Pre-Columbian Times Age Previous to Exploration and Discovery
ALFRED WEGENER AND PANGAEA
In 1915, the German geologist and meteorologist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930) first proposed the theory of continental drift, which states that parts of the Earth's crust slowly drift atop a liquid core. The fossil record supports and gives credence to the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics. Wegener hypothesized that there was an original, gigantic supercontinent 200 million years ago, which he named Pangaea, meaning "All-earth". Pangaea was a supercontinent consisting of all of Earth's land masses. It existed from the Permian through Jurassic periods. It began breaking up during the late Triassic period. Pangaea started to break up into two smaller supercontinents, called Laurasia and Gondwanaland, during the late Triassic. It formed the continents Gondwanaland and Laurasia, separated by the Tethys Sea. By the end of the Cretaceous period, the continents were separating into land masses that look like our modern-day continents. Wegener published this theory in his 1915 book, On the Origin of Continents and Oceans . In it he also proposed the existence of the supercontinent Pangaea, and named it (Pangaea means "all the land" in Greek).
The term Beringia comes from the name of Vitus Bering, a Danish explorer for the Russian czar in the 18th Century. Bering-Chirikov expedition explored the waters of the North Pacific between Asia and North America. The Bering Strait, which lies between Alaska and Northeast Russia, and Bering Island, in the Commander Islands, are named after him.
It is a region of worldwide significance for cultural and natural resources. This area also provides an unparalleled opportunity for a comprehensive study of the earth --its unusually intact landforms and biological remains may reveal the character of past climates and the ebb and flow of earth forces at the continents’ edge. Biological research leads to the understanding of the natural history of the region and distribution of flora and fauna. As one of the world’s great ancient crossroads, Beringia may hold solutions to puzzles about who the first people were to come to North America, how and when they traveled and how they survived under such harsh climatic conditions.
It is currently believed that the ocean levels rose and fell several times in the past. During extended cold periods, tremendous volumes of water are deposited on land in the form of ice and snow, which can cause a corresponding drop in sea level. The last "ice age" occurred around 12-15,000 years ago. During this period the shallow seas now separating Asia from North America near the present day Bering Strait dropped about 300 feet and created a 1,000-mile wide grassland steppe, linking Asia and North America together with the "Bering Land Bridge". Across this vast steppe, plants and animals traveled in both directions, and humans entered the Americas.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/parcs/atlas/beringia/lbridge.html Bering Land Bridge Movie
The Land/Ice Bridge
People, with their languages, customs, and cultures traveled across the land bridge after the herds as hunter-gatherers.
Artifacts and fossils tell archaeologists and anthropologists that they migrated to all parts of North, Central, and South America adapting their lives to the available food, climate, and sheltering materials.
Culture A shared way of living
Hallmarks of Culture
4. governmental organization-tribe, sachem
9. division of labor—matriarchal=female;
10. family ties
1. spiritual—the accepted ways from womb to tomb. The officially recognized way to get married or buried. From shaman to Pope.
2. Food—Let’s do lunch?? Hunter/gatherers to drive-in Starbuck’s. How is food captured, prepared, any taboos?
3. economics—self-sufficient/rugged individualism or pioneerism to global marketplace. Barter, trade, plunder, coins, fiat money to Internet trading. Also who is in charge of the finances.
4. government—sachem to President or CEO. Who is the head guy and why?? Where does the power arise?
5. language—from sign to IMs, how do they communicate with one another or other groups? Do they have a written equivalent? Math and calendars usually evolve with trade.
6. clothing—environmentally appropriate or designer labels? Any taboos??
7. healthcare—from shaman to an MRI. Is it physical or spiritual???
8. housing—usually determined by the climate/environment. Mud hut to mansion; wickiup to condo. Also sanitation/waste disposal.
9. division of labor—who does what. How, and why? Gender split or according to merit/ability??? Pecking order???
10. family ties—clan, tribe, kinship network…to Old Boys Club at the Country Club.
Usually ethnically non-diverse. Who is related to whom? Taboos? Pecking order
11. recreation—sports or free time spent doing what??? Training for warriors or peaceful activities like gardening??
Lacrosse to March Madness to Mortal Kombat
12. Warfare—includes motives for war, battle tactics, weaponry, treatment of prisoners and survivors. Also includes mobility (horses to jets) and killing ability—one on one of ICBMs.
Who was Saint Brendan and did he lead Columbus to discover America? This is a common myth about the discovery of America. St. Brendan was an Irish monk or priest that lived well before the time of Columbus. Some people think that he traveled to the Americas. We have no way of knowing one way or the other because there is no physical evidence, and most of the stories about him sound like legends and are very mythic in style. However, Columbus apparently did have some prior information that there was land on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Many scholars think he obtained it in part from the fishermen of Bristol in England and from those in Portugal, both of whom are likely to have explored the rich fishing grounds off the Grand Banks in Canada and in the Caribbean. He somehow knew the exact route with the best ocean currents for the times of year when he sailed and made an almost direct line to his first landing. So, while we do not know if St. Brendan actually went to America (there are unconfirmed legends that the Welsh, the Egyptians and the Phoenicians also landed there), we do think that Columbus may have gotten information from fishermen in the British Isles.
The Irish Discover America
In the fifth century, St. Patrick started the christening of the Irish. The Irish quickly accepted the new religion, and soon started to make voyages of their own. In 563, St. Columba established a monastery on the island of Iona, on the Scottish coast, and from Iona and other places, the Irish not only preached among the Picts, but also traveled onto the Atlantic Ocean. A famous story is the one of the voyages of St. Brendan, who traveled to the Atlantic to find the Promised Land of the Saints. According to the story, he found several islands and had a number of adventures before finding this promised land. Although St. Brendan was a historical person, the story was probably not that of his voyage, but a combination of stories from several Irish monks. There is discussion about the nature of the islands that are described. The Orkneys, Faeroe and Iceland are almost certainly included, but historians do not agree whether some of the descriptions are about the Azores, Newfoundland and other lands in America. What is certain, is that the Irish later established themselves in Faeroe, and, from the late eighth century onwards, Iceland. After the arrival of the Vikings they may have left Iceland for Greenland, but nothing has been heard of this colony since.
The Vikings were a people from Scandinavia. In the second half of the eighth century, they started raids on England, and during the next centuries, their raids and lands formed an important force in European politics. But apart from these raids, which went as far as Italy, the Vikings were also important traders. Especially the Vikings from Sweden played an important role, sending their ships up the Russian rivers, and through small portages reaching places as far as Constantinople and Persia. Nevertheless, here too they were conquerors as well as traders, and various of the main principalities of medieval Russia, such as Novgorod and Kiev, were established by them. One Viking trader that we know by name is Ottar (also known as Ohthere), who told king Alfred of Wessex about his voyage northward along the Norwegian Coast to the White Sea region. His is the oldest known voyage around North Cape.
In the west, the Vikings colonized a number of lands - the Hebrides, the Orkneys, Faeroe, Iceland. The latter country was first seen around 860. It was discovered by accident by Gardar Svarsson, who was blown off course going to the Hebrides. The same happened to Naddod around the same period. Next, Floki Vilgerdasson spent a Winter there, the colonization of the country was started in the 870s, and by 930 viking colonies
were spread over all of Iceland.
Like Iceland before, around 930 Greenland was discovered by a Viking who was blown off course, his name was Gunnbjorn. The first Viking to colonize Greenland was Eric the Red. In 982, Eric was banned from Iceland because of manslaughter, and he decided to explore the country discovered by Gunnbjorn. After three years he returned, talking enthusiastically about the land, which he called Greenland, and in 986, he returned with several shiploads of colonists. Two colonies were started, the eastern and the western settlement, both on the west coast.
Bjarni Herjulfsson came back home to his father in Iceland in 986, only to hear that his father had joined Eric to Greenland. He decided to go there himself, but missed it, and reached America. He explored a large part of the American coast, but he did not land there. Around the year 1000, Eric's son Leif tried to establish a colony somewhere in America, in a land he called Vinland. A few more attempts were made in the following years, but all were abandoned after only one or two years. We do not know where exactly Vinland was. On Newfoundland, a Viking settlement has been found in a place called L'Anse aux Meadows. Many historians believe that this was the settlement of Leif, but others think that Vinland was further south, perhaps in New England.
Undoubtedly, America has been visited by Vikings after this, but there is no evidence that they made any more attempts at actually colonizing the country. The colonies in Greenland prospered for some time, but in the fourteenth century it began to deteriorate, and in the fifteenth century it was abandoned, for as yet unknown reasons. The sagas say it was the savage skraelings who drove them out.
The Crusades were expeditions undertaken, in fulfillment of a solemn vow to deliver the Holy Places from Mohammedan tyranny.
Origin of the Crusades is directly traceable to the moral and political condition of Western Christendom in the eleventh century. At that time Europe was divided into numerous states whose sovereigns were absorbed in tedious and petty territorial disputes while the emperor, in theory the temporal head of Christendom, was wasting his strength in the quarrel over Investitures. The popes alone had maintained a just estimate of Christian unity; they realized to what extent the interests of Europe were threatened by the Byzantine Empire and the Mohammedan tribes, and they alone had a foreign policy whose traditions were formed under Leo IX and Gregory VII. The reform effected in the Church and the papacy through the influence of the monks of Cluny had increased the prestige of the Roman pontiff in the eyes of all Christian nations; hence none but the pope could inaugurate the international movement that culminated in the Crusades. But despite his eminent authority the pope could never have persuaded the Western peoples to arm themselves for the conquest of the Holy Land had not the immemorial relations between Syria and the West favored his design. Europeans listened to the voice of Urban II because their own inclination and historic traditions impelled them towards the Holy Sepulcher.
The Black Death (more recently known as the Black Plague ) was a devastating pandemic that first struck Europe in the mid-14th century (1347–1350), when it was estimated to have killed about a third of Europe's population. A series of plague epidemics also occurred in large portions of Asia and the Middle East during the same period, which indicates this outbreak was actually a world wide pandemic. The same disease is thought to have returned to Europe every generation with varying degrees of intensity and fatality until the 1700s.
Bubonic plague is an infectious disease that is believed to have caused several epidemics or pandemics throughout history. Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague which is characterized by swollen, tender inflamed lymph glands (called buboes )
It is primarily a disease of rodents, particularly marmots (in which the most virulent strains of plague are primarily found), but also black rats, prairie dogs, chipmunks, squirrels and other similar large rodents. Human infection most often occurs when a person is bitten by a flea that has previously fed on an infected rodent.
The Spread of Plague
Brought back with the knights from the Crusades. The fleas on the rats on the ships helped to quickly spread the disease.
“ Bring out yer dead” was heard every week—collect those who had died and toss them on the cart for a mass burial. A third of the population died outright. Towns and cities were decimated—so that shops and houses were vacant and weeds grew up in the middle of once busy streets from lack of foot-traffic.
Gloom and doom—average life expectancy in Europe was @ 18 years old. This led folks to believe that the end of the world was coming and that they had better—live for today and convert as many as possible to Christianity—to get their gold stars in Heaven.
Rise of the middle class as serfs managed to leave their manors and live free for year and a day. They moved to cities and established them-selves within a trade/guildhall.
Marco Polo Travels in China 1275-1292
Marco Polo was born in Venice, Italy in the year 1254. He had an education of different skills in accounting, foreign languages, and knowledge of the Christian Church. His background in business and culture and his love for nature made Marco Polo very observant of humans, animals, and plants.
His father, Nicolo, and his uncle, Maffeo, were merchants who began their first eastern journey in 1260. They visited Constantinople and made their way to the domain of the Great Kublai Khan, ruler of China. The Emperor became interested in stories of the native land of the merchants; thus, he sent the Polos back to the Pope as his ambassadors with messages of peace and interest in converting areas of China to Christianity.
The merchants remained in Venice for two years and decided to keep their promise of return to Kublai Khan. Large profits from trade with these distant parts also prompted the brothers to return. On this journey, they took the seventeen year old Marco Polo with them. After three and a half years of travel, the ambassadors humbly appeared before the Emperor.
China had matured in the arts, both fine and practical, beyond anything found in Europe. Literature was greatly respected. Paper had already been invented; books of philosophy, religion, and politics could be found and a large Encyclopedia had been printed under the supervision of the Emperor. Mechanical devices were not lacking and paper money was the accepted currency in many sections of the empire. It was in this world of advanced wonders that Marco Polo resided for many years.
Upon his return to Italy, Marco Polo told of his findings of jade, porcelain, silk, ivory, and other riches of Asia. He described the festival of the Emperor's birthday in which everything from clothing to ornaments were laced in gold. He also explained how he saw people using black stones for fuel (later known as coal). Unfortunately, all his stories and details of the unimaginable were rejected, and Marco Polo became the "man of a million lies."
After he retrieved his notes from China, Marco Polo transformed his travels into manuscript form. His work has been criticized because he did not include fundamentals of Chinese life as tea, foot-binding, or even the Great Wall. He was frank, unpoetic in imagination and vision, and constantly spoke of trade, money, risks, and profits (as an ordinary business man/merchant would do). However, he wrote in incredible detail of the birds animals, plants, and other aspects of nature.
When he was near death, a priest entered his room and asked him if he wanted to admit his stories were false. Instead, Marco Polo replied, "I do not tell half of what I saw because no one would have believed me."
Polo’s discoveries in Cathay
Venice’s stranglehold on trade with the Far East—from overland (The Silk Road) and the Mediterranean was their monopoly
Inventions leading to the Age of Exploration
Caravels—lighter, more maneuverable ships
Improvements in the stern rudder
Discovery of the Trade Winds
Europe and hierarchy
Medieval religious thought
Trade without paying Venetian prices
1588 England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada—Drake, caravels, and the weather vs. huge Spanish Men-of-war.
off Irish coast—survivors with excellent horseflesh to breed and swarthy “Black Irish” coloring
Portugal leads the Way
Prince Henry the Navigator wished to expand
knowledge, improve cartography, and extend
navigation. He founded a sailing school in Sagres. He wished to find a route to India and an entrance to wealth and trade. When Henry died in 1460, his sailors had only reached as far as the Canary Islands in West Africa. Twenty-eight years later, Bartholomeu Dias proved that Africa could be circumnavigated when he reached the southern tip of the continent. This is now known as the "Cape of Good Hope." In 1499, Vasco da Gama was the first sailor to travel from Portugal to India.
Just a few years earlier, Queen Isabella of Spain hired a sailor from Genoa to reach India by sailing west. It wasn't until years later that anyone understood that the "Indians" he encountered weren't from India after all.
The World of West African Forest Kingdoms
Include African slave factories and West African forest kingdoms-- wealth and trade.
Caravans of trade. Islam, kinship network, education, trade—ideas as well as wares
Askia Muhammad of Songhai
The Forest Kingdoms of West Africa
T he Europeans enslaved the Antilles Indians wherever they could. This caused their rapid disappearance and they were therefore not as available for slave labor. Thanks to initiative of a Spanish priest (Bartholomew de Las Casas), the solution to this dearth of manpower was found in the large scale importation of slaves from Africa. These slaves came from all parts of the West coast of that continent, from the mouth of the Senegal river to the Cape of Good Hope, but especially from the Eastern Guinea coast (today's Ghana, Togo, Dahomey, and Nigeria coast) and the Congo-Angola coastal region. A frica at this time was at a decisive turn of its history. Since the Portuguese navigators succeeded in diverting the flow of the gold trade, which made the richness and fame of the great Sudanese Empires, the economy of the interior states gradually fizzled out. The last blow being struck in 1591 with the destruction of the Songhai Empire by a Moroccan army. The coastal states the rose in importance , particularly in Eastern Guinea. W hile the Atlantic trade at first enriched the coastal states, it soon forced these newly formed Kingdoms to rapidly become esclavagist, because of the above mentioned needs in the developing American states. War being the best way to obtain slaves to be sold to Europeans, a permanent and general state of conflict, disunity and chaos resulted for the next centuries, and all hopes of progress for Africa was put to an end. O n the coast of Eastern Guinea, the rise of Ashantee and Dahomey Kingdoms long preceded Columbus' time. Dahomey, whose great period was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was to give Haiti its main, though unofficial religion - the Voodoo and play an important part in the development of its Creole language. Even today, the language of Dahomey is still the ritual language of Voodoo priests.
I n that time, a very important center of civilization existed in the area of the Yoruba and Edo speaking countries. Corresponding approximately to the former southwestern state of Nigeria, they were divided in kingdoms among which were Oyo, Ife, and Benin. Their societies were basically agricultural but there was also a varied and important production in handicrafts. There were extensive cities and prosperous trade, which found a ready means of exchange in the cowry shell currency. Their culture originated from the city of Ife, whose art of terra-cotta and brass beads, is world famous as one of the summits of mondial art.
T he Angola-Congo coast in 1500 was on the verge of having the only experience of a mixed Afro-European culture: the kingdom of Congo, Christianized by the Portuguese. But the attempt was ephemeral. Facing the esclavagist enterprises of the Sao-Tome slave dealers, the Congolese expelled the Portuguese at the beginning of the 17th century.
I t must be noted that the places of origin of the Americas' Black slaves (North, Central, South and West Indies) far from being primitive, had an evolved civilization of their own. Black Africa, in the West African interior and the East coast, knew the written culture in Arabic and Swahili, as early as the 14th century. On the West coast, the culture was more oral even though a form of written literature can also be found. That last character, together with the religious importance of mask in the statuary, and of the cultural importance music and dance as a vehicle for cultural information, was perpetuated in the West Indies.
T hus, in Columbus' time some of the main characters of the modern West Indies could be foreseen. In the tragedy that will follow Columbus arrival in the new world, the Europeans have the leading part. The technological superiority of European developing states coupled with their greed swiftly overcame local Indian societies. It even overtook African societies which at the onset worked in association with them. But the tragedy of slavery, in its forceful transfer of African was to give the "new world" its most durable specificity.
Isabella of Castille
Isabella I (14511504), queen of Castile, called la Catolica ("the Catholic"), and a sponsor of the voyages of Christopher Columbus. She was the daughter of John II of Castile and Leon by his second wife, Isabella of Portugal. In 1469 Princess Isabella married Ferdinand of Aragon, known also as Ferdinand V, the Catholic. On the death of her brother, Henry IV, Isabella and Ferdinand jointly succeeded (1474) to the throne of Castile and León. Isabella's succession was contested, however, by Alfonso V of Portugal, who supported the claim of Henry's daughter Juana la Beltraneja. Alfonso attacked Castile and León but was defeated by the Castilian army in 1476. Three years later Ferdinand succeeded to the throne of Aragón. This union of the two main Spanish kingdoms laid the foundation of Spain's future greatness. They had five children, including Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII of England, and Joanna the Mad, who was the mother of Charles V, king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor. Isabella and her husband (known together as "the Catholic kings") are remembered for initiating the Inquisition in 1478, for completing the Reconquista of Spain from the Moors and for their ruthless expulsion of the Spanish Jews, both in 1492. That same year they sponsored Christopher Columbus's voyage, which led to the creation of the overseas Spanish colonial empire, bringing great wealth and power to Spain .
Chris and Izzy
Isabella and Ferdinand proceeded with their plans to unify all of Spain by continuing a long-standing but stalled effort to expel the Moors (Muslims) who held parts of Spain. In 1492, the Muslim Kingdom of Granada fell to Isabella and Ferdinand, thus completing the Reconquista.
That same year, all Jews in Spain who refused to convert to Christianity were expelled by royal edict.
Also in 1492, Isabella was convinced by Christopher Columbus to sponsor his voyage of discovery. The lasting effects of this were many: by the traditions of the time, when Columbus discovered lands in the New World, they were given to Castile. Isabella took a special interest in the Native Americans of the new lands; when some were brought back to Spain as slaves she insisted they be returned and freed, and her will expressed her wish that the "Indians" be treated with justice and fairness.
Isabella on Deathbed
Isabella had used her own jewels to fund Columbus’ voyage. She kept the books and had always kept her dower/money separate from Ferdinand’s. Wanting a profit from the New World. Bartholomew Dias will point out that the enslaved belong to her as well, so by conversion, they become her Christian subjects, thus the encomienda system becomes more humane and less harsh.
Isabella was a determined woman. Hard-headed and headstrong, she had taken a grip on the reins of her life and dragged Spain into her vision of its greatness in the future.
She had defied her father and brother to achieve Ferdinand, the throne, and a united, all-Catholic Spain. In Columbus, she saw not only the chance to increase Spain’s wealth (gold from the Aztecs, Incas…), but also the chance to spread Catholicism throughout the New World.
She was a rabid, intolerant catholic who believed it was her way or the highway—the Cross or the sword—but she was totally convinced that she was doing God’s Will.
Who Discovered Whom???
Did Columbus Really Discover America?
Christopher Columbus is given credit for discovering the New World, but was he really the first person to step foot in this new land. What about the Native Americas? What about Leif Eriksson? Or what about Americus Vespucius?
Approximately 20,000 years ago the first Native Americans came over a land bridge between Asia and North America. This bridge was over 1,000 miles wide. In 1492 about one million American Indians lived in the United States and Canada and about 20 million million Indians lived in South America.
In 1000 A. D. sailors from Norway called Vikings traveled from Iceland to Greenland. They were lead by Eric the Red. Eric the Red founded a colony on Greenland. Later his son, Leif Eriksson, lead a group to Newfoundland in Canada. Unfortunately no maps were made of these travels. However in 1965 a Viking map dated 1440 was found. The Viking map showed parts of northeastern Canada.
About the same time Columbus was making his third voyage another explorer sailed for North America. His name was Americus Vespucius. Vespucius made maps of his travels. A German school teacher who was writing a new geography book found these maps. The school teacher called the New World America in honor of Vespucius.
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy in 1451. Living by the Mediterranean Sea he longed to be a sailor. He began sailing on Italian ships at the age of 14. When Columbus was 25 he was sailing on a ship headed for England. A group of French pirates attacked his ship. Columbus was hurt, but managed to grab onto some floating wood and make his way to shore. Columbus opened a shop that sold maps and books for sailors. There he became a mapmaker and began reading books. He read a book written by Marco Polo. Columbus was fascinated by Polo's book. After reading this book Columbus was sure he could reach the Indies by traveling west. He wanted to go to the Indies to get jewels and spices. Columbus asked King John II of Portugal for three ships to try out his idea of traveling west to reach the East. The king refused to give him the ships. Columbus tried going to other kings in France and England. They would not give him the ships. Finally Columbus went to the king and queen of Spain; King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He asked them for money to try out his idea of traveling west to reach the East. Queen Isabella refused Columbus at first. Later King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella gave Columbus three ships, a crew of about ninety men, and some money. The three ships were the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María.
On August 2, 1492 the voyage began. The trip was not easy. Columbus's crew was afraid of the unknown seas. They believed monsters were in the waters. Some thought the world was flat, and that their ships were sailing too far from the shore and would fall off the end of the earth. On September 1, 1492 Columbus's ships passed an active volcano on the island of Teneriffe. They also reported seeing a bolt of fire fall from the heavens into the sea. The men took these as a bad signs.
Chris’s First Landfall
There have been many different routes proposed for Columbus starting from Watlings, beginning with the theories of A.B. Becher in 1856 and J.B. Murdock in 1884. But the most widely held view has been that championed by Samuel Elliot Morison in 1940. Since then, a number of people (notably Mauricio Obregon and William Dunwoody) have tinkered with the route in order to try and resolve some of the problems listed below. The Murdock-Morison identifications: Island I = Watlings; Island II = Rum Cay; Island III = Long Island; Island IV = Crooked Island. Dunwoody substitutes Fortune Island as Island IV, a notable improvement.
If the problem list below seems longer than some other theories, that may be just because I've studied this theory in greater detail than some others. Active support for the Watlings theory collapsed in the spring of 1996, after the Leagues-versus-Miles dispute was resolved in favor of leagues.
Watlings Island has been the favored landfall theory for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1926, Fr. Chysostom Schreiner convinced the Bahamian parliament to officially renamed Watlings Island as "San Salvador, or Watlings Island," and you will see the island called San Salvador on most maps today.
The Voyages of Columbus
First Voyage, 1492-1493 San Salvador, The Bahamas Cuba Hispaniola Second Voyage, 1493-1494 Dominica Hispaniola Guadeloupe Antigua Puerto Rico Cuba Jamaica
Third Expedition, 1498-1500 St. Vincent Grenada Trinidad Margarita Venezuela Fourth Expedition, 1502-1504 St. Lucia Martinique Honduras Nicaragua Costa Rica Panama
Why We Are Not Called Columbia
A Florentine explorer named Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) claimed to have made four Atlantic voyages between 1497 and 1504, although only two have been confirmed. Following the 1501 voyage, Vespucci coined the phrase Mundus Novus —New World—to describe the region. The name stuck. Then, in 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller published an account of Vespucci’s voyages. It was Waldseemuller who used a Latinized form of Vespucci’s first name to label the region that Amerigo had explored.
Another theory is that the Viking/Scandinavian combination of land + Eric and a feminine ending =
Amt + Eric + a is how we got the name.
W ithout having to go into prehistoric time, we can safely say that the first inhabitants of the Antilles were The Arawaks . Just prior to 1,000 AD they were expelled from the Lesser Antilles by the Caribs, a people originating, like them, from the lower Orinoco region. Short, copper colored, having black and straight hair, the Arawaks, due to their early arrival in the region, were by the time of Columbus' arrival, peaceful and sedentary. Living from agriculture, hunting and fishing, they grew a soft variety of corn and sweet potatoes. They also knew how to make casava bread using an elaborate process to leach out the poisonous juice of this root. T hey hunted little mammals or lizards with sticks, and birds with stones. They had domesticated a breed of dog, which they used for hunting and occasionally as food. Since the sea providing them with a great bounty, they had therefore developed much more efficient ways of fishing and navigating. The proximity of the island favoring sight navigation they did not embark in long sea faring expeditions as Polynesians will in the Pacific Ocean. If they lived in round dwellings, there also existed rectangular houses, with porches, reserved for dignitaries.
Their art of weaving was highly developed and the cotton hammock in which they slept was one of the few long lasting contributions they made to European culture. They made good baskets and agricultural tools; and sometimes sculpted wooden seats. Their pottery was extremely refined and of real artistic value; even though they ignored the potter's wheel, like all pre-Columbian American Indians. T heir clothing was limited to a short skirt for women; it cut, color and way of wrapping indicating their social class and age. Men and women wore ornaments, usually composed of strips of cotton tied up above their knees and around their upper arms. At their feasts they danced to the sound of flutes and drums. They played a game, somewhat similar to soccer, except that the raw rubber ball had to be tossed with the head, shoulder, elbow or most professionally, by the knee.
Their minstrels, called Sambas , sang comical or sad stories, of war and/or peace times. T he Arawaks were " animists ", which means that they believed in the inner connection of the two worlds (the visible and the invisible one) and in the existence and survival of the soul in the environment (tree, rivers, etc.). They adored the sun, the moon, the stars and the springs, and the Butuous , their respected priests and medicine men are, according to Metraux, the ancestors of present-day Haiti's "docteurs-papier' or ('Docteur-Feuilles')."
The Arawaks believed in eternal life for the virtuous. In Hispaniola they situated their "heaven" in a remote part of the island, where the elected would go to rest and eat the delicious Haitian "apricot." Very little is known abut their political organization. Substantial kingdoms existed and their Kings - the Caciques - exerted absolute power on their subjects.
The quiet and peaceful Arawaks have totally disappeared from the surface of the Earth. This was accomplished in a very short time after the arrival of the Europeans. Aside from the animals imported by the Europeans (in particular the pigs) which left free to roam devastated the tuberous crop of the Arawaks, many were killed in the defensive wars they undertook to preserve their freedom. Others, after being ruthlessly enslaved and submitted to a meager diet of cassava and sweet potatoes, died from malnutrition and overwork in the mines or plantations. Finally, the rest of them died after contracting European diseases from which they were not immune. Their disappearance was so swift and the need for cheap and able labor was so great that 30 years after Columbus' landing the massive deportation of Africans had started.
The American Indian societies of the West Indies were too ill prepared to massively support the shock of contact with Europeans. Due to various diseases and an obstinate repression they swiftly faded away. Today, traces of their contribution can still by found in a few techniques for refining the cassava, in some culinary methods and recipes, in a few terms in the various Creoles, and in some of the syncretic relationships in traditional religion and beliefs.
The Natives Strike Back!
Picture of Indians massacring priests—great propaganda for future opportunities to subjugate and slaughter.
The Atlantic World/ The Columbian Exchange
American corn or more properly maize is a grass (Podacae) that was domesticated 5,000-7,000 years ago by Native American people in the Tehuacan Valley in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The word corn comes from an English word that means any hard kernel or grain and in some texts does not refer to 'Indian corn' or maize.
Potato Sweet Potato
However, in terms of economic and cultural impact maize and potato are the most important and therefore made the list in the Columbian Exchange. There are over forty plants that diffuse to various parts of the world that originated from America and were first cultivated or domesticated by Native American people.
The Columbian Biological Exchange
Old World to New World:
Diseases: Smallpox Measles Chicken Pox Malaria Yellow Fever Influenza The Common Cold