Discoveries in the fields of archeology, anthropology and geology, together with modern research based on DNA analysis, confirm that the Americas were the last continents to be populated by the human race.
The archaic period in the history of American cultures has been defined as being a few thousand years after the end of the migratory process from Asia to America. The process of migration ended after the ice bridge of the Bering Strait completely disappeared. This period is known as the beginning stage of the growth of a society of hunters and semi-agriculturalists. These people had social and organizational structures in incipient stages.
The tribes around the Mississippi river and its tributaries, Ohio and Tennessee, created what researchers today call the “Mississippian” culture. The definitive settling of the population as an agricultural society permitted the apparition of the first towns. Cahokia was the largest town in the current territory of the United States, up until the founding of European towns on the east coast of the Atlantic.
The Classical Period was the age of the blossoming of American cultures, especially in Central America and in north-western parts of South America. Large urban centres developed, with complex social and political structures. Systems of transport were created, the economy advanced and foundations for the study of sciences such as mathematics and astronomy were laid. All these led to the creation of the great Aztec and Mayan pyramids in Central America and the stone towns of the Incas in the Andes Mountains.
The Aztec civilization was one of the great classical Amerindian civilizations. The central area of modern-day Mexico was home to many cultures and civilizations before the apparition of the Aztecs. Amongst these civilizations was the great culture of the inhabitants of the Teotihuacan town. Even so, the Aztecs were the ones who founded, besides a great culture, a great empire, which stretched over the whole central area of Mexico. The influence of the Aztec empire spread to many towns and people of Central America.
The Mayan civilization lasted for almost 3,500 years. It was known for its monumental towns and for developing the first complete hieroglyphic system of writing in pre-Columbian America. The Mayan civilization was also known for its high level of mathematical knowledge, surpassing the Romans and ancient Greeks in this respect. The Mayans were also known for the rapid and still unelucidated collapse of their civilization, before Europeans arrived on the continent.
The Inca empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. It had humble beginnings - the Incas were originally a tribe of shepherds. They began the systematic conquest of all neighboring kingdoms, extending the limits of their state from what is now southern Colombia, to Chile and Argentina.