History of the Americas

From Academic Kids

European colonization
of the Americas
History of the Americas
British colonization
Courland colonization
Danish colonization
Dutch colonization
French colonization
German colonization
Portuguese colonization
Russian colonization
Scottish colonization
Spanish colonization
Swedish colonization
Norwegian colonization

The history of the Americas is the collective history of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. It begins with people migrating to these areas from Asia and possibly Oceania during the height of an Ice Age to later have little or no contact with the "Old World".

Ancestors of today's Native Americans were hunter-gatherer peoples migrating into North America via the Bering Land Bridge. The Paleo Indian peoples probably followed the mammoth and other creatures which they hunted. They may also have wandered into North America even without a land bridge because the water was frozen. Later during this continents history numerous civilizations where established, just like in the old world but later, such as the Cahokia, Zapotec, Toltecs, Olmec, Aztecs, and the Inca after living a primitive way of life several thousands of years. Culture was inherited from the first imigrants which later evolved and spawned such cultures as Iroquois on North America and Pirha of South America.


Migration into the continents

When the migration started is subject to much debate. In theory it could have taken place as early as 40,000 BCE, and recent archeological finds suggest multiple waves of migration. All theories agree that the Inuit arrived separately and much later, probably around the 6th century, moving across the glaciers from Siberia into Canada.

The North American continent is widely believed to have been the first continent where migration took place, by Asian nomads who crossed the Bering Land Bridge. The earliest acceted date are those of Clovis culture sites from some 13,500 years ago. Older dates of sites occupied up to 20,000 years ago are not widely accepted although they agree with recent DNA evidence. By 10,000 BCE, humans are thought to have reached Cape Horn, at the southern tip of South America. Artifacts have been found in both North and South America which have been dated to about 10,000 BC. [1] (http://www.cyberwest.com/cw09/v9scwst1.html) [2] (http://www.nps.gov/bela/html/history.htm)

Before advanced civilizations

After the migration or migrations, it was several thousand years before the first complex civilizations arose, emerging at earliest 5000 BC. They were hunter-gatherers and even with the emergence of advanced civilizations, most of the continent's area was still inhabited by such societies until the 18th century. Hunter gatherer societies were quickly displaced with only a few in South America surviving into the 21st century. Numerous archaeological cultures can be identified with some of the classifications including Early Paleo-Indian Period, Late Paleo-Indian Period, Archaic Period, Early Woodland Period, Middle Woodland Period and Late Woodland Period.


Civilizations were started long after migration. Several large, centralized civilizations developed in the Western Hemisphere (e.g., the Chavń in the Andes, the Aztecs and the Maya in Central America). The capital of the Cahokians, Cahokia - located near modern East St. Louis, Illinois may have reached a population of over 20,000. At its peak, between the 12th and 13th centuries Cahokia was the most populous city in North America. Monk's Mound, the major ceremonial center of Cahokia, remains the largest earthen construction of the prehistoric New World. Far larger cities where built by the Maya and Aztecs. Cities of the Aztecs and Incas were as large as the largest in the Old World, with estimates of 300,000 in Tenochtitlan. The market established there was the largest ever seen by the conquistadors when they arrived.

These civilizations developed agriculture as well, breeding maize (corn) from having ears 2-5 cm in length to perhaps 10-15 cm in length. Potatoes, tomatos, pumpkins and avocados are other plants grown by Natives. They did not develop extensive livestock as there were few suitable species; however the guinea pig was raised for meat in the Andes. By the 15th century AD, maize had been transmitted from Mexico and was being farmed in the Mississippi River Valley, but further developments were cut short by the arrival of Europeans. Potatoes were utilized by the Inca and chocolate by the Aztec.

North America

Pueblo Indians

//Needs to be written


//Needs to be written



The Zapotec emerged around 1500 years BC. Their writing system influenced the later Olmec. They left behind the great city Monte Alban.


The Olmec civilization emerged around 1200BC in Mesoamerica and ended 400BC but left enough art and concepts to surrounding neigbours for them to build civilizations of their own. This civilization was the first in America to develop a writing system. After the Olmecs abandoned their cities for unknown reasons, the Maya, Zapotec and Teotihuacan took over.


The Maya supplanted the Olmecs and their history spanned 3000 years, Their civilization may have collapsed due to changing climate in the end of the 10th century.


10th - 12th century AD

The Toltec were a militaristic nomadic people whose language was spoken by the Aztecs as well.


4th century BC - 7-8th century AD

Teotihuacan was a city, and an empire of the same name, which, at its zenith (150 AD - 5th Century AD, covered most of Mesoamerica.


The Aztec having started to build their empire around 14th century found their civilization abruptly ended by the Spanish conquistadors.

South America


The Chavn established a trade network and developed agriculture by as early as (or late compared to the Old World) 900BC according to some estimates and archeological finds. Artifacts were found at a site called Chavn in modern Peru at an elevation of 3177 meters. Chavn civilization spanned from 900BC to 300BC.


Holding their capital at the great city of Cusco, the Inca civilization dominated the Andes region from 1438 CE to 1533 CE. Known as Tahuantinsuyu, or "the land of the four regions," in Quechua, the Inca culture was highly distinct and developed. Cities were built with precise, unmatched stonework, constructed over many levels of mountain terrain. Terrace farming was a useful form a of agriculture. There is evidence of excellent metalwork and even successful brain surgery in Inca civilization.

European discovery and following colonization

Thousands of years after the Indians arrived, the continent was rediscovered by Europeans. Initially the Vikings established a short-lived settlement in Newfoundland. Theories exist about other Old World discoveries of the east coast (or of the west coast by the Chinese), but none of these are considered proven. It was the later voyage of Christopher Columbus that led to extensive European colonization of the Americas and the marginalization of its inhabitants.

The mass death of Native Americans from slavery, disease and war led to severe changes in the population and ethnic identity of America's inhabitants. The slave labor of Americans killed by European incursions was replaced by that of sub - Saharan African peoples through the slave trade. Native populations became increasingly minor as the European and African slave populations grew rapidly. The dominance of white peoples continued through the period of widespread independence from European rule, begun in the late 18th century by the United States.

See also

eo:Historio de Ameriko fa:تاریخ آمریکای باستان ko:아메리카의 역사


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools