Shaping North America
350 million years ago- The Appalachian Mountains formed
225 million years ago- Earth’s supercontinent broke up into separate continents. 135-25 million years ago- Western North American mountain ranges formed. 10 Million years ago- North America’s basic geological shape is formed 2 Million years ago- The Ice Age begins; glaciers carve into the land creating formations such as the Great Lakes. 10,000 years ago- The Ice Age ends
Peopling the Americas
Evidence suggests that the first people came to America across a land bridge from Eurasia to North America. It is also a controversial theory that some people came to America from across the Pacific Ocean via boats, although this theory is much less supported. Asian tribes probably first came across the land bridge following migratory hears of animals, and once the ice age ended, and the glaciers melted, the tribes were marooned in North America. Over time, these tribes dispersed and traveled as far as South America, forming their own cultures and some building great empires such as the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Incans.
The Earliest Americans
When Mexican natives developed wild grass into corn, it allowed tribes to establish permanent settlements, ultimately leading to the birth of centralized Aztec and Incan nation-states as well as other native tribes to grow in number and technological advance. This new process of cultivating corn spread throughout America, allowing tribes all over the continent to settle in one place and advance their population, although most tribes in North America never progressed into empires like the Aztecs. Groups that used corn to build large tribes include the Mound Builders of the Ohio River valley, the Mississippian culture, and the southwest Anasazi. When corn cultivation reached the Atlantic coast, a method, known as three-sister farming, developed.
Indirect Discoveries of the New World
The first Europeans to land in the Americas were the Norse sailors who landed near Newfoundland around A.D. 1000. For the next couple of centuries, other European nations wanted to explore more of the world, particularly Asia, which held the fabled silk, spice, and drugs that they had heard about during the Crusades. After many years of long, treacherous, and expensive travel to trade for these prized goods, Europeans began wishing for a more efficient way to Asia.
Europeans Enter Africa
When Marco Polo returned from a twenty year trip with legends of China, Europeans started to search for a better way to get to Asia. The Portuguese developed a way to sail down the coast of Africa in 1450 with the help of their new ships known as caravels. This travel also allowed for discovery of sub-Saharan Africa, previously known only in myths and legend, which the Portuguese soon took advantage of, setting up trade posts on the west coast for slaves and gold. The slave trade became a big business, with about 40,000 slaves being traded in the late 15th century. The efficiency of running plantation with slaves was discovered, which would later influence American history immensely. This caused the relation of Africa to slaves to be established early in European history. Bartholomeu Dias rounded the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488 and Vasco da Gama reached India via this route ten years later and later returned home with a small prize of jewels and spices. Meanwhile, the empire that would become Spain rid its country of the Moors, and, wanting a part in this trade with Asia, began thinking of other ways to get there.
Columbus Comes upon a New World
Advancements in technology as well as spirit in Europe encouraged the desire for exploration and conquest. Christopher Columbus soon persuaded the royalty of Spain to finance his trip westward. After many long weeks at sea, his crew caught sight of land on October 12, 1942. Although he was attempting to reach Asia, he ended up landing on an island in the Bahamas. From this point on,...
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