Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
The first Americans crossed the land bridge that linked Siberia with Alaska during the last Ice Age. Gradually, they spread through the continent. By around 8000 BC there were people in almost every part of the Americas.
The first Americans were hunters, gatherers, and fishermen, and this way of life continued in tropical rainforests and cold northern woods. Other peoples became farmers. In the Andes of South America they grew potatoes and herded llama. In fertile river valleys, MOUND BUILDERS grew corn, beans, and squash. In semideserts, the PUEBLO people farmed irrigated fields.
The rituals of early Americans were closely connected with persuading the gods, or spirits, to continue to provide sunshine and rain. With gifts of blood and food, and sacrifices of animals and young people, they honored the gods on whom life depended.
Around 1500 BC, craftworkers in South America discovered how to shape nuggets of gold, silver, and copper by hammering them, stretching them into wire, or melting them and casting them in molds. They crafted jewelry, ritual objects, and images of gods.
From around AD 800, in parts of southwest North America, rooms were stacked on top of each other to make villages called pueblos. People living in these apartments also became known as Pueblos.
Between 700 BC and AD 550, Adena and Hopewell peoples in the Ohio Valley built huge earth mounds. Some were meeting places for long-distance traders. Others were holy monuments or tombs.