Free Early Societies In The Americas And Oceania Essay Sample
Early societies of the Americas and Oceania were originated due to human migration during the Ice Age period. Despite different origins and partial isolation these societies were similar to the ones formed in eastern hemisphere in terms of agriculture, piousness and hierarchical structure. The main goal of the paper is to highlight key features of early societies of the Americas and Oceania.
EARLY SOCIETIES OF MESOAMERICA
The development of Mesoamerican lands has begun in 13,000 B.C.E. with mass migration of nomads from Siberia across the Bering Strait. The first complex societies were the result of agricultural revolution. The distinguishing feature of early societies of the Americas was the limited nature of animal species available for domestication. Eventually this narrowed the agricultural development and transportation abilities.
The Olmec society was the first to arise about 1200 B.C.E on the territory of modern Mexico. The process was encouraged by fertile climate and rich soil of the lands. The Olmecs were associated with first agricultural villages and ceremonial centers built around them. These centers were fundamental constructions that served as places for rituals and other social relations. The Olmec culture has widely spread across the Mesoamerican lands.
The Teotihuacan was an agricultural settlement evolved into two hundred thousand population city with remarkable architecture – the Pyramid of the Sun located in Teotihuacan was the largest structure in Mesoamerica of that times. The scholar sources believe that the Teotihuacan was a theocracy.
The Maya have created a remarkable society in the region now occupied by Southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize and Honduras. The rise of Maya civilization began in the third century B.C.E. Their settlements have gradually developed into cities with large ceremonial centers represented by pyramids, temples and palaces. The Maya have enhanced the agricultural production by building irrigation systems. Maya settlements were developed into small kingdoms. The largest one, city of Tikal, was populated by forty thousand of citizens at its height, between 600 and 800 C.E.
The Maya society was represented by ruling families, priests, warriors, merchants and working class (in some cases slaves), used mostly in construction and agriculture. The priests have determined the scientific progress of the society in fields of mathematics, astronomy and writing. Among the most significant scientific achievements of Maya were the invention of the calendar and development of writing skills. The religion was oriented on agriculture and included savage blood rituals designed to stimulate the yield increase. The Maya kingdoms were martial and encouraged internal war conflicts.
EARLY SOCIETIES OF SOUTH AMERICA
Despite the mutual origins, the Mesoamerican and Andean (present territory of Peru and Bolivia) societies were developing independently as no means of long-distance communication were available. The fundament of the Andean society evolution was the cultivation of maize, beans, peanuts, sweet potatoes and cotton. The first settlements appeared between 2500 and 2000 B.C.E.
The dry climate has encouraged the construction of canals and irrigation systems. The agricultural development has lead to the origination of first states with complex social structure. The military component played important role in the consolidation of Andean states. The Mochica was one of the prominent states of early Andean society that gained its dominance during the period about 300 to 700 C.E. Due to the lack of historical evidence, the scholars suggest that Andean society was much similar to the Mesoamerican with ceremonial centers, religious cults and developed trade. The religion was represented by Chavin Cult which promoted fertility and abundant harvests. By the end of the first millennium C.E. the Andean society has met decline due to severe climatic changes.
EARLY SOCIETIES OF OCEANIA
The first nomads reached the Oceania region over 60,000 years ago and lived by hunting and gathering food. While the Australian inhabitants maintained the foraging model of society until the nineteenth century, the earliest agricultural society of New Guinea has emerged under the influence of Austronesian seafarers about 5,000 years ago. The advanced seafaring and agricultural skills have enabled the Austronesian people to populate the Oceania region. They spread the cultivation of crops and animal herding over New Guinea, establishing new settlements all over Pacific Islands. These settlements have formed the society also known as Lapita. Lapita peoples created and maintained trade and communication network among Pacific Islands during the period between 1,500 and 500 B.C.E. Their settlements had authoritarian hierarchy with the chief on the top of social pyramid. They were very similar to the ones the Americas in terms social and economic development. The Lapita society has faced decay when the settlements became self-contained and trade connections became unnecessary.
Bentley, Jerry H. "Early Societies in the Americas and Oceania." Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. 4th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. 456. Print.