Early Societies in Americas and Oceania

Report
Early Societies in Americas and
Oceania
Bentley Ch. 6
Agriculture in the Americas
• 8000 – 7000 BCE, later than in other parts of the
world but independently, peoples of middle
America began to experiment with the cultivation
of certain items
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Squashes
Manioc
Beans
Chili peppers
Avocados
Gourds
Maize by 4000 BCE
Olmecs
• Oldest known civilization in the Americas
• Comparable to river valley civilizations in
other parts of the world
• Influenced all complex societies in
Mesoamerican until arrival of Europeans
Olmec Society and Economy
• Authoritarian in nature
• Common subjects labored regularly for Olmec
elite.
• Traded with other regions in Mesoamerica
• Constructed drainage systems to divert waters
and prevent flooding.
Olmec accomplishments
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Astronomical observations
Calendar
System of writing
Giant stone heads – movement without
wheels. Artistic / monumental work
The Maya: Classical Americas
• The Maya organized themselves politically into
small city-kingdoms
• Tikal became the most important political center
between 600 and 800 CE, with 40,000 people.
• Included temples, pyramids, palaces, and public
buildings.
• Mayan kingdoms fought constantly with one
another – purpose was to capture instead of kill
Chichén Itzá: Political Unification
• In the 800s CE, the state of Chichén Itzá in the
northern Yucatan established a larger political
framework for the Mayas.
• Absorbed rather than enslaved captives.
• Became a loose empire that brought political
stability between the 800 – 1000 CE.
• However, most Maya populations had began
to desert their cities by 800 CE.
Chichén Itzá
Mayan Society and Religion
• Kings and ruling families at the top, followed
by a large class of priests, a hereditary nobility
that owned most of the land, merchants who
came from ruling classes, a middle class of
architects and artisans, and a large class of
peasants and slaves.
• Mayan priests and astronomers invented
number 0 and calculated the solar year to
within 17 seconds of modern calculations.
Mayan Religion and Writing
• Most flexible and sophisticated of all early
American writing systems, included both
ideographic elements and symbols for
syllables.
• Wrote works of history, poetry, and myth.
• Religious beliefs included importance of cycles
and shedding of human blood.
Teotihuacan
• Located in Central Mexico (31 miles north of
Mexico City)
• Agricultural village by 500 BCE
• Between 400 and 600 CE, contained almost
200,000 inhabitants.
• Ruled as a theocracy of sorts; priests in charge.
• Two most prominent monuments were pyramids
of the sun and moon; Pyramid of the Sun is the
large single structure in MesoAmerica
Pyramid of the Sun
Society in Teotihuacan
• Workshops and stores throughout; extensive
trade and exchange networks
• Known for ability to produce fine
manufactured goods
• Expanded upon Olmec writing
• Recognized earth god, rain god, and
performed human sacrifices
• Declined after 650 CE
South American societies
• Developed independently of Central American
societies
• Chavín Cult – not a cult in the modern sense
of the word, but a centralizing religion
• Popular from 900 BCE to 300 BCE
• Large temple complexes and elaborate works
of art
• Andean society became more elaborate and
complex in this time period.
Mochica
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Classical time frame
Emerged in Peru during the period 300 to 700 CE
Specialization of labor
Only one of several large states in the region; none
gained dominance due to geographic isolation
• No evidence of writing
• Wheel not used anywhere in the Americas  no draft
animals
• Organized from Andes Mountains to coast – trade
along small strips / valleys of land.
Oceania
• Austronesian peoples spread throughout Oceania
• Developed agriculture in certain areas such as
New Guinea
• Others remained hunter-gatherers, such as the
Aborigine of Australia
• Traveled over vast expanses of open ocean in
small boats and canoes.
• Became important in trade in the region
• Range was from Hawaii to Madagascar

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