Theories of where they came from: • First Americans originated in the Gobi Desert • Some migrated to Siberia around 15,000 years ago • Crossed the Bering Strait in Alaska • Land bridge probably existed at the time • Gradually dispersed Throughout North and South America
Newest Theories • Ancestors of modern native Americans originated in Europe • Ice Age extended shorelines of North America, Europe and Greenland far into the Atlantic Ocean • Prehistoric people traveled along the shoreline hunting and crossed over- • Settled here and gradually dispersed throughout the hemisphere.
Emergence of Indian Civilization • Indians developed different cultures depending on the ecology of the region where they settled. • Some developed true civilizations • Those in Southern Mexico, Northern Central America, and the Andes Mountains in Peru.
Olmec Civilization • Appeared around 1200 B.C. • In Swampy region along the Gulf of Mexico near modern-day VeraCruz • Not in a river valley • 3 major cities: • San Lorenzo, La Venta, and Trees Zapotes
Olmec Achievements • Olmec society was made up of farmers and a small elite. • Talented engineers and architects • Built underground sewer system at San Lorenzo • Built pyramids and palaces from stone • Also carved giant stone heads • Largest is 9 feet tall and weighs 15 tons • No one knows their exact function *Also developed a writing system and a System to record calendar dates.
Olmec Religion • Polytheistic • Most important god portrayed as half man/half jaguar • Believed that certain people could turn into jaguars at will ( a variation of the werewolf myth).
Teotihuacan • Olmec civilization faded around 900 B.C. • Later influenced other civilizations • TEOTIHUACAN • 200-700 AD • Giant city containing 200,000 people • Two giant pyramids • Pyramid of the Sun • Pyramid of the Moon
Mayans • Located in Yucatan, Honduras and Guatemala • 300-900 AD • Sophisticated agriculture • Two- three harvests a year • Supported population of 2 million people • Divided into a number of small states • Never a single united state
Mayan Cities • Semi-urban people • Built huge ceremonial centers that resembled cities • Contained pyramids, wide streets • Only used during religious celebrations • Most Mayans lived in small villages that surrounded the centers
Mayan Religion • Complex • Polytheistic • Chief god was Itzamna • Creator of human beings and inventor of art and science • Countless other gods below him • Offered human sacrifices to the gods in times of drought • Heaven and hell- • 13 levels of heaven • 9 levels of hell
Mayan Achievements • Sophisticated Mathematics • Understood concept of zero • Developed place-value system • Developed elaborate but accurate calendar • Literate, but little of their writing survives
Collapse of Mayan States • Mayan states collapsed around 900 AD-perhaps due to natural catastrophe • Maya Farming methods may have worn out the soil. • Warfare between Maya city-states • Peasants revolted and overthrew the nobles and priests • Left behind impressive ruins, achievements in sciences, and language
Toltecs • Moved around southern Mexico from north around time of Mayan collapse • Took over and expanded Mayan centers • Built capital city of Tula using Mayan architecture and construction techniques.
More on Toltecs • Developed impressive metal-working industry- specialized in jewelry. • Established trade network which stretched into northern South America • Civilization flourished for around 100 years • Empire eventually fragmented into small states, constantly fighting among themselves
The Aztecs Arrive • Also known as Mexicas • Originally a nomadic tribe from the north • Looking for a “Promised Land” • Found it in 1325 Ad on island in middle of Lake Tecoco in Central Mexico • Built capital city on island- • Tenochtitlan
Aztecs • Rich mud of island home ideally suited for agriculture • Produced abundant crops • Standard of living increased dramatically • Were in high demand as mercenaries in wars between post-Toltec states • Rose rapidly- • Stepped into power vacuum and took over much of central and coastal Mexico and North Central America
Tenochtitlan • Grew wealthy from Tribute(tax) from conquered territory • Turned city into magnificent place- • Canals served as arteries of transportation • Aqueduct system for fresh water and sophisticated waste removal system • Huge temples and palaces • Brightly colored art
Aztec Religion • Two sets of gods- • Nature gods- • Worshipped by farmers • Had shape of the item the god controlled • Great gods of state- • Usually portrayed themselves as half human/half animal or as a monster • Chief god was Huitzilopochtli • God of the sun
Human Sacrifice • Believed that the world has passes through 4 previous stages- • Each one destroyed by catastrophe • To prevent destruction of fifth “sun”, the sun god had to be appeased • By feeding him human hearts • Aztecs therefore sacrificed victims by ripping out their hearts and holding them up for the Sun God to symbolically eat.
How often did they do it? • The Spanish claimed that sacrifice was performed on a daily basis and that thousands were sacrificed on religious holidays. • Many say the Spanish exaggerated the number of sacrifices to justify their conquest and destruction of the Aztec civilization
End of the Aztecs • Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortez, destroyed the Aztec civilization in 1519. • Very tragic act • Wiped out a rich and vigorous culture • Enormous loss
Inca • Rose to power in the 15th century through strong armies • a 6+ million population • Developed an Incan language- Quechua • More than 7 million people speak it today. • Had an emperor ruling class with nobility (dynasty) • The empire was divide into 4 quarters • The center was CUZCO, the capital
More on the Incans • Spending through taxes ( taxes were collected at different rates) • Men could be called into the military • A public works labor • Awesome communication system • Empire was thousands of miles long • Two main highways (coastal and highland) • Used relay runners to transport messages • Could run 150 miles per day
Incan Architecture • Masters in architecture • Used masonry construction to produce palaces, temples, fortress • Still standing today • Machu Picchu • Consists of civic and domesticated buildings • Fields were created on steep slopes • Conquered by the Spaniards