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Science in Central America and South America

By | 2017-09-10T14:57:10+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Central America, Science, South America|

A rubber ball made by the Olmec people (about 1000 BC) With different natural resources available to them, the people of South America and Central America invented different things than the people of Europe, Asia, or Africa did. One early invention was rubber. The Olmec people invented rubber (in fact the word "Olmec" means "rubber people" in the Aztec language, Nahuatl). The Olmec began to [...]

Coca leaves – South American medicine

By | 2017-09-10T14:01:50+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Science, South America|

Coca farming Like potatoes and tomatoes, coca plants grow wild in the Andes Mountains of South America; they probably evolved around the same time as the other flowering plants, around 120 million years ago. The plants make cocaine in their leaves, probably to keep animals from eating them. Woman chewing coca leaves (Uruguay, ca. 500 BC-500 AD) When people first [...]

Central and South American religion

By | 2017-09-10T10:53:07+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Central America, Religion, South America|

Maya Corn King on a plate The people who lived in South and Central America before 1500 were polytheistic - they believed in many different gods. Because they lived pretty near one another, and ate many of the same foods, some of their gods were pretty much the same. The Mayan Corn God, for example, [...]

Who were the Valdivia people? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T18:03:10+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Valdivian carving, ca. 3500-2000 BC People probably first reached Ecuador by boat, about 13,000 BC. They were coming down the Pacific Coast from North America. These people settled in river valleys along the coast. They hunted and gathered their food, some on land but mostly by fishing in the ocean. About the same time as people in Asia and Africa, they started farming. Around 8000 BC, they [...]

Norte Chico history – South America

By | 2017-09-09T17:15:42+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Stepped platform at Caral (ca. 2200 BC) People probably first arrived in Peru about 13,000 BC. They were following the Pacific coast south from North America. Like the people who settled Brazil, on the other side of South America, around the same time, they ate a lot of fish and shellfish, squash and potatoes. Sometime around 8000 BC, the Norte Chico people started [...]

Who were the Nazca? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T17:04:12+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Nazca lines - a giant monkey drawn on the desert floor After the Chavin state collapsed about 250 BC, two new states formed in Peru - the Moche in the north and the Nazca in the south. So by about 100 BC, the Nazca were between the Moche and the Mapuche to their south, in what is now Chile, and [...]

Who were the Moche? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T17:01:01+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Moche portrait of a blind man, 400-500 AD (thanks to Oberlin College) The collapse of the Chavin state in Peru, about 250 BC, seems to have opened the way for the Moche and the Nazca to develop states of their own. The Moche started up around 100 AD along the Pacific coast of South America, in what is now northern Peru. The [...]

South and Central American history

By | 2017-09-09T16:06:16+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Central America, History, South America|

The Andes mountains run down the Pacific side of South America People first came to Central and South America probably around 20,000 years ago. They were probably traveling south from North America, though some people may also have come by boat across the Pacific Ocean. These earliest people, like other people elsewhere in the world at that time, [...]

Who were the Inca? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T08:59:26+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Macchu Picchu Until the 1400s AD, the Pacific coast of South America was made up of a lot of small independent kingdoms: first the Valdivia and Norte Chico people, then the Moche, the Chavin and the Mapuche. These kingdoms often raided each other, but then they went home again and made peace. This was like the city-states of ancient Greece, or the Etruscan period in Italy. Then one [...]

Who were the Guarani? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T08:55:29+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Guarani people performing a dance in the 1800s When the first Tupi people expanded their territory from Central America to reach the coast of Brazil about 900 BC, some of them kept on moving south along the Atlantic coast. About a thousand years later, maybe about 1 AD, some of those Tupi people moved inland, abandoning their [...]