Ancient New World Civilizations: The Big Picture
Activity: Native cultures have existed in the Americas for thousands of years. Introduce some of the major ancient cultures to your students by creating a time line and a map of the early civilizations of North, Central, and South America.
Background: Talk with your students about the long history of Native American cultures. People lived on this continent long before the early European settlers established colonies on American soil even long before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. Civilizations have existed in North, Central, and South America for thousands of years. As the Egyptians have their great pyramids, the Maya also built complex temples and pyramids.
Anthropologists believe people were living in the Americas as long as 20,000 years ago. According to one popular theory, the Americas were first populated by peoples who had migrated to this continent by crossing the Bering Strait (between what is now Alaska and Russia) when it was frozen over during an ice age. Over thousands of years, people gradually moved south - down through North America, Central America, and some as far as South America. For many years, people hunted and foraged for food. Between 5000 and 3000 B.C., early Americans first began to farm the land.
Here are some Web sites where you can find time lines:
Mesoamerica Time Line
Central and South American Chronology campus.northpark.edu/history/WebChron/Americas/Americas.html
Here are some Web sites where you can find maps: