Critical Thinking on Pre-Columbian People of the Americas

3 pages
675 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Critical thinking
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The advent of globalization which is now at its peak is not a recent development. The extensive cooperation between different people from diverse cultures and races across the globe started during the medieval scene. During the Crusades era, historians have it that Europeans were increasingly experiencing a high demand for commodities like silk, spices, sugar and other luxuries from the Eastern world of which they had already established contact with. While in pursuit of those items, Europeans realized that the route between China and the Mediterranean was becoming expensive and extremely dangerous prompting them to look for an alternative. This realization led to the inventions and development of traveling technologies over the water across the Atlantic Ocean which eventually inspired the discovery of what is now referred to as the Atlantic World. While on the trip to Asia, the fifteenth- century merchants unexpectedly came across a New World inhabited by millions of people. These explorers thought that they had reached West Indies and mistakenly named the locals Indians. To sufficiently exploit the newly found world which was full of natural resources, the explorers had to ferry workforce from West Africa thanks to the slave trade. This paper seeks to examine the pre- Columbian people of the Americas alongside their cultural and economic interactions before their invasion by the Europeans. These cultures include the Olmec, the Maya, the Aztec and the Inca. The Olmec also referred to as the first Americans. These people occupied an area called Mesoamerica which geographically covers Northern Panama stretching towards the deserts of central Mexico. These Mesoamerican people were religiously polytheistic; their gods had both male and female characteristics. They performed blood sacrifices on enemies captured from wars and inter-ethnic battles. Domestication of corns had already developed by 5000 BCE which profoundly influenced their diet. Just like any other civilization, the first Americans developed mathematical systems, established a calendar and relied on astronomy to forecast and predict the future which also influenced the planting and harvesting seasons. They had no significant political system but the engaged in long distance trading activities which enhanced their cultural interactions with other neighboring communities, a trend termed as the Olmec civilization.

The Maya culture emerged after the collapse of the Olmec. They inhabited the central highlands of Mesoamerica which was highly fertile. Historians are divided on whether the Maya culture was comprised of a single ethnic community, or it was a multi-communal city. Due to the availability of food, the Maya people ventured into different activities like the trade. Agriculture was no doubt the main economic activity. Masons constructed over two thousand apartments and over a hundred temples including the pyramid of the moon and the pyramid of the sun. Just like the Olmec, the Mayas were also involved in mathematics and architectural contributions. Tales had it that there once existed a warlike community called the Aztec. They migrated from a city called Aztlan and established a settlement at a site which Mexico City lies today. By the time the Spanish discovered the city, it had already developed more than any other city in Europe at the time. The Aztec had an improved system of irrigation which maintained a steady supply of food. They performed human sacrifices human sacrifices to please the Sun on its long journey across the sky. The Inca occupied the modern day Colombia and Chile and established numerous cities within the empire. It was the most highly improved society in South America. They worshiped the sun and referred to the gold as the sweat of the sun. They were agriculturalists and farmed maize, beans, squash, potato, and quinoa.


The ancient inhabitants of the Americas are believed to be the pre-Columbian peoples of the America and their respective descendants. Although they were traditionally hunters and gatherers, they evolved through time to practice mixed farming and aquaculture. The Europeans assimilated these indigenous people, but some of them are still significant in many parts of the Americas which include Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Approximately a thousand different ancient languages are spoken in the Americas.

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