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it is believed that the first humans settled North and South America or began to settle it about 15 to 16 thousand years ago and the mainstream theory is that they came across from North East Asia across the Bering Strait during the last glaciation period when sea levels were lower and there was land there was a land bridge of the famous bering land bridge connecting the two continents and we have archeological evidence of humans in southern chile as early as 14,500 years ago and as well as florida as early as 14,500 years ago so humans have had migrated into and settled in the americas many many many thousands of years ago and like other places in the world they fell they followed similar development patterns the first evidence we have of the development of agriculture in the americas is about seven to eight or nine thousand years ago so once again it coincides with when agriculture we believe started to emerge in other parts of the world and the more archaeology evidence we find we'll probably find dates that go even further back than that in fact i've seen some that go eight 9,000 years ago now one misconception significant misconception about the americas is that when the europeans colonized remember columbus come sailing in 1492 looking for the east indies and then he bumped into this he actually doesn't bump into the whole continent he bumped into an island that's close to the continent but with that you start having the beginning of the european colonization of the americas roughly the last 500 years and one misconception that folks often have is well it was maybe sparsely populated mainly by hunter-gatherer nomadic people and nothing could be further from the truth the modern estimate of the population of the americas at the time of the european colonization roughly around 1500 is one is 50 to 100 million people and to put that in perspective so that's right around there that's about 10 to 20 percent of the world population at that time the world population at that time was about 500 million people and given that the Americas is about one third of the the land if you don't count if you don't count Antarctica it's not that different of a population density than the other continents and we have significant cities that were in place in the pre-columbian era and the era before Columbus and the european colonization for example you might have heard of the aztecs it's really the core the Mexica people the Mexico tribe the Fantom in many ways the foundations of the Mexican people pre pre European colonization you might have also be familiar with the Mayan civilization one of the longest-lasting civilizations in actually in history they're famous for one of the earliest cultures where we have the hieroglyphics where we have writing you're probably familiar with the Inca Empire and yes that is me on a recent trip and at the time of the Inca Empire it is believed that it was possibly the largest empire on the earth at that time incredibly complex structures and social structures they had now what's often less talked about are things like the Mississippian culture which was a North which was in North America right over here the Mississippi River is named for them this is their famous city of Cahokia near st. Louis and in there in that peak it would have 40,000 people in it around the world at that time at the time of the Mississippian culture there weren't many cities in the world that had 40,000 people so it wasn't these just hunter-gatherers and and people who are nomadic there were sophisticated civilizations with sophisticated cultures and and dense population centers but and it was and has also been in place for long long time similar in timeframe to some of the great ancient civilizations that we see in Mesopotamia the Indus Valley and in China for example the oldest civilization we know of in Mesoamerica is the Olmec civilization right over here here's a few of their artifacts they have if we go into the Andes near modern-day near modern-day Peru we have the shavon culture right over there as you can see a lot of these cultures at least the ones that I'm putting here this is just a sample I'm sampling some of North America some around Mesoamerica and some in the Andes and then you can even go further back and you can go to the coral civilization and what's really interesting about the coral civilization to some archeologists call this the first civilization and it's unclear whether they had whether they armed grains and cereals that we often associate with civilizations they use their surplus crops to have a more specialized labor force but they were a maritime culture even today the coast of Peru is a significant source of all of the or a good chunk of the seafood in the world but a significant culture developed there these are the remnants --is of their of their pyramids and they developed we believe in the fourth millennium BCE so this is around the same time as when Egypt first got unified around manys or by manys or you have the first Sumerians in Mesopotamia and as far back as them you have these khipu nuts which many archaeologists view as a form of writing is a form of record-keeping it was even used later on by the Incas so the big takeaway here is to challenge that misconception that the Americas somehow were not as corn ah'd as has populations and civilizations like everything else was only when the Europeans came in that all of that started to happen no well before the Europeans came in North and South America had been settled agriculture developed at a similar time scale significant complex civil Asians writing developed on a similar timescale but once you have the European colonisation some people say it was intentional it was probably a combination of intentional and just diseases that were unfamiliar to the people here within 150 years that 50 to 100 million population so now we're talking about roughly by 1650 so you move a little bit future and forward in time the population had gone to roughly 6 million people some people refer to a genocide some people would say it's a combination of an intentional extermination of people plus just inadvertent disease whatever it is this was the kind of the significant decline of a complex and diverse set of populations this is just a small sample of the major civilizations that were there you had thousands of tribes across North and South America that had different cultures different languages different traditions and different religions
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