Ancient America

"Ancient" is kind of a relative term. If you're talking about Asia or Europe, ancient refers back thousands of years. In relation to the Americas, however, it describes a time that in the rest of the world is known as the Renaissance or the Early Modern Period. That's not because North and South America don't have history going back further, but because that history is largely unknown.

The oldest American civilizations, the "great" civilizations, are mostly found in Mexico and South America: the Aztecs and Maya in Mexico, and the Inca Empire in Peru. They all left behind plenty of artifacts, but written language was scarce, and the hieroglyphs archaeologists have found are largely difficult to translate. We have mostly religious sites, ruined private and civic buildings, and artwork to piece together their stories.

It also doesn't help that the first Europeans to meet up with these groups were fierce and greedy. Explorers and traders were more interested in gold and slaves than they were in anthropological study, and they spread chaos, fear and violence throughout an area no less violent but maintaining a sense of balance before the European arrival.

In North America, Indian tribes were smaller and less advanced culturally (art, architecture, math, etc.), though alliances like the Iroquois League evidenced a highly advanced social organization and government. The League was an association of various tribes protected by alliance, and it was already firmly in place when European settlers and explorers first arrived in the 17th century.

20th century historians like to posit theories of the origins of all these cultures, and also to villify the "white men" as much as possible. Some of the former are pretty far-fetched, and most of the latter attempts are immoderate. Yes, men like Cortes were unscrupulous and did much more harm than good, but there were good and bad explorers, and the natives weren't exactly saints, either.

The best thing to come of the European discovery of the New World was the spread of the Gospel to people who'd never heard it. This is ultimately the best part of any story—the part where humans, bloody and wicked and on the brink of collapse, are redeemed and renewed through the working of the Holy Spirit. Some of the most compelling missionary stories came from the wreckage of ancient American cultures, and for that we can rejoice and thank God for His mercy and lovingkindness, even to the most oppressed people.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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12 Items found Print
Active Filters: 7th grade (Ages 12-13)
Amethyst Ring
from Houghton Mifflin
for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$4.80 (1 in stock)
Ancient Times
by Suzanne Strauss Art
from Pemblewick Press
for 6th-9th grade
in Ancient America (Location: HISW-ANAM)
Before Columbus
by Charles C. Mann
from Atheneum
for 4th-8th grade
in Ancient America (Location: HISW-ANAM)
$24.99 $18.00 (1 in stock)
Cortes and the Aztec Conquest
by Irwin R. Blacker
from American Heritage Publishing Co.
for 6th-10th grade
in Horizon Caravel Books (Location: VIN-HOR)
Cultural Atlas for Young People: Ancient Maya & Aztec Civilizations
by Marion Wood
3rd edition from Facts On File
Ancient History Reference/Atlas for 4th-8th grade
in Ancient America (Location: HISW-ANAM)
$35.00 $18.00 (1 in stock)
First Houses: Native American Homes and Sacred Structures
by Jean Guard Monroe, Ray A. Williamson
from Houghton Mifflin
for 6th-12th grade
in Houses & Homes (Location: HISV-HH)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
History of US Book 1
History of US Book 1
by Joy Hakim
3rd Revised Edition from Oxford University
American History Reference for 5th-9th grade
in History of US (Location: HISRF-US)
$15.95 $11.00 (1 in stock)
Lost City
by Ted Lewin
Reprint from Puffin Books
for 3rd-7th grade
in Latin & South America (Location: HISMC-LAT)
by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt
2nd edition from Nomad Press
for 5th-7th grade
in Ancient America (Location: HISW-ANAM)
Native America on the Eve of Discovery
by Suzanne Strauss Art
from Pemblewick Press
for 6th-9th grade
in Ancient America (Location: HISW-ANAM)
North American Indian Burial Customs
by Dr. H. C. Yarrow
First Edition from Eagle's View Publishing
for 6th-Adult
in Native Americans (Location: HISA-19NAT)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
We Were There with Cortes and Montezuma
We Were There #25
by Benjamen Appel
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 5th-9th grade
in We Were There Series (Location: VIN-WWT)