South America 200 BCE

The spread of maize as a staple crop allows new areas to be settled by farmers.

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What is happening in South America in 200BCE

Recent centuries have seen the Chavin civilization begin to fragment, giving way to several local cultures in the highlands and coastal plains of Peru.

Major settlements are appearing in the central Amazonian basin, evidence that complex regional societies are developing. One major factor in this is the spread of maize in the region. This effectively enables the colonization of the fertile flood plains of the Amazon and its major tributaries. During this period, populations are expanding and hierarchical societies are developing. Settlements extending for several kilometres along river banks are growing up, centres of  militarized chiefdoms which organize large workforces to dig canals and build massive defensive earthworks, raise ceremonial platforms and mounds for habitation.

Cultural influences seem to be entering the region from the Andes civilization. Small regional chiefdoms, situated in the forests of Bolivia and Ecuador near to the highland civilization, build earth and stone ceremonial structures.

In the north, the Arawak diaspora spills over into the Caribbean. The colonization of much of the Caribbean seems to have occurred relatively quickly between 500 and 200 BCE, leading to the development of those Caribbean chiefdoms which the European explorers would encounter more than a millennium later.

Next map, South America in 30 BCE

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