Oceans in Common. In what ways were the ancient civilizations of the Americas and Oceania (the ones mentioned in Chapter 6) similar to the societies covered in earlier chapters (Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, etc.)? What, if any, were the major differences between ancient American/Pacific societies and their counterparts in Asia and Africa?
Like early Aryans discussed in chapter 4, in the beginning, Mesoamericans lived as small villages and hamlets and only gathering on special occasions in the ceremonial centers, observe rituals or exchange goods. Main difference from the rest of the world, Mesoamericans had ceremony places that serves as a capital and a few ruling elites, priests, artisans and crafts people were lived in that ceremonial place suggesting that during this time, Mesoamericans already developed distinctive social status which is similar to others. Ceremony places served as a capital for a while soon invited the formation of cities. Also, this places had complex of temples, altars, pyramids, stone sculptures and tombs for rulers that requires hundreds of thousands of human labors which concludes that there were people with much lower status that works for the ceremonial places even though they don’t live there.
Olmecs society didn’t need to irrigate their field because they had a good amount of rainfall. However, like Harappans, they built drainage system to control the water flood otherwise, their settlement would be destroyed.
It is clear that Austronesian people had efficient marine transportation like Egyptians from their migrations to Polynesia which allowed them to organize agriculture-depended life around New Guinea and reach even farther islands.
Another main difference is complex society did not develop following certain river like China following Yellow river and Yangzhi river and Egypt following Nile, on the contrary, Mesoamerican lowlands had thin and tropical soils which quickly loses their fertility. So the Maya (the earliest heirs of the Olmecs) built traps designed to trap the silt carried by the rivers.
Early political situation and division of the Mesoamericans were much like Aryans. Decentralized control over the city where small villages or communities have their own authorities. Even in the pacific island, Lapita people established communities for trading purpose and later because of more power and land small communities start to conflict bringing the start of forming a city and even state.