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The First Civilizations of North America

Native American Societies
 40 million in Mesoamerica and South America
 lived in large societies rules by warrior-kings and priests.
 largely complex societies whose accomplishments rivaled that of the Europeans.
 7 million in modern day United States and Canada
 hunter-gatherer and agricultural familial societies
 The First Americans
 Strong archeological evidence supports the theory that during the Ice Age, 20,000 years ago,
small bands traveled across the Bering Strait.
 the primary migratory stream is thought to have lasted from 15,000 years to 9,000 years
ago, at which time the strait was submerged in water.
 c. 8,000 years ago a second movement of people moved across the Bering Strait by water.
 this migration is thought to be the ancestors of the Navajos and Apaches.
 c. 5,000 years ago a third migration, the forebears of the Aleut and Inuit people (aka Eskimos).
 For centuries, the native Americans remain hunter-gatherer tribes. Focusing first on big game
like mammoths and horses, then transitioning to rabbits, deer, and elk as big game die out.
 c. 6000 BC Agricultural Revolution begins in present-day Mexico.
 maize is domesticated and bred into a highly nutritive plant with higher yield than
European grain plants.
 beans and squash were planted with the maize to keep the soil fertile.
 agricultural surplus that resulted from the Agricultural Revolution led to population
growth and laid the foundation for the development of wealthy, urban societies in Mexico,
Peru, and the Mississippi River Valley.
 The Mayas and the Aztecs
 Olmec Civilization c. 700 B.C.
 Mesoamerican culture
 Fertile coastal region along Gulf of Mexico
 Called the “Mother Culture”
 Primary city was San Lorenzo
 Pyramid structures, earthen mounds, and courtyards
 Olmec heads
 large basalt heads positioned along the coastal regions.
 Maya c. AD 300-900
 Yucatan Peninsula
 Southern Mexico and Guatemala
 Achievements
 Number system which included zero
 elaborate systems of water storage and irrigation.
 Mayan Calendar that recorded historical events and accurately predicted eclipses.
 Complex writing system
 Glyphs or pictures
 Only complete system in early America.
 Large Cities
 Tikal (Guatemala)
 contained more than 20,000 people by AD 300.
 Palenque (Mexico)
 Copan (Honduras)
 Trade
 Feathers of Quetzal (a sign of royalty) traded for Obsidian from the North.
 c. 800 Mayan civilization went into decline.
 200 year drought is thought to have led to an economic crisis that led peasants to abandon
city life and return to the country side.
 few Mayan city-states resisted Spanish invaders in the 16
th
century.
 Aztec (Mexica)
 Warlike society
 subjugated most of central Mexico.
 demanded economic and human tribute.
 Capitol city of Tenochtitlan built in 1325
 Present day Mexico City
 Contained as many as 300,000 people.
 Class system developed
 Noble class served as priests and government officials.
 Ordinary people served as laborers, servants, and slaves.
 Warfare viewed as a sacred duty.
 Wealth came from forced tribute by conquered peoples.
 Monotheistic
 Huitzilopochtli
 The sun god who had to fight dark forces every day to rise again in the
morning.
 Human sacrifices gave him the power to fight.
 Indians of the North
 Indian societies of the North were less complex than those in the South. They lacked
occupational diversity, social hierarchy, and strong state institutions.
 Hopewell c. 1000 BC- AD 400
 Eastern Region
 Present day Kentucky to New York.
 A.K.A Mound Builders
 Known for their distinctive earth works that served as elaborate burial mounds.
 Hopewell’s pushed Adena out
 Hopewell culture declined c. 400 C.E.
 Attributed to Mississippian culture
 Mississippian
 Occupied much of the Southeast and Midwest.
 thought to be descendents of Mayan refugees who migrated north.
 Largest settlement was Cahokia
 Extended 6 miles
 Contained more than 100 burial and temple mounds
 15,000-20,000 population
 Abandoned during 1200 C.E.
 c. 1350 Mississippian culture was in decline due to high population burdening the land.
Europe Encounters Africa and the Americas, 1450-1550
 European Agricultural Society
 In 1450 there were only a few large cities in Western Europe: Paris, London, and Naples had as
many as 100,000 residents.
 Most Europeans were peasants.
 peasant families worked lands belonging to an overlord.
 the communities/overlord decided which crops would be grown on which lands.
 most trade was local.
 output of crops was less than 1/10 modern yield.
 Peasant life
 nutrition was minimal
 nursing mothers fed their infants little referring to them as “greedy and gluttonous”
 many newborn girls were “helped to die” because they took away food from older
males.
 disease killed half of all children by the age of 21.
 Hierarchy and Authority
 Kings and Nobles were the men of power
 Men had all the power and authority
 when a woman married she had to submit all property to her husband.
 when the when the husband died she received a “dower”, or one third of the family
estate to use.
 Primogeniture was practiced.
 this meant that the first born son inherited the family estate.

 The Power of Religion
 For centuries the Roman Catholic Church was the unifying institution in Western Europe.
 originally most Europeans were pagans.
 they were animist who believed that elemental forces, such as the sun, rain, and
wind, governed the natural world and had to be honored.
 The church devised a religious calendar that transformed pagan festivals into Christian
holy days.
 The Renaissance Changes Europe, 1300-1500
 European countries experienced a rebirth of cultural life and economic energy stimulated by the
perseveration of Greek and Roman achievements in medicine, philosophy, mathematics,
astronomy, and geography by the Byzantine Civilization.
 This creative energy impacted the era’s rulers.
 The Prince (1513) Niccolo Machiavelli presented advice on how monarchs could increase
their political power by reducing the power of the landed nobility.
 Prince Henry (1394-1460) sparked a surge of maritime expansion.
 his encouragement led to the discovery of the Madeira and Azores islands.
 sailed to the sub-Saharan coast.
 by 1435 captains reached Sierra Leone, where they exchanged sale, wine, and fish
for African ivory and gold.
 by the 1440s the Portuguese entered the human trade.
 West African Society and Slavery
 West Africa stretches along the coast form present-day Senegal to the Democratic Republic of
Congo.
 A great river network of the Senegal, Gambia, Volta, Niger, and Congo enables easy access from
the interior to the coast.
 Indigenous trade focused around the desirous salt and was traded for iron and gold.
 West Africans lived in diverse ethnic groups and spoke four basic languages:
 Mande speakers lived in the upper Niger region and included the Malinke and Bambara
peoples.
 Yorubas and the Ibos of Southern Nigeria spoke variations of the Kwa language.
 The Mossis and other Voltaic speakers inhabited the area along the upper Volta River.
 Those who lived immediately south of the Sahara—Mali, Senegal, and Nigeria—were introduced
to Islam.
 European traders introduced several new plants and animals: pigs, maize, and tomatoes.
 Europeans took gold, ivory, pepper, and slaves.
 1488 Bartholomeu Diaz rounded the Cape of Good Hope.
 1588 Vasco da Gama reached India.
 he returned in 1502 with fighting vessels to assure his trading abilities in the region which
were contested by Arab fleets.
 Europeans Explore America
 Explorers financed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, “discovered” the Western Hemisphere
for Europeans.
 The Spanish monarchs completed the two century long reconquista.
 They launched a brutal inquisition to reinstate Catholicism in Spanish territories.
 Christopher Columbus
 set sail in August 1492 and landed in October on San Salvador Island.
 the people inhabiting the island called themselves
“Taino” meaning “good” or “noble” in Arawak
 Columbus anticipated easy conversion of the natives because of their crude living
conditions.
 Columbus returned to Spain leaving 40 men on the island of Hispaniola.
 The continent is named America in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, a Genovese explorer.
 Vespucci explored the region in 1500 and denied that it was part of Asia.
 he called it a “new world.”
 The Spanish Conquest
 Encomienda
 Colonists received the right to have a certain number of natives work for them.
 Used to build houses, mine gold, and provide food.
 Required to learn the Roman Catholic faith.
 Natives were allowed to grown food for themselves
 1513 Juan Ponce de Leon explored Florida and named it.
 1513 Vasco Nunez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and was the first European to see
the Pacific Ocean.
 1519 Hernan Cortes landed with 600 men on the South American coast.
 He defeated the Mayans who then presented him with slave women.
 Malinche was a noble born woman who becomes Cortes’ mistress and interpreter.
 Moctezuma II
 Slave raced to tell of Cortes’ arrival
 “Pale-skinned men who rode on horses”
 Thought horses were deer
 Thought Cortes was Quetzalcoatl
 Light skinned god who was to return to the Aztecs to rule again.
 Welcomes Cortes as a guest and Cortes imprisoned Moctezuma.
 Pedro de Alvardo ordered the killing of scores of men after Cortes left.
 Aztec revolted
 Spanish forced to leave
 1521 Cortes returns to attack Tenochtitlan
 capitol city.
 Small pox epidemic strikes
 1524 Francisco Pizarro led a Spanish Military Expedition against the Inca Empire.
 By the time Pizarro reached Peru in 1532, half of the Inca population had died from
European diseases spread by Indian traders.
 Atahualpa
 Pizarro tried to convert him to Catholicism
 Attacked Inca capitol
 Took the emperor ransom
 Emperor promised to fill his prison with gold if they would let him go.
 Spanish got the gold and killed him anyway.
 The Spanish Conquest changed life forever in the Americas.
 The Columbian Exchange took food products of the Western Hemisphere (maize,
potatoes, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes) to the old world where they significantly
improved crop yields and population growth.
 a virulent strain of syphilis was also taken back by sailors.
 A new society developed in the lands emptied by disease and exploitation.
 between 1500 and 1650 at least 350,000 Spaniards migrated to Mesoamerica and
western South America.
 mestizos developed with the inter-breeding of the two cultural groups.
The Protestant Reformation and the Rise of England, 1500-1620
 The Protestant Movement
 Pope Leo X (r. 1513-1521) received about $20 million modern dollars worth a year from the sale
of church religious offices.
 1517 Martin Luther condemned Catholic Practices in his Ninety-Five Theses.
 Luther took issue with the church on three premises:
 the belief that Christians could secure salvation through good deeds or the purchase
of indulgences.
 he downplayed the role of the clergy as mediators between God and the people.
 he argued that believers must look to the Bible, not church officials, as the ultimate
authority in matters of faith.
 1536 John Calvin established the most rigorous Protestant regime in Geneva, Switzerland.
 Calvin stressed human weakness and God’s omnipotence.
 Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536)
 Preached predestination, which is the idea that God chooses certain people for salvation
before they are born.
 Established a model Christian community in Geneva.
 1534 King Henry VIII established the Church of England after the pope refused his annulment to
Catherine of Aragon.
 most practices and doctrine remained the same as the Catholic church.
 Queen Elizabeth I approved a protestant confession of faith in the church but retained
Catholic hierarchy and the Holy Communion.
 this compromise led to a further split between puritans separatists.
 The Dutch and English Challenge Spain
 Holland
 Amsterdam emerged as the financial capital of northern Europe.
 the Dutch republic replaced Portugal as the dominant trader in Indonesia and West Africa.
 created the West India Company (1621) which invested in sugar plantation in Brazil and
established a fur-trading colony of New Netherland along the Hudson River.
 England
 English monarchs supported the expansion of commerce and manufacturing and the
monarchs gave monopolies to various companies.
 this system of state-assisted manufacturing is known as mercantilism.
 The Social Causes of English Colonization
 Price Revolution
 the massive influx of American gold and silver had doubled the money supply of Europe
and sparked major inflation.
 Influence of the House of Lords weakened.
 an affect of the Price Revolution
 The House of Commons simultaneously gained power.
 Enclosure Acts allowed owners to kick peasants off their lands and fence their fields to allow
sheep to graze.
 this dispossessed peasant families.
 The London Hanged by Peter Linebaugh
 “Little Ice Age”
 a century-long serious of long and cold winters that began around 1600.
 thousands of young men and women migrated to America as indentured servants.
 four to five year terms