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Prompt for the SLOA Essay (10 points)

Please pick a region of the world or a span of time that we covered in the course and which you particularly like. Write an argumentative essay telling

(1) what your preconceptions about this region or this time were before learning some of the course material and

(2) what stands out in the course material that gives you better understanding or relevance to your own life.


write about ( see the file below) and you can any good comment for the curse and its a history course

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CHAPTER 13 ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS OF THE AMERICAS I. GENERAL A. Read “Global Perspective.” Use Focus Questions to direct your reading. B. There are no Review Questions for this Chapter. Instead, you are asked to focus on ten traits of the cultures as explained below. C. In Chapter One, Craig says that the Americas experience similar cultural changes worldwide as the Neolithic begins. Review Chapter One on the Americas to understand this. Then in this chapter, the text says, “Although isolated from one another, the peoples of the Americas, Africa and Eurasia experienced similar cultural changes at the end of the Paleolithic.” This is shown in the Time Charts accompanying the lectures. Drag those Time Charts out! The Americas appear to go through the same eras as the rest of the world (Sacred State, Warrior Period, Empire…). However, in some cases we lack adequate evidence to really show this. II. RECONSTRUCTING THE HISTORY OF NATIVE AMERICAN CIVILIZATION A. We have limited knowledge about Native American civilizations because (note the similarities to the African situation.): 1. Little writing -- Be careful here. The fact that no obvious writing can be found in some cultures does not mean they did not have writing. For instance, there may be symbols that are not recognized as writing. Peru’s quipu, thought to be a counting device, is argued to represent syllables. Also, writing evidence may have been eaten up by the rainforest or buried in sand or ice. 2. Environmental destruction -- Note how much of central and south America is covered by jungle, wetlands, deserts, and mountains, all of which will obliterate human creations. 3. Limited archaeology -- In countries without many resources and overwhelming current problems, money for archaeology is hard to obtain. 4. Prejudice -- Many Westerners have thought the pre-Columbian cultures of the New World were either too undeveloped or too barbaric to teach us anything useful. They also used European categories of thought and European vocabulary to explain what they did find, which did not exactly capture the native reality. (Think like a native!) B. Ten Common Traits in Native American early cultures There are so many ethnically and linguistically diverse cultures and so many traits in Central and South America that you can be overwhelmed with the detail. I think it helps to isolate ten key characteristics that seem to appear in all the cultures which follow below and focus primarily on these ten characteristics. Here I am going to explain the ten traits which you should then look for in the text account of the cultures discussed in lecture. Take notes from the text on each trait that you find and put these notes in the lecture section where I briefly discuss the culture. 1. Blood Debt Sacrifice -- This is one of the more horrific aspects of these cultures for westerners, although it is misunderstood. The native rationale is that the powers of the universe give humans water for crops, and humans therefore should return something equally valuable. In most cases, the return was prisoners of war who were especially notable or brave, or the return was members of their own society who were noble or celebrated. This kind of exchange of human or animal sacrifice in return for sustenance is found in virtually all cultures worldwide at an early stage in their development. Even the Old Testament has this blood debt echoed in the Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to his god. 2. Writing—The text mentions that all pre-Columbian cultures with the current exception of the Inca had writing. However, as noted above, writing may not have survived. Or symbols may not be recognized as writing. 3. Astronomy and Calendar—The evidence of advanced irrigation farming, certain rituals, and their connection to monumental buildings necessarily involves astronomy. No astronomy exists apart from a calendar of some kind. 4. Mother and Father Chief Gods – All the cultures have a malefemale or father-mother set of main deities. Both are connected with blood and water. Both have a destructive and creative aspect. 5. Urban Ceremonial Center—The main cities or city of each culture exhibit a vast central plaza surrounded by the chief temples and related buildings 6. Pyramids—Around this main plaza, pyramids of varying heights and construction are established for the chief deities. Some of these pyramids contain royal burial remains. 7. Underworld—Recently, tunnels and caves symbolizing the afterlife or underworld have been discovered in several of the sites we discuss. Several of the caves have a connections with a jaguar as a statue or part of a ritual. Rituals of rebirth took place in these caves and tunnels. 8. Ballgame—This game involved two teams trying to keep a rubber ball representing the sun from either touching the ground or ending up on the wrong side of the ball court. Either the winning or losing team was sacrificed. This is not understood yet. This sounds strange to us, but it seems that both teams were prisoners of war doomed to be killed anyway. Their winning the ballgame may have guaranteed them a better afterlife. (See text photo.) 9. Elite rule by priest-kings or sacred semi-divine kings and elite trade—The Sacred State phase of native American cultures had priest-kings, as did the other early Sacred States like Egypt and Mesopotamia. The sacred character persists stronger and longer in the Americas than it does elsewhere, though the Empire Periods see the priest-kings acting more like army commanders of empires. 10. Jaguar—This animal is widespread in the Americas and came to be seen as the animal ancestor of the humans there. Thus, the jaguar is often depicted in sacred caves representing the underworld, where the tribe is said to have originated. In the underworld, priests masked as jaguars often took part in the rituals of the king who died. These rituals embraced the king’s living heir who had to undergo frightening initiation ceremonies in the underworld caves and then emerge from the underworld embodying the powers of the jaguar which made him fit to rule. C. The Americas 1. Bering Strait Land Bridge Chapter One tells you about the Bering Strait Land Bridge, supposedly open from c. 40,000 to 10,000 BC, when it is said to have closed due to rising sea levels. However, there are some new theories to consider: The Bering Strait Land Bridge may always have been open to some adventurous folk. Even with higher sea levels, there are islands which allow hopping from one continent to another. Also, it is now argued that humans came by boat along the coastlines. Sites where they might have stopped and settled have been washed away with surging sea levels. Without these new theories, it is hard to explain why some scholars argue that there are signs of people all the way down in southern South American close to 40,000 BC. 2 Sacred State Period in the Americas We now know that the Maya go back to at least 2000 BC, the beginning of what I have termed a Warrior period. Perhaps the earliest Maya sites to be found will show they have a Sacred State phase. We do know that south of the Maya in Peru, a culture called the Aspero existed c. 2500 with some of the characteristics of sacred states. Not enough excavation has been done though. The first real and abundant evidence of early Native American cultures comes with the Warrior Period of c.2000-1000 BC and the Olmecs, c. 1500 BC. This takes us to Mesoamerica. Locate the cultures and sites that follow on the text maps. TAKE A LITTLE BREAK TO REST YOUR MIND AND DIGEST THIS MATERIAL III. MESOAMERICA: THE FORMATIVE PERIOD AND THE EMERGENCE OF MESOAMERICAN CIVILIZATION A. Olmecs 1. Called the “mother culture” of the Americas because it is the earliest with abundant remains which can be compared with other American cultures, the Olmecs were located at San Lorenzo and La Venta and neighboring sites on the eastern coast of Mexico c. 1500. 2. If you go through the text on the Olmecs, you will find evidence of most of the ten traits common to all these cultures: stone carvings of blood sacrifice of prisoners, maybe writing, probably astronomy, since they have the ballgame (remember, it is a ritual involving the sun); mother and father gods connected to water, urban center, pyramids, and underworld depicted in the stone carvings of caves, elite obsidian and jade trade, and the jaguar. This last is important in the most famous of the Olmec artifacts, the giant stone heads. The Olmec geographical location and these dramatic stone heads suggested to many that they were immigrants from Africa. This is not supported by scholarship. Today the accepted explanation is more startling: the heads seem to show stages of a jaguar turning into a man, or a were-jaguar. As the jaguar in the cave is the ancestor of the clan and giver of royal powers, so the chief emerges from his jaguar origins (see text photo). No calendar or writing has been definitely identified, but pyramids and sophisticated agriculture require astronomical advances and a calendar. Besides, the text itself says that “All the pre-Spanish societies of Mesoamerica were literate.” GO TO FILM CLIP OLMEC ART GO TO FILM CLIP THE OLMEC—ANCIENT MEXICO B. The Valley of Oaxaca and the Rise of Monte Alban This site of Monte Alban is separate from the Olmec sites and housed the Mixtec and Zapotec tribes. It is capital of an early Empire c. 500 BC. The ruins indicate frequent warfare and human sacrifice and all the other ten traits, including the all-important mother and father gods. The underworld includes tunnels running under the main plaza. GO TO FILM CLIP MONTEALBAN, OAXACA IV. THE CLASSIC PERIOD IN MESOAMERICA 1. Teotihuacan Right outside Mexico City is a capital of an empire where yet another group lived about the time of the Roman Empire. All ten traits are vividly present in this extensive settlement. Most outstanding are the Temples of the Sun and the Moon (see text photo) and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (see photo) with its sacrificial burials of dozens of young men under it. Much of its power and importance was based on a trade in obsidian, indispensable for weapons. GO TO FILM CLIP TEOTIHUACAN PYRAMIDS 2.. Maya Of the many well-preserved Maya sites, Palenque is a world favorite. All ten traits appear in this mysterious, rain-forest setting with well preserved buildings, from the temples and administration centers, to the royal quarters and ballcourt (See text photos.) The body of one of greatest Mayan rulers, Pacal, was found in a Palenque pyramid with burial goods and a stunning turquoise mask. Since the Maya language has recently been deciphered, we can read their inscriptions and other writings. It is interesting that the Teotihuacanos and Maya show extensive decline by 900 AD. Although scholars still argue over reasons for this collapse, it is consistent with the world-wide decline of the great Classical Empires during c. 500-1000 AD, or what I have called another Warrior Period. GO TO FILM CLIP PALENQUE-MEXICO GO TO FILM CLIP THE TOMB OF A MAYAN KING (PACAL) GO TO FILM CLIP LOST KINDGOMS OF THE MAYA PT. 2 (This is a great series.) V. THE POST CLASSIC PERIOD 1..Toltecs The Toltec sites are not very well preserved, but enough is visible to indicate they were a well-developed warrior culture c. 900 AD and mentors of the Aztec, which deserve a more extensive discussion. The text photo of Tula depicts warrior pillars. 2. Aztecs During the Sacred State period of c. 1000-1300 AD, the Aztec or Mexica tribe apparently wandered from the area of modern north Mexico south towards Lake Texcoco, where Mexico City stands today. (See photos and map). During this wandering the Aztec developed a fairly brutal ideology and practice which all the world knows as cutting out the heart of a living victim and offering it to the sun god in return for prosperity. (See Document.) By 1300- 1500, from their capital at Tenochtitlan, the Aztec has subdued the other tribes in the region around the lake and were moving into the land of the Maya and other cultures, that is, they were developing an empire (See map). Isn’t it remarkable that we actually know the name of the ruler who devised imperial Aztec practices, including cannibal feasts of the sacrificed prisoners. The vast array of wealth extracted from conquered regions found its way to all the Aztec markets and greatly enriched the elite and encouraged their arrogance and cruelty. This is a preeminent war culture, with a strict code of honor, discipline, and a military code of ethics, whose scale and brutality is nevertheless debated vigorously today. GO TO FILM CLIP ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE—THE AZTECS PART 1 GO TO THE AZTECS PART 2 VI. ANDEAN SOUTH AMERICA: THE PRECERAMIC AND INITIAL PERIODS I will skip this part but make one important point: If you check out the Aspero, c. 2500 BC in Peru, you will find that there are ceremonial mounds (pyramids) and urban plazas with public buildings. We just have not excavated enough to term it a Sacred State, which is no doubt was. VII. EARLY INTERMEDIATE, MIDDLE HORIZON, AND LATER INTERMEDIATE PERIOD I will just discuss the Moche. One of the richest sites ever to be excavated in the new world is the pre-Inca Moche settlement of Sipan (see map) which was prominent c. 500 AD, the time of Teotihuacan and Palenque Maya. (See photo.) Like those other two, Sipan dominated an empire and practiced human sacrifice near its pyramids of Sun and Moon (like Teotihuacan). Of our ten traits, Sipan so far has revealed all except the ball court. GO TO FILM CLIP LORD OF SIPAN VIII. THE INCA EMPIRE The Inca did not create a new culture; they absorbed the existing cultures in western South America from Chile to Bolivia and unified all these diverse peoples them into a mighty empire c. 1300-1500 AD, the same time as the Aztec were forming their own empire (See map). The Inca are renowned for their roads and bridges which knitted the empire together and allowed taxes in labor rather than goods. Their “highways” crossed spectacular landscapes, such as Machu Picchu (see photo). Such an administrative marvel could hardly have been achieved without writing, and yet no writing has been identified. Perhaps the quipu was a counting device as well as an alphabet or syllabary. The text notes the importance of Incan weaving and textiles, where cloth and clothing were a language in itself for art, ritual, and communication GO TO FILM CLIP AN EMPIRE THE INCA CODES, RISE AND FALL OF GO TO FILM CLIP DOCUMENTARY ON THE PRE-INCA CIVILIZATIONS GO TO FILM CLIP CUZCO, ANCIENT CAPITAL OF THE INCA EMPIRE ...
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Hadizza8690
School: University of Maryland

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Ancient Civilization of Native Americans

My preconceptions about the ancient Americans is that the Red Indians were the
dominant tribe that started the American Civilization. When a person mentioned about the
ancient Native Americans all that could come to my thoughts was the red Indians and how they
ate human...

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Anonymous
Tutor went the extra mile to help me with this essay. Citations were a bit shaky but I appreciated how well he handled APA styles and how ok he was to change them even though I didnt specify. Got a B+ which is believable and acceptable.

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