AP World History Notes

Chapter 6: Early Societies In The Americas And Oceania

  • Mayan people performed bloodletting as a religious and political act.

    • According to Mayan priests, the world had been started by the blood of the gods, and it would please them and ensure bountiful harvests.

  • Human migrations to the Americans and Oceania took place after humans established the eastern part of the world, but before the dawn of agriculture.

    • These migrations took place during ice ages when glaciers locked up up the world's water supply, and they crossed the temporary land bridges that linked the continents.

      • One bridge linked Siberia with Alaska.

      • Another joined Australia with New Guinea.

      • Low sea levels exposed the land that connected Sumatra, Java, and other Indonesian islands.

  • After the ice age, the water levels rose again, and once again America and Asia were seperated by the Bering Strait.

  • Around 3000 BCE, coastal people of southest asia bulit large sailing canoes, and established human life on the islands of the pacific ocean.

  • By 700 CE, humans had established life in almost every habitable part of the world.

  • The first large wave of migration from Siberia to Alaska probably took place about 13,000 BCE

    • Some evidence indicates small groups of humans may have migrated to Alaska around 15000 BCE.

  • By 9500 they had reached the southernmost part of South America, more than 17000 (10, 566 miles) from the Bering Strait.

  • By 8000 to 7000 BCE, the people os Mesoamerica - the region from the central portion of modern Mexic to Honduras, and El Salvador - began to expirment with the cultivation of beans, chili peppers, avocados, squashes, and gourds

    • By 4000 BCE, they discovered maize, which soon became a staple food.

    • Later, they added tomatos

  • Agricultural villages appeared soon after 3000 BCE, and by 2000 BCE, agriculture spread all through Mesoamerica.

  • Mesoamericans domesticated turkeys and small, barkless dogs. Which they ate.

  • Human laborers prepared fields for cultivation and human porters carried trade goods on their backs, as they were unable to domesticate animals to do these things for them.

    • They had no use for wheeled carts, as they had no animals to pull them.

  • Towards the end of 2000 BCE, ceremonial centers with monumental pyramids, temles, and palacea arose alongside agricultural villages.

    • Priests and elites lived in these, as well as a few artistans to satisfy their needs.

    • People visited these places for ceremonies or markets, but most returned home afterward.

  • The earliest ceremonial center was located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, near the modern city of Veracruz.

    • This place served as the operating center for the first complex society of the Americas, the Olmecs.

  • The Olmecs started the first complex society in the Americas.

  • Historians have only studied the Olmec society since the 1940's. 

  • Olmec means "the rubber people" and it derives from the rubber trees that flourish in the region they inhabit.

  • Olmec cultural traditions influence all other Mesoamerican complex societies, until the arrival of Europeans in the 1600's.

  • The first Olmec ceremonial center arose around 1200 BCE, in the town of San Lorenzo, and it was their capital for four hundred years.

    • Eventually, leadership passed on to the new ceremonial centers at La Venta (800-400 BCE) and Tres Lapotes (400 - 100 BCE).

  • As there was heavy rainfall in that area, Olmec people didn't need to build irrigation systems. They, like the Harappans, build elaborate drainage systems to prevent flooding, some of which are still in use today.

  • The Olmec society was authoritarian in nature.

    • It took thousands of people to construct their ceremonial centers, all of which featured temples, pyramids, alters, stone sculptures, and tombs for rulers.

    • Common people delivered a portion of their harvests to sustain the ruling class.

    • Common subject regularly labored for the elite class, building elaborate drainage systems, and alters, but also improving the artistic decoration of the capitals.

      • The most distinctive of Olmec artistic creationsn were t he large human heads -- possibly in the likeness of their rulers -- that stand 3 meters (almost ten feet) tall, and weigh twenty tons.
        The largest of these sculptures would have required one thousand laborers.

    • Construction of the Le Venta pyramid required some eight hundred thousand man-days of labor.

  • Olmec influence extended to much of the central and southern regions of modern Mexico, and beyond that into Guatemala and El Salvador.

    • Olmec influence was spread by military force.

  • Puzzlingly, Olmecs systematically destoryed their own ceremonial centers.

  • by 400 BCE, the Olmec society had fallen.

  • The oldest of Olmec heirs were the Mayans, who's society occupied southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

    • Permanent villages began to appear in 300 BCE.

  • Kaminaljuya, located near mondern Guatamala city, was the most prominent of Mayan villages. Some 12,000-15,000 people worked to build it's temples.

    • During 400 CE,  it feell under econimic and political dominence of a larger city, Teotihuacan.

  • Mayan cultivators raised cacao, corn, cotton.

  • from 300 - 900 CE, Maya built more than eighty large ceremonail centers in l owlands.
  • Tikal was the most important Mayan political center between 600-800 CE. The Temple of the Giant Jaguar was about 47 meters (157 feet) high.

    • Palenque and Chichen Itza were also sizable states.
  • Mayan kingdoms fought amongst themselves constantly.

    • The purpose of Mayan battles was not to kill enemies, but to capture them in hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield.
    • Most captives became sacrifices to the gods or died as slaves.
  • 900 CE -- Chichen Itza (located in the northern Yucatan peninsula) sought to establish a larger political framework.

    • Chichen Itza assimilated their captives into their own society.
  • Between 900 - 1100 CE -- Chichen Itza established a loose empire.
  • By 800 CE, many Maya people deserted their cities. Chichen Itza was the only society that continued to flourish.

    • reasons for decline: internal dissension and civil war, failure of the system of water control deading to diminished harvests and demographic collapse, ecological problems caused by deforestation, the spread of disease, and natural disasters.
  • Maya had a large ruling class of priests who maintained an elaborate calander and transmitted knowledge of writing, astronomy, and math.

    • Heredity nobility owned most of the land.
  • Mayans had several distinct classes:

    • Priests and ruling elites.
    • Professional architects and sculptors (oversaw the building of larger monuments)
    • Artisans. (produced cotten, tools, and textiles)
    • Slaves and peasants (physical labor)
  • Mayans calculated the solar year at 365.242 days -- a scant seventeen seconds less than modern scientists have calculated.

    • Invented the concept of zero.
  • The Mayan calender interwove two kinds of a year:

    • a solar year of 365 days governed  by the agricultural cycle.
    • a ritual year of 260 days governed by daily affairs by organizing time into 20 "months" of thirteen days each.
  • It took 52 years for both of the calanders to work through all their possible combinations and to return to their respective starting points.

    • 18,980 combinations were possible.
  • Mayan writing was only beginging to be deciphered in the 60's.
  • When the Spanish arrived in the 1600's, they destroyed all books and written materials.

    • Only for original Mayan book survive.
  • The Popol Vuh, a Maya creation myth taught that gods had created humans out of maize and water.
  • Before sacrificing people to the gods, victims were lacerated or had the ends of their fingers cut off so as to allowe the copious flow of blood.
  • The Maya people played a ball came in which either two men or teams of two to four men were pitted against each other. The object was for players to score points by propelling a rubber ball through a ring or onto a marker without using their hands.

    • High-ranking captives often engaged in forced public competition in which the stakes were their lives.
  • Teotihuacan was the largest agricultural village by 500 BCE. It expanded rapidly after 200 BCE, and at the end of the millenium it's population reached fifty thousand.
  • By 100 CE, the most promient landmarks -- the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon -- dominated the skyline.

    • At it's high point: 400 -600 CE, it was home to almost 200,000 people.
    • Paintings and murals suggest it was a theocracy.
  • Apart from priests and rulers, Teotihuacans's population included cultivators, artisans, and merchants.

    • Perhaps as many as 2/3 of the population worked in the fields by day.
    • Aritsans were known for their obsidian tools and orange pottery.

      • They sometimes marketed their goods themselves.
  • There are no signs of military organization in Teotihuacan.
  • They also played the creepy rubber ball game.
  • All of their books were destoryed when the city declined.
  • After 650 CE, they city declined, and during the middle of 800 CE, invaders burned the city to the ground.
  • By 12,000 BCE, hunting and gathering people made their way across the narrow isthmus of Central America and into South America.
  • Beginnig 8000 BCE, the region became warm and dry, and humans had to experiment with agriculture.
  • Early Andean cultivation began about 2500 to 2000 BCE.

    • They cultivated peaunts, beans, sweet potatoes, and cotton.
  • By 1800 BCE, the Andean region had begun to fasion distinctive styles of pottery and to build temples.
  • Around 1000 BCE, a religion called the Chavin cult became enourmously popular (900-800 BCE). There is no information about it, nor does even its name survive.

    • It is named after the modern town Chavin de Huantar.
    • Many large temples and elaborate works of art were accompanied the cult.

      • Devotees produced intricate stone carvings represeinting their deities with the featuers of humand and wild animals such as jaguars, hawks, eagles, and snakes.
    • During the Chavian cult era, Andean society became more complex. Weavers devised ways of producing elaborate textiles, and artisans manufactured large, light strong fishnets from cotton string. Craftsman experimented with minerals, and discovered gold, silver, and copper metallurgy.
  • The Chavin cult did not comtribute to the establishment of public order or states.
  • Andean states emerged when conquerors unified the indicidual valleys and organized them into societies.
  • Andean states used violence to establish and keep order.
  • Andean societies did not use writing.
  • The Mochica state was based in the valley of the Moche River, from about 300 - 700 CE.

    • Mocicha paintings survive on pottery. They depict individuals, deities, and every dayf life.
  • Humans entered New Guinea and Australia at least 60,000 years before the present. They crossed the water via canoes with sails.
  • Beginning 5,000 years ago seafaring people from southeast Asia visited New Guinea for trade. Some setteled there but otheres settled in island groups of the western Pacific Ocean.
  • After the land bridge between Australia and New Guinea was once again covered by land, both lands took a totally different path:

    • The aboriginal people of Australia remained largely a hunting and gathering society, until the Euroean migrants established settler communities there in the nineteen to twenties centuries CE.
    • People in New Guinea turned agriculture beginning 3000 BCE.
  • Aboriginal people lived in small, mobile hunting groups.

    • The bulk of their diet was: fruits, berries, roots, nuts, seeds, shoots, and grean leaves.
    • In Cape York, in nothern Australia, they confumed no fewer than 141 different plants.
    • In central Australia, near Alice Springs, they had 20 species of greens and forty-five kinds of seeds and nuts. They had 124 plants as medicines, ointments, and drugs. They used axes, spears, clubts, nets, lassos, snares, and boomerangs to bring down animals from rats to giant kangaroos and to catch fish, waterfowl, and small birds.
  • The agents of change for New Guinea were seafaring people from southeast Asia, speaking Austronesian languages, whos mondern linguistic relatives include Malayan, Indonesian, Filipino, Polynesian, and other Oceanic languages, as well as the Malagasy lnaguage of Madagascar and tongs spoken by the indiginous peoples of Taiwan and southern China.

    • They first visited New Guinea where they traded with indigenous people and established their own communities.
    • They sailed large canoes equipped with outriggers.
    • When they arrived, they introduced locals to yamjs, taro, pigs and chickens, and soon the indigenous people began to cultivate crops and keep animals.
    • Austronesian-speaking people possessed a sophisticated maritime technologly and well as agricultural experties, and established human settlements in the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
  • By 1500 BCE, Austronesian mariners arrived at Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) and New Caledonia.

    • By 1300 BCE, at Fiji.
    • By 1000 BCE, Tonga and Somoa.
    • They established settlements in Tahiti and the Marquesas.
    • They reached Hawaii in the early century CE, and Easter Island by 300 CE, and the large islands of New Zealand by 700 CE.
  • Austronesians split into two groups -- those migrating to madagascar and those migrating to micronesia.
  • The earliest Austronesian migrants to sail into the Pacific Ocean and establishe settlments in the Pacific islands are known as the Lapita people.

    • What they called themselves unknown -- archaeologists named them after the beach in New Caledonia where their first artifacts are found.
    • Between 1500 and 500 BCE, Lapita people maintained communication with New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelagro to Samoa and Tonga.
    • They settled agricultural societies where they raised pigs and chickend and introduced the suite of crops  they inherited, including yams, breadfruit, banannas, taro.
    • For one thousand years, they maintained extensive networks of trade and communication, and their agricultural societies were mostly self sufficiant.
  • It is likely they traded feathers, food-stuffs, and spouses.

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How to cite this note (MLA)

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Chapter 6: Early Societies In The Americas And Oceania" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 05 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Aug. 2017. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/world-history/outlines/chapter-6-early-societies-in-the/>.
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