History 2283: History of Ancient America (2000-01)

Andrew G. Wood


Students in The History of Ancient America will engage in a detailed survey on the development of Pre-Columbian cultures in North, Central and South America from the earliest migrations across the Bering straight to the florescence of the Maya, Inca and Aztec Empires on the eve of European contact.


Our exploration will begin by asking how it was that various Americans established themselves throughout the continent after migrating from Central Asia. Tracing the development of Ancient American cultures over time, we will conclude by considering briefly how it was that a relatively rag tag bunch of Spanish adventurers managed to impose themselves and subsequently colonize the powerful Aztec and Inca Empires in the sixteenth century.


Emphasizing hemispheric, multimedia and interdisciplinary approaches, History of Ancient America will require students to be patient and persistent in their effort to understand this complex history of the hemisphere before the arrival of the Europeans as well as the large amount of scholarship on the subject.

Required Reading

  • Heather Pringle, In Search of Ancient North America: An Archaeological Joruney to Forgotten Cultures. (Wiley and Sons, 1997)
  • Nigel Davies, The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru. (New York, Penguin, 1998)
  • Michael Ernest Smith (ed.), Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica: A Reader. (London: Blackwell Publishers, 2000)
  • Mesolore: Exploring Mesoamerican Culture. www.mesolore.org

Grading:

  • Four three page papers (40%)
  • Rotating presentations and participation (10%)
  • 3 assignments based on Mesolore (www.mesolore.org) (15%)
  • 4 Friday quizzes (20%)
  • Take home final (15%).

See below for scheduling.

Schedule/Themes/Assignments:

August 26: Introduction/Exploring the Archeology, History and Ancient North America

(Class cancelled Friday August 30/Labor Day Holiday

Monday, September 2).

Reading:
N. Scott Momaday, “The Becoming of the Native: Man in America before Columbus,” in Alvin M. Josephy Jr. (ed.) America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus. (New York: Vintage Press, 1991)
Heather Pringle, In Search of Ancient North America, Introduction, chapters 1, 2.

September 4: Ancient North America

Reading:
Pringle, In Search of Ancient North America, chapters 3,4,5, 6.

September 9: Ancient North America

Reading:
Pringle, In Search of Ancient North America, chapters 7, 8, 9 and Conclusion.

(Papers on Pringle Due Monday 9/16)

September 16: Ancient Mesoamerica: General Social and Economic Organization, Olmec

Reading:
Smith and Masson (ed.) The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica, Introduction, Chapter 18 “Art, Ritual and Rulership in the Olmec World,” Chapter 1 “Analyzing Household Activities.”

September 23: Teotihuacan: Classic Mesoamerican Urbanism

Reading:
Mesolore: Scholars section, Profile of Linda Manzanilla
Smith and Masson, The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica, chapter 4 “Corporate Groups and Domestic Activities at Teotihuacan,” chapter 3 “On the Nature of the Mesoamerican City,” chapter 15 “State and Society at Teotihuacan, Mexico.”

(First Mesolore assignment due Monday, 9/30).

September 30: Maya Society and Culture

Reading:
Mesolore: Scholars section, Debate on “History vs. Propaganda,” statements by Linda Schele and William Saunders
Mesolore, Scholars section, Debate on “Analyzing Gender,” statement by Rosemary Joyce
Smith and Masson, The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica, chapter 2 “Distinguishing the High and Mighty from the Hoi Polloi at Tikal, Guatemela,” chapter 12 “Power of Prestige: Competitve Generosity and the Emergence of Rank Societies“€¦,” chapter 20 “Kingship in the Late Preclassic Maya Lowlands: The Instruments and Places of Ritual Power,” chapter 13 “Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs.”

(Paper #2 due Monday 10/7).

October 7: Classic to Postclassic Maya

Reading:
Smith and Masson, The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica, chapter 14 “Ideology in Ancient Maya Cultural Evolution: The Dynamics of Galactic Polities, “chapter 7 “Economic Change in the Lowland Maya Late Classic Period,” chapter 21 “Postclassic Maya Ritual at Laguna de On Island, Belize” chapter 23 “Living with the Ancestors: Kinship and Kingship in Ancient Maya Society.”

(Paper #3 due Monday 10/14).

October 14: The Aztec, Mixtec, Zapotec and Other Neighbors

Reading:
Mesolore, Scholars section, Debate on “Analyzing Gender,” statements by Elizabeth M Brumfiel, Susan Kellogg, and Alfredo López Austin
Mesolore, Scholars section, Debate on “History vs Propaganda,” statement by John Pohl.
Smith and Masson, The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica, chapter 9 “Principles of Regional and Long Distance Trade in the Aztec Empire,” chapter 22 “Figurines and the Aztec State: Testing the Effectiveness of Ideological Domination,“chapter 17 “The Four Priests,” chapter 16 “Militarism and Social Organization it Xochicalco, Morelos,” chapter 19 “Ancient Zapotec Ritual and Religion.”

(Second Mesolore assignment due Monday 10/21).

October 21: Mesoamericans on the Eve of European Contact

Reading:
Mesolore, “Life Beside the Water” Nahua tutorial
Smith and Masson, The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica, chapter 5 “Landscapes of Cultivation in Mesoamerica on the Eve of Conquest,” chapter 10 “New Perspectives on Prehispanic Highland Mesoamerica,” chapter 11 “Rural Economy in Late Postclassic Morelos.”

(Paper #4 due Monday 10/28).

October 28: Ancient South America: Moche, Nazca

Reading:
Nigel Davies, “The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru,” Preface, chapters 1, 2, 3.

November 4: Middle Kingdoms

Reading:
Davies, The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru, chapters 4, 5 6.

November 11: Incas

Reading:
Davies, The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru, chapters 7,8,9.

November 18: Incas continued.

Internet assignment T.B.A.

November 25: Thanksgiving Break

December 2: Contact and So-Called Conquests.

Reading:
Mesolore: Read the “Introduction to the Codex Selden” and “Introduction to the Alvarado Vocabulario“ Ñudzavui tutorials
Mesolore: Read the “Introduction to the Lienzo de Tlaxcala” Nahua tutorial
Mesolore: Listen to statements by all participants in the “Indigenous Rights” Debate (Scholars section).

(Third Mesolore assignment due Monday December 9).

December 9: Last Week of Class/Conclusions and Commentary

Finals Week: Take Home Final Due (Date T.B.A.)

Andrew G. Wood
History of Ancient America
History 2283
University of Tulsa

Mesolore assignment #1

Due at the beginning of class

  1. After reviewing the “debate” titled “History or Propaganda,” Use an example to illustrate the key differences between “Myth,” “Propaganda” and “History.”
  2. Upon considering David Carrasco“€™s lecture “Intro to Mesoamerica,” define Mesoamerica.
  3. View Linda Manzanilla“€™s Profile, (Scholars section) and discuss the following:
    • What are the origins of Teotihuacan?
    • What methods do we use to study domestic life?
    • What do you consider to be one of the most interesting historical issues (regarding this ancient city) and why?
    • How does Manzanilla compare Teotihuacan to other ancient civilizations?

Mesolore assignment #2

Due at the beginning of class

  1. Read the “Life in the Rain Place” Ñudzavui tutorial and describe the geography of the Mixtec cultural area and how it has influenced their culture.
  2. Read the “Mesoamerican Screenfolds” and “Introduction to the Codex Nuttall” Ñudzavui tutorials and briefly describe the importance of the Mixtec codices and how these documents are to be read.
  3. Read the “The Ñudzavui Body” and “Images of Action” Ñuzavui tutorials, and view the Lecture (Scholars section) on “Introduction to the Mixteca.” Describe how Mixtec gender identity was represented in the codices and from this what can be said about the place of women and men in Mixtec culture?
  4. Watch the Profile of Ellen Messer (Scholars section) and briefly describe the traditional foods of the Mixtec and their significance. What are the essential “ingredients” here?

Mesolore assignment #3

Due at the beginning of class

  1. Read the “Introduction to the Codex Selden” Ñudzavui tutorial and the “Introduction to the Lienzo de Tlaxcala” Nahua tutorial, and listen to the statment by R. Douglas Cope in the “Indigenous Rights” Debate (Scholars section). Write a three page paper that describes indigenous responses to European invasion and the subsequent colonial system that the “New Lords” established.