Unit I: Settlement of
the Americas
Five Themes of
1) Location:
Geographic location as represented
on a map through latitude and
Relative location as related to
another place.
3) Interaction:
Interaction between people and their
environment; how has man altered
the environment to suit our needs.
Interaction between cultures,
exchange of ideas or military conflict
or both.
4) Movement:
Movement of man across the globe.
Movement of trade goods.
5) Regions:
Physical characteristics that define a
particular area
or it cultural characteristics that
define a region.
2) Place:
Physical features of an area,
availability of natural resources
being an important factor.
Human features of an area,
including the cultural developments
that have taken place.
Physical Regions of the U.S
Climate classifications in the U.S
Development of Civilization
 23000
B.C - climate change develops
an Ice Age which creates massive
glaciers that lower ocean levels by
200 ft. Drop in sea levels expose land
connecting Siberia with Alaska across
the Bering Strait. Land Bridge remains
until roughly 12000 BC.
 Exact
date of the migration of
nomadic hunters across the Bering
Strait is uncertain. The first definitive
evidence is from around 12000 BC.
Fossil evidence has been found in
Siberia and Western Alaska.
 Within 4000 years nomads had
advanced to the tip of South America
(Tierra del Fuego).
 Archeologists
believe that Asian
migrations developed in three waves.
The first Asians entered North
America around 14000 BC, speaking
“Amerind” a forerunner to many
Native languages. Tribes from the
Algonquian in the Northeast to the
Mayan in Central America speak a
derivative of Amerind.
 The
second wave of nomads entered
North America a few thousand years
later, speaking a language known as
“NaDene,” which Native American
languages in the Canadian Northwest
and American southwest derive from.
 The
last wave of nomads entered
North America around 7,000 BC and
were the ancestors of the Inuit who
maintained an existence across the
Artic tundra. It was these settlers
which the Vikings in Greenland
encountered around 1000 AD.
 The
nomadic hunters entering North
America found an area loaded with
large game that had no previous
experience with man. The
development of the Clovis spearhead
around 9000 B.C allowed hunters to
successfully hunt large mammals. At
the same time though the climate
changed and further contributed to
the extinction of big game in North
and South America.
 The
loss of big game for nomadic
hunters prevented their population
numbers from increasing. This was in
sharp contrast to the Eurasian
population which domesticated
animals and developed larger
 The
close proximity of people to
animals created a host of
communicable diseases which killed
portions of the Eurasian population
but also led them to develop
immunities that did not occur in the
 Life
as hunter-gathers could not
sustain the population for ever.
Nomadic hunters thus had to turn to
the domestication of plant species
which could be harvested for food on
a regular basis. By 4000 BC
permanent farming communities had
developed in Peru, central Mexico,
and the southwestern United States.
 The most important of the early crops
were maize, sweet potatoes, beans,
 Only
the most advanced cultures
developed into sedentary farmers in
the Americas. North of Mexico,
Indians developed semi-sedentary
communities where they would settle
for a time in a area. They would use
“slash and burn” agriculture to clear
an area and then Native women
would plant crops and build temporary
dwellings while men hunted and
fought rival tribes.
 Every
few years the soil would
become exhausted forcing the tribe to
move to a new location. The
combination of semi-sedentary and
sedentary cultures created a
population of around 50 million by
 Civilization
in Mesoamerica
developed around 1200 B.C along the
Mexican gulf coast. Civilizations are
defined by the development of cities,
political structures, surplus food
production, artistic activity and a
complex form of communication, but
does not have to be written.
 The
Olmec civilization thrived
between 1200 and 400 A.D. The area
was first settled around 3500 BC
when Indians began farming corn and
 How did Olmec civilization develop in
the gulf?
Among other monolithic works, the Olmec carved threedimensional stone heads, ranging in height from about 6
to 10 ft, out of basalt boulders quarried in distant
Ruins of Monte Albán, ancient center of the Zapotec
civilization. The Zapotecs thrived for about 1000 years,
between 500 BC and 500 AD.
 Olmec
religious beliefs had a tremendous
impact on the Mesoamerican cultures.
They developed a dual calendar system
that lasted through the fall of the Aztecs.
The Olmecs developed a 52 year calendar
that ended on the first day of the long
calendar. They believed that this
occurrence could bring an end to the
world and the destruction of the sun. Thus
human sacrifice was necessary to keep
the sun in motion.
 This belief was also central to the lowland
culture of the Mayans.
 Mayan
culture developed as a series of
independent city states that controlled the
Yucatan Peninsula between 50 BC and
900 AD.
The Temple of
the Inscriptions
is famed as
Pacal's Tomb.
One of the most
burials in a
Mayan pyramid
is buried deep
inside this
Caracol, Chichén Itzá
The Temple of the Columns at Chichen Itza
The city of
Chichén Itzá, on
the northern
became a center
of Maya
civilization in the
Period, after ad
Mayan artwork
Classic Mayan culture began to decline
around 800, with the abandonment of
several of the larger city states.
 Causes of the Mayan collapse
1. The Maya had damaged their
environment through deforestation and
2. Climate changes occurred that brought
droughts to the area.
3. Frequent wars between the city states
also took its toll on the population.
4. The competition between nobles led
them to forsake underlying problems.
 By
1400 power in central Mexico had
been consolidated by the Aztecs, who
had migrated out of the north around
1200. They settled along the shore of
Lake Texcoco and began construction
of their capital Tenochtitlan, which
was on the lake itself.
 Tenochtitlan
was connected to the
mainland through a series of
causeways and built floating gardens
on the lake to supply the capital’s
 With a population around 200,000 the
Aztecs dominated the smaller cities in
central Mexico. They adopted the
traditional religion of Mesoamerica
and waged war to capture people for
sacrifice in their religious ceremonies.
Plaza of the Three Cultures
Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán
Avenue of the Dead — Teotihuacán, Mexico
Aztec Calendar Stone
The dominant empire in South America by 1400 were
Incans which were located along the Pacific coast.
This view of the Andes Mountains is from a village near
Cuzco in the highlands region of southeastern Peru.
Broad valleys and plateaus in this area are above 6500
ft in altitude and lie among the tallest peaks in South
 The
Incan capital of Cuzco controlled
an empire over 2,000 miles long.
They developed a complex
transportation system to move troops
and supplies across the empire and
fed the population by building massive
terraces on the sides of the
 North
of Mexico, Native American
cultures developed less sophisticated
cultures that were still impressive.
Between 3000 BC and 1700 AD
“mound builders” developed powerful
empires from the Gulf Coast to the
Great Lakes. The mound building
cultures developed trade routes
across the continent that last until 400
The Serpent Mound twists to a length of 1,348 ft near
the town of Peebles in southern Ohio. It is believed to
have been built by the Adena, whose culture flourished
in the first millennium bc.
In the American southwest, two cultures
developed complex societies:
1) Hohokam: settled Arizona around 300
BC and 300 AD. They dug irrigation
canals, created pottery and trade with
California tribes and Mesoamericans.
2) Anasazi: developed a power culture in
Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and
Nevada. They developed housing in the
cliffs of the various canyons, irrigation
ditches, and astronomical observatories
in the cliffs.
Hohokam Indian Village
Pueblo Bonito of Chaco Canyon
Anasazi Bowl

Five Themes of Geography