

  • At the time of the Spanish arrival the Aztec were living under the 5th sun

  • Every day the sun battles across the sky against the moon

  • Some day the sun will loose, but the sun can be fortified by a life force requiring blood/human sacrifices

    • Cortes estimated 3,000 to 4,000 per year


Mound builders
Mound Builders country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Collective term for three successive civilizations

    • Adena, 1000 – 200 BC

    • Hopewell, 200 BC – 500 AD

    • Mississippians, 800 – 1500 BC

Notice the size of their influence

How did they travel?


Hopewell
Hopewell country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Built thousands of mounds from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, Great Plains to the Atlantic coast

    • Especially dense in Ohio valley

    • Mounds had been built by earlier cultures

    • Most mounds destroyed by westward expansion

  • Hopewell influence lasts from a few centuries BC to about 400 AD

  • Earthwork walled cities

    • Most also destroyed


Cahokia
Cahokia country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Civilization rises after the Hopewell

  • About 15,000 people lived in Cahokia

  • Monks Mound in Cahokia, around 950-1250 AD

    • 4 stories high

    • 1,000 feet long across the top

    • Base is larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza

    • Surrounded by about 120 other mounds

    • Largest building project in Ancient America


Fall of cahokia
Fall of Cahokia country or small, isolated villages with minimal population

  • Build a palisade of 20,000 trees around the central monuments

    • Increases flooding which ruins harvests

  • Burn thousands of acres to create farmland

  • Flooding an ongoing problem, then an earthquake

    • Destroys the city and part of Monks Mound

      • Will try, unsuccessfully, to repair the mound

    • Earthquake causes flooding (tsunami) and fires

    • Area descends into Civil War, by 1350 Cahokia is almost empty


The great law of peace iroquois league
The Great Law of Peace: country or small, isolated villages with minimal populationIroquois League

  • Five tribes (later six) involved

    • Seneca, Cayuga, Onandaga, Oneida, Mohawk, later Tuscarora

  • Increase in agriculture = bigger populations = fighting between tribes

  • Two men work to bring peace to these tribes

    • Deganawidah, the peacemaker, has speech impediment

    • Ayenwatha (or Hiawatha)

  • They convince the five tribes to form an alliance

    • Use a visual to break one arrow by hand, then hold five arrows and try to break

      • Example of strength and unity

This Iroquois League may have been formed as early as 1142


Governing within the five tribes
Governing within the country or small, isolated villages with minimal populationFive Tribes

  • Clan heads

    • Are all female

    • Select the sachems

    • Can replace the sachem if they act poorly

  • Sachems

    • Are all male

    • Sachems then represent the tribe and the will of the people

    • 50 sachems to represent the five tribes

    • Sachems represent the will of their people, if they act poorly they can be replaced by the Clan Heads

    • Male sachems act as war chiefs

    • Sachems can only discuss topics approved by the women

    • All decisions by the council of sachems must be unanimous (consensus)

    • Clan heads (women) could vote down, or veto, any decisions made by the Sachems

  • Internal affairs are handled within each tribe

  • Potential influence on the United States’ Constitution?


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