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Chapter 6

Chapter 6. Early Societies in the Americas and Oceania. Early Mesoamerican societies 1200 BCE – 1100 CE. Origins of Mesoamerican Societies. Migration across Bering land bridge? Probably 13,000 BCE, perhaps earlier By sea from Asia? By 9500 BCE reached southernmost part of South America

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Chapter 6

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  1. Chapter 6 Early Societies in the Americas and Oceania

  2. Early Mesoamerican societies 1200 BCE – 1100 CE

  3. Origins of Mesoamerican Societies • Migration across Bering land bridge? • Probably 13,000 BCE, perhaps earlier • By sea from Asia? • By 9500 BCE reached southernmost part of South America • Hunter/Gatherer societies • evolve into agricultural societies

  4. Olmecs • 1200-100 BCE • The “Rubber People” • Ceremonial Centers • San Lorenzo, La Venta, Tres Zapotes • Olmec Heads • Up to 10 ft tall, 20 tons • Transported by dragging, rolling on logs • 1000/workers per head

  5. Agriculture and Herding • Staple: maize • Herding: turkeys, barkless dogs • Both food • No draft animals • No development of wheeled vehicles

  6. Olmec Society • Probably authoritarian in nature • Large class of conscripted laborers to construct ceremonial sites • Also tombs for rulers, temples, pyramids, drainage systems

  7. Mysterious Decline of Olmecs • Ceremonial centers destroyed • No evidence of warfare • Revolution? • Civil war?

  8. Maya • Huge cities discovered in 19th c. • 300 BCE-900 CE • Terrace Farming • Maize • cotton • Cacao beans • chocolate • currency • Major ceremonial center at Tikal

  9. Maya Warfare • Warfare for purposes of capturing enemy soldiers • Ritual sacrifice of enemies • Enslavement • Small kingdoms engage in constant conflict until Chichén Itzá begins to absorb captives • Some nevertheless choose death • Center of empire develops

  10. Mayan Ritual Calendar • Complex math • Invention of “Zero” • Calendar of 365.242 days (17 seconds off) • Solar calendar of 365 days • Ritual calendar of 260 days • Management of calendar lends authority to priesthood • Timing of auspicious moments for agriculture

  11. Mayan Language and Religion • Ideographs and a syllable-alphabet • Most writings destroyed by Spanish conquerors • Deciphering work began in 1960s • Popol Vuh: Mayan creation myth • Agricultural cycle maintained in exchange for honors and sacrifices • Bloodletting rituals • Human sacrifices follow after removal of fingers, piercing to allow blood flow

  12. The Maya Ball Game • Ritual game • High-ranking captives, prisoners of war contestants • Execution of losers immediately follows the match • Bloodletting ritual for the gods

  13. City of Teotihuacan • Highlands of Mexico • Lakes in area of high elevation • Village of Teotihuacan, 500 BCE, expands to become massive city • Important ceremonial center • Extensive trade network, influenced surrounding areas • Begins to decline c. 650 CE, sacked in middle of 8th century, massive library destroyed

  14. Andean Societies Early societies of Andean South America, 1000 BCE – 700 CE • Migration into South America c. 12000 BCE • Climate improves c. 8000 BCE • Largely independent from Mesoamerica • Highly individualized due to geography

  15. Chavin Cult • New religion in central Andes, 900-300 BCE • Little known about particulars of religion • Intricate stone carvings • Cult may have arose when maize became an important crop • During the era Andean society became increasingly complex

  16. The Mochica State • Valley of the Moche River • Dominated northern Peru, 300-700 CE • Painting survives • One of many states in region, none able to consolidate into empire

  17. Early societies of Oceania, 1500 BCE – 700 CE

  18. Oceania • Prehistoric land bridges, lower seas permit migration • Outrigger canoes for open-sea travel • Early hunter-gatherer societies in Australia • Early agriculture in New Guinea

  19. Aborigine of the Naomi Tribe

  20. Lapita Peoples • Found throughout Pacific Islands • Agriculture, animal herding • Political organization based on chiefdoms • Trade over open ocean declines 500 BCE • Greater independence of settlements

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