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Unit 2 – When Cultures Collide

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Incan ruins Machu Picchu . The Aztecs. French fur traders. Spanish Explorers. Unit 2 – When Cultures Collide. Mayan ruins. Arriving at Jamestown. This key explains the coloring of the arrows shown above. The lighter the color, the more recent the migration. North America.

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Incan ruins

Machu Picchu

The Aztecs

French fur


Spanish Explorers

Unit 2 – When Cultures Collide

Mayan ruins

Arriving at Jamestown

This key explains the coloring of the arrows shown above. The lighter the color, the more recent the migration.

North America

Migration of people from Central Asia dates back 13 to 16,000 years ago, during the last great ice age. At that time, the Bering Strait was a land bridge connecting North America and Asia. The migration of people from the East across this land bridge in search of food, began the slow development of the Western Hemisphere.

Over a period of thousands of years, North and South America became inhabited with people of the Earth. Although there were many great civilizations and empires, this marking period we focused on the Mayan, Aztec and Incan Empires.

The empires had their share of differences but shared many things in common. The most notable was their strong belief in religion which required human sacrifice.

Thefirstempire of note was the Mayan Civilization.

It was located in present day Guatemala and Mexico.

The Mayan Civilization was not only the FIRST empire, but it lasted the longest from 250 – 900 CE.
The Mayan form of writing was known as hieroglyphics.

An important contribution from the Mayan Civilization was the concept of zero, by giving it a place value when used in math .

The concept of zero, as used in math was an important contribution from the Mayan Civilization.

This is a form of graphic writing, using signs and symbols instead of letters, as we do.

The Mayas also studied the stars and planets.

On the bottom right is a daily calendar. The calendar above is for holidays, ceremonies and religious rites.

They were extremely accurate with their observations of the planets, sun and moon. This skill helped them create two types of calendars.

The Aztec


The Aztec Civilization began in the Valley of Mexico. They settled on an island in Lake Texcoco, in 1325. It took time to develop, but lasted through the early 1500s.
The Aztec people were able to change a swampy lake into a great city, which was called Tenochtitlan. This was its capital city.
Descendants of the Incans can be found today along the west coast of South America in:

Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile and Columbia.

South America










The Incan empire came to an end by way of the Spanish, which is similar to the Aztec’s demise.

The Incan government was able to take census and collect taxes because of the large scale road system that they built.
A Census is an official count of all people living in an area. Quipu was a knotted string used by the Incas as a method of keeping records



Another great achievement of the Incas was a series of canals and pipes known as aqueducts. They would bring water to dry land.
Eastern Europe

Marco Polo’s Journey


Pacific Ocean

Sahara Dessert



When Europeans heard of Marco Eeast. Columbus began the journeys by traveling west, not realizing that two continents and two oceans would stop him and his crew.

Although others made it to the Western Hemisphere first,

Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. He traveled across the Atlantic, hoping to find a shorter route to East Indies and Asia.

Balboa reaches the calm Pacific shores

Henry Hudson sailing up the Hudson River, of all places

Christopher Columbus

The Age of Explorers 1492 – 1630

This was a time of exploration and discovery. Columbus, Hudson, Magellan, Balboa and countless other explorers left their homelands in Europe to find shorter trade routes, at first. There is evidence that Leif Erikson and other Vikings reached North America around 1000 A.D.

Spain and Portugal took the lead in exploration, sending conquistadors across the ocean in search of riches for their home country. In time England, France and the Netherlands would join the exploration.

Our review will begin with the Spanish conquistadors.

Conquistadors would search the New World for riches and claim the land for Spain. They were merciless and deceptive in their treatment of the Native Americans, killing and enslaving as they conquered.
Cortez was a conquistador. When he arrived in Mexico, he found many of the local tribes were willing to assist him overtake Moctezuma and the Aztec people.
Although Cortez and his Spanish army had many less soldiers, approximately 500 compared to the hundreds of thousands of the Aztec empire,

By 1521, the Aztecs were defeated by Cortez!

The Spanish had horses, armor, guns, swords to use in battle. They also had allies in the Aztec’s enemies to increase their troops, but just as important(to be continued!)

The Spanish had something more powerful. Unexpectedly, they brought disease to America, which the Native Americans had never experienced and had no immunity against, especially small pox.

Meanwhile in western South America, the Incas were minding their own business.

When who should stop by, but Francisco Pizarro, another Spanish conquistador who’ll stop at nothing for riches like gold.

This doesn’t bode well for the Incan Empire.

It only took 15 years for the Spanish to defeat 2 powerful empires in the Western Hemisphere. The Spanish had powerful weapons, and they brought disease to America, which the Native Americans had never experienced.
Canada Europe


Caribbean Africa


South America

The world got a little closer and shared its wealth as a result of the age of exploration. It was known as the Columbian Exchange. Up to that time, Europe was without tomato, corn (maize) and cacao bean (the source of chocolate).

The new world got grapes, bananas and horses to name just a few items.

The Spanish were not alone in the exploration of the New World. Holland, France and England joined the exploration.
Escape Poverty

English settlers came to America for a variety of reasons – mostly to escape problems they faced in England

Political Oppression

Indentured Servant

Religious Freedom

In short, they wanted to

start a new life!

Jamestown was considered a success because it:

-had its own government

-had the support of England

-was the first settlement to survive beyond settlement and continue as a colony

For instance, Roanoke was earlier but did not have any survivors when supply ships returned from England.

French settlers were interested in fur trade.

Unlike the Spanish, French explorers treated Native Americans fairly. They knew the natives were essential to survival in the New World.

- Review -

The French treated the natives fairly.

The Spanish were cruel and betrayed their trust and enslaved those not killed.

Similarities of French and Spanish treatment of Native Americans:

A. They both needed Native Americans to survive.

B. They both tried to convert the Native Americans

C. They both brought diseases to the Native Americans

Map Skills Application

Las Vegas, located in southwest USA is located between which two lines of latitude?

Answer: What are 30 and 40 degrees north latitude?

_?_degrees north latitude goes through central New Jersey.

40degrees north latitude

Albany, located in northeast USA is located between which two lines of longitude?

Answer: What are 70 and 80 degrees west longitude?

It only took 15 years for the Spanish to defeat 2 powerful empires in America. The Spanish had more powerful weapons, and they brought disease to America, which the Native Americans had never experienced.

Time Line Review

1438 Pachacuti becomes ruler of the Incas

1524 Giovanni da Verrazano returns to France claiming a New World for France.

1513 Vasco de Balboa reaches the Pacific Ocean.

1492 Columbus lands in Caribbean for Spain

1440 Johannes Gutenberg invents printing press.

1497 – 1498 Vasco da Gama sailed from Portugal to India

1519 Cortez ends Aztec Empire.

Which came first – Columbus’s arrival in the New World or Balboa reaching the Pacific ?

Answer: Columbus arrived first in 1492, but even without a time line, we should know that Columbus began the modern European exploration of the New World.

How many years after DaGama arrived in India did the Aztec Empire End?

Answer: What is 21 years?

List in order the following people/events from first to fourth: Cortez, Pachacuti, Balboa and Verrazano.

Answer: Pachacuti, Balboa, Cortez and Verrazano.

When Europe expanded into the Americas, an exchange of animals and plants got under way. It was widespread and included diseases as well. The Western Hemisphere (the New World) received animals like the pig, chicken, horse and cow, and grains like wheat, rice and oats. A morning favorite coffee and sugar also came from the east to the New World. The development of corn, potatoes, beans Cocoa made their way from the Western Hemisphere to Europe, Africa and Asia, along with turkeys and silver. This was known as the “Columbian Exchange,” and it benefited both hemispheres.

Test Review

After reading the passage above and using the graphic to the right as a guide, answer the sample question on paper at home. Remember to use the RASC model when writing your response.

Sample Question: Do you think one hemisphere benefitted more from the Columbian Exchange than the other

Sample Question: Do you think one hemisphere benefitted more from the Columbian Exchange than the other?

RASC = Restatethe question, Answer the question, Support your answer, Conclusion

Restate (example): One hemisphere benefitted from the Columbian Exchange.

Answer: I think that the Western Hemisphere benefitted more from the Columbian Exchange. (The choice of Western Hemisphere is only used as an example – it does not mean it is the correct answer. The student makes it correct by supporting it with facts.)

Support: This is where the student uses information from the graphic and passage to show an understanding why Western Hemisphere or why Europe and Africa were chosen.

Conclude: It is for these reasons I believe the Western hemisphere benefitted more from the Columbian Exchange.