American Civilizations: Early Cultures

There were many developed civilizations in the Americas that predate Columbus’s arrival, some of which have been found to have been active 3,000 years before his arrival. Most of these civilizations were dependent on water-supported agriculture, which grew the following crops: Maize; Beans; Squash; Tomatoes; as well as Peppers. These civilizations knew of the wheel and the use of metals, but did not actively use the technologies associated with these things. Because of the lack of technology among these civilizations, trade was vital for survival. Many of these civilizations used a hieroglyphic writing system, were polytheistic, and believed in sacrifice and self-mutilation. Two important civilizations were the Olmecs and the Chavín culture. The Olmecs were best known for their artwork. Many of their “colossal head” statues can still be found in Central and South America. The Chavín culture is best known for their pyramids, which were innovative for their times due to the use of metallurgy and drainage systems which allowed for protection and longevity of their constructions.


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Last updated: 12/29/2017
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