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Ch 1: Early Civilizations of America

About This Chapter

The early civilizations of America are explained in this chapter. These video lessons and short quizzes can help you learn about Native American history before and after European colonization.

Early Civilizations of America - Chapter Summary

This chapter covers the history of the early civilizations of America. Learn about the origins of Mesoamerican civilizations and explore pre-Columbian South America. After completing this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Describe the civilizations of the Inca and Olmecs
  • Discuss the North American Indians before the Europeans
  • Explain the effects of European colonization
  • Explore the cultural and economic interactions between Native Americans and Europeans
  • Summarize the Spanish explorers and colonies
  • Define the Columbian exchange

The engaging video lessons in this chapter are taught by professional instructors, and the self-assessment quizzes can help you check your understanding of lesson concepts. Choose between fun animated video lessons or printable transcripts. Track your progress via your personal dashboard.

8 Lessons in Chapter 1: Early Civilizations of America
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Native American History: Origins of Early People in the Americas

1. Native American History: Origins of Early People in the Americas

Because the first humans and civilizations got their start in Africa and the Middle East, historians and anthropologists have had to figure out how Native Americans got to the Americas. In this lesson we look at the three prevailing theories of the earliest migration to the New World.

Mesoamerican Civilizations: The Olmecs to Cortes

2. Mesoamerican Civilizations: The Olmecs to Cortes

This lesson focuses on the early cultures of Mesoamerica. The Olmec, Maya, and Aztecs developed great civilizations in Mesoamerica over millennia. Then, after all of this development and the building of a great empire, the Aztec were quickly defeated by Hernando Cortes.

The Inca Civilization and Pizarro: Pre-Columbian South America

3. The Inca Civilization and Pizarro: Pre-Columbian South America

The Incan Empire was an amazing empire of the early Americas. Their accomplishments rival those of many other great empires, but they were defeated by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in only a few years.

Pre-Columbian Civilization: North American Indians Before Europeans

4. Pre-Columbian Civilization: North American Indians Before Europeans

Watch this video for an overview of the cultural groups of Native Americans as they lived at the time of first contact with Europeans. Some of these groupings, like the tribes of the plains, changed so much due to the addition of European influences, such as horses, that there is only conjecture as to how exactly they lived before European contact.

Effects of European Colonization: Christopher Columbus and Native Americans

5. Effects of European Colonization: Christopher Columbus and Native Americans

The earliest explorers in the Western Hemisphere left a legacy that would shape the development of the Americas permanently. No matter what they came looking for, Europeans left behind death, horses, and metal.

Cultural & Economic Interactions Between Native Americans & Europeans

6. Cultural & Economic Interactions Between Native Americans & Europeans

As Europeans explored and settled in North America, one of the great cultural and economic exchanges in world history began. In this lesson we will learn how Amerinds and Europeans interacted in the 16th and 17th centuries.

New Spain: Spanish Explorers and Spanish Colonies

7. New Spain: Spanish Explorers and Spanish Colonies

Who are the most well-known explorers and conquistadors of the New World? In this lesson, we'll look at some of the most infamous explorers. We'll discover the difference between explorers and conquistadors, and then learn about the encomienda system.

The Columbian Exchange

8. The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange is a term used to denote the world-changing exchange of agricultural goods, slave labor, diseases, and ideas between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres that occurred after the year 1492 CE.

Chapter Practice Exam
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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