Ancient Civilizations – Americas, Australia, Pacific Islands

Historian, Sir Kenneth Clark, defined civilization as "what we leave behind." Come explore what the ancient peoples of the Americas, Australia , and the Pacific Islands left behind. We can learn about their everyday lives, their customs, their politics, their religious beliefs, their languages, their systems of commerce, and more as we explore their artifacts and ruins.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources

Places To Go Nazca Lines
Travel to the Nazca Lines of the edge of the Atacama desert in Peru. The Nazca Lines are huge outlines of animals, creatures, and geometric shapes that are etched into the surface of the desert.
Easter Island
Travel to mysterious Easter Island. The more than 1000 standing stones called moai comprise most of what is left of that ancient culture.
Easter Island Foundation
The Easter Island Foundation was founded in 1989 with the mission of building a library on Easter Island and promoting awareness of the island's fragile heritage.
Explorers Find Last Stronghold of the Inca
Travel to Cerro Victoria, a recently discovered ancient Incan city. "The ruins consist of more than 100 structures, including circular homes, storehouses, cemeteries, funeral towers, roadways, waterworks, farming terraces, a dam and a truncated pyramid."
Hopewell Culture
The tribes in the central, northeastern part of the United States were sometimes called mound builders because of how they buried their dead. The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio is shaped like a huge snake swallowing an egg and is over 1300 feet long and 6 feet high.
The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
A short illustrated guide to the Inca Trail, a hiking route through the mountains near Cuzco, Peru, leading to the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
Journey though Tikal
Journey through Tikal and Take Multiple Virtual Tours of Mayan ruins in Tikal, Guatemala.
Lake Mungo
Discover the ancient aboriginal peoples of Australia. The oldest remains of aboriginal civilizations were discovered at Lake Mungo in New South Wales.
The Lost City of the Incas
Explore the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu located high in the Andes mountains in central Peru.
Mesa Verde
Travel to Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado to explore the ruins and cliff dwellings of its ancient inhabitants, the Anasazi.
National Historic Park: Hopewell Culture
This park in south-central Ohio contains remarkable groups of large geometric earthworks as well as exquisite artifacts crafted by those of the Hopewell culture.
NOVA Online - Easter Island
This is the story of a team of archaeologists and a 75-person crew who sought to unravel a central mystery of Easter Island: how hundreds of giant stone statues that dominate the island's coast were moved and erected.
Peru's New Machu Piccu
Peruvian and British explorers say they have discovered a lost Inca city on a peak in the Andes that was used as a place of resistance against Spanish conquerors.
Pyramid of the Sun
Visit the Pyramid of the Sun in the middle of the 2-mile-long Avenue of the Dead in the city of Teotihuacan, the capital of the ancient Aztec Empire.
Explore the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. It was built mostly on groups of islands in Lake Texcoco in central Mexico. Find out what happened to this city and what ruins still remain today.
Teotihuacan: City of the Gods
Visit this ancient town just outside of Mexico City that is called the City of the Gods. Among the ruins is the Pyramid of the Sun which is the 3rd largest pyramid in the world.
Tikal National Park
Travel to the ancient Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala , one of the oldest and largest of excavated Mayan cities. There are over 3,000 buildings and other structures excavated in an area of about six square miles.
Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park
Explore Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. To aboriginal Australian, Uluru is sacred site associated with their creations stories.

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People To See

Learn more about the Anasazi - The People of the Mountains, Mesas and Grasslands.
Australian Aborigines
The aborigines were the first inhabitants of Australia. Today, most of the aboriginal people no longer live in the Australian outback, but have moved to cities and towns.
Hiram Bingham
Meet Hiram Bingham. He was an American archaeologist. He investigated the ruins of Machu Picchu, bringing the archaeological site to the attention of the outside world for the first time.
Ice Mummies of the Incas
NOVA presents an online expedition to Peru to search for Incan mummies at the top of Mt. Sara Sara.
Kon-tiki Museum
The Kon-Tiki Museum houses original boats and exhibits from Thor Heyerdahl's world famous expeditions.
New Zealand history. An overview covering the pre-historic, colonial and modern periods. Maori history and culture.
Spend time with the ancient Maori people of New Zealand. The Maori arrived at the islands of what is now New Zealand in about 950 A.D.
PBS: Lost King of the Maya
Get to know the ancient Mayans. Their civilization flourished from about 1500 B.C. to about 1500 A.D. in what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, parts of El Salvador, and western Honduras.
Thor Heyerdahl
A Norwegian explorer and anthropologist that believed the original settlers of the Pacific Islands came from South America. He tested his theory in 1947 by sailing over 4000 miles from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands on a balsa raft called Kon Tiki.

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Things To Do

Aborignal Australia
Learn about the Dreamtime. It is part of Australian aboriginal culture and contains legends and stories orally passed down from generation to generation that explain the origin of the aborigines.
Ancient Aztec, Olmec, & Mesoamerica
Cortes and his conquistadors came to the Americas looking for gold. Many of the Mesoamerican cultures actually were very accomplished at working with gold and crafted figurines, jewelry, cups, and ornaments from gold and other precious metals.
Ancient Mexico
One of the best known Mayan rulers was Pacal. He lived in the city-state of Palenque between about 600 A.D. and 683 A.D.
Aztec Calendar
Find your birthday on the Aztec calendar.
Aztec Food and Drink
The Aztec made a fermented, alcoholic drink from the sap of the maguey cactus. The drink was called ochtli, and its use was strictly regulated. Only the elderly could drink it freely.
The ancient Australian aborigines probably started using the boomerang over 10,000 years ago. Learn about its history and get tips and tricks for using them.
Discover the magic of didgeridoo music. The aboriginal people of Australia say that the didgeridoo is the oldest instrument in the world and was developed by the ancient peoples of the continent.
Food Timeline
Frequently asked questions about Aztec, Maya, & Inca foods and recipes.
The History of Chocolate
The Aztecs were famous chocolate-eaters. Cacao trees were cultivated in the hot, damp coastal regions of the Aztec empire. The Mayans had a similar relationship with chocolate.
The History of Mesoamerica
The Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Toltec, Aztec. Learn about the achievements of these amazing pre-Columbian peoples. Their accomplishments rivaled those of western Europe and Asia.
The History of the Aztecs
Like some of the ruins of ancient Rome existing right in the middle of busy, modern-day Rome (such as the Coliseum and the Forum), there are numerous ancient Aztec ruins that are right in the midst of busy, modern-day Mexico City.
Learner.Org : Why Do Civilizations Fall?
Learn about the Mayan, Mesopotamian, Mali, and Chaco Canyon civilizations and discover what may have lead to their downfall.
The Maya
Visit Jaguar Sun, a virtual ancient Mayan site, where you can find lots of historical information about the Maya, past and present, with a bookstore of resources and links to other Maya-related sites.
Mayan Kids
According to this site, the Mayans were the most advanced of all ancient Mesoamerican cultures. This site has a nice timeline of the Mayan civilization.
Learn about Mesoamerican cultures. Both the Maya and the Aztec bred certain kinds of dogs for eating.
Mysteries of the Maya
The Mayan empire lasted approximately from about 1000 B.C. to 1700 A.D.
This site contains a bibliography of Olmec studies.
Social Studies for Kids: Maya
Civilizations began in the Americas long before Europeans thought they did. The Olmecs and the Mayas were two of the first. Other peoples lived in North and Central America. Find out more about their stories here.
Tjukurpa - The Dreaming
Learn about the Australian aboriginal Dreamtime - Tjukurpa - and the Ancestors. "As it was done in the Dreamtime, so it must be done today""
Learn about the Toltec civilization. The Toltecs preceded the Aztecs in central Mexico. The word Toltec means "master builder", and this civilization was more advanced in their art and architecture than the Aztec.

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Teacher Resources