Ch 19: Pre-Columbian America

About This Chapter

Use the following video lessons and quizzes to study characteristics of the Americas' earliest civilizations. Learn how they arrived in North and South America and examine their contributions to math, astronomy and agriculture.

Pre-Columbian America - Chapter Summary

Whether you're continuing your examination of ancient civilizations or want to focus your studies on the history of the Americas, lessons in this chapter can help you compare and contrast the Bering Land Bridge, Atlantic and Oceania theories explaining how the first humans arrived on the continent. You can also explore the characteristics and contributions of Olmec, Aztec and Mayan civilizations, who once lived in what we now know as Mexico and Central America.

Instructors explain the Olmec's influence on the region, the mysteries surrounding Mayan civilization and the Inca's agricultural developments. They also muse over the disappearance of these civilizations or explain their eventual defeat at the hands of Spanish conquistadors like Pizarro and Cortes. The chapter concludes with a lesson you can use to survey characteristics of North American Indian tribes before the arrival of Europeans. Topics of discussion include:

  • Origins of early people in the Americas
  • Characteristics of Mesoamerican civilizations
  • Civilizations in pre-Columbian South America
  • North American Indians before Europeans

Review these topics and more with short, illustrated video lessons and their matching transcripts. Our instructors' teaching styles make the material engaging and easy to follow. You can even test your understanding of the big ideas discussed here with self-guided multiple-choice questions that link back to video content.

4 Lessons in Chapter 19: Pre-Columbian 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.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter 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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