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10: The Americas

  • Page ID
    • 10.1: Chronology
    • 10.2: Introduction to The Americas
      As the Spanish explorers in the Americas, and later the French, English, and Dutch, saw monetary gain from reporting their exploits to their respective monarchs, we often end up with a stilted or incomplete version of the Americas before 1500. Part of this can be attributed to the bias of European explorers, and misinterpretation of Native American beliefs and practices.
    • 10.3: Questions to Guide Your Reading
    • 10.4: Key Terms
    • 10.5: Mesoamerica
      Mesoamerica was the first section of the Americas where scholars have found evidence of large settlements, agriculture, and unique cultural traditions, so this chapter starts there. The Mesoamerican culture area is found in what are now the modern countries of Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and eastern Honduras. The region’s frequent volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and hurricanes gave it quite a staggering amount of ecological diversity.
    • 10.6: The Maya
      The importance of the influence of the Olmec on the Maya may seem superficial, but it is quite important, as the Maya’s rise to sophistication was so fast and so complete that it almost defies explanation. After settling at the base of the Yucatán Peninsula around 1000 BCE, the lowland Maya learned how to deal with drought, feed tens of thousands of people, and organize politically—all before 250 BCE.
    • 10.7: The Aztec
      While the Itza were one of the last unconquered native civilizations in the New World, another post-classic kingdom drew the most attention from Mexico’s Spanish conquerors: the Aztec. The Aztec capital was the magnificent city of Tenochtitlán, founded around 1325 CE. Tenochtitlán was composed of a network of dozens of smaller city states who used the lake environment to plant wetland gardens and used raised causeways to separate the gardens and move around the city.
    • 10.8: Early Andes
      Humans arrived in South America after migrating through North and Mesoamerica; they began to craft small campsites and fishing villages along the Pacific coast. Around 3,000 BCE, the small campsites villages were replaced by residential and ceremonial centers. This transition was made possible through a new focus on irrigation and communal agriculture. These Pacific coast and Andean cultures left an incredible amount of material culture for archeologists to analyze.

    Thumbnail: Machu Picchu shortly after sunrise. (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported; Charles J Sharp via Wikitravel).

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