L36_ch09-The Americas: A Separate World- Early Mesoamerican Civilizations Timeline: 2,000 BCE - 700 CE FS: Foundational Civilizations of Mesoamerica

. Main Idea: The story of developed civilizations in the Americas begins in a region called Mesoamerica. This area stretches south from central Mexico to northern Honduras. It was here, more than 3,000 years ago, that the first complex societies in the Americas arose. The Olmec created the Americas’ first civilization, which in turn influenced later civilizations. PO: SWBAT... ● Explain how the environment contributed to the growth of Olmec and Zapotec civilizations. ● Describe the characteristics of Olmec civilization that make it a ‘mother’ culture for Mesoamerica. ● Compare/ Contrast the Olmec and Zapotec civilizations. ● Evaluate the contributions of the Olmecs and Zapotecs to the development of future ‘Great’ civilizations of the Americas. Do Now: TBA I. Olmecs A. Rise of the Civilization 1. Time: ~1200 – 400 BCE 2. Place: Gulf coast of Mexico. (Rainforests of Mesoamerica) 3. Circumstances: The rainfall in this region swelled rivers and caused severe flooding. Despite this, there were advantages to living in the area. a. Abundant deposits of salt, tar, and the clay used in making pottery. b. Availability of wood and rubber from the rainforest. c. Hills to the north provided stone from which the Olmec could make tools and monuments. d. The rivers that laced the region provided a means of transport. The flood plains of these rivers provided fertile land for farming. B. Olmec Society 1. Archaeologists discovered earthen mounds, courtyards, and pyramids. 2. Large stone monuments included colossal, sculpted heads. These giant monuments weigh as much as 44 tons. (Logs and rafts may have been used to transport them). 3. Experts believe the Olmec prayed to a variety of nature gods. Most of all, they probably worshiped the jaguar spirit. Numerous Olmec sculptures and carvings depict a half-human, half-jaguar creature. C. Trade and Commerce 1. Directed a large trading network throughout Mesoamerica. 2. Olmec goods traveled as far as Mexico City to the north and Honduras to the south. 3. This trade network helped boost the Olmec economy and spread Olmec influence. D. Decline: Some experts speculate that outside invaders caused the destruction. Others believe the Olmec may have destroyed their own monuments upon the death of their rulers. II. Zapotec Civilization Arises By the time Olmec civilization collapsed, another people, the Zapotec, were developing an advanced society to the southwest, in what is now the Mexican state of Oaxaca. They showed traces of Olmec influence, but were not identical copies of their ‘mother’ culture. A. Peoples of the Oaxaca Valley 1. This valley has fertile soil, a mild climate, and enough rainfall to support agriculture. Thus, various peoples have made the Oaxaca Valley their home, including the ancient Zapotec. 2. ~1000 BCE, the Zapotec of the San José Mogote site, were emerging as the main power in the region. Here, the Zapotec constructed stone platforms. 3. ~500 BCE, they had… a. Built temples and other monumental sculptures.

b. Developed early forms of writing. c. Organized a calendar system B. The Zapotec Flourish at Monte Albán 1. ~500 BCE, first ‘true’ urban center in the Americas- Monte Albán. a. Monte Albán will eventually reach a peak population of ~25,000- comparable to large urban areas in Post-Roman Europe. b. The city had a huge plaza paved with stones and surrounded by towering pyramids, temples, and palaces, all made of stone. c. It sported an observatory for recording the movements of celestial objects and developing a calendar from the data. 2. At ~600 the Zapotec began to decline. They may have suffered a loss of trade or experienced other economic difficulties. As with the Olmec, the fall of Zapotec civilization remains unclear. III. The Early Mesoamericans’ Legacy A. The Olmec Leave Their Mark The Olmec contributed much to later Mesoamerican civilizations… 1. Olmec art styles, especially the use of the jaguar motif, can be seen in the pottery and sculpture of later peoples in the region. In addition, future Mesoamerican societies copied the Olmec pattern of urban design. 2. They left behind the notions of planned ceremonial centers, ritual ball games, and an elite ruling class. While there is no clear evidence of an Olmec written language, their descendants carved stone symbols that may have influenced later glyph writing. B. Zapotec Contributions The Zapotec left behind their own legacy. 1. Hieroglyphic writing system. 2. Calendar system based on the movement of the sun. 3. Americas’ first city builders. Monte Albán was built in a style that will influence the development of future urban centers that become hallmarks of Mesoamerican civilization. VI. Summary Activity- Why it Matters Now. Later American civilizations relied on the technology and achievements of earlier cultures to make advances.
Curriculum Link (Update Required) Unit Four: The First Global Age (1450 - 1770) Section D 1 - 4 Materials/Sources: Refer to the course calendar for additional materials, assignments and pertinent due dates. ● World History: Patterns of Interaction ● Slide Presentation