The Americas

This page talks about the history of North and South America.

Olmec and Chavin Civilizations

The first civilizations in the Americas were in the Veracruz lowlands of eastern Mexican and Gulf coast farming and pottery appeared out of which grew the Olmec civilizations around 1500 BC. There large ceremonial sites like pyramids and giant stone heads were found. The population was in the thousands. After 800 BC, Olmec art spread across Central America to what is now El Salvador. Olmec culture disappeared around 400 BC to be replaced by the Mayan civilization. No one knows what language spoke or why they died out. Further south in Peru, the Chavin culture which was centered on the ceremonial site of Chavin de Huantar located high up in the Andes flourished around 900 to 200 BC. They had a high level of stone working that spread through much of the Andes region.

The Aztecs

In the 15th and 16th century, the Aztec people controlled central and southern Mexico. They were nomadic people and arrived in the valley in Mexico, in the 13th century, they built a city, Tenochtitlan now where Mexico City is. The Aztec ruler Itzcoatl formed an alliance with his neighbors and became a strong power in Central Mexico. The economy was based on farming but they also have craftsman and traders.


  • The History of the World in Bite-Sized Chunks. Marriott, Emma. MJF Books. New York. 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-60671-187-3