AMERICAN PAGEANT - CHAPTER 1 - Chapter One: New World...

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Chapter One: New World Beginnings (33,000 BC – AD 1769) Planetary Perspectives Several billion years ago, the Earth formed. Six thousand years ago, recorded history of humans began. Five hundred years ago, Europeans stumbled onto the Americas. American Republic was uniquely favored: o Started from scratch on a vast and virgin continent. o Scarcely populated by natives who were very few and scattered. o Huge, fertile. The Shaping of North America 225 million years ago, a single super-continent contained all of Earth's dry land. Began to drift away. 10 million years ago, North America was pretty much as it is now. 2 million years ago, the Great Ice Age greatly transformed the geology and geography of North America. Thick sheets of ice as thick as two miles poured from the polar regions to blanket the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Glaciers scoured mountain ranges, scraped away topsoil, and when they melted, formed lakes in the depressions they had carved. Glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago. In the east, glaciers carved the Great Lakes. In the west, glaciers created massive Lake Bonneville, which sprawled across the Great Basin covering present-day Utah, Nevada, and Idaho. When the glaciers retreated, it was deprived of inflow as well as drainage and it became an evaporating, increasingly saline, inland sea. All that's left of it today is the Great Salt Lake, and Lake Bonneville's ancient beaches are visible on mountainsides up to 1000 feet above the dry floor of the Great Basin. The First Discoverers of America When the water froze into ice during the ice ages, the sea level was lowered, exposing more land and creating a land bridge between Alaska and Asia. Probably following herds of game, nomadic hunters crossed the bridge into the Americas. But nature soon halted the ice ages and the path was cut off. As the ice melted, they could make their way eastward and southward and they soon populated the Americas – developing their own cultures, languages, and ways of life. By 1492, when Columbus discovered the Americas, perhaps 72 million people lived in the Americas. Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas built stunningly advanced civilizations. They built elaborate cities and made accurate astronomical observations. The Earliest Americans Agriculture, especially corn, accounted for the size and sophistication of the civilizations in Mexico and South America. Corn began to transform hunting bands into settled agricultural villages. The timing of the arrival of corn explains the different rates of development among Native Americans. Mississippians and Mound Builders had also created large settlements,
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2010 for the course AMER HIST 45213 taught by Professor Platt during the Spring '10 term at Berkeley.

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AMERICAN PAGEANT - CHAPTER 1 - Chapter One: New World...

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