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.
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.
Mayan kingdoms fought amongst themselves constantly.
900 CE -- Chichen Itza (located in the northern Yucatan peninsula) sought to establish a larger political framework.
By 800 CE, many Maya people deserted their cities. Chichen Itza was the only society that continued to flourish.
Maya had a large ruling class of priests who maintained an elaborate calander and transmitted knowledge of writing, astronomy, and math.
Mayans had several distinct classes:
Mayans calculated the solar year at 365.242 days -- a scant seventeen seconds less than modern scientists have calculated.
The Mayan calender interwove two kinds of a year:
It took 52 years for both of the calanders to work through all their possible combinations and to return to their respective starting points.
When the Spanish arrived in the 1600's, they destroyed all books and written materials.
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.
By 100 CE, the most promient landmarks -- the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon -- dominated the skyline.
Apart from priests and rulers, Teotihuacans's population included cultivators, artisans, and merchants.
Aritsans were known for their obsidian tools and orange pottery.
Early Andean cultivation began about 2500 to 2000 BCE.
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.
Many large temples and elaborate works of art were accompanied the cult.
The Mochica state was based in the valley of the Moche River, from about 300 - 700 CE.
After the land bridge between Australia and New Guinea was once again covered by land, both lands took a totally different path:
Aboriginal people lived in small, mobile hunting groups.
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.
By 1500 BCE, Austronesian mariners arrived at Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) and New Caledonia.
The earliest Austronesian migrants to sail into the Pacific Ocean and establishe settlments in the Pacific islands are known as the Lapita people.
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