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The Americas.

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1 The Americas

2 Ice Age and Land Bridge About 15,000 years ago the world was experiencing the last of four ice ages. During the ice ages water from the oceans was locked up into huge pieces of ice called glaciers. As a result the land that had been under the water was uncovered. In the far north a land bridge joined Siberia in northeastern Asia to Alaska in North America.

3 First Americans The first Americans were hunters who crossed the land bridge chasing herds of animals. Over thousands of years they moved south looking for better hunting grounds. Hunters hunted the wholly mammoth, caribou, bison and antelope. The ice age ended about 10,000 years ago when the glaciers melted and released water back into the oceans. As a result the land bridge to America was once again covered with water.

4 Farming Begins When the Ice Age ended the wholly mammoth and other large animal died out. The first Americans adapted by gathering berries, fishing and hunting smaller animals. As the climate warmed between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago Americans learned to grow crops- specifically, corn (maize), squash, beans and pumpkins. Farming began in Mesoamerica or middle America-the land between the Valley of Mexico and Central America. The region was ideal for farming because of the rich volcanic soil and ample rain in the spring and fall.

5 Mesoamerican Civilizations
As first Americans were able to grow crops they were able to stop moving in search of food and were able to settle down in more complex societies. Around 1500 B.C. the first ancient civilizations appeared in the Americas. Around 1200 B.C. near present-day Vera Cruz, Mexico a people called the Olmec started a trading empire that lasted about 800 years. The Olmec traded crops for raw materials such as jade, obsidian, hematite and basalt. They used rivers to travel to other regions for trade until other groups took the empire from them.

6 Teotihuacan The first planned city in Mesoamerica was called Teotihuacan or “place of the gods.” Teotihuacan reached its height around A.D. 400 with a population of about 150,000. Around A.D. 600 Teotihuacan started to decline. We do not for sure why this happened but experts believe overpopulation could have exhausted the natural resources or there was a drought from a lack of rain. Either way by A.D. 750 the city of Teotihuacan was destroyed.

7 Maya Another civilization built by the Maya sprang up in the Yucatan Peninsula and reached its peak in A.D. 500. The Maya were traders who traded with villages throughout Mesoamerica and into North America. The Mayan civilization also came to a mysterious end around A.D The ruins of the city were found in 1839 tangled in the vines of the Yucatan rain forest.

8 Mayan Civilization The Maya settled in a flat region of Guatemala called Peten. It was covered with dense forests that allowed very little sunlight. In addition, mosquitos and other insects infested the land, poisonous snakes and monkeys were numerous, and swamps and sinkholes were present. The Maya took advantage of the swamps and sinkholes making them a source of water. They set up city-states each having its own king with his own military. The kings said they were descendants from the sun.

9 Mayan God-Kings The kings expected the people to serve them as gods. They forced the people to build monuments to them and taught them that it was necessary to please the gods by giving human sacrifices. The Maya would offer human sacrifices to the rain god Chac who they believed lived in the water under the sinkholes. Many times they would throw captives of war into the sinkholes as a sacrifice to Chac.

10 Mayan Religion Religion was at the center of Mayan life. Mayans believed the gods controlled everything that happened on earth, so they focused their lives on pleasing the gods. Large pyramids with temples at the top overlooked every Mayan city. Mayans believed the gods revealed their plans through movements of the sun, moon, and stars, so they studied the heavenly bodies closely.

11 Mayan Inventions Studying astronomy allowed the Maya to develop a 365 day calendar. This calendar helped the Maya plan planting and harvest times as well as religious festivals. The Maya invented a system of mathematics based on 20. The Maya invented a written language that uses hieroglyphics or symbols that represent words, sounds, or ideas. In the Mayan civilization only the nobles could read.

12 The Toltec After the Mayan civilization ended the Toltec took control of Northern Mexico. They built the capital city of Tula and conquered lands all the way to the Yucatan Peninsula. The Toltec controlled trade and held a monopoly or sole right to trade, in obsidian. Obsidian was a volcanic glass used to make sharp weapons. Keeping this material out of the hands of others kept other people from making weapons to challenge the Toltec.

13 The Aztecs Around A.D the Aztecs invaded Tula and took control of the regions trade. They sacrificed a local princess to one of their gods and were forced to flee when the king set out to kill them. The Aztecs were wandering around the Mexican Valley struggling to survive. They were even enslaved once by another tribe. In the year 1325, they stopped their wandering on the southwest border of Lake Texcoco when they saw an eagle sitting on the stem of a cactus. He was holding a serpent in this talons and his wings were open to the sun. They saw this as an omen, announcing the location of their future city and capital, Tenochtitlan.

14 Lake Texcoco So they settled on a soggy, uninhabited island in Lake Texcoco. The island was about 12 miles square in size. In order to build their city, the swamps and standing water around them had to be drained and artificial islands were constructed to form gardens.

15 Aztec Way of Life It was from the city of Tenochtitlan that the Aztec god Huitzilpochtli spoke to the people declaring, “We shall conquer all the people in the universe.” From this promise the Aztec way of life was formed. War and human sacrifice were constant occurences in the Aztec empire. From childhood Aztec boys were told stories about the glories of war and their duties as an Aztec warrior. In the social hierarchy there were four classes: (1) nobles, (2) commoners, (3) unskilled laborers, and (4) slaves. Commoners made up the largest group and consisted of farmers, artisans and traders. They could move up to the noble class by performing an act of bravery in war. If they died in war their children would become nobles.

16 Aztec Warriors Kings were selected from amongst the nobles. Kings were selected by his perceived ability to bring glory to the Aztecs. Once chosen he was expected to prove himself by leading troops into battle. Raiding and warring often began to collect captives for use in sacrificial offerings to the Aztec god, Huitzilpochtli. The Aztec conquered many other tribes, allowing them to retain their own religion and government. However, the tribes were expected to supply the Aztecs with food, textiles, pottery and other items needed to support the nobles, priests and administrators of the city of Tenochtitlan, which numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

17 Human Sacrifice and the Great Temple
The Aztec are best known for human sacrifices. On special occasions, a slave was sacrificed. His flesh would be elaborately dressed and would be the center ornament of the banquet. Cannibalism in the Aztec life was common on special religious and social occasions. Human sacrifices were necessary to honor the gods. They believed that humans were responsible for the pleasure or displeasure of the gods and, therefore, they aimed to make sure that the deities were happy. Twenty to fifty thousand people were sacrificed yearly. In the center of Tenochtitlan the Aztec built a huge pyramid to honor the gods known as the Great Temple. It was here that thousands of victims were brought and sacrificed to the gods.

18 Human Sacrifice No matter what the size of the sacrifice, it was always performed the same way. The victim was held down by four priests on an altar at the top of a pyramid or raised temple while the officiant made an incision below the rib cage and pulled out the living heart. The heart was then burned and the corpse was pushed down the steep steps; a very brave or noble victim was carried down the steps. The most brutal of human sacrifices were those dedicated to the god Huehueteotl. Sacrificial victims were drugged and then thrown into a fire at the top of the ceremonial platform. Before they were killed by the fire, they were dragged out with hooks and their living hearts were pulled out and thrown back into the fire.

19 The Inca Empire The largest empire in the Americas was the Inca Empire. The Inca people began as a tribe in the Cusco area around A.D Under the leadership of Manco Capac, they formed the small city-state of Cuzco. In 1438 they began a far-reaching expansion under the command of Pachacuti, whose name literally meant "earth-shaker". During his reign, he and his son brought much of the Andes mountains in modern-day Peru under Inca control.

20 Inca Expansion To build hid empire Pachacuti would send spies to regions he had wanted in his empire. They would then report back on the political organization, military might, and wealth. The Inca would then send messages to the leaders of these lands, telling the benefits of joining the empire. He offered gifts of luxury goods like high quality textiles, and promised that all living in those territories would be materially richer as subject rulers of the Inca.

21 Uniting the Empire Most accepted the rule of the Inca peacefully. The neighboring rulers' children would be brought to Cuzco to be taught about Inca administration systems, and then would return to rule their native lands. This allowed the Inca to indoctrinate the former rulers' children into the Inca nobility, and, with luck, marry their daughters into families at various corners of the empire. Besides letting local rulers stay in power and training their sons at Cuzco, Pachacuti used other methods to unite the empire. Pachacuti required all people to learn Quechua so they would all speak the same language and he developed a system of roads to unite the empire.

22 Incan Social Structure
Inca society was strictly organized, from the emperor and royal family down to the peasants. The emperor was thought to be descended from the sun god, Inti, and he therefore ruled with divine authority. All power rested in his hands. Just beneath the ruler in the Inca social structure were the head priest and commander of the armies. The next group consisted of regional army commanders. Below them were the temple priests and skilled workers. The bottom level were the farmers, herders and soldiers.

23 Inca Architecture The Inca rarely participated in human sacrifices. When they did they usually sacrificed children because they thought they were more pure than adults. Before they sacrificed the children they worshipped them as gods. The Inca built large stone buildings made of limestone and granite. Although they had no system of writing, no wheels, and no iron tools they were skilled engineers. They fit stones together tightly without the use of mortar to allow the stones to move up and down when earthquakes hit without collapsing.

24 Machu Picchu One of the places they built is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World- Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was constructed around 1460, at the height of the Inca Empire. It was abandoned less than 100 years later. It is likely that most of its inhabitants were wiped out by smallpox before the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the area and there is no record of their having known of the remote city. It was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas.”

25 The Quipu The Inca developed a quipu- a rope with knotted cords of different lengths and colors to do mathematical equations. The number and position of knots as well as the color of each cord represented numbers or information about commercial goods and resources.

26 The Inuit Another group that settled in America were the Inuit. The Inuit, which means “the people,” settled in present-day Canada and Alaska. The lands where the Inuit live is cold and harsh.  They have long cold winters and short, cool summers. There is a lot of snow. Many Inuit lived in houses called igloos. Igloos were dome shaped homes made of blocks of ice and snow. To make an igloo, hard-packed snow was cut into blocks with a long knife made of bone, ivory, or metal. A man could build an  igloo in an hour. In the igloo, Inuit slept on a low snow platform covered with twigs and caribou furs. Each igloo had a skylight made of freshwater ice. When summer arrived the igloo melted, and the family had to move into tents made of animal skins.

27 Inuit Transportation For transportation Inuits use kayaks, umiaks, and dogsleds. The kayak is a boat that can carry only one person. It is small and covered in seal skins. Around the edge it was slightly raised so the passenger could fasten his coat to the rim. This way the man and the boat could be one water proof unit. The kayak’s paddle is a long stick which has a paddle on each side. The umiak is a larger and more open boat.  It is covered with animal skins. It was made to carry large loads: an entire family or a two-ton load of blubber. The normal length of a amok was feet. But for its size it was quite light, light enough for two men to carry.  The best known transportation was the dogsled. The dogsled has a light but sturdy frame on runners with reins. The reins are hitched up to six or so huskies.

28 Inuit Food The Inuit people hunt for their food.  They eat primarily fish, seals, walrus, caribou and polar bears. The Inuit people hunt seals during winter through the frozen ocean ice.  Seals are mammals and must breathe. Seals scratch a holes through the ice as it begins to freeze.  Seals come back to these holes for air. The Inuit hunter stood with a poised harpoon over these breathing holes, waiting for the seal to surface. Often the hunter had to stand this way for several hours in the bitter cold. 

29 Settling the West Coast
Life on the west coast was much easier for settlers. Due to the milder climate and rich food sources the Pacific Northwest was the most heavily populated regions north of Mesoamerica. California for example was home for about 500 early American cultures.

30 Iroquois League Settlers in the eastern woodlands set up confederations or governments that link several groups. These Native Americans formed the Iroquois League made up of the Onondaga, Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, and Cayuga tribes. The tribes united to make peace with one another and to unite against other peoples from the woodlands.

31 Christopher Columbus In 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail from western Europe trying to find a path to East Asia without having to deal with the Muslim kingdoms of Africa. He sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Hispaniola which is present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic. Columbus took gold, spices and natives back to Spain. The next year he returned to America. He brought with him conquistadors or soldier-explorers to enslave the Taino people who lived in America. The Spanish claimed Taino lands and within 100 years the entire Taino population had been destroyed.

32 Cortes Invades Mexico Other Europeans looked to match the success of Columbus. Among them was Hernan Cortes. Hernan Cortes served as governor of Hispaniola and then went to Cuba. He then set out for Mexico, the land of the Aztecs. In February 1519, He landed in Mexico along with 600 men in the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mayan territory. There, he met Jeronimo de Aguilar, a Spaniard who had survived from a shipwreck and joined the troops. Jeronimo de Aguilar, a Franciscan priest, had learnt Maya during his captivity, and could thus translate for Cortés.

33 Cotes Invades Mexico In March 1519, Cortés formally claimed the land for the Spanish crown. He then won a battle against the Natives of Tabasco, during which he received from the vanquished twenty young indigenous women, among whom was La Malinche, his future mistress, who knew both the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and the Mayan language, thus enabling Hernán Cortés to communicate in both. Malinche and Aguilar taught Cortes about the Aztec Empire and how the people resented the rule of the Aztec ruler Montezuma. They helped Cortes form alliances with the Aztec people.

34 Legend of Quetzalcoatl
Cortes was able to get within reach of Tenochtitlan because the Aztecs believed a light skinned god named Quetzalcoatl left long ago vowing to return to reclaim his land. They looked forward to his return. Montezuma feared Cortes might be the long lost god returning to Tenochtitilan. By the time Montezuma prepared for attack it was too late. Cortes attacked first killing 6,000 Aztecs and capturing Tenochtitlan. Montezuma was later killed in an uprising that kicked the Spanish out of Tenochtitlan.

35 Spanish Diseases Wipe Out the Aztecs
The Spanish would be back soon. Besides weapons and horses Cortes and the Spaniards brought diseases such as measles and smallpox that killed more Aztecs than the Spanish army did. Weakened by disease the Aztec fell to the Spanish in June 1521.

36 Pizarro Invades The Inca
In the 1500s Francisco Pizarro heard of a golden empire in South America. He found what he was looking for in the mountains of present-day Peru. In 1532 messengers of Francisco Pizarro invited the Inca king Atahualpa to a meeting. Pizarro only had an army of 160 men so Atahualpa came to the meeting with 5,000 unarmed men. He thought they were there to talk. At the meeting Pizarro demanded the Inca king convert to Christianity. Atahualpa threw the Bible down because he had never seen a book before. Pizarro used it as the reason to attack. Pizarro’s men killed 2,000 Inca and captured Atahualpa.

37 Pizarro Takes Peru Atahualpa tried to buy his freedom by offering a jail cell full of gold. Pizarro agreed to the deal but once the gold was delivered he turned his back on the deal and instead charged Atahualpa with rebellion, worshipping false gods and having too many wives. Atahualpa was found guilty and sentenced to death. Pizarro became the governor of Peru.


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