Toward Convergence: Americaand Europe Before 1492 History 3037 History of the United States I: To 1877 J202 Tuesday and Thursday 1500-1615 Professor Donald Bellomy Office Hours J905 Tuesday and Thursday 1330-1445, 1630-1745 firstname.lastname@example.org March 7, 2013
Today’s Lecture We will begin by focusing on the evolution of Indian societies in North America, most of which derived from a migration of hunting tribes with genetic roots in the area around Mongolia that occurred when Asia and North America were linked during the last Ice Age. We will then examine the changes in Indian societies from their origins in small hunting groups. In Mesoamerica (central Mexico down to Panama), extensive agriculture led to cities and powerful military and religious castes, just as in Eurasia. However, while Indian societies in modern New Mexico and Arizona partially imitated their southern neighbors by farming and building permanent towns, elsewhere agriculture was less crucial (e.g., on the Eastern Coast) or nearly non-existent (the Great Plains in the center of the continent, which kept to hunting). “Indians Fishing,” a watercolor by John White of Indians at Roanoke, c. 1585-86
Today’s Lecture (Continued) We then turn to events in Europe. The first European incursions into North America by Scandinavian seamen had little impact. By 1500, though, we will find that a combination of economic, political, and religious factors converged to awaken interest in other parts of the world, especially Asia. The desire to reconnect with Asia stimulated the so-called Age of Discovery as European ships reached Africa, Asia, and eventually the Americas. Portugal remained at the forefront of oceanic discovery until the end of the 15th century. A fanciful portrayal of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the “New World”
Across the Bering Strait José de Acosta (c.1540-1600), a Spanish missionary to the Indians around Lake Titicaca between what are now Peru and Bolivia, wanted to show that Indians were fully human and therefore worthy of conversion to Christianity. This meant convincing other Christians that they could be linked to one of the three sons of Noah. To make that connection, Acosta was apparently the first European to hypothesize that the Indians had come to the Americas across a land bridge either to the far north or the far south. Acosta could only hypothesize, because the site most historians and anthropologists believe to have been the migration point of most Indians – the 55-mile-wide (88 km) Bering Strait between Siberia and Physical map of modern Siberia, Alaska, the the Seward Peninsula in Alaska – Aleutian Islands, and the Bering Strait was only discovered and named in (Source: Geoatlas) 1728 by Vitus Bering, a Danish- born explorer in the Russian navy.
Across the Bering Strait(Continued) Between 28,000 and 14,000 years ago, the last Ice Age put so much of the oceans’ water into the polar ice caps that they spread deep into Europe, Asia, and North America as glaciers, and ocean levels fell as much as 400 feet (122 meters). This drop created a large land bridge between Asia and the Americas at the site of what is now the Bering Strait; “Beringia,” as this temporary land mass is called, in effect made western Alaska part of Asia, since Canada was completely glaciated. Some emigrants might also have used island-hopping across the Aleutians, which would then have extended all the way from southern Alaska to Asia. The genetic link between ancient Beringia (the name given to the Asian peoples and American Indiansexposed land spanning what we now has now been confirmed by DNA call the Bering Strait) and other evidence, including the existence of the blue “Mongol spot” birthmark on some Indian babies.
The Issue of Dating The only problem was how to get to the land bridge, and how to get out of Alaska, if part of Siberia and all of Canada were covered with glaciers at the height of the Ice Age. Until the past few years almost all sources assumed that this could have happened only when the glaciers had begun receding, around 15,000 years ago, but the sea level was still low enough that the land bridge remained intact. However, over the past decade evidence has been mounting that at least some of the ancestors of the native Americans arrived earlier. Coverage of glacial ice sheets at the height of the last Ice Age, c. 18,000BCE
The Issue of Dating (Continued) Much of that evidence comes from mitochondrial DNA testing. As a result, many researchers now believe that some ancestral stock of Indians came over at least 30,000 years ago, at the start of the Ice Age when the same convergence of low enough oceans and open enough land would have existed. However, physical and biological evidence suggests that the great majority of migrants would have used the later convergence to cross over, and it seems likely that only a small minority of the original settlers in North America would have survived the Ice Age to intermarry with the later arrivals.Mammal cell, including mitochondria; the mitochondria, the cell’s energy sources, have DNA and genes that, for functional and evolutionary reasons, derive (from the female’s egg) and propagate separately from other genetic material. As a result, investigators can more easily track a direct genetic lineage and estimate evolutionary divergences through mitochondria as it picks up less genetic static than regular DNA.
The Great Migration Archaeological finds suggest that the glaciers kept the ancestral Indians bottled up in eastern Alaska for several centuries, but eventually they broke out, either along the coast or in the wake of the retreating glaciers. Very similar human encampments have been found from California to Florida dating back 12,000-10,000 years, showing the spread of the later migrants through North America, then downward to South America, reaching from Alaska to Patagonia at the tip of South America (some 8,000 miles, or 12,900 km) by 9,000 years ago. Nor did migration end with the land bridge. Just as some apparently arrived earlier, others left Asia after the Great Migration. Estimates of the migration paths of the ancestors of North American Indians
The Great Migration and After A group speaking a different language and, as their DNA seems to reveal, showing the characteristics of a more Asiatic racial stock, may have taken small boats to Alaska 10,000-8,000 years ago and reached as far south as the American Southwest by 1400 AD. Although some anthropologists and archaeologists dispute the existence of a separate, later migration, almost all scholars agree that these tribes, now known as Navaho and Apache, were late arrivals into what is now the United States. And a final group of migrants – hunters of sea mammals – crossed from Siberia to Alaska beginning 5,000 years ago, and eventually spread eastward to Labrador and Greenland by 2,500 years ago. These were the Inuit (so-called “Eskimos”). Top, Edward Curtis, “A Navaho Boy” (photogravure,1904); bottom, nine Inuit posing for a photographer in 1913 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs)
The Hunting Years People didn’t cross over to Alaska for sightseeing, but for better hunting, typically, from the evidence of early settlement sites, in small bands of 15-50 people. One sign of their hunting roots would be the continuing hold of shamanistic religion, typical of hunting societies. Hunting was easy as the Ice Age receded, as humans had their pick of woolly mammoths, mastodons, horses, camels, and beavers as large as bears – all these species would later go extinct in North America, due both to climate changes and to over-hunting. Horses would return to North America only with the Spaniards – Indians would have had access to horses for only about 200-250 years when their horsemanship became celebrated in 19th-century Researcher examining mammoth bones at early paintings and written accounts. “Paleo-Indian” site near Colby, Wyoming
The Hunting Years (Continued) The extinction of large mammals typically forced a transition to a hunting-gathering existence, with the development of weapons to kill from a distance (not yet bows and arrows) to bring down smaller, faster prey like deer and antelope. At this point the lives of early Indians began to diverge in accord with different climactic and geographical conditions. On the upper US west coast, for instance, rising oceans enticed salmon to spawn in the rivers, leading local Indians to a sedentary existence around the waterways. On the Great Plains Indians would join to stampede herds of bison (buffalo) over cliffs to their deaths. Usually changes in living conditions led to semi-permanent villages and larger populations, as well as sexual differentiation in tasks (men would hunt and fish, while the women would harvest plants and berries).So-called “Folsom points,” flint spear heads, usedby paleo-Indians between 9000-8000 BCE, have been found at many sites across North America
The Entry of Agriculture Agriculture developed by trial-and- error from efforts to care for and increase the yield of wild plants; the Native American development of agriculture represents one of several independent inventions of farming economies in world history. As in the Middle East, agriculture in the Americas developed where climate required more effort to develop and maintain plants, in this case in the semi-arid plateaus of central Mexico. By 1500 BCE, they had developed “Indian corn” – maize – by crossing the original plant with wild grasses to create hybrids with multiple ears per plant, multiple rows of kernels on a cob, and husks to protect the kernels. Soon they were growing the three crops that became agricultural staples across much of the Americas – maize, squashes, and beans. Centeotl, the maize god of the ancient Aztec Indians
Agriculture and MesoamericanSocial Development As in the Middle East, the emergence of agriculture then fostered the development of cities and complex social arrangements in the area of Central America from central Mexico down to Panama known as Mesoamerica (Middle America). For example, archaeologists have recently traced the development of religion and class stratification in the Oaxaca Valley in Mexico. In the beginning (c. 7000 BCE) the Indians in the Oaxaca Valley were hunter- gathers living separately but congregating occasionally for ritual dances and cannibalistic feasts. The first villages in 1500 BCE show the introduction of agriculture. In the villages “men’s houses” had become the center of religion, possibly The major Mesoamerican cultural areas revolving around clan ancestry, but the social structure remained fairly undifferentiated.
Agriculture and MesoamericanSocial Development(Continued) By 1150 BCE, though, control had shifted to a hereditary aristocracy, and “men’s houses” had become elaborate temples. By 500 BCE, the society had become a military state, and religion had become the exclusive province of a new special caste of priests, completely segregated from the rest of society. This pattern seems to have repeated itself numerous times in Central and northern South America by the time that Europeans first encountered Indian cultures. Pyramid of the Mayan Indians of Tikal, eastern Mexico
The Spread of Agriculture By 1500 BCE early agriculture had spread up from Mexico to the American southwest, where in imitation of Mexican lifestyles people lived in “pueblos” (Spanish for villages), and so came to be called Pueblo Indians (this is not a tribe or language, but a mode of living used by a number of tribes) Agriculture was slower to reach further east, apparently because the climate was so advantageous that the commitment to agriculture was not necessary, but by 900-1100 CE the “Mound Builders” in the Mississippi Valley had not only adopted agriculture but also cities and pyramids, though with only a few exceptions, notably the area around Moundville, Alabama, the cities and pyramid-like mounds hadThe pueblo (“village”) near Taos, New Mexico, in 1891. fallen into disuse by the time At that point Indians had already been inhabiting this Europeans and local Indians first pueblo continuously for more than 800 years. encountered one another.
The Spread of Agriculture(Continued) By 1200 agriculture had also spread into the eastern US and as far north as Canada just above the Great Lakes. Any further north would not have allowed the minimum 120 continuous frost-free days that were a prerequisite for agriculture as practiced by the Amerindians. Native American women farming on the east coast of North America
Economic Diversity But agriculture never completely dominated economies and societies among North American Indians. There is no natural sequence of economic and social structures that societies must follow. Instead, they will do whatever is easiest to do to get the maximum result. Among Amerindians this meant that the Indian societies of the eastern US, while incorporating agriculture, never committed themselves as wholeheartedly to farming as the Mesoamerican Indians – it was never men’s work, as it was in Mexico, but was left to the women while the men hunted. In addition, north-south migration of agricultural innovations is far more difficult than the east-west migration of crops, tools, and social innovations across Asia, Europe, and northern Africa, due to the sharper differences in climate. Obverse (back side) of a 2009 $1 coin showing aNative American woman planting seeds in a field with maize (corn), squash, and beans
Economic Diversity (Continued) Also, perhaps due to the lower importance of farming as well as the different crop mix, Indian societies differed in other ways from Euro-asian cultures: plows were unknown in the Americas, fertility gods and rites were of minor importance, related technologies (e.g., wheeled carts) did not develop, and few animals were domesticated as beasts of burden (only llamas in South America) or food sources (no cattle, no pigs). As a result, even though both East Coast American Indian and European cultures had agricultural bases, they had difficulty recognizing the utility and validity of the other group’s approach. In the Great Plains, with infrequent Plains Indians hunting bison (buffalo) rainfall and rivers difficult to use for irrigation, Indians largely ignored agriculture and remained hunters, mostly for bison (buffalo).
Economic Diversity (Continued) Consequently the popular image of Indians hunting buffalo and surrounding white intruders on horseback really only fits the Plains Indians – and even then, only after European brought horses with them and Plains Indians learned how to exploit them. From California to the Rockies, agriculture never took hold, and Indian societies kept to hunting and gathering. In the American Northwest and Canadian Southwest as well as areas bordering on the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, and parts of the US East Coast, This map actually undercounts the economic diversity economies revolved primarily of North American Indians, since the mixed hunting- around fishing. agricultural societies in what is now the eastern United States would have been very different from the overwhelmingly agricultural social and economicstructures in the US Southwest and central and western Mexico
And All Other Types of Diversity asWell By 1492 the best “guesstimate” is that there were some 50 million Indians across North and South America, with only 10% of them (5 million) living north of Mexico. They spoke at least 375 different languages, although many were clearly related (notably the “Iroquoisian” family of languages). They practiced a wide variety of local customs and beliefs, and often clashed with one another. There is some evidence that, just as the Aztecs dominated Mexico and the Incas controlled northwestern South America, a similar cohesion would have been forced on at least parts of North America. The Confederacy of the Iroquois in the 16th century, before Europeans settled in Northeastern America, was a step in this direction. But it Depiction of the legendary founding of the Iroquois never happened, because Confederacy, 16th century something happened first: the arrival of Europeans.
Meanwhile, in Europe…. “Norsemen” or “Vikings” from Scandinavia, especially Denmark, raided throughout Europe in the 8th and 9th centuries, establishing offshoots as far south as Sicily. They also pushed west, exploring and colonizing Iceland and Greenland in the 10th century. Around 1000, they reached the far northeastern corners of North America: Labrador and Newfoundland in Canada, and may have gone as far south as New York. But it didn’t matter. They were too far from their base in Greenland, and provoked hostilities with the local Indians, whom they called “Skraelings” (loosely translatable as “ugly good-for-nothings”). The settlement was given up after a generation, recalled only in a few Norse sagas. No one else knew or cared, and by 1492 the descendants of the Vikings had abandoned even Greenland to the expanding Inuit. Viking explorations in “Vinland”(northeastern North America) c. 1000 C.E.
The 15th-Century Convergence What did eventually matter was the relatively rapid development of Western Europe after the era of the Viking raids, from 1000 on, and the intersection of economic ambition and religious fervor in 15th-century Europe. By 1450 it was not yet clear that Europe would dominate the next half millennium of world history, but in retrospect we can see a newly confident civilization building up steam, not unlike republican Rome in 200 BCE or Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries. Contributing factors included: Merchant-based trade in what had become for the first time since the Roman Empire a continent-wide money economy, leading to a push for more trade and more money. Significant urbanization as Europe in 1400 towns developed along key trade routes.
The 15th-Century Convergence The rise of universities and the spread of learning, much of it relearned from the Greeks and Romans through the medium, ironically, of Islamic culture. A shift in the political center of gravity toward militarily and economically powerful nation- states, in France, Britain, and Spain. A brief lull in the conflict between Christian and Muslim states created by the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols that allowed the consolidation of Christianity in Europe. Moslems were gradually expelled from their foothold in Spain. At this time Europeans began Henry Bolingbroke (1366-1413) laying claim to getting a direct (rather thanthe throne of England as King Henry IV in 1399, through Middle East intermediaries)a claim he made good on by defeating Richard II taste of trade with Asia, because the Mongols opened easy routes to in 1400 the East that were pioneered by Italian merchants like Marco Polo.
The 15th-Century Convergence(Continued) The rise of the Ottoman Turks to replace earlier Turkish groups in the Middle East accelerated the decline of the Mongol-dominated khanate in Baghdad. The shift in the balance of power in western Asia then required new responses in Europe. First, Turkish military successes closed the easy trade routes to Eastern Asia. Second, as the Ottoman Turks finished mopping up the remnants of the Christian Byzantine Empire and began moving toward Vienna, they represented a new Islamic thrust when memories of a Christian presence in the Holy Land after the First Crusade were still fresh. Europeans reacted to these Empire of the Ottoman Turks in 1521 developments out of a mixture of motives, part religious, part economic.
The 15th-Century Convergence(Continued) Almost all European seafaring activities in the 15th and 16th centuries during what would be called the “Age of Discovery,” which would initiate the European presence in Asia, including the early Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch colonies, as well as the first contacts with the American continents, derived from this blend of motives, sometimes favoring the religious side of the equation, sometimes the economic.The Cantino World Map, copied in 1502 from aPortuguese source that summarized what was known from the early decades of the Age ofDiscovery: a lot about Africa, some about India and southern Asia, little about East Asia, and,for the Americas, only pockets of disconnected information about Columbus’s voyages to theCaribbean and recent Portuguese explorations of Greenland and Newfoundland to the north and Brazil to the south
Beginning of the Age of Discovery Typical of the mixed religious and economic motivations for sea-based exploration, though more to the religious side, was Henry the Navigator of Portugal, in many respects a pre-modern figure who “lived like a monk and died a virgin.” Henry of Portugal nevertheless helped usher in European modernity and its worldwide expansion, even though his goal was to re-ignite the Crusades . He wanted to link with the mythical figure of Prester John somewhere in Africa or India to launch a two-pronged attack to recover the Holy Land from the Ottoman Turks. He put his faith in ocean routes to get there. He had access to crews of experienced Portuguese sailors and fishermen, and sponsored the redesign of caravels – local boats – into the first European ships capable of sustained ocean voyages. Statue of Henry the Navigator (1394- 1460), New Bedford, Massachusetts
The African Years Henry secured bases in the island groups off the African coast and out in the Atlantic (Madeira, Canaries, the Azores). As Portuguese ships pushed down the African coast, the first expedition bearing a cargo of black slaves returned to Portugal in 1441. The new island possessions in the Atlantic and the start of the slave trade almost immediately created a new economic institution: the slave plantation organized to grow a single commercially attractive crop, initially sugar (by the late 15th century Madeira was the sugar capital of the world). This economic institution would soon be imitated by the Spanish, French, and British The Azores and Madeira islands shown in in the Americas.relation to Portugal and the northwestern coast After reaching the point where the of Africa north African hump pulls back eastward, a temporary lull in exploration occurred after Henry’s death in 1460.
The African Years (Continued) However, activity gradually picked up again due to profits from the new slave trade – a hope that sailing east would allow ships to round Africa and gain entry to India – the fact that (despite widespread fears) all Europeans didn’t suddenly die after crossing the Equator – and Portugal’s growing rivalry with Spain, which was beginning to show some interest in competing with its neighbor in the Iberian peninsula. There were even continuing hopes of linking with Prester John as some natives were released at each landing to an attempt to reach him. Portuguese expansion into Africa, early 15th century
The Asian Years A new phase opened in 1488, when Bartolomeu Dias rounded the South African coast and could report back that the way was now clear to reach India by sea. On his way back he named what would become the most famous of the southern points of South Africa the Cape of Storms; the king of Portugal at the time rejected the proposal as too pessimistic and renamed it the Cape of Good Hope, meaning the “good hope” both of reaching Prester John and of getting rich by trading with India. After other Portuguese navigators began to explore the eastern coast of Africa, in 1498 Vasco da Gama, sailing on behalf of the Portuguese, reached a site near the southern Indian city of Calicut, and initiated the European presence in Asia.Later (1838) representation of Vasco da Gama (c.1469-1524) by Antonio Manuel de Fonseca (1796-1890), now in the Greenwich Hospital Collection of the National Maritime Museum, London
The Asian Years (Continued) Eventually the Portuguese would claim various cities in India and most of the East Indies, the spice islands comprising what is now Indonesia. They would lose most of their Asian possessions, usually to the Dutch, and would find other competitors, including the Spanish who claimed the Philippines, but their overall success was stunning for a country so small – Portuguese is still, depending on who’s counting, either the 7th or 8th most spoken language in the world. The principal Portuguese settlements in east Africa and southern Asia by the early 1600s
Spain Enters the Picture Even as the Pope awarded Portugal with trade monopolies and conversion rights in the lands it was reaching, its major European competitor and next- door neighbor was picking up speed. Spain was completing a seven- century-long reconquest of its part of the Iberian peninsula from the “Moors” (i.e., Islamic invaders from North Africa); the piecemeal reconquest meant that different kingdoms had been set up at different times. The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile in 1479 was engineered so that each could be monarch of the other kingdom, establishing (for all intents and purposes) Spain as we know it. In January 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella entered Granada on the southern coast, the last outpost of Moslem control in Spain. All of Spain was now under Christian rule. Ferdinand and Isabella entering Granada, 1492, from a relief sculpture