The Chavin were a civilization that extended from 900 BC and 200 BC and they developed in Northern Andean highlands of Peru. During their time, they had a wide sphere of influence on cultures and civilizations around them. The Chavin influence ranged from infrastructural development to cultural practices to ceramics and iconography.
This is a water shed event in the history of South America because it influenced the way South American civilizations in the Andean regions and in Peru developed and impacted the overall development of society and culture in South America. Basically, the Chavin sphere of influence is important because it greatly impacted how many South American people lived their day to day lives. Pacopampa, located north (about a 3-week trek) of Chavín de Huántar, has renovations on the main temple that are characteristic of Chavín culture.
The Arawak are a group of indigenous people of South America. They are said to have emerged from Orinoco River valley. From their they spread all throughout South America and even reached the Caribbean spreading their cultural practices and languages along the way.
The Arawak diaspora is a significant event in South American history since it brought the influence of Arawak cultures and languages to several parts of South America and the Caribbean. In fact, by the time of the Spanish conquistadors Arawak languages were the most widely utilized languages in South America, with speakers located in various areas along the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers and their tributaries
Maize is a large grain plant domesticated by the peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. This grain is a major source of starch and as a result it is a food source upon which the development of many civilizations depended upon. First, it spread from Mesoamerica to Northern and Western parts of South America and then it spread into the Amazon basin.
The spread of maize to the Amazon basin is a significant event in South American history because it provided a fundamental resource upon which civilization could take a hold of that particular area. To illustrate, the Wari culture and the Inca civilization were able to establish settlements in the Amazon basin due to the availability and productivity of maize in that area.
The Mayans developed a form of script known today as the Mayan Script. Maya writing utilized logograms accompanied by a set of syllabic glyphs. This development is very important because this script or a different script derived from it spread all over Mesoamerica and northern South America. This allowed them to keep written records and communicate more effectively and this in turn allowed Mesoamerican and South American civilizations to develop to greater extents and flourish.
The Nazca were a culture that flourished from 100 BC to 800 AD beside the southern coast of Peru in the river valleys of the Rio Grande de Nazca drainage and the Ica Valley. Their society consisted of local chiefdoms and regional centers of power.
The establishment of Nazca culture is significant in the history of South America since they influence societies around them through the spread of their art work as well as religious and political practices. Via these influence this culture was able to shape the lives of many people in South America. To illustrate, the Nazca practice of utilizing hallucinogenic drugs by priests in religious ceremonies have also been conducted by cultures such as the Moche.
The Moche civilization from 100 AD to about 800 AD in Northern Peru. The Moche society was agriculturally based and they developed a sophisticated culture that revolved around hunting, fishing, fighting, sacrifice and elaborate ceremonies.
The Moche civilization’s innovative practice of irrigation influenced the farming practices of cultures around them. In addition, the Moche influenced other civilizations and cultures around them when it came to art, religious practices and cultural development. Moche pottery and artwork were found in areas under the Inca civilization. All in all, the Moche civilization, at the time, had a relatively significant impact on how the lives of South Americans residing in Peru shaped up.
The potato is a starchy tuberous crop. They were first domesticated in South America at around 8000 to 5000 BC. However, initially the potato was very bitter and even contained small amounts of toxins. However, thousands of years of artificial selection by South Americans led to the potato we know and love today. They were a major part the diet for Pre Columbian South American civilizations and later became an important part of European diet when potatoes were introduced to Europe approximately 400 years ago.
The aforementioned innovation in potato cultivation is important because it provided an important and efficient food source for pre Columbian civilizations, and this served as a foundation upon which these civilizations flourished. Furthermore, this potato innovation led to the diffusion of potato farming to Europe where it served as an important part of European diet, helped end famines and led to a higher population growth rate.
Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization that existed from 2000 BC to 250 AD. During AD 250 this civilization started to reach its peak in terms of power, social, cultural and infrastructural development. This meant that they became a highly powerful, prosperous, and stable empire with sophisticated social and cultural practices.
The Mayans had great cultural and social influence on cultures and civilizations in Mesoamerica as well as Northern South America. They spread their written language as well as their social, cultural and farming practices. This influence greatly shaped contemporary and future civilizations in terms of their societal and cultural practices. To illustrate, the Mayans influenced mathematical practice in Aztec society since the Aztecs were utilizing the base 20 number system.
The Chibcha are the indigenous people of the eastern cordillera of the Andes of Colombia. In the region of what is today Colombia, they were the most highly developed of all the other cultures. Their practices of agriculture, metallurgy, mining, weaving, and pottery made them very prosperous while at the same time influenced the practices and lifestyles of cultures around them. Their political system based on stratified organization also went on to politically influence the cultures around them. Moreover, the Chibcha languages spread all over Colombia as well as other parts of northern South America. Groups and cultures speaking Chibcha languages were found in Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras.
The city of Tiwanaku was the capital to the powerful Tiwanaku culture that dominated the large area of the southern Andes and beyond. Due to its power, the civilization including the capital had great influence on a large group South American people in the civilization as well as in the surrounding cultures. They developed infrastructural practices as well as farming, construction and artwork practices that diffused to other cultures in South America. Its extensive farming made it an agricultural hub. In addition, the Tiwanaku city state and culture developed strong religious ties to political and social functioning, traits that would be incorporated into other South American cultures. Symbols of Tiwanaku ideology and ritual can be found in areas such as San Pedro de Atacama, Quebrada de Humahuaca, and the Central Chilean valleys.