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Flashcards in Ancient History Deck (101)


Prehistory refers to the time between when man first emerged and the existence of written records.

The oldest written texts date to sometime between the 26th and 24th centuries B.C.


There are two main theses regarding where modern man (Homo sapiens) originated. What are these differing theories?

  1. The Out of Africa Thesis posits that Homo sapiens first arose in Africa and began migrating to other parts of the Earth approximately 125,000 years ago.
  2. The Multiregional Thesis contends that Homo sapiens arose more or less simultaneously in different parts of the globe, and are descended from earlier pre-human groups that left Africa.


According to most anthropologists, how did the first humans arrive in North and South America?

Most anthropologists contend that early man arrived in the Americas via the Bering Land Bridge, which stretches between modern-day Siberia and Alaska.

Lower sea levels brought about by an Ice Age made the bridge a viable pathway to the Americas until 10,000 years ago.


Stone Age

The Stone Age refers to the period between roughly 2.6 million years ago and 2000 B.C. This was a time period when stone was greatly used for building.

Anthropologists typically divide the Stone Age into three periods: Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic.


The ___ ___ is the period ranging from roughly 2.6 million years ago to 12,000 years ago.

Paleolithic Era

During the Paleolithic Era, man and man's predecessors began using stone tools and mainly lived in small roaming groups of hunter-gatherers. There is evidence that Paleolithic man believed in an afterlife, as numerous burials with some household goods have been found.


What era saw the beginnings of agriculture?

During the Mesolithic Era (10,000 B.C. to 4000 B.C.), agriculture became prevalent. Semi-permanent small villages were established.

There is also evidence of extensive animal domestication during this period.


What developments characterized the Neolithic Era?

The Neolithic Era, which stretched from 4000 B.C. to 2000 B.C., saw the development of more permanent villages and early cities, many of which contained walls and defensive fortifications.

Plants were further domesticated, public works such as canals were established to assist in agriculture, and animal herding became prevalent.


The mastery of ___ allowed early man to move into colder regions of the planet, such as Northern Europe.


Fire played a crucial role in mankind's settling of the colder regions of the planet. The controlled use of fire dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, some 100,000 to 400,000 years ago.

So crucial was the discovery of fire that the Greeks claimed it descended from the gods and was revealed to man by the Titan Prometheus. For giving the gods' secret away, Prometheus was chained to a rock where an eagle would eat his liver for all eternity.


The development of the ___ made possible more rapid transportation as well as inventions such as the chariot and carts.


The development of the wheel (circa 3500 B.C.) was one of the earliest technological improvements made by men. Interestingly, the wheel was not used by the ancient civilizations of North and South America and did not arrive in the Americas until after Columbus.



Nomads are wandering bands of people who move from place to place to support their livelihood. During the Stone Age, hunter-gatherer nomads continually migrated to seek out new hunting grounds.



Domestication refers to the intentional manipulation of plants and animals to make them more useful to humans. For instance, the domestication of sheep and cows provided an early resource for pastoral societies.


Neolithic Revolution

The Neolithic Revolution occurred in the late Stone Age, when early man began food production instead of merely gathering food.

Also known as the Agricultural Revolution, the Neolithic Revolution marked the rise of farming, public works projects such as agricultural irrigation, and the beginnings of the first villages.


Bronze Age

The Bronze Age began around 2000-3000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus River Valley, and slightly later in other areas. The Bronze Age marks man's first significant use of writing and metals like bronze and copper, as well as the development of city-states.


cultural diffusion

Cultural diffusion refers to the sharing of cultures between societies. As an example, agriculture is believed to have begun in the Middle East before being diffused throughout much of Eurasia.


What are the five hallmarks of a civilization?

  1. Advanced cities dependent in part on trade
  2. Specialized workers
  3. Recordkeeping, usually in the form of writing
  4. Complex institutions, like religion and government
  5. Advanced technologies, such as metalworking


Where did the first civilization arise?

The first civilization was Sumeria and rose in Mesopotamia, which is the region between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers in the south of modern-day Iraq. Sumeria was a collection of city-states and dates from around 4000 B.C.


Where was the Fertile Crescent?

The Fertile Crescent refers to the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, stretching down into Palestine. The land between the rivers was exceptionally good for farming, and the region provided the home for many powerful ancient civilizations, including Sumeria, Assyria, and Babylon.


___ created a law code containing various punishments, including the famous "eye for an eye."


A powerful Babylonian emperor, Hammurabi's Code is among the earliest recorded legal systems, and it could be quite harsh. The famous "eye for an eye" required the loss of an eye if one caused someone else to lose an eye, even accidentally.


During what period of history did the Ancient Egyptian civilization prosper along the Nile River?

Ancient Egypt can roughly be dated from 3200 B.C. to 330 B.C.


Which prominent Ancient Egyptian leader is believed to have been the son of the pharaoh Akhenaten (who ruled in the 14th century B.C.)?


Although his reign was brief and unimportant, the 1922 discovery of his intact tomb is one of the greatest archaeological finds in history.


Which Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 13th century B.C. is often considered the most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire?

Ramesses the Great


How did Ancient Egyptian writing differ from that of Mesopotamia?

Mesopotamian writing used symbols to equate to sounds, known as cuneiform. Egyptian writing used pictures to represent sounds -- a system known as hieroglyphics.


Egyptians used ___ to make paper, upon which elaborate texts were composed.


Papyrus is made from reeds. Until the Middle Ages, it remained the dominant means of making paper.


What were the first Chinese civilizations?

The first Chinese civilizations were the Xia and Shang Dynasties. The Xia rose to power around 2000 B.C., with the Shang succeeding about 400 years later.


What were the primary trade goods of the early Chinese?

The two primary trade goods of the early Chinese were silk, which may have made its way across India to the Middle East by 1000 B.C., and jade, a type of precious stone that was often elaborately decorated.

The Shang Dynasty also excelled in producing magnificent bronze works, which adorned Chinese temples.


What civilization is considered to be the Mesoamerican mother civilization?

The Olmecs (1200 B.C. to 400 B.C.) were the first civilization to arise in Mesoamerica.

Much like the Sumerians influenced the Babylonians and the Assyrians, the Olmecs are believed to have influenced later cultures such as the Maya and Aztecs.

The Olmecs are remembered today for their carvings of monumental stone heads, some weighing up to 40 tons. The Olmecs also had large mounds and platforms, which historians and archeologists believe had a religious function and may have involved human sacrifice.


What city-state emerged near modern-day Mexico City around 100 B.C.?


Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It was ruled by an oligarchy dedicated to continuing the city-state's polytheistic religion, which included human sacrifice. Historians believe that Teotihuacan's influence waned in the 650s in the wake of internal revolts.


Which culture invented the alphabet?

The Phoenicians, a small empire on the coast of the Mediterranean in modern-day Lebanon and Israel, invented the alphabet around 1050 B.C.

The Phoenicians were a prominent maritime empire, establishing a far-flung trading network that ranged as far as Spain and North Africa.


Which empire was the first to introduce coined money?

The Lydian Empire, located in western Anatolia from the 700s B.C. to the 500s B.C., was the first to introduce coin money, sometime around 610 B.C.

Coins would prove a handy medium of exchange, both because they replaced barter and were easier to transfer from place to place. The Lydians fell to the Persians in 546 B.C.


The Central American ___ civilization developed advanced written language as well as a startlingly accurate calendar.


Maya cities emerged in the 700s B.C. and by 250 A.D., a series of rival city-states and small kingdoms had developed. The Maya kings were also priests, dedicated to appeasing gods by means of human sacrifice. The Maya began to decline around 900, and the last Maya cities fell in the 1600s as the Spanish colonized the Mesoamerican region.


During what approximate period did Ancient Greece flourish? 

Ancient Greece roughly flourished from 800 B.C. to 146 B.C., when the Romans began their period of domination in Greece.

Of note during this time was the Classical Period (during the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.), from which much of Western political, philosophical, scientific, literary, and artistic thought comes.


Where is the Parthenon located?

The Parthenon is located in Athens and is a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. Completed in 432 B.C., the Parthenon has influenced generations of architects and is considered one of the high points of Greek art.


Which Greek statesman and general of Athens led the nation in the 5th century B.C., promoted Athenian democracy, championed the arts, and oversaw the creation of many great structures like the Parthenon and much of the Acropolis?


His rule is sometimes known as the Golden Age.


What caused the Peloponnesian War to erupt in 431 B.C.?

The Peloponnesian War erupted due to the high-handed behavior of the Athenians. Athens was the most powerful city-state in Greece. After a series of provocations, Sparta and her allies declared war on Athens and her allies in a conflict known as the Peloponnesian War, which lasted until 404 B.C.

By the end of the War, Athens was crushed and Sparta was dominant in Greek affairs. However, Greece would eventually come to be controlled by the kingdom of Macedon.


Which city was home to the Great Library, one of the ancient world's repositories of texts?

The Great Library was in Alexandria, which had been founded by Alexander the Great. It housed thousands of books, and historians still lament its accidental burning during Julius Caesar's campaign in Egypt.


Why is Alexander the Great called "Great"?

At the age of 20, Alexander inherited the Macedonian throne from his father Philip II, who had seized control over most of Greece. Alexander further expanded the empire, which eventually stretched from Greece to Egypt and into Persia and northern India.

Alexander died at the age of 32 in 323 B.C., never having lost a battle and leaving behind a large empire to be divided between his top generals.


Which Egyptian pharoah was the last of her kind, ruled from 51 B.C. until her death in 30 B.C., and had a child with Julius Caesar?



What were the dates of the Roman Republic and Empires?

The Roman Republic lasted for roughly 500 years, from 509 B.C. to 27 B.C.

At that point, the Roman Empire began, with the Empire getting divided in 293 A.D. The Western Roman Empire fell in 476, while the Eastern Roman Empire lasted to 1453.


Which Roman general rose to prominence as a result of his conquest of Gaul?

Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (modern-day France) and even ventured as far as Britain. Using his military might, Caesar seized control of the Roman Republic and had himself named dictator for life.

Fearing that he had become too powerful, several senators assassinated Caesar in 44 B.C. on the floor of the Senate. The civil wars that followed led to the rise of the Roman Empire.


Who seized control of the Roman state after the assassination of Julius Caesar?

Julius Caesar's grand-nephew, Octavian, seized control of the Roman state, punished the perpetrators, and had himself named Augustus Caesar and declared the first Emperor of Rome. Augustus incorporated Egypt into the Roman Empire and established a period of calm during a reign that lasted 40 years.


Constructed near the center of Rome in the first century A.D., what building was established as the home of Rome's circuses and gladiatorial exhibitions?

The Colosseum was built to serve as a central location for gladiatorial combat, animal fights, reenactments of famous battles, and chariot races.

Famously, the Colosseum was once filled with water and a full-scale naval battle was staged to the delight of the crowds.


How did the Roman Empire react to the rise of Christianity?

The Roman Empire reacted harshly to the rise of Christianity, which threatened the religious foundations of the Roman state and the divine Emperor. Christians were persecuted, subjected to forced renunciations of Christian beliefs, and famously blamed for burning Rome to the ground in 64 A.D.


Which Roman emperor ruled during the first century A.D. and was known for his tyranny, extravagance, and persecution of Christians?


Many believed he had started the Great Fire of Rome himself in order to clear land for a new villa. That said, another side of the story was that the fire had been started by Christians.


What was the Edict of Milan and which Roman Emperor issued it?

In 313 A.D., Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan, which made Christianity legal throughout the Empire. Constantine's motivations were less divine than temporal; he wished to use Christianity to stabilize the Roman state.


Who was Attila the Hun? 

Attila was the ruler of the Huns in the 5th century. His Hunnic Empire overran much of eastern and central Europe, as Attila led his armies in a successful invasion of the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Huns' ventures into the Western Roman Empire (specifically into France and Italy) met with some success, but Attila died in 453.


Following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire late in the 5th century A.D., what did the Eastern Roman Empire come to be called?

The Eastern Roman Empire came to be called Byzantium, after the former name of its capital, Constantinople.

Although Byzantine residents continued to call themselves Romans and use Roman law, the Empire was profoundly influenced by Greek ideals, from culture to language.


Silk Road

The Silk Road was a collection of caravan routes that China used for trading with the Middle East and Europe.

It was named for China's primary trade commodity. The collection of interconnected roads stretched 4,000 miles long.

The Silk Road was known to spread more than commodities; it contributed to the spread of both Buddhism and the Black Death.


What prominent inventions highlighted the innovations of China's Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.)?

The Chinese invented paper money, in the form of letters of credit to be used by merchants, and also gunpowder, which was originally used in fireworks.

Although China's prominent trade good remained silk, China also began large-scale tea cultivation during the Tang Dynasty, and the practice of drinking tea soon spread to Korea and Japan.


What prominent inventions highlighted the innovations of China's Song Empire (960-1279)?

During the Song Empire, the Chinese developed block printing long before Gutenberg invented the printing press, although they may have adapted it from the Koreans.

The Chinese also proved adept at adapting techonology to new uses. For instance, in 1090 Chinese traders began widespread use of the compass, which revolutionized naval travel and trade. Previously, the compass had been used for fortune-telling.


Who united the 30 feuding tribes of the Mongols into one entity in 1206?

In 1206, Genghis Khan united the Mongols into a unified group. Genghis Khan reorganized the Mongol armies and led them on a campaign of military conquest throughout Eurasia.

By 1260, the Mongol territory would stretch from the Ukraine to Korea and included the Middle East, China, and Annam (modern-day Vietnam).


Which classic of Arabian literature consists of a large collection of short stories told to amuse a king?

The Arabian Nights, or One Thousand and One Nights, consists of 1001 short tales framed as an attempt on the part of Scheherazade to amuse her royal husband. Many of the stories are folk tales originating from South Asia.


Middle Ages

The Middle Ages, or Medieval period, refers to European civilization from the fall of (Western) Rome in 476 to the rise of more modern nations beginning in the 1500s.

During the Middle Ages, political power throughout Europe was decentralized, with many small states and little political unity.



Feudalism was the predominant political/landowner system during the Middle Ages. 

In a feudal system, a ruler (or lord) provides land (known as a fief) to a vassal. In turn, the vassal provides the ruler military service and loyalty. To farm the land, peasants known as serfs are used.


Who was Charlemagne?

Charlemagne was King of the Franks and the founder of the Carolingian Empire, made up of an expanded, unified Frankish state comprising much of Western Europe. 

Charlemagne became the first Holy Roman Emperor in 800 when he allied the Empire with the Church. He united Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire and laid the foundations for subsequent monarchies in both France and Germany.


From the 700s to the 1100s, the ___ raided and conquered coastal lands throughout Europe.


The Vikings contributed to the rise of centralized nations in Europe as local forces coalesced to repel Viking raids. The Vikings ranged as far south as Constantinople and North Africa, and even established kingdoms in Sicily.


Which early Icelandic explorer was the first European (rather than Columbus) to discover North America, around the year 1000?

Leif Ericson


What document, signed by King John of England in 1215, gave English nobles rights such as a trial by jury and due process under the law?

The Magna Carta extended rights to the English nobles and acted as a check on the power of the King.

In the later 1200s, English nobles gained the right to form a Parliament, which would pass laws to govern England.


Black Death

The Black Death was a pandemic that ravaged Europe in the mid-1300s, killing at least one third of the European population.

A bubonic plague originating in Asia spread to Eastern Europe via the Silk Road, then spread throughout the Mediterranean thanks to fleas that lived on black rats, which were especially common in Europe's overcrowded, unsanitary ships and cities.


What was the name given to the intermittent Medieval military campaigns waged by the Catholic Church over control of the Holy Land (Israel and Palestine)?

the Crusades


What countries fought in the Hundred Years' War?

The Hundred Years' War was fought between France and England between 1337 and 1453. The French emerged victorious, conquering all but one of the English possessions in modern-day France.


Which 15th-century French military heroine and Roman Catholic saint led the French army to victories during the Hundred Years' War, eventually leading to the coronation of Charles VII?

Joan of Arc

Her claims to have heard God speak to her led to a trial for heresy, after which she was burned at the stake in 1431 at the age of 19.


The Turks captured ___ in 1453, bringing an end to the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire.


The fall of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) marked the end of an unbroken chain of government stretching back 1500 years. Scholars fleeing the Turks headed to Italy and the West, where they would influence Renaissance thinkers and expose them to ancient Greek and Latin literature.


geocentric universe

A geocentric universe is a planetary system under which the Earth is the center of the galaxy; all the planets and the sun revolve around the Earth. The belief in a geocentric universe prevailed from ancient times until it was challenged by Copernicus and Galileo.


Which astronomer from Poland published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543 about the heliocentric universe?

Nicolaus Copernicus

He posited a heliocentric universe in which the sun was the center of the solar system and all the planets revolved around it in a circular path. His work, with its emphasis on observation and mathematics, gave birth to the Scientific Revolution.


What invention did Galileo use for astronomical observation?

Galileo used the telescope to conduct systematic observations of the heavens.

In addition to discovering the rings of Saturn and moons orbiting Jupiter, Galileo was able to confirm for himself that Copernicus's heliocentric model was correct. Galileo publicized his findings but was forced to recant them in 1633 by the Catholic Church, which was still wedded to the geocentric universe.


___ ___ proposed the law of universal gravitation.

Isaac Newton

Newton published his Principia in 1687, one of the most important works in the history of science. His mathematically derived theories led to the development of calculus and physics.

Newton's primary achievement was to take all the scientific advances of his day and tie them into a single united theory backed by mathematical proof, which was known as Newtonian physics. Newton's theory prevailed until Einstein developed his theories of relativity in the early 1900s.



Renaissance means "rebirth" in French. Beginning in Florence in about 1300, before spreading to Northern Europe, the Renaissance refers to the outgrowth of culture that marked a sharp break from the Medieval period.


Renaissance Man

The Renaissance Man was considered the ideal man in Italy during the Renaissance.

A true Renaissance Man would study until he could do all things well -- painting, singing, gymnastics, horseback riding, hunting, and the like. Knowledge was also a part of the Renaissance Man's makeup: a true Renaissance Man knew Latin and Greek and had read the classic Greco-Roman works.


Which three artists are considered the great masters of the Italian Renaissance?

The three most important Italian Renaissance artists were Raphael (1483-1520), Michelangelo (1475-1564), and Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).

  • Raphael's best-known work is The School of Athens, depicting legendary Greek philosophers.
  • Michelangelo was a prominent sculptor, painter, architect, and even poet, whose works (such as the Sistine Chapel's ceiling) conveyed an awe-inspiring grandeur.
  • A true Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor, scientist, and artist, whose famous works include The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa.


Which Florence-based family of politicians and patrons of the arts was especially prominent during the Renaissance?

the de Medici family

One of them, Lorenzo, is best known as a patron of many of the great artists of the period, having sponsored such names as Michelangelo and Botticelli.


How did the subject matter of Renaissance authors differ from the subject matter of authors of the late Medieval period?

Most late Medieval authors wrote on religious subjects, and even Dante's Divina Commedia is religious in subject matter, albeit with classical references such as Virgil.

During the Renaissance, for the first time writing became a profession rather than only a clerical pursuit. Renaissance writers focused on non-religious topics in addition to religious ones.


Which English Renaissance scientist is credited with the creation of the scientific method?

Francis Bacon developed the scientific method, an empirical technique using inductive methodology for scientific inquiry.

In addition to being a scientist, Bacon was a legal reformer, philosopher, and novelist. Later scientists, such as Isaac Newton, would draw on Bacon's techniques in their own scientific pursuits.


How did Popes during the Middle Ages ensure obedience from Catholics?

Popes such as Leo X (1475-1521) denied those who opposed them the right to participate in the sacraments, a process termed excommunication. Without participation in the sacraments, a Catholic would be sent to Hell.


What was the Reformation?

The (Protestant) Reformation was a schism within Christianity led by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others during the 16th century. What began as an attempt to reform the Church resulted in the establishment of numerous Protestant denominations. 


What invention ensured the rapid dissemination of Martin Luther's 95 Theses, and therefor played an important role in the Protestant Reformation?

the printing press

The printing press had been invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-1400s, and it was first used to print Bibles.


Which King of England reigned from 1509 to 1547 and established himself as the head of the Church in England when the Pope refused to allow him to dissolve his marriage to Catherine of Aragon?

Henry VIII

England has remained a Protestant nation ever since. Henry VIII had six wives in all.


Which daughter of Henry VIII became Queen of England in the 16th and 17th centuries?

Elizabeth I

Her reign, known as the Elizabethan Period, coincided with the Renaissance in England, including Shakespeare's rise to fame. The U.S. state of Virginia is named for her; because she never married, she was called the Virgin Queen.


Which was the deadliest and longest of the religious conflicts that plagued Europe between 1618 and 1648?

The deadliest and longest of the religious conflicts that plagued Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries was the Thirty Years' War, which lasted from 1618 to 1648.

For almost a century, Europe was torn apart by religious wars, as Protestant rulers and states sought to remain free from the Catholic Church, and the Catholic states sought to have Protestants return to the Church.


How did the Ottoman Empire's conquest of Constantinople in the mid-1400s spur European exploration?

Constantinople had served as the trade gateway between Europe and Asia. Following its conquest by the Turks in 1453, Europeans had to find alternative trade routes to gain access to Asian goods, which promoted exploration.


Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage was a purported sea route northwest of North America that provided a direct sailing route to Asia from Europe.

The search for an easy sea lane around the New World spurred exploration of North America by French-sponsored explorers such as John Cabot and Giovanni Verrazzano, and Dutch explorers such as Henry Hudson.


What was the primary accomplishment of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama?

Vasco da Gama circumnavigated Africa (around the Cape of Good Hope) in 1497-99, leading a fleet of Portuguese ships to India. These were the first European ships to reach India by sea.

The ability to reach India by water, instead of relying on overland routes controlled by the Turks and Mediterranean shipping controlled by the Venetians, marked a new era in world trade.


In 1492, Genoese sailor Christopher Columbus, funded by the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, sailed west from Spain. What was the purpose of Columbus's voyage?

Columbus was convinced that a western route to India existed and wanted to find it. Although he'd stumbled upon the New World, Columbus died in 1506 believing he had succeeded and that the peoples he'd named "Indians" really were inhabitants of Asia. Contrary to legend, at that time few in Europe believed the Earth was flat.


Who commanded the first fleet to circumnavigate the globe?

The first fleet to sail around the world was commanded by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer who sailed under the Spanish flag.

Magellan did not live to accomplish the entire trip; he was killed in the Philippines during a battle with a native tribe. The trip took four years, beginning in 1519 and returning to Spain in 1522.


Which European was the first to set eyes upon the Pacific Ocean?

Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed the Panamanian Isthmus in 1513, becoming the first European to reach the Pacific from the New World.

Balboa established the first permanent European settlement on the American mainland in modern-day Panama; previous European colonial efforts had been confined to the islands of the Caribbean.


Prior to the arrival of Columbus, where was most of the population of the New World concentrated?

Most of the New World's population was concentrated in Central and South America where civilizations such as the Aztecs and Incas flourished.


What civilization was the largest in the pre-Columbian American world?

The largest civilization in the pre-Columbian world was the Aztecs, who rose to power in Mexico around 1300.

Based in the city of Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs were fiercely warlike and expanded their power by near constant war with neighboring civilizations.


Which civilization emerged in the Andes in the 1300s?

Beginning in the 1200s, the Incas built a large empire that stretched along the Andes Mountains and was the largest empire in pre-Columbian empire.

Large Inca cities, such as Machu Picchu and Cusco, were connected by an elaborate road network. The Inca civilization fell in the 1500s.


Iroquois Confederacy

Founded in the 1400s or 1500s before European contact, the Iroquois Confederacy was a loose political alliance of five Indian nations in North America. Impressed by the wisdom of this government, Europeans referred to them as the "Romans of the New World."


After Columbus established permanent contact with the New World, what was the main focus of Spain's colonial efforts?

Spanish conquistadors (conquerors) focused primarily on conquest and expeditions, aiming both to trade and to spread Catholicism.


Which 15th- and 16th-century Spanish conquistador established Puerto Rico and then became its first governor?


Juan Ponce de León

​He also named Florida, where he led an expedition in search of the legendary Fountain of Youth.


Which was the first large state to fall under Spanish control in the New World?

In 1521, the conquistador Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs in modern-day Mexico, claiming Tenochtitlan for Spain and renaming it Mexico City.


Which Spanish conquistador completed the conquest of the Incas in 1534?

In 1533, Francisco Pizarro completed the conquest of the Incas of Peru. The Incan Empire fell rapidly, and by 1540 the Spanish held large swaths of territory in the New World.


How did contact with Europeans affect the native inhabitants of the New World?

Native Americans had no resistance to European diseases, and roughly 90% of the Indian population died from diseases like smallpox. Many of the remaining Indians were enslaved to work farms and mines under Spanish rule.

The chain of disease was not one-sided; from the New World, Spanish explorers brought syphilis back to Europe.


Historian Alfred Crosby coined a term to describe the interchange of flora, fauna, and diseases between Europe and the New World. What is that term?

Columbian Exchange

Before European contact, there were no crowd-spread diseases or domesticated animals in the New World.

Hearty American crops such as corn, potatoes, and cassava were brought back to Europe, helping to alleviate food shortages there.

Though Europeans didn't understand pollination, they enjoyed honey and brought European honey bees to the New World.


Why did the Dutch form the Dutch East India Company?

The Dutch formed the Dutch East India Company to administer colonies that had been wrested from Spain in the 1590s, including much of West Africa, Sri Lanka, and parts of India.

With their conquest of Indonesia in the early 1600s, the Dutch came to control much of the European trade in tea and spices, including pepper and cinnamon.


Which colony was the first permanent English outpost in the New World?

In 1607, the English established the James Fort, which eventually became Jamestown.

Originally founded to search for gold, the colonists were ill-suited for agriculture and, to make matters worse, had chosen a poor location in which to settle. The timely arrival of relief ships saved some of the colonists from starvation long enough to discover the lucrative pleasures of tobacco, which gave the colony a viable cash crop for export to England.


Which colony did English Puritans establish in the New World?

In 1620, English Puritans (known as Pilgrims) established a colony at Plymouth Bay, in modern-day Massachusetts. Religiously rigid, the Puritans sought separation from the Anglican Church and freedom to practice their religion as they saw fit.


The British founded the ___ ___ ___ ___ to manage economic and military relations with England's Asian colonies.

British East India Company

The English had conquered large amounts of territory in India and Southeast Asia, and the British East India Company was founded in 1600 to manage the economic relations between these lands and England.


How did slavery develop in British North America?

Initially, few blacks were imported into Virginia, and by 1650 there were only 400 slaves in the colony. Over the next few decades, however, Virginia landowners began growing rice and indigo in large quantities, which required large amounts of unskilled labor, and slavery increased.

Although slavery did exist in the northern parts of what would become the United States, it was really only viable on the large tobacco, rice, and cotton plantations in the American south.


indentured servitude

Under indentured servitude, a person's passage to the New World was paid in advance and in exchange for several years of labor.

Colonists, primarily in Maryland and Virginia, used indentured servants to fill labor shortages. Most indentured servants died before obtaining freedom.


Two crops predominated in the southern English colonies. What were they?

The southern English colonies, including the Carolinas, Maryland, and Virginia, primarily grew cotton and tobacco.

Both products were labor intensive, and colonists imported large labor forces of both indentured servants and slaves to work the land.