New World Beginnings

New World Beginnings - New World Beginnings I. The Shaping...

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New World Beginnings I. The Shaping of North America a. Continents Form i. 225 million years ago, a single supercontinent contained all the world’s dry land ii. Enormous chunks of terrain began to drift away from this supercontinent. This had the following results: 1. Opened the Atlantic and Indian Oceans 2. Narrowed the Pacific Ocean 3. Formed the landmasses of Eurasia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica, and the Americas iii. The existence of a single original continent has been proved in part by the discovery of nearly identical species of fish that swim today in the long-separated freshwater lakes of the various continents b. Mountain Ranges i. Shifting and folding of the earth’s crust thrust up mountain ranges 1. 350 million years ago – Appalachians 2. 135-25 million years ago – Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Cascades c. Ice Age i. Occurred 2 million years ago ii. Ice sheets crept from the polar regions to blanket parts of Europe, Asia, and the Americas iii. In North America, the glaciers covered most of present-day Canada and the U.S. as far southward as Pennsylvania, Ohio, the Dakotas, and the Pacific Northwest iv. When the glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago, they left the North American landscape much as we know it today 1. Melting glaciers formed the Great Lakes 2. They drained southward through the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico 3. Melting glaciers left the Great Salt Lake II. Peopling the Americas a. Bering Land Bridge i. As the Ice Age was ending and the sea level dropped, it exposed a land bridge connecting Eurasia with North America in the area of the present-day Bering Sea between Siberia and Alaska ii. Across that bridge, probably following migratory herds of game, ventured small bands of nomadic Asian hunters b. Spreading Out and Surviving i. The original Americans eventually reached the far tip of South America
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ii. By 1492, as many as 54 million people lived in the Americas iii. Over 2,000 separate cultures arose 1. Peru – Incas 2. Central America – Mayans 3. Mexico – Aztecs iv. Main crop was maize (corn) v. Didn’t have horses, oxen, or even the wheel, but still managed to build large cities III. The Earliest Americans a. Corn i. Corn spread across the Americas from Mexico ii. Corn began to transform nomadic hunting bands into settled agricultural villagers 1. The Pueblo (means village) people in the Rio Grande valley constructed intricate irrigation systems to water their cornfields b. Population and the Complexity of Society i. Throughout the continent to the north and east of the land of the Pueblos, social life was less elaborately developed ii. No dense concentrations of population or complex nation-states comparable to the Aztec empire existed in North America outside of Mexico iii. This was one reason for the relative ease with which the European colonizers subdued the native Americans iv. The Mound Builders of the Ohio River valley, the Mississippian culture of the lower Midwest, and the desert-dwelling
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This note was uploaded on 02/04/2012 for the course HISTORY 104 taught by Professor Reed during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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New World Beginnings - New World Beginnings I. The Shaping...

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