Ancient Civilizations of North America

Course No. 3900
Professor Edwin Barnhart, Ph.D.
Maya Exploration Center
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Course No. 3900
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What Will You Learn?

  • Study astounding ancient scientific accomplishments.
  • Examine the Iroquoian principles behind the U.S. Constitution.
  • Explore ancient cities that rival those of modern times.

Course Overview

Arriving in the 15th century and beyond, European explorers came to North America hoping to discover another civilization like those of the Maya or Inca to plunder. Not finding mountains of gold or silver, they saw no value in what they did find: myriad sophisticated cultures with hundreds of vibrant cities, roadways, canals, extensive trade networks, art, religious traditions, and thousands of earthen pyramids.

The people who shaped these civilizations—the engineers, political leaders, mathematicians, and astronomers—were also considered to be of no value, labeled by the Europeans as primitive and backwards, often enslaved or murdered. And because the native peoples left no written language, the narrative continued to be shaped by the conquerors, passed down as truth from generation to generation.

But now—with the technological advances of modern archaeology and a new perspective on world history—we are finally able to piece together their compelling true stories. In 24 exciting lectures supported by explanatory maps, beautiful photographs and illustrations, and 3-D models that bring it all to life, Ancient Civilizations of North America will take you on an eye-opening journey through thousands of years of unique and fascinating ancient cultures. Professor Edwin Barnhart, director of the Maya Exploration Center, will show you a world you never knew existed.

Astronomers, Engineers, and Hydrologists

The peoples of ancient North America were exceptionally knowledgeable about their environment; their lives required it. Professor Barnhart shows you how they used their detailed understanding of flora and fauna, landforms, geology, and water resources when developing strategies for hunting and gathering, locating villages, and farming. But their intellectual and artistic curiosity went much beyond the immediate need for food and safety. Beginning thousands of years ago, and without the benefit of written language, native peoples became skilled mathematicians, metallurgists, jewelers, construction engineers, astronomers, and more. In this course, you will explore:

  • The Sun Dagger of Chaco Canyon and other Chacoan features marking the solstices and equinoxes;
  • The ancient peoples’ use of the cycles of the heavens to align buildings in relation to the cardinal directions and in relation to each other across vast distances;
  • Their use of horizon-based astronomy to align structures to the lunar maximum and minimum standstill points in 18.6-year cycles;
  • The Hohokam hydrologists and engineers who provided water for large desert populations via the sophisticated manipulation of flow rates in some 700 miles of canals, pieces of which still exist today;
  • The ancient engineers and urban planners who designed master-planned communities, building them out in a single, intricate, and coordinated construction effort;
  • Numerous ancient earthworks and geoglyphs that reflect sophisticated engineering and cooperative construction—the Serpent Mound and Blythe Intaglios, among others.

Ancient Cities to Rival Those of Modern Times

About 3,500 years ago, a great and vibrant city existed in present-day northeast Louisiana. Built by a Late Archaic people, Poverty Point is considered by most archaeologists to be the first city in North America. Supporting a population of more than 4,000—40 times the size of an average village at the time—it existed for more than 1,000 years. With Professor Barnhart as your guide, you will understand how Poverty Point has been revealed as a master-planned community, with a 37-acre central plaza; earthen pyramids; and six semi-circular, concentric platform mounds holding hundreds of houses. Carbon-14 dating reveals that the entire set of concentric platform mounds were built in one single phase, requiring extensive leadership, planning, surveying skills, and cooperation from an enormous pool of laborers. Even with its compact organization, every single house had a view of the central plaza—a feat many modern planners would be challenged to accomplish.

In this course, you’ll learn about Poverty Point’s:

  • Vast trade network bringing raw materials from as far away as the Great Lakes (nearly 1,000 miles);
  • Mound A, one of the oldest pyramids on the planet, built over a period of only 90 days with more than 15 million hand-held basketloads of dirt, and still in existence today;
  • Mound E, 13 feet tall and larger than a football field; and
  • Recently discovered “woodhenges,” which could be linked to archaeoastronomy.

Cahokia, built about 1,000 years ago just east of present-day St. Louis, was the largest city in ancient North America north of Mesoamerica. With 3,000 acres and 50,000 people living in its interior and satellite communities, Cahokia dwarfed the contemporaneous populations of London, Paris, and Rome. At one point in its history, the ancient city was razed and replaced with a master-planned version more than three times its previous size. Although many of Cahokia’s features, such as large mounds, ritual spaces, and communal farming, had been seen elsewhere, its scale and level of social organization were unprecedented. In this course, you’ll learn about Cahokia’s:

  • Grand Plaza, covering an area greater than 35 football fields and containing council houses, elite homes, a charnel house, and more;
  • Monks Mound, the third-largest structure ever built in the ancient New World, and the largest north of Mesoamerica, with 25 million cubic feet of earth covering nearly 15 acres, and reaching 100 feet high;
  • Chunkey Court, the ritual and social heart of the city where the game of chunkey was played, a sport symbolizing warfare and the creation story; and
  • Mass graves indicating ritualized human sacrifice.
  • The Legacy of the Iroquois: North American Democracy

    At the time of European contact, the Iroquois were a semi-sedentary farming people near Lakes Erie and Ontario whose villages were often in fierce conflict with each other. When three visionary leaders recognized that such continual warfare was holding the nation back, they proposed a tribal confederation known as The Great League of Peace. The League’s Great Council consisted of 50 chiefs, or sachem, each of whom was elected to represent a specific clan by the clan’s female elders. These women voted their representatives in—and could also vote them out. The Great Council settled all disputes and conflicts through dialog, debate, and consensus, guided by the 117 articles of confederation known as the “Great Law of Peace.”

    Sound familiar? It should.

    Not only did the Iroquois establish the first North American democracy, but the framers of the U.S. Constitution held the system in the highest regard. Two hundred years after establishing its own Constitution, the United States formally acknowledged this Iroquois legacy in Congressional Resolution 331, stating the “confederation of the original Thirteen Colonies into one republic was influenced by the political system developed by the Iroquois Confederacy as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the Constitution itself.”

    By journeying through Ancient Civilizations of North America with Professor Barnhart, you’ll recognize the legacy of the Iroquois and many more native nations that have influenced our lives today.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Unknown Story of Ancient North America
    Pyramids. State-of-the-art highways. Productive scientists, artists, and engineers. These, and much more, were ancient North America. But having left no written record, and considered of no value by European conquerors many centuries later, these societies seemed destined to remain a mystery. Now, we are finally able to reveal their fascinating truths. x
  • 2
    The First Human Migrations to the Americas
    DNA evidence points to Asia, and only Asia, as the origin of all human migration to North America. While there were many migration episodes, each episode involved passage across the Bering Strait. Sites of ancient habitation have been found all across the continent, under water and on dry land. See why, even with current technologies, scientists cannot yet agree on the ages of these sites. x
  • 3
    Clovis Man: America's First Culture
    Explore Clovis, the very first American culture, which is identified by the Clovis point, a specialized megafauna-hunting tool that became the most widespread technology in the paleo-world. The Clovis populated the Americas from coast to coast, from Alaska to South America. Although the culture became extinct around 12,000 years ago, you will see how some of the Clovis people evolved into the last Paleo-Indians, the Folsom. x
  • 4
    The Archaic Period: Diversity Begins
    When the megafauna died out across the continent about 10,000 years ago, Paleo-Indian culture began to diversify regionally. Better understand why some groups developed hunting and gathering culture in a seasonal round pattern, while others fished from temporary camps. Also, see what DNA research reveals about one ancient sedentary people with resources plentiful enough to support 350 generations of habitation. x
  • 5
    Late Archaic Innovations
    In this lecture you will see how, about 5,000 years ago, the creative, yet disparate, peoples of North America developed corn agriculture, permanent houses with storage and cooking pits, religion, art, pottery, ceramics, metallurgy, and basket weaving. Further explore the only innovation common to these many different cultures: an increase in cemetery sites and formalized treatment of bodies in burials. x
  • 6
    Poverty Point: North America's First City
    About 3,500 years ago, while most North Americans were still nomadic, see how one group of ancient people developed a planned community on more than 900 acres to accommodate 4,000 to 5,000 inhabitants. Designed with exceptional engineering skills, the fascinating city of Poverty Point functioned for 1,000 years and included one of the oldest pyramids ever built on Earth. x
  • 7
    Medicine Wheels of the Great Plains
    Medicine wheels—wagon-wheel type arrangements of stones on the ground—vary in their number of spokes and size; are difficult to date; and although some are precisely aligned to the solstices, the majority have no known astronomical significance. Survey what we do know about their function and meaning, which almost certainly changed over time, just like the human populations who built them. x
  • 8
    Adena Culture and the Early Woodlands Period
    In modern-day Ohio, the continent's first coherent civilizations evolved about 3,000 years ago, bringing together previously far-flung Archaic practices. Meet the Adena, the first ancient American culture with wide-ranging influence. Known for their conical burial mounds and shared concept of an afterlife, they also might have been the continent's first habitual tobacco smokers. x
  • 9
    The Hopewell and Their Massive Earthworks
    Here Professor Barnhart introduces you to the Hopewell culture, a civilization that thrived for over 700 years. You will see how they influenced all the peoples of eastern North America with trade networks, an art tradition, and the practice of burying their most important dead in earthen mounds. Their knowledge of mathematics and astronomy allowed them to build massive earthwork complexes in sophisticated geometric patterns in present-day Ohio. x
  • 10
    The Origins of Mississippian Culture
    About 1,200 years ago in eastern North America, populations gathered their farms and living structures behind defensive walls. Explore Mississippian culture and see how it introduced an increased use of the bow and arrow along with a large body of art, extensive trade networks, and mythological creation stories remembered today in bits and pieces by a multitude of surviving indigenous nations. x
  • 11
    The Mississippian City of Cahokia
    Covering more than 3,000 acres and with an associated population of about 50,000, understand why Cahokia, the largest ancient city in what is now the US and Canada, became a model for the region. Its fascinating and complex life included stratified social organization, burial mounds, deeply held religious beliefs, sophisticated artwork, woodhenges to mark the solstices and equinoxes—and ritual human sacrifice. x
  • 12
    The Wider Mississippian World
    After the fall of Cahokia, witness how Mississippian civilization flourished across eastern North America with tens of thousands of pyramid-building communities and a population in the millions. Look at the ways they were connected through their commonly held belief in a three-tiered world, as reflected in their artwork. Major sites like Spiro, Moundville, and Etowah all faded out just around 100 years before European contact, obscuring our understanding. x
  • 13
    De Soto Versus the Mississippians
    In 1539, Hernando de Soto of Spain landed seven ships with 600 men and hundreds of animals in present-day Florida. Follow his fruitless search for another Inca or Aztec Empire, as he instead encounters hundreds of Mississippian cities through which he led a three-year reign of terror across the land-looting, raping, disfiguring, murdering, and enslaving native peoples by the thousands. x
  • 14
    The Ancient Southwest: Discovering Diversity
    Uncover what archaeology has revealed about the ancient peoples of the southwestern deserts. Survey the variety of strategies they used depending on their specific locale—from farming in flood plains to building elaborate irrigation canals—and how they developed into multiple distinct, but not isolated, cultures. See why today we recognize three core, and two peripheral, ancient cultures of the area. x
  • 15
    The Basketmaker Culture
    Once natural selection produced a strain of drought-resistant corn, the peoples of the desert gave up their nomadic existence and began to build more permanent structures. Examine the first sedentary cultures of the American Southwest—the possible precursors to the Pueblo—and understand why baskets, which had been invented many thousands of years earlier, significantly increased in importance as the only portable storage solution before the advent of pottery. x
  • 16
    The Mogollon Culture
    As the Mogollon people increased reliance on agriculture, the size and density of their villages also grew, the largest having more than 100 pit houses arranged around multiple kivas. But as you will discover, they're probably best known for their exquisite pottery bowls. Take a look at how, while neighboring cultures were still experimenting with geometric designs, the Mogollon painted sophisticated scenes of animals, humans, and supernatural creatures. x
  • 17
    The Hohokam: Masters of the Desert
    Learn about the Hohokam, a people who made beautiful art, employed cooperative decision making with strong centralized leadership, and developed extensive public architecture. But see why their real claim to fame was building more than 700 miles of sophisticated irrigation canals—the largest and most highly-engineered irrigation system constructed in the Pre-Columbian New World—segments of which are still visible today. x
  • 18
    The Ancestral Pueblo
    The dominant culture of the southwest was the Ancestral Pueblo. For the past 1,300 years, their settlements have exhibited an apartment-like room block pattern, from small farmsteads to cities with thousands of people. Examine how both the architecture and the short lifespans of earlier villages reflected the reality of the area's scarce resource base, promoting cultural traditions born of environmental adaptation. x
  • 19
    The Chaco Phenomenon
    Chaco Canyon contains the most sophisticated architecture ever built in ancient North America—14 Great Houses, four Great Kivas, hundreds of smaller settlements, an extensive road system, and a massive trade network. But who led these great building projects? And why do we find so little evidence of human habitation in what seems to be a major center of culture? Answer these questions and more. x
  • 20
    Archaeoastronomy in the Ancient Southwest
    The people of the ancient Southwest were skilled astronomers, incorporating astronomical alignments in their architecture with impressive displays of light and shadow. Learn how discoveries of the Sun Dagger and the Chimney Rock lunar observatory—as well as the alignment of Great Houses miles apart along lunar maximum lines—could help reveal the true purpose of Chaco Canyon. x
  • 21
    The Periphery of the Ancient Southwest
    As you delve further into the ancient Southwest, you will see why the ancient farming cultures of the region did not spread into surrounding areas where farming was either unnecessary or impossible. Instead, nearby groups lived a more nomadic life, relying on hunting and gathering, and minimal occasional farming. Over time, each group developed its unique artwork, perhaps none as fascinating as the desert Intaglios of the Patayan. x
  • 22
    Late Period Cultures of the Pacific Coast
    From southern California to Alaska, witness a vast array of complex hunter-gatherer cultures that thrived along the Pacific Coast for centuries before European contact. In this most densely populated area of the continent—and its most culturally and linguistically diverse—peoples developed highly stratified societies, sophisticated systems of resource distribution and trade, advanced methods of food storage, and unique artwork. x
  • 23
    Late Period Cultures of the Great Plains
    The peoples of the Great Plains were broadly divided into the bison hunters in the west and the semi-sedentary farmers in the east. But with the European introduction of the horse, gun, and new diseases, you will shift your attention to how each of five main culture areas began to transform and how these changes shaped the homogenized, oversimplified view of American Indian cultures. x
  • 24
    The Iroquois and Algonquians before Contact
    At the time of European contact, two main groups existed in the northeast—the hunter-gatherer Algonquian and the agrarian Iroquois. Delve into how the Iroquois created the first North American democracy as a solution to their increasing internal conflicts. Today, we know much of the U.S. Constitution is modeled on the Iroquois’ “Great League of Peace” and its 117 articles of confederation, as formally acknowledged by the U.S. in 1988. x

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  • Download 24 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
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  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 232-page printed course guidebook
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  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos and historic artworks
  • Maps and diagrams
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Edwin Barnhart

About Your Professor

Edwin Barnhart, Ph.D.
Maya Exploration Center
Dr. Edwin Barnhart is director of the Maya Exploration Center. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and has over 20 years of experience in North, Central, and South America as an archaeologist, explorer, and instructor. In 1994, Professor Barnhart discovered the ancient city of Maax Na (Spider-Monkey House), a major center of the Classic Maya period in northwestern Belize. In 1998 he was invited by the...
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Ancient Civilizations of North America is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 94.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Experience This was my first Great Course, and I was blown away. The information is in-depth, but explained clearly for a general audience. I'm a history/archaeology buff and it gave me PLENTY to learn and think about. It does focus mostly on the Mississippian and Southwestern cultures, so it may not be what you want if you want a lot of information on the Native Americans of the Northeast or Pacific Northwest, but it illustrates as clear a picture as modern Archaeologists have of the largest and most advanced ancient civilizations of North America (Prof. Barnhart does make it clear that our knowledge is limited due to surviving Archaeological evidence). Professor Barnhart is clearly an expert in his field, and although his presentation style at first seems a little awkward and stiff, I found myself quickly getting to feel as though I knew him personally. His personal anecdotes and occasional jokes lend personality and humor to a very well-organized and informative course. I cannot recommend this course enough - it truly was excellent, and it left me with a new appreciation of North America's Ancient Civilizations. I had no idea that North America had such advanced peoples living here before European contact. This course has left me with a new view of history. I purchased another of Professor Barnhart's courses (Lost Worlds of South America) at the same time I bought this one and I can't wait to start watching it.
Date published: 2018-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well-presented and thoughtful course Excellent course with lots of graphics and locale video. Worth every penny! I would love to see a follow-on course focusing on the tribes and cultures of the north Pacific Coast from California to Alaska.
Date published: 2018-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Entertaining! We listened to these lectures during a road trip in the midwest. It was very engaging. We have visited several of the sites discribed in these lectures, so it was nice to hear about them in the context of the time they were occupied.
Date published: 2018-10-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and surprising Good coverage of early North American history before the invasion from Europe. Done well. Some surprisingly advanced civilizations I hadn't previously known about.
Date published: 2018-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! I have enjoyed my journey in the ancient North America. I`ve bought this video two months ago. I`ve learned a lot of things about ancient Canada and USA. The professor is a very good speaker. Bravo!
Date published: 2018-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fills in the gaps This is my third course by Prof. Barnhart. As always, he has assembled a vast amount of information into an easily digestible format. This course filled in a huge gap in my historical knowledge about my own country. The discussions of archeoastronomy were particularly fascinating.
Date published: 2018-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Too Wonderful to be this Short I Love this course. I wish there was even more information on the Natives of North America in all areas. Even tribe by tribe. The instructor made everything interesting. I only wish I could have purchased it in HD.
Date published: 2018-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The North America we do not know about. I am on my second go-through in order to solidify my memory of what I learned. The series has convinced me I want to return to many places I have visited in the past and a few I just learned existed. What the lectures gave me was a chronology I never had before of the ruins and sites I have visited and I expect to arrive loaded with a new understanding and appreciation. The three series on South America, Central America and now North America have expanded my world.
Date published: 2018-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Raises many issues of which I had little previous knowledge. Comprehensive coverage.
Date published: 2018-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Golden Wow. I’m tempted to recommend this course to anybody who is interested in human beings. The first lecture alone, which focuses on use of respectful terminology and on problems with dating archeological finds, is worth the price of the entire course. The course concentrates on Mississippi River civilization and the American Southwest from ancient origins (migration via Siberia) to European contact. About one lecture each is given to the Pacific Northwest, the Great Plains, and Northeastern America. European contact itself is generally not discussed. Thus, how European contact affected the Native American and First Nation civilizations is pretty much ignored. Hopefully, Dr. Barnhart will do another TGC course to focus more strongly on how European contact affected Native American culture. Dr. Barnhart is an excellent lecturer. He is respectful to all peoples of all societies in all times, even to scholars with whom he disagrees. He is careful to present a balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of the spectrum of arguments on many issues. I also recommend his TGC courses Lost Worlds of South America and Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed. I listened to the audio version. This was a mistake. Although I could not see the visual aids on my audio version, I believe that maps and illustrations would have made a *huge* difference.
Date published: 2018-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ancient Civilizations of North America This course looks very interesting, but I haven't worked on it yet. I have become interested in this type of course in recent years, having no opportunity to actually visit this part of the world. When I was a teenager (I am now 88) history was not at all of interest to me, so I have broadened my fields of interest in later years.
Date published: 2018-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great ancient civilization course The professor does another great job devling into a subject grossed over by many. His presentation style is informal and instillesan interest to investigate further. He presents numerous sometimes opposing sides of topics and lays out the rationale for his conclusions in a clear honest fashion.
Date published: 2018-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course I love studying ancient history both the Western and Eastern continents. Super pleased because I was not aware of some of the ancient cultures right here in America.
Date published: 2018-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love It! I find Prof. Barhart to be clear, concise and informative. A real pleasure to listen with material I had no idea existed in North America! Chris Thompson
Date published: 2018-09-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from slow Interesting material by and large. Initial lecture was a waste. If you don't want to risk stepping on peoples feelings by referring to dates as AD or BC, then simply say 12,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago. Don't slide back and forth between other arbitrary date references. Presenter is stiff, but material is presented in an understandable manner. Don't really need his family vacation anecdotes either.
Date published: 2018-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finished before you know it! We started watching this course, and I found that I really looked forward to each day's lecture after work and we found ourselves watching 2 or 3 lectures an evening. What worked about this course for me? I've seen Professor Barnhart's other courses and this one is as good as his other courses. He has a quiet style, not flashy - he just has a very down to earth style - like it's a good friend presenting course information to you. Actually, it didn't feel like a course as much as a discussion. This blows out of the water what I learned about Native American cultures as a child and should be standard viewing for all Americans. The new set style of projecting images in a green room and adapting to the professor's style worked well in this course. Professor Barnhart seems to be a stand in one place type of presenter and this set up worked well for him, as opposed to the awkward pacing in some of his other courses. Kudos as well to the great photo and video archives. Awesome. I learned about some ruins of ancient cultures that I never knew existed. Some of them are being added to the vacation list, and some of them, sadly, no longer exist in a tangible form. Note that this is a pan-America overview course. There are something like 500 + different native North American nations, so a course that discusses them all would be impossible. Professor Barnhart emphasized those in the Southern United States more heavily, as these have been the focus of his own work and research. Overall well done!
Date published: 2018-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What they don't tell you in school I bought Professor Barnhart's two previous lecture series and they were amazing, giving me an overall understanding over the centuries, then delving into details in certain areas. This course, like the other two, made me realize how little I really knew about early civilizations in the Americas. It also revealed how robust and complex these cultures are, rivaling those of the "Old World".
Date published: 2018-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thank you Thanks for making a fine history course about the native peoples of North America. In a previous review about a course on roughly this topic, which viewed the past through the modern lens of Native American rights and had little value as a history course, I asked good old GC to produce a solid history of the ancient cultures of my home continent. It is probably just coincidence that Ancient Civilizations of North America was created some time later, but thanks just the same for answering my request even if inadvertently. This course is indeed a solid history course about a difficult subject. If a group of people want to be remembered, it is helpful to future historians if they develop written language and leave behind a detailed record of their civilization. Having Herodotus wander around the civilization and write it all up in an esoteric history also helps. Sadly there is none of this for pre-contact North America and the instructor was forced to relay mostly on archeology which is a useful but mute witness of the past. Combine this with the sad fact that much of the archeological record on the continent has been destroyed and I'm amazed that there are 24 lectures worth of history to cover. Fortunately genetic studies and other scientific work have helped fill in some of the gaps about North America. Much of this information informs the first of the four parts of this course. A sort of pre-history of the Americas and lessons about the Archaic period lead off the course. Much of this information is necessarily more general in nature at least until we discover the first city on the continent which existed a surprising 3,500 years ago. Next we meet the mound builders of the Mississippi. After watching each lecture I kicked up Google Streetview to take a look around the mounds. While not every mound is viewable, a surprising amount of them have been photographed. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had known about the mounds, but had no idea how extensive they were, nor anything about the people who built them. Then we move along to a mini-course on the Pueblo and others folks who wandered the Southwest. Living in Colorado, I'm rather partial to these creative folk. While I'd known about Mesa Verde, I had no idea about places like the amazing Chaco Canyon, nor how often the people abandoned their impressive towns to move to newer and better watered fields. Finally we have an overview of the rest of North America from Coast to Coast with a stop on the Great Plains. This left me wanting more as a lecture apiece for these vast areas seemed too little. Hopefully they will be covered in a future course. I was impressed with the instructor’s knowledge and wit in handling what could have been a politically charged course. He stressed the value of respect in the first lecture and left it at that and frankly even a curmudgeon like me agrees that we should respect our neighbors both present and past. If you have any interest in the history of North America or the peoples who trod its varied geography for thousands of years, you owe it to yourself to take this course.
Date published: 2018-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative This course has really opened my eyes to the varieties and depth of the cultures that existed before European contact.
Date published: 2018-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course Very much enjoying this course. Just one issue, and it it not restricted to just this course. Place names and other terms are being seriously mispronounced. Professors and editors really need the check pronunciations if they are not sure.
Date published: 2018-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative and interesting! Love the format and the instructor. Appreciate the information delivered without bias and judgement. The topic is investigated deeply and presented very well. This subject should be taught in primary schools! Thank you!
Date published: 2018-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Important Piece of North American History This is another long overdue course that fills in the history of North America - in this case that of native Americans before European contact. It contains numerous pictures of prehistoric sites from Canada to the southern United States. The prospective student must understand this course does not cover the history of native American tribes and civilizations after 1750. That is covered in another course. Like his previous courses on the lost civilizations of South America, and those of the Aztec and Maya, Professor Barnhart paints a vivid picture of the social structure, arts, religions, and astronomy of these ancient Americans. Edwin Barnhart has hit another grand slam with this course.
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from one of the best I'm a history writer and have listened to most of the Teaching Co courses in that field. I've also lectured at universities on Pre-Colombian civilizations and thought I knew a fair amount about ancient North America. This was not just an eye-opening course, but fascinating revelation about how sophisticated the early inhabitants were. I'm planning to travel to Cahokia and other sites and see the works and artifacts of what we used to just call the mysterious Moundbuilders.
Date published: 2018-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well worth the wait! I suggested years ago that The Teaching Company produce a course on what we then called the Anasazi (now the Ancestral Pueblo). I'm so glad to now have this course by Edwin Barnhart, focusing on the ancient indigenous cultures of the Eastern Woodlands and the Southwest (and including much else besides). Thorough, clear, respectful, not shying away from tough questions or uncertainty, and even a little funny, with a great bibliography I'm now exploring at my public library. Excellent!
Date published: 2018-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Survey of an Overlooked Subject I was a little hesitant to procure this course because I believed I knew enough about the subject. However, after watching and listening to the course I am glad I did. I learned much more about the history of North America and it’s early inhabitants then I believed possible. Professor Barnhart presented an informative and in-depth summary of the early people’s of the area and the cultures they created and lived with. I was fascinated in learning especially about the Missippian culture because I was unaware of its existence. Most everyone has heard about the Sioux and Buffalo Bill but very few are aware of the other cultures that existed in North America for thousands of years. In short, I enjoyed the course, learned a lot and strongly recommend it for anyone curious about the history and cultures of North America before European contact.
Date published: 2018-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well done and interesting My wife and I lived and worked in several American Indian and Alaska Native communities for multiple years in our past. We found this lecture series to be very well done, superbly presented, comprehensive, and highly interesting. Professor Barnhart is a true scientist in clearly identifying what aspects of his topic are scientifically accepted, or have varying scientific concepts among experts, or are speculative, or are unknown due to lack of evidence or absence of scientific study thus far. He clearly identifies his own conclusions when there are a variety of opinions.
Date published: 2018-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating look at history not often talked about I have visited many sites in Arizona and New Mexico, and knew there were dozens of different tribes all across the U.S., but had no idea of the entire history of where the first peoples came from, how they migrated, the huge cities! At first there was a lot of 'politically correct' talk and I worried that would continue, but it didn't. It did clear up misconceptions and made known what the different nations preferred to be called. Example: I always heard about the Anasazi in the Mesa Verde and other areas, and the professor explained what the word really meant and why it's not appropriate. Overall very informative and interesting course!
Date published: 2018-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gives a clear idea of what will be in the series I watch one lecture each day. I just started this series, and I already am fascinated. I also have watched Natives of North America and several of your series on archeology, giving a good background. The lecturer is delightful and very clear about the uncertainty of things such as dating items found, where inhabitants came from, etc. He also shows varying opinions of scholars on such situations.
Date published: 2018-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Long Overdue I've been interested in this subject for nearly 40 years. The history of pre-columbian North America is unique for most of what existed is lost [actually destroyed] and what remains are projectile points, pottery, burial mounds and a scattered of ancient buildings. This course is a good summary of the information that is presently available. It is not too generalized like many videos available and it's not overwhelming like many professional papers. Personally I liked the information presented on the Pacific Northwest and California; usually the focus is only on the eastern Woodland & Mississippian cultures, along with those of the southwest. I appreciated the De Soto lecture and the discussion of where the southwest native populations migrated towards the end. I also liked the Professor's sense of humor.
Date published: 2018-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating My wife and I watch one lecture each night, review the guidebook, and discuss what we just learned. We look forward to our nightly class with great anticipation. We haven't been disappointed yet. Finally, get the video version. The course is full of maps, pictures, and illustrations that recreate the societies. You will miss so much if you only get the audio version.
Date published: 2018-07-26
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