The Lost Kingdoms of Central America continues in Between Empires and Oceans. Dr. Jago Cooper starts off his journey in Costa Rica. Archeologists ignored the country for decades, unaware of a hidden civilization so close. When Columbus found this civilization the people were covered head to toe in gold. It was called “Costa Rica” because the area was so rich.
It was a civilization that had built many cities. They thrived among volcanoes. They lived between two continents and two oceans. Cooper explores the challenging landscape to discover this civilization. During the 20th Century, this civilization was rediscovered. This discovery helped archeologists locate settlements of this mysterious civilization. They found similar settlements in southern Costa Rica and Northern Panama.
Dr. Cooper heads up in the air to understand the landscape. He wants to know the environment to help determine how this civilization survived. For decades, archeologists believed that no civilization could survive. They focused their efforts on the Maya and the Andean civilizations. They missed something special hidden in the Costa Rica jungle. Dr. Cooper goes to a site where the Ancient Costa Rican people lived.
The settlement contains stone circles. The stone circles were different sizes. They worked with the landscape to build their settlement. The settlement lasted for 700 years and they harvest maize and other crops. This site was eventually rebuilt and it became a religious site. It became the home of priests and other religious figures. It was a place of pilgrimage.
Why did they rebuild the site? Perhaps the answer lies in a cemetery found on the site. It was one of the biggest cemeteries in the region. The Ancient Costa Ricans treated their dead by marking their ancestors’ graves. Their dead was buried and buried next to or nearby to family. The Ancient Costa Ricas marked groups of graves. The bodies are long gone and devoured by the soil. The artifacts are gone. They were looted long ago, they were looking for gold. Pounds and pounds of gold came from that site.
Gold was a symbol of wealth and power. Gold was an emblem of authority. The ancient Costa Ricans buried gold with their dead. There are still questions about the Ancient Costa Ricans. Why did a settlement turn into a religious site? What prompted the change? Why was the site reconstructed?
Cooper makes his way to a museum. He discovers that jade was a valuable resource for the Ancient Costa Ricans. Jade use flourished in the Mayans. Perhaps before gold, Jade was used. The ancient Costa Ricans carved items out of jade. This also meant that jade traded to Costa Rica. This is another piece in the Ancient Costa Rican puzzle. Eventually, jade’s use went away and gold was used. Perhaps the ancient Costa Rican’s religion started to change. The small objects created with gold or jade were religious images.
Gold also had a political role. Gold was controlled by the political elite. Understanding why jade changed to gold is key to understanding the Ancient Costa Rican’s view of the world. Jade demonstrated the influence of the north. So perhaps gold demonstrated the influence of the south. It also shows how connected the Ancient Costa Ricans were to the outside world.
To continue to learn more about the ancient people of Costa Rica, continue to watch the documentary.
This is a fascinating documentary for a history class. You can use this documentary for an anthropology class. It is interesting to see an area that archeologists have not spent much time in. This is another great episode to show to a class to give students a break from the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incans.
Today, we will explore documentaries about another part of the world: Central America. Dr. Jago Cooper explores the Lost Kingdoms of Central America. He travels through the wetlands of Mexico and the jungles of Costa Rica. He dives into the Caribbean Sea. He flies above the volcanoes and goes caving. The first episode in this series is called Kingdom of the Jaguar. Cooper starts off his journey exploring a cave that the people believed was a tunnel to the underworld. This civilization rose out of the marshes of Southern Mexico. They built the first pyramids. They are known as the Olmec. They came before the Mayan People.
The Olmecs were the first civilizations of Central America. They believed their rulers had supernatural powers. The Olmecs ruled in Central America 3,000 years ago and collapsed 1,000 years before the Maya. Archeologists heard rumors of a giant eye and went to investigate. What they found astonished them. This was a civilization more advanced than what was previously discovered. The Archeologists found an earlier civilization. This cultivation thrived in the harsh climate of southern Mexico.
Legends of a lost people are part of the local story. However, the jungle hid the real civilization behind this story. The climate is harsh with hurricanes, torrential downpours, and heat made building a civilization challenging. However, the Olmecs seemed to make it work. The environment changed the way the Olmecs existed. They used their environment to their advantage. The Olmecs stopped being nomads. It was the first time maize was farmed. Maize fed the people and it could be harvested three times a year. They also grew beans and squash together. Maize, beans, and squash helped keep both the soil and the people healthy.
These three foods allowed the civilization to grow. This civilization grew into something never before seen in Central America before. Dr. Cooper goes in search of the original Olmec villages. He discusses the challenges archeologists have in exploring the Olmec people. Dr. Cooper ends up at the top of a hill and looks at the landscape around him. It was here where the Olmec people developed.
It was here that archeologists discovered their first stone building. It was a palace for Olmec rulers. To protect it, the site was reburied. However, Cooper demonstrates that this palace was a sign of centralized rule in Central America. The elite showed their power by carving heads. These heads led up to the palace. What made these individuals so special? How did the ordinary people feel about the elite?
Dr. Cooper makes his way deeper into the Olmec territory and talks about the connection the Olmec had to their ancestors. The Olmec carved objects and they would toss them into bogs. The lakes and bogs were places that the Olmec believed to lead to the underworld. Their connection to the underworld gave the Olmec legitimacy to their civilization. A rubber ball was discovered among the offerings. Cooper holds the ball and tells the cameraman that this was the first time that this object was filmed. The Olmecs used rubber to make balls for their games. The object of the game was to keep the ball moving. It could perhaps be the forerunner of soccer. Sports were an important part of society.
To continue to learn more about the Olmec watch this documentary. Dr. Cooper is an excellent narrator who enjoys sharing the available information. This documentary is highly recommended for a history classroom. It is a fascinating look at a civilization other than the Maya. So if you need to give your students a break from studying the Maya, then show an episode from The Lost Kingdoms of Central America.
Good morning, we will conclude our Lost Kingdoms of South America series with Kingdom of the Desert. Dr. Jago Cooper explores the deserts of Peru and discovers the Chimor people. The Chimor faced extremes in their climate but they made it work. They created a desert oasis. How did they build the great cities? What motivated them to invade other lands? Why did they disappear? Dr. Cooper explores that and more in the Kingdom of the Desert.
In the 15th Century, the Chimor was at the height of their empire. They settled between the coast of modern-day Peru and the Andes Mountains. The Chimor Kingdom lasted for 450 years before vanishing into the desert. Which empire came first the Inca or the Chimor; Dr. Cooper makes the case that it was the Chimor.
When the Europeans arrived, they did not know what they were in for when they approached the Chimor capital city: Chan Chan. It was the largest adobe complex in the world. Chan Chan was established in the 10th Century and the Chimor people continued to expand the city for 500 years. It housed 10 palaces within its high walls. However, it was not the culture that interested the Spanish explorers, it was gold.
A hierarchy was ingrained in the people. In their creation story, Royal men came from a gold egg, royal women came from a silver egg, and the common people came from a bronze egg. The Chimor people shared the story that their ancestors came down from the coast and settled around Chan Chan. The sea provided food for the people. They would sacrifice to the sea gods to help with the harvest. However, the early Chimor people could not just rely on the sea for their food. They also looked to the land to survive.
So how does a civilization make a desert bloom? The desert is known for being harsh and unforgiving. However, the Chimor had an advantage: the melt from the Andes in the river valleys. Dr. Cooper explores this theory. He discovers and earlier people who lived in the same area as the Chimor. These people used their location to their advantage too. However, a catastrophic event led to their collapse. It was two centuries before another civilization could survive in the deserts of Peru.
Archeologists discover that the Chimor used many of the same ideas this previous civilization had. The Chimor cleaned out and took over the canals from the previous civilization. They just made things bigger and better. Cooper is surprised at how irrigation can change a desert into a green, vibrant, and fertile area. Over many centuries, men and women dug canals and imported soil to make a desert bloom. To continue to learn more about the Chimor people, continue to watch this documentary on YouTube.
The People of the Desert would be a good episode to show in geography, clips for a STEM class, and earth science class too. Cooper goes fishing with the local fishermen and talks about how the currents impacted the fishing. He also talks about the geography of Peru and how people adapted to it to build a civilization. Teachers, you are limited by your imagination in determining how to use these documentaries in your class.
In the end, Lost Kingdoms of South America is an excellent series to show in a classroom for teachers who want to go beyond talking about the Inca people and the Spanish. Dr. Cooper helps these lost kingdoms take their place in South American history. The deserts and rainforests hide fascinating stories. Teachers, take a look at these documentaries and share them with your history, geography, or earth science classes.
South America is the perfect place to hide secrets. In the Land of Gold, Jago Cooper explores another lost kingdom of South America. Cooper explores both the Muisca and Tairona. Their gold carvings drew the Spanish conquistadors into their lands. Was the land of El Dorado hidden in Columbia? Both cultures were skilled in gold making. Cooper explores this myth and teaches about the Muisca and Tairona cultures.
1492 changed the world of the Muisca and Tairona people. There were rumors of the Inca Empire. The conquistadors made their way to the Andes. Columbia was on the way to the Inca Homeland. The Conquistadors were surprised as they made their way through the Columbian jungle. An army of 800 conquistadors went through the Columbia jungle. It was difficult and tough, sickness went through the army. The journey was a nightmare.
The Muisca was the largest culture in South America. They occupied an area larger than Switzerland. They were not ruled by a single person. The Muisca was organized into two federations and these federations were made up of small towns. When the Conquistadors came through, they occupied a small town. Few original Muisca towns remain. The Musica people built with wood, so little was left behind. The land was held communally. Some research hints that they were a democracy.
The Muisca also negotiated with the gods. The gods took care of the weather. However, the gods could not take care of the Spanish. There were rumors of gold and cities of gold. The Spanish searched for this city gold. However, the story of El Dorado was inspired by a person, and he was a person who wore a lot of gold. The Gold Museum shows off how the Muisca crafted gold. There were many precious objects created with gold.
The second part of the episode discusses the Tairona people. They rose about the same time as the Muisca people. They lived upriver from the Muisca people. They shared a language with the Muisca. In fact, they traded gold, cotton, and salt with each other. Discovering more about the Tairona people is a challenge. Their mountainous location proves to be a challenge to archaeologists. There was a horde of gold discovered in the mountains and Cooper takes a three-day hike to the place where the gold was discovered. The site was big. It was 10 times bigger than Manchu Pichu.
The Tairona people took a lot of effort to build the city. It was a tough terrarium where they were building. When the civilization declined, the jungle took over and hid the city. The Tairona people built with stone. Stone preserved the Tairona structures for all time. Archeologists discovered that the Tairona did not use mortar when they built. They worked with their environment to survive. The Tairona valued things that reflected light. Gold not only reflected light but was the color of light. They worked carefully with gold. They polished and finished their pieces. Tairona gold had spiritual values. Instead of individual pieces, goldsmiths crafted objects that could be replicated over and over.
To continue to learn more about Muisca and Tairona watch the documentary. This is another good episode to share with a history class. The downside of the episode is that the Muisca and Tairona could have been easily covered over two episodes instead of one. I felt like Cooper shared too little information about both cultures. That said, if I was a teacher, I would share an episode or two of this series with a history class. It is also an excellent research source for a class too.
Dr. Jago Cooper is exploring a second lost civilization of South America in the Stone at the Center. They are from Bolivia and live in the Andes. They left behind a spectacular temple. This temple was the heart of this civilization. The temple stands at the height of 13,000 feet. This civilization lasted over 500 years even though the Andes provided a challenging environment. They should not have thrived, but they did. They are the Tiwanaku people.
The Tiwanaku used Llamas to help build their civilization in the mountains. They also took coca to help survive the thin air. Coca gave them the stamina to work at the height. Llama wool also gave them the clothing they needed to survive the cold air. The llama also provided transportation for the Tiwanaku. Llamas are uniquely built to survive the terrain. It was still a precarious existence for the people One frost could kill a crop.
The Tiwanaku culture grew up around Lake Titicaca. It is the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake provided a microclimate for a civilization to grow. The soil surrounding the lake was rich and farmers could grow their crops. They were groups of subsistence farmers that came together. These farmers discovered ways to farm outside of the Lake Titicaca basin. They raised their farm beds and used irrigation to protect their crops. They also performed careful maintenance on these beds. The Tiwanaku extended their growing seasons and increased crop production.
Rituals also drew the Tiwanaku together. It helped centralized civilization. They would come together to sacrifice llamas, drink, and dance. These celebrations help bring people together and they decided to build a temple, where they could meet for their celebrations. The temple provided a grand stage for the ritual and celebrations. The Tiwanaku moved the tones to the temple site and built a temple. Abandoned stones along the trails show what the Tiwanaku use the stones for.
How did the Tiwanaku move these stones? They used reed boats to move the stones. Archeologists believed that Tiwanaku was a practical people. They used their environment to their advantage. Villages could be persuaded to make large reed boats. In 2002, archaeologists put this theory into practice. They had a village build a large boat, loaded it up with a large stone, and sailed it to the Tiwanaku site. Villagers greeted them and took the rock off the boat. Cooper was surprised to see this result.
Cooper then explores how they moved 9-ton stones across the land. The archeologists believed that competition helped drive the temple building. They could not pay the villagers to move the stone, but when villages found out that one village was helping, they volunteered their services. This theory could be the explanation behind the temple building. One village would contribute one thing, another village would contribute another thing. They came together to build the temple. It is an interesting theory and perhaps it is a logical theory to how the temple was built.
After the temple was built, the Tiwanaku people then turned their attention to building a pyramid. It was the largest man-made object built in the Andes. It provided an excellent view of the temple site. So perhaps it was for the elite to view the temple site. Or it was a dedication to the mountains.
This is another excellent documentary in the Lost Civilizations series. If you were teaching an ancient history class, then I would show this series to the students. If you wanted filler for a substitute teacher, then you can have the sub show it. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to using YouTube. If you want to continue to learn more about the Tiwanaku people, continue to watch the documentary.
Now let’s switch gears and explore the Ancient Americas. We will kick off this series with Lost Kingdoms of South America. South American history has been dominated by the Incas and the Spanish, so this series explores lesser-known civilizations. Dr. Jago Cooper explores the ancient civilizations of South America. This series is called Lost Kingdoms of South America. This first episode explores the “People of the Clouds.” They lived in Northern Peru in the Andes Mountains. This isolation has hidden their history from the world. Their artifacts are the most stunning and least understood in the world.
Cooper begins in Lima to see what the Spanish wrote about People of the Clouds. They were people who only appointed chiefs during wartime. This is not enough for Cooper and he talks to an expert. She discusses how isolated the people were. They buried their dead up high. Only five percent of the People of the Clouds sites have been excavated. This seems to keep the People of the Clouds a mystery.
Cooper heads into the mountains and starts exploring the People of the Clouds. The People of the Clouds used the river as their highways. The rivers flowed into the Amazonian Basin. Rather than take days on foot, they would use the river and travel only a few hours. Their high communities were connected with the outside world. The Amazonian Peoples traded with the People of the Clouds. The People of the Clouds thrived. This seems to shoot down the myth that they were isolated people. The People of the Clouds were a group that used their resources to their advantage.
He then looks at artifacts left behind by the People of the Clouds. Cooper then talks about the llama’s importance. They were used for travel and meat. He talks about the other artifacts that were found. There were also shells found and they were used for musical instruments. Ideas were also traded along the routes. The People of the Clouds controlled the trade routes through the mountains and over the rivers. They controlled the flow of goods and ideas. They incorporated those ideas into their culture. They were also skilled weavers.
Cooper then explores why the People of the Clouds settled in the mountains. The People of the Clouds were highly connected to the outside world and living in the mountains would contradict that. German archeologists believe that they settled in the mountains because they wanted to farm too. The Andes Mountains provide different microclimates at different elevations. The People of the Clouds could farm a variety of food.
Some of the people lived in a two-story building. This surprises Cooper to see. He never would have thought that people built two-story buildings in the past. Cooper then goes father up the mountain to explore the People of the Clouds burials. He rides into the mountains on a horse called El Loco. It is tough terrain. The terrain has protected these sites for years from looters. Cooper then climbs up to see a cliff tomb. It is a city of the dead. Even with modern climbing equipment, the climb is a challenge for Cooper. The People of the Clouds buried their dead without modern equipment. How they got up the mountain with their dead is a mystery.
The bones of the people poking out of the landscape. Cooper goes into a cave to see an intact tomb. To find out more about the People of the Clouds continue to watch the episode.
It is a fascinating look at a different South American culture. I know in history classes students learn primarily about the Incas and the Spanish conquest. However, if you wanted to present another South American tribe to your class then you can present an episode of Lost Kingdoms of South America. Highly recommended for a high school classroom.
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