South America's Lost Cradle of Civilization

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Lost Worlds of South America Course
As one of only six places on earth where civilization arose spontaneously, South America offers insight into how human societies formed. Go on a trek of discovery through the archaeological knowledge of more than 12 seminal civilizations, and gain rich insight into the creative vision and monumental achievements of these…
Culture and Empire in South America
Part of the Series: The Big History of Civilizations
Round out your study of the Americas with a journey down the Andean spine and up the Amazon River to discover the many civilizations of South America, including the Nazcans, the Mochicans, and the Incas. Tour archaeological sites, and then step back to consider the Big History of the Americas…
Remnants of the Past—Andean Culture Today
The Andean civilizations have left a remarkable legacy in the modern world. Investigate the many ways in which contemporary peoples in South America maintain ancient ways of life, seen in agriculture, community organization, traditional lifestyles, and astronomical and religious observances, and contemplate what these practices mean in our own time.
Early Americas: Resources and Olmecs
Shift your attention to North and South America. These were among the last regions humans would settle, and you follow their progress from nomadic hunter-gatherers to the civilizations that would be defined by geography and available resources, beginning with the Olmecs of what is now Mexico.
Pots and Pyramids: Moche and Teotihuacán
Turn your focus to Peru and Mexico and the many cultures that left behind stunning examples of their now-vanished civilizations, from impressive pyramids and tombs to startling examples of artistic pottery, especially those produced by the Moche.
Native-American History
Explore the fascinating history of the Native American people. Follow their history from migration to the Americas, to the development of civilizations throughout the American continent. Discover how every part of America was flourishing long before European settlers arrived. See the impact of early Native Americans in North and South…
Enigmatic Tiwanaku by Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the site of one of South America's most impressive civilizations. Discover the huge urban complex of Tiwanaku and its cultural connections to Chavin de Huantar. Explore Tiwanaku's mysterious architecture and its "raised field" agriculture, an engineering feat that allowed for the support of a large population.
The Moche—Pyramids, Gold, and Warriors
In the first of three episodes on the Andean Moche culture, chart this civilization's outstanding features. Discover the immense pyramids, adorned with brilliant color murals, road systems, and sophisticated art. Examine the evidence of extensive warfare, both in the art and in excavated weaponry and sacrificial victims.
Blood and Corn: Mayan Civilization
Delve into the achievements of the Maya, who were among the longest-lasting, most geographically extensive, and most culturally sophisticated of all Mesoamerican cultures. Grasp how we can know these things only because the Maya left behind what those other peoples did not: the records of a culture with a written…
Hunter-Gatherers and Polynesians
Although civilization almost always tends to be an urban phenomenon, there are exceptions. Examine the origins of societies that evolved sophisticated cultures but did not build cities, including hunter-gatherers like the Fenni of Scandinavia, the Aborigines of Australia, and the seafaring peoples of Polynesia.
The Amazon—Civilization Lost in the Jungle
Recent discoveries indicate the presence of massive ancient civilizations in the Amazon. Survey the evidence, starting with the Beni region's elaborate systems of mounds, causeways, and canals. Continue with the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon, noting wide areas of human-enriched soil, towns ringed by moats, geoglyphs, and pottery dating to 6000…
In Search of the Mayas
An introduction to the geographical area of Mesoamerican culture which gave birth to the pre-Hispanic civilizations of Mexico. Origins and characteristics are discussed: the idea of nature, communication with the gods, the complex theocratic organization and the symbolic nature of their artistic expressions. The cultures of the Olmecs, Mayas, Mixtecs…