The question of population size has fascinated students of the Americas for hundreds of years.
The early descriptions of large and dense Indian populations were overstated by conquerors and missionaries who wanted to make their own exploits seem more impressive.
In the early 20th century, the most repeated estimate of the Native American population was about 8 million, of which 4 million were in Mexico.
New archeological discoveries, a better understanding of the impact of disease on indigenous populations, new historical and demographic studies, and improved estimates of agricultural techniques and productivity have led to major revi sions.
Some estimates went as high as 112 million at the time of contact.
Most scholars agree that the Andes supported the largest populations.
Some scholars are unconvinced by the estimates.
In a global context, these figures should be considered.
The root crop is called manioc.
The spread of agriculture was widespread in the Americas by 1500.
Brazil has agriculture, hunting and fishing.
The Americas didn't have nomadic herders like Europe, Asia, and Africa.
North America has more Native American diversity than anywhere else.
As many as 200 languages were spoken by the year 1500, and a variety of cultures reflected Indian adaptation to different ecological situ ations.
Descendants of the Anasazi Societies of the Americas and other cliff dwellers took up residence in the adobe pueblos along the Rio Grande, where they practiced terracing and irrigation to support their agriculture.
Their artistic ceramic and weaving traditions reflected their own historical traditions.
In North America, most groups were hunters and gatherers and combined those activities with some agriculture.
Complex social organization and artistic specialization could be developed without an agricultural base if the environment was rich.
Indians on the northwest coast depended on the rich resources of the sea.
Technology was a limiting factor in some cases.
Before Europeans introduced the horse, the buffalo could not be hunted effectively without metal plows.
The Great Plains were mostly empty.
Most Indian societies were kin-based, with the exception of the state systems.
Communal action and ownership of resources, such as land and hunting grounds, were emphasized, and material wealth was often placed in a ritual or religious context.
The ranking of these societies was not based on wealth.
Women in some societies held important political and social roles and played a central role in crop production.
Indians tended to view themselves as part of the ecological system and not in control of it.
Many contemporary European and Asian civilizations had similar attitudes.
The foothills of New Mexico are now home to the Taos Pueblo.
The two major centers of civilization in Mesoamerica are based on agriculture and the concentration of population in urban areas.
This showed a part of the world.
Both empires were built on the achievements of their predeces number of the traditions of the older Native American cultures of the sors, and both reflected a militaristic phase in their area's development.
These empires were weakened by internal strains and conflicts that were limited by their technological superiority.
The Aztec empire was one end of a continuum of cultures that went from the simplest to the most complex in the Americas.
Religion played a major role in defining the relationship between people and their environment in many societies.
The development of these societies and the American civilization's continued isolation remain intriguing questions.
The first European observers were shocked by theprimitive tribespeople and amazed by the wealth and accomplishments of the Aztecs.
Europeans saw the Indians as backward.
Without the wheel, large domesticated animals, the plow, and to a large extent metal tools and written languages, the Americas did seem strange compared to Europe and Asia.
The end of the Americas' isolation in 1492 resulted in disastrous results.
The impor Afro-Eurasia must be stated carefully because of the absence of several features that had become normal.
The lack of economic, cultural, and political achievements of the key connections in the Americas should not detract from the tance of global connections in Afro-Eurasia.
The ability of American Indian civilizations to sustain dense populations is demonstrated by the absence of key Mesoamerica.
The heritage of these societies should not be obscured by technologies like ironworking and the wheel.
Contacts were available to easily transmit.
When the Americas were forced into new global domesticated animals, Ameri comparative distinctions that resulted from lack of wider contact can be seen as isolation.
It would show in the absence of connections after 1492.
It shows the rise of civilization in both areas.
The literature on the Aztecs is growing fast.
Our understanding of the Inka society is being deepened by Ber ethnohistory.