The Peoples and Civilizations of the Americas
Civilizations developed independently in the Americas, but there were parallels with the early civilizations
of Asia and North Africa.
American civilizations had a separate chronology and unfolded in terms of their
Their evolution must not be judged in criteria drawn from Western standards of
evaluation which stress aspects, such as writing and technology level.
American civilizations possessed
simpler material cultures, yet they created and ruled large empires, built monumental structures, and
domesticated vital food crops.
Origins of American Societies.
The Americas were peopled by migrants from northern Asia crossing a
land bridge existing during the last Ice Age (20,000 B.C.E.).
By 10,000 B.C.E. warmer temperatures
caused a rise in ocean level and submerged the connection.
The last migrants probably came in boats or
across the polar ice.
The Ancient Hunters.
The migrations occurred from 20,000 to 8000 B.C.E.
Although the first definite
archaeological findings date only from 9500 B.C.E., some scholars suggest humans might have been
present from 40,000 B.C.E.
The early hunters, using stone technology, spread gradually through the
Climatic change, bringing warmer and drier weather, diminished the existing great mammal
herds of Asian origin.
The hunting skills of the Americans may have contributed to the disappearance.
The early hunters, held together by kinship ties, lived in small bands.
There was little specialization or
social hierarchy; member's roles were determined by age and gender.
Many differing peoples came from Asia during the millennia of migrations.
type analysis indicates that many arrived before the creation of the present genetic makeup of Asian
The genetic and physical similarity between American Indians is strong and some studies of
DNA have led to still-debated speculation that all derived from a single Asian group.
Adaptations to local
environments produced variations, including a diversity of languages, among early Americans.
The Question of Outside Contacts.
Possible contact with the Americas across the Atlantic or Pacific
oceans still is debated.
Although Asian art styles and plants are present, there is no firm evidence of
No Old World object has been identified.
Biological and archaeological evidence indicate
an independent invention of American cultures.
Any possible Old World contacts were not important.
The isolation had negative aspects because technological development, not including the wheel, plow, or
iron implements, placed Americans at a disadvantage against later invaders.
The lack of large mammals
limited diet, transportation, and power.
The Americans, tragically, did not have immunities to Old World
The Archaic Cultures.