Week 7- Trading in the Americas

This week, we are looking at similarities between the vast southern expanse of North American and Mesoamerican civilizations. One of the first things that comes to my mind is that both regions share in a high amount of distinct cultural groups in a small space. In the American Southwest, there are a large number of Native American cultures, compared with the rest of the  country (http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/academics/soc-anth/special/southwest.html). I find it interesting that the cultural population density is less in the Old World. Perhaps this is because of the long-term inhabitation and earlier migrations spreading thinner and farther while the later migrations to the Americas did not have as much time to disperse.

 

Another similarity, focusing on technology and agriculture, is the introduction of Mesoamerican agriculture and pottery into the Southwest (http://www.cabrillo.edu/~crsmith/southwest.html). The location however, made the Southwest inhabitants experiment more with irrigation techniques than the fairly fertile and wet tropical forests. Although they started out the same, these things quickly were modified and adapted to the region and different cultures.

 

In the Southeast, around 3000-1000 years ago, there is a growth in the presence of long-distance trade materials and development of large earthen mounds (http://www.cabrillo.edu/~crsmith/noamer_soeast.html). People were probably trading over long distances and seeing or hearing about these monumental constructions and modeling their own constructions on foreign design. The platform mounds, like Monk’s Mound at Cahokia, do resemble some of the large platforms in Central America.

 

There is linguistic evidence of trading and adaptations of words from other languages, many of which are in regard to agricultural terms (http://lostworlds.org/language-evidence-mesoamerican-trade-contact-southeastern-u-s/). It appears that certain locations, Casas Grandes, Mogollon and Hohokan served as cultural transmission centers (http://www.traderoots.com/Stories_ConsiderationsOnTheSouthwest.htm) to transmit language, religion, material goods, and technology between both Mesoamerica and Southern North America. It only makes sense to have these areas where highly valued goods pass through, also carrying on non-tangible trades.