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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 [...]

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 [...]

Who were the Chavin? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T00:10:12+00:00 September 9th, 2017|South America|

A Chavin carving By around 900 BC, the Norte Chico people of northern Peru developed into the Chavin culture. Like the earlier Norte Chico people, the Chavin people used irrigation to farm potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, and hot chili peppers. They also farmed corn, but they really ate mostly potatoes and quinoa, which grow better high in the Andes mountains. They hunted deer with spears [...]

Brazil’s early history – South America

By | 2017-09-08T22:52:53+00:00 September 8th, 2017|History, South America|

Venus of Santarem (Brazil, ca. 1400-1000 BC) The first people probably arrived on the Atlantic coast of South America about 15,000 BC, following the Atlantic coastline south from Central America. Probably a second wave of people followed them around 11,000 BC. It's also possible that other people reached South America by boat from Australia or Indonesia. [...]

Brazil and colonization – South American history

By | 2017-10-14T14:53:57+00:00 September 8th, 2017|History, South America, Where|

Tapuia people, ca. 1650 (by Albert Eckhout) In the late 1400s AD, the Tupi people had just won a big war with the Tapuia people. They had gotten control of the Atlantic coast of South America (modern Brazil). They forced most of the Tapuia people inland. So the Tupi were living near the beaches, fishing. Different Tupi [...]

What is rubber? History of rubber

By | 2017-09-08T09:34:32+00:00 September 8th, 2017|Science, South America|

A big rubber tree in Mexico Olmec people, living in southern Mexico, invented rubber about 1600 BC. It was just as they were beginning to build their empire. Rubber starts out as the sap of a Central American tree - the rubber tree. You tap the tree or cut it down for the sap. Then you mix the sap [...]

Where does chocolate come from? South America

By | 2017-10-14T15:18:41+00:00 June 21st, 2017|Food, South America, What|

Cocoa pods grow right from the trunk of the cocoa tree! (Thanks World Cocoa Foundation) Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which grew on trees in Central America and South America starting probably about 100 million years ago. Cocoa trees may have gotten their start on the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains. Cocoa trees [...]

Pearl Diving – History of Pearls

By | 2017-06-08T13:03:04+00:00 June 8th, 2017|Clothing|

A pearl inside an oyster Very early in human history, maybe around 100,000 years ago, many people lived along the coasts of Africa and lived mainly on seafood - seaweed, fish, clams, mussels, and oysters. This gave people a very easy, reliable (and delicious) food source. A mother-of-pearl necklace from Ancient Egypt(ca. [...]