By Daniel K. Richter
During this epic synthesis, Richter finds a brand new the US. Surveying many centuries ahead of the yank Revolution, we find the tumultuous encounters among the peoples of North the United States, Africa, and Europe and spot how the current is the buildup of the traditional layers of the previous.
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Additional resources for Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts
In the east, sea currents made it difficult for boats without sails to navigate the hundred miles that separated the Florida peninsula from Cuba and the other islands of the Caribbean, which had primarily been peopled by migrants paddling northward from South America. North Americans, shaped by their own histories and traditions, stood apart. Divided by language, endlessly varied in local customs and beliefs, they were nonetheless united by common substrata: subsistence patterns combining agriculture, hunting, and gathering, extended and often matrilineal kinship, long-distance trade, decentralized chiefdom forms of political organization, and common understandings of power relationships.
Legacies of Power from Medieval North America 21 around growing plants, they planted corn, beans, and squash together in the same fields. Growing beans twined around corn stalks, while broadleaved squash vines retarded weed infestations and retained moisture in the soil. Once the squash vines began to spread, little weeding or other tending was necessary until the crops matured. In the East, even more than in the Southwest, all of this activity occurred in a realm gendered female. In later times, women dug the hills, tended the plants, and harvested the crops.
The vast majority of North American societies that encountered Europeans in the three centu- 36 Progenitors ries after 1492 were farmers, children of the agricultural revolutions that swept the continent beginning in the tenth century. The timing, scope, and character of North Americans’ agricultural revolutions set their diverse societies apart from the equally diverse peoples of Central America and the Caribbean. In the west, lightly populated desert expanses isolated the North American Southwest from the Valley of Mexico and the Yucatan, although constant small-scale interaction occurred.
Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts by Daniel K. Richter