Ch 20, Section 3 and Ch
21, Section 1
Europe’s Colonies in the Americas
Early Civilizations
Thousands of years ago nomadic people
migrated from Asia into N. America.
During the last Ice
Age there was a
land bridge from
Asia to Alaska.
They may have
crossed 50K years
The Mayans lived in the dense forests of
Central America. Between 300-900AD their
civ reached its peak.
The centers of Mayan
cities were pyramidtemples to honor the
gods. They had
hieroglyphics (glyphs
or picture writing), an
accurate calendar and
complex math
(including “zero”).
The Aztecs moved to the central plateau of
Mexico in 1200AD, absorbing Mayan culture.
They learned to build pyramids. They settled in
Tenochtitlan and started conquest.
They captured slaves and sacrificed them to their
gods for success in war. They were hated as a
The Inca Empire- Built vast empire in the fertile
valleys of the Andes Mountains. It stretched 2500
miles across Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile.
• They used irrigation,
fertilizers and terrace
farming. The royal
family claimed
descent from the Sun
God. The center of
worship was the
Temple of the Sun at
Cuzco. Gold covered
its walls.
Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico in 1519. With
600 men he marched on Tenochtitlan, and
within 2 years destroyed the Aztec empire.
Moctezuma was
reluctant to fight.
Smallpox and
other diseases
killed thousands of
Aztecs. Horses
and guns
accomplished the
Francisco Pizarro heard rumors of great wealth
and landed in Peru in 1532. Atahualpa ruled over
a weakened empire.
Disease, muskets and
horses proved devastating.
Pizarro captured Atahualpa
and extracted a room full of
gold and treasure for his
release. But when this was
done, he murdered him
Spain and Portugal drew a line dividing the
lands that they could claim at the Treaty of
Hundreds of
explorers followed
Columbus looking for
gold and a sea route
to Asia. They
mapped out vast
areas of the
Mercantilism- the belief that colonies were meant
to enrich the mother country in charge of them.
Colonies supplied nations with raw materials and
served as a market for goods.
The Encomienda System gave a Spanish settler
the right to demand taxes or labor from natives.
The Spanish settler was to pay for labor, look
after the health of the workers, and teach them