65. Coming to America

65 DAYS.  1,560 HOURS. 93,600 MINUTES. 

So, the MAIN civilizations to know in this period are the Mediterranean, Chinese, and Indian.  But, besides the Persians, they also want you to know about the Classical Americans.  The Americans you're thinking of (Incans and Aztecs) are both in the next era.  So, this is more of a foundational look at the American civilizations...

The Americans are descendants of those who crossed the Ice Bridge from Asia to America via Alaska 20,000 years ago (Side Note: Recent studies suggest all of the Native Americans are descendants of only 70 of these people! 70!… Anyway…)  Not just people migrated.  Horses and camel-like creatures too; but, they went extinct.

When the AP asks you to know the “Classical American Civilization”, they’re really asking you to look at the ancestor states of the much larger Inca and Aztec civilizations.  For the Inca, that means the Moche people.  For the Aztecs, that means Teotihuacan & the Mayans.

Moche:  The Moche are probably most famous for leaving behind the trap that almost got Indiana Jones (the giant rolling ball after he picked up that gold head?).  But, they existed during the second half of this era (100 BCE-750 CE).  They were farmers with pyramids, temples, pottery, etc.  We don’t know too much about them (City-States? or Empire?).  These people may have invented the famous Quipu knot tying record system later used by the Inca.  My favorite Moche fact? They had a Spider God named the Decapitator.  So, they’re probably pretty warlike.

Teotihuacan: Located just 30 miles east of Mexico City today, Teotihuacan is often confused with Tenochtitlan.  Don’t confuse them.  They’re separated by 30 miles and 600 years.  It was located near an obsidian (volcanic rock) mine and they used the rock to create everything from tools to weapons.  Built on a grid, it was surrounded by Meso-America’s best farmland.  It had all of the American-style temples and pyramids one tends to associate with this time period.  Think of this as the prequel to Tenochtitlan.  

Mayans: The book we use in my AP World class doesn’t give much love to the Mayans.  I’m not sure why.  They were the first civilization to use chocolate!  I mean… Chocolate! Anyway, they were located all around the Yucatan Peninsula (Seen in yellow here). It was a collection of large city states (Largest- Tikal with 100,000 people).  They were polytheistic and practiced human sacrifice (not Aztec level human sacrifice, but human sacrifice nonetheless).  They are also famous for the Ball game.  How do you play the ball game?  Watch these guys.  They had huge pyramids and a system of hieroglyphics.  

Tomorrow, we head to China!

CLICK HERE for a page devoted to the Classical Americans.

Posted on March 8, 2016 .