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HIST101: Ancient Civilizations of the World

Unit 8: Peoples of the Americas   Civilizations in the Americas emerged separately from other major civilizations in the world.  The indigenous people of the Americas are believed to have been immigrants from Asia, who crossed over to America during the Ice Age, approximately 20,000 years ago.  These new immigrants quickly spread throughout the Americas, in small and culturally distinct groups.  The development of agriculture in the Americas five thousand years ago led to the flourish of new culturally advanced societies and innovations.  Pre-Columbian American civilizations, such as the Mayas, Aztecs, Incas, and Olmecs were socially stratified and technologically advanced.

In this unit, we will see that civilizations developed in two main regions of the Americas: Mesoamerica and the Peruvian highlands.  In fact, we will see that the entire area that stretched from central Mexico to Chile formed a continuous chain of developing civilizations. 

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 6 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Unit 8 Assessment: 0.5 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Identify the major Pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas. - Describe the relationship between geographical features and developments of early civilizations in the American continent. - Compare and contrast the different political, social, and religious characteristics of particularly the Mesoamerican and Peruvian civilizations.

8.1 Origins of American Societies   - Reading: Selections from Jack E. Maxfield’s A Comprehensive Outline of World History: “The Americas” Link: Jack E. Maxfield’s A Comprehensive Outline of World History: “The Americas” “America: Beginning to 8000 B.C.”, “America: 8000 to 5000 B.C.”, “America: 5000 to 3000 B.C.”, “America: 3000 to 1500 B.C.” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of all four sections in order to get a sense of the evolution and character of the early native tribes of the Americas.  PDF and EPUB downloads are available at the bottom of the page.
 
About the Link: This online text was developed by Jack E. Maxfield for use in World History courses and is now part of the Community College Open Textbook initiative.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: History World’s “History of Mesoamerican Civilization” Link: History World’s “History of Mesoamerican Civilization” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this entire two-page article for an overview of the earliest civilizations that emerged in Mesoamerica.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.1.1 Early Developments in Mesoamerica   8.1.2 Early Development in the Andes   - Reading: Sam Houston State University: William H. Prescott’s “View of the Civilization of the Incas” Links: Sam Houston State University: William H. Prescott’s “View of the Civilization of the Incas” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this page in its entirety for an overview of the early civilizations in the Andes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

8.2 Spread of Civilization in Mesoamerica   - Reading: Connexions: Jack E. Maxfield’s “A Comprehensive Outline of World History: America: 5000 – 3000 BC” Link: Connexions: Jack E. Maxfield’s “A Comprehensive Outline of World History: America: 5000 – 3000 BC” (PDF) 

 Instructions: Please read these select sections of Jack E.
Maxfield’s text to learn about the introduction of agriculture to
these areas.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution 2.0 Generic
license](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). It is
attributed to Jack E. Maxfield and the original version can be found
[here](http://cnx.org/content/m17782/latest/).

8.2.1 The Olmecs   - Reading: Connexions: Jack E. Maxfield’s “A Comprehensive Outline of World History: America: 1500 – 1000 BC” Link: Connexions: Jack E. Maxfield’s “A Comprehensive Outline of World History: America: 1500 – 1000 BC” (PDF)

 nstructions: Please read this select section to learn about the
ancient Olmecs.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution 2.0 Generic
license](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). It is
attributed to Jack E. Maxfield and the original version can be found
[here](http://cnx.org/content/m17780/latest/).

8.2.2 Teotihuacán and the Mayas   - Reading: Jack E. Maxfield’s “The Rise and Fall of the Civilizations of Teotihuacán and the Mayas” Link: Jack E. Maxfield’s “The Rise and Fall of the Civilizations of Teotihuacán and the Mayas” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read this article which will chronicle the rise and
fall of the civilizations of Teotihuacán and the Mayas.  

 Terms of Use: This resource was adopted from Jack E. Maxfield’s “A
Comprehensive Outline of World History,” originally published by
Connexions. It is licensed under a [Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Generic license](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) and
the original version can be found
[here](http://cnx.org/content/col10597/1.2).

8.2.3 The Toltecs   - Reading: Dartmouth College: Professor Vincent H. Malmström’s “Chapter 10: Dawn in the Desert: The Rise of the Toltecs” Link: Dartmouth College: Professor Vincent H. Malmström’s “Chapter 10: Dawn in the Desert: The Rise of the Toltecs” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read this text in its entirety in order to get
an understanding of the Toltecs, the cultural predecessors of the
Aztecs.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Toltecs” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Toltecs” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entirety of the above linked page.

8.2.4 The Mayas   Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 8.2.  Focus specifically on the fifth paragraph.

8.3 Cultures of South America   8.3.1 The Chavin   - Reading: James Q. Jacobs’s “Understanding Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization” Link: James Q. Jacobs’s Understanding Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article, which questions scholars’ traditional interpretation of Chavin culture.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.3.2 The Tiahuanaco   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Tiahuanaco Culture” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Tiahuanaco Culture” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the above linked page.

  • Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: The Global Experience: “Chapter 8, Multiple Choice Quiz” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

    Submit Materials