London: Thames and Hudson, 1968. — 144 p. — (Library of the Early Civilizations).When Columbus arrived in America in 1492 he found a culture possessing many features which the Spanish invaders understood: hierarchical states, rulers living in splendour, fine buildings, specialist craftsmen and a religion that dominated the lives of the population. Yet the Spaniards must have been astonished that so civilized a people lacked iron, the wheel, the plough, an alphabet and domestic animals. Our knowledge of the ancient American civilizations (from prehistory to 1492) has been transformed during the last 25 years. Radiocarbon dating (unknown a quarter of a century ago) has enabled many advances to be made, including the substitution of a time scale for guesswork and the establishment of correlations between the chronologies of different areas. Other recent work has given us a picture of how, in central Mexico, man, starting as a hunter and gatherer of wild plants, learnt over a period of some 4000 years to cultivate plants to an extent which enabled him to settle in permanent villages. At the other end of the cultural scale, intensive work on the great temple groups of the Maya and others has revealed new and exciting features, and has shown that some are far older than we had believed. In Peru, new discoveries relate chiefly to the earliest periods of occupation; much work remains to be done on the later stages. After a general account of the earliest signs of human activity throughout the American continent, Dr Bushnell concentrates on the areas where the highest civilizations developed — namely, Mesoamerica (Mexico and the adjacent countries to the south and east where the Maya civilization flourished), and the Central Andes (Peru and Bolivia).Chronological Table. Early Man Before 5000 BC. The Rise of the Farmers. North America. Mexico. Peru. Priests and Princes. Oaxaca. The Maya. Teotihuacan. The Gulf Coast. The Coming of the Warriors. The Aztecs. Western Mexico. The Intermediate Area. Central America. Colombia. Ecuador. The Growth of Empire. Peru and the Incas.
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