The History of the United States
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History of the U.S.
Prehistory
Pre-Columbian Era

Colonial America (1492-1763)

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Agricultural development

Trivia powered by Prof. WalterEarly inhabitants of the Americas develop agriculture, developing and breeding maize (corn) from ears 2–5 cm in length to the current size are familiar today. Potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos (a husked green tomato), pumpkins, chili peppers, squash, beans, pineapple, sweet potatoes, the grains quinoa and amaranth, cocoa beans, vanilla, onion, peanuts, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, papaya, and avocados were among other plants grown by natives. Over two-thirds of all types of food crops grown worldwide are native to the Americas.

The natives began using fire in a widespread manner. Intentional burning of vegetation was taken up to mimic the effects of natural fires that tended to clear forest understories, thereby making travel easier and facilitating the growth of herbs and berry-producing plants that were important for both food and medicines. This created the Pre-Columbian savannas of North America.

While not as widespread as in other areas of the world (Asia, Africa, Europe), indigenous Americans did have livestock. In Mexico as well as Central America, natives have domesticated deer which is used for meat and possibly even milk. Domesticated turkeys are common in Mesoamerica and in some regions of North America; they are valued for their meat, feathers, and, possibly, eggs. There is documentation of Mesoamericans utilizing hairless dogs, especially the Xoloitzcuintle breed, for their meat. Andean societies have llamas and alpacas for meat and wool, as well as for beasts of burden. Guinea pigs are raised for meat in the Andes. Iguanas are another source of meat in Mexico, Central, and northern South America.

By the 15th century, maize has been transmitted from Mexico and is being farmed in the Mississippi embayment, as far as the East Coast of the United States, and as far north as southern Canada. Potatoes are utilized by the Inca, and chocolate is used by the Aztecs.

  • South America

    • Norte Chico or Caral

    • Valdivia

    • Cañaris

    • Chavín

    • Chibchas

    • Moche

    • Inca Empire

    • Cambeba

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