The American Nation
Chapter 2
Before the First Global
Age, Prehistory–1600
Copyright © 2003 by Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved.
The American Nation
Chapter 2: Before the First Global Age, Prehistory–1600
Section 1:
The First Civilizations of the Americas
Section 2:
Native American Cultures
Section 3:
Trade Networks of Africa and Asia
Section 4:
Tradition and Change in Europe
Copyright © 2003 by Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. All rights reserved.
The First Civilizations of the Americas
Chapter 2, Section 1
Goals to learn:
• How did people first reach the Americas?
• What were the Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and
Incan civilizations like?
• How did early cultures develop in North
America?
Theories About How People Reached the Americas
Chapter 2, Section 1
Land-bridge Theory
• Thousands of years ago, glaciers, or thick sheets of ice,
stretched across Canada. The glaciers locked up water
from the oceans, causing sea levels to fall and uncovering
the land beneath the sea. This situation exposed a land
bridge joining Siberia and Alaska. Bands of hunters might
have crossed this land bridge from Asia to the Americas.
• Video clip: “Demonstration of the Land Bridge Theory”
• Video clip: “Mapping of the Land Bridge Theory”
Coastal-route theory
• People might have reached North America by crossing icy
arctic waters by boat.
Other theories
• People might have reached the Americas from Europe,
Africa, or South Pacific islands.
Adapting to a New Way of Life
12,000 years ago – Ice Age ends and large animals died
• Hunting smaller animals
• Gathering wild berries, nuts, and grains
• Fishing
5,000 years ago – Farming
• Permanent Settlements
• More food
• Population growth
Cities are formed
• Some farming communities in Central America grew surplus (extra food)—
enough to support large populations.
• With enough food available to feed large populations, the first cities
emerged.
• These cities marked the rise of the first civilization in the Americas.
Civilization = A society that has cities, a well-organized
government, different social classes, a complex religion, and a
method of record keeping.
12,000 years ago – Hunters and Gatherers (:45)
The Olmecs
Chapter 2, Section 1
• Earliest known civilization
in the Americas
• Lived in the lowlands along
the Gulf of Mexico, about
3,500 years ago.
• Achievements: They left
behind huge, carved stone
heads and smaller carved
figures. They built stone
temples and developed a
calendar.
The Olmecs
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•
•
•
•
Name means rubber people
Oldest city was San Lorenzo
Largest City was La Venta
Used glyphs – picture writing
Disappeared???
The Mayas
Chapter 2, Section 1
• Early Mayas lived in the rain forests of present-day
Guatemala and Mexico. About 3,000 years ago, they
began clearing the rain forests and draining swamps
to create farmland.
• Mayan cities sprang up from Central America to
southern Mexico.
• Trade flowed along a network of roads.
• Achievements of Mayan priests: advances in
astronomy and mathematics. They learned to predict
eclipses and created an accurate, 365-day calendar.
They developed a system of numbers that included
the concept of zero.
• Around A.D. 900, the Mayas abandoned their cities.
Historians are not sure why.
The Mayas
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•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Colorful, short people
Valued crosseyes
Cities included stone pyramids
Polytheistic and used ancestral worship
Used glyphs
Made paper and books
Used slash and burn farming
Advanced irrigation systems
Cities of the Mayas
The Mayas (6:00)
Mayan Religion and Society (4:45)
Decline of the Mayas (1:44)
The Aztecs
Chapter 2, Section 1
• A new civilization arose north of the abandoned Maya cities—
the Aztecs.
• The early Aztecs were nomads = people who move from place
to place in search of food.
• In the 1300s, Aztecs settled around Lake Texcoco in central
Mexico.
• The Aztecs built their capital, Tenochtitlán, in the middle of the
lake. They constructed a system of causeways (raised roads
made of packed earth) to link the city to the mainland. In some
places, they dug canals. In other places, they planted crops
on the floating gardens (chinampas) they had created.
• Aztec priests developed complex calendars.
• The Aztecs paid special attention to the sun god, to whom
they sacrificed thousands of captives each year.
• By 1500, the Aztecs ruled a huge empire from the Gulf of
Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Heavy taxes and the sacrifice of
prisoners of war sparked revolts.
The Aztecs
• Used picture writing
• Set up military units with conquered
people
• Extended families and arranged marriages
• Established schools
• Corn was main source of food
• Slash and burn farming and terrace
farming
• Advanced in medicine
The Aztecs
Chapter 2, Section 1
Tenochtitlan
Understanding Where the Aztecs Came From
(3:57)
The Aztecs (10:08)
The Incas
Chapter 2, Section 1
•
•
•
•
•
The Incas built one of the largest empires in the Americas. By
1500, their empire stretched for almost 2,500 miles along the
west coast of South America.
The center of the empire was Cuzco, a city high in the Andes. It
had massive palaces and temples made of stone and
decorated with gold. At the center was the palace of the
emperor.
The Incan empire was very well organized. The Incas
maintained 10,000 miles of roads.
Runners carried royal orders across the empire. They carried
with them a device known as a quipu—a cord or string with
knots that stood for quantities, such as bags of grain.
The Incas were skilled engineers. They built massive stone
temples and forts. In order to farm the steep mountains, they
created terraces, or wide steps of land.
The Incas
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•
•
•
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No system of writing
Ilama was an very important animal
Made many religious sacrifices
Used a variety of crops
Sapa Inca was absolute ruler
Cuzco
Quipu
The single knot. Used in
multiples to represents digits
in the tens and higher places.
The long knot (with four
turns.) Used to represent
digits in the units position.
The number of long turns
determined the digit.
The figure eight knot.
Used to represent one in
the units position.
Some Early Cultures of North America
Chapter 2, Section 1
Culture
Location
Characteristics
Hohokams
present-day southern Arizona
Anasazis
Four Corners region where
Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and
Arizona meet
1. They irrigated the desert.
2. They traded along the network of roads they
built.
3. They built large houses of stone and adobe, or
sun-dried brick. In the 1500s, the Spanish
called these houses pueblos, meaning
“village.”
Mound Builders
From the Appalachian Mountains
to the Mississippi Valley and from
Wisconsin to Florida
1. Beginning about 3,000 years ago, various
groups built large earth mounds. At first, the
mounds were used for burials. Later, the
mounds were used for religious ceremonies.
2. The Hopewells and the Mississippians were the
best-known groups of Mound Builders. The
Mississippians built a large city at Cahokia in
present-day Illinois.
About 2,000 years ago, they dug networks of
irrigation ditches so they could farm the desert.
They grew corn, squash, and beans.
culture—the entire way of life of a people, including homes,
clothing, economy, arts, and government.
Landmarks of the Hohokams, Anasazis, and the
Mound Builders
Introduction to the Anasazis (:57)
Anasazi Indians (1:03)
Anasazis – 1500 years ago
At the Fall of Rome (1:24)
Anasazis – 1300 years ago
At the Time of the Dark Ages (2:54)
Anasazis – 900 years ago
At the High Middle Ages (4:45)
The Great Migration of Anasazis
700-725 years ago (2:21)
Section 1 Assessment
Chapter 2, Section 1
The Olmec civilization arose in South America when
a) Olmec warriors drove the Mayas into the rain forest.
b) Olmec hunters arrived from Asia and settled down to gather nuts and
wild berries.
c) Olmec farmers were able to grow enough food to support large
populations.
d) the Aztecs shared the secret of digging canals and farming swamps.
The best definition of the word culture is
a) the entire way of life of a people.
b) the ability to build large cities.
c) the building of massive palaces, temples, and other structures.
d) learning, such as engineering and astronomy.
Want to connect to the American Nation link for this section? Click here.
Section 1 Assessment
Chapter 2, Section 1
The Olmec civilization arose in South America when
a) Olmec warriors drove the Mayas into the rain forest.
b) Olmec hunters arrived from Asia and settled down to gather nuts and
wild berries.
c) Olmec farmers were able to grow enough food to support large
populations.
d) the Aztecs shared the secret of digging canals and farming swamps.
The best definition of the word culture is
a) the entire way of life of a people.
b) the ability to build large cities.
c) the building of massive palaces, temples, and other structures.
d) learning, such as engineering and astronomy.
Want to connect to the American Nation link for this section? Click here.
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