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Like the ancient civilizations of the Old World, those in the New World were characterized by kingdoms and empires, great monuments and cities, and refinements in the arts, metallurgy, and writing; the ancient civilizations of the Americas also display in their histories similar cyclical patterns of growth and decline, unity and disunity.

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Rather, the peoples of each of these major cultural areas appear to have responded to their own internally generated stimuli and to have followed essentially separate courses of development.

There are fundamental differences between the two cultural traditions.

Sedentary village farming in Mesoamerica came into being by about 1500 .

Corn (maize), beans, squashes, chili peppers, and cotton were the most important crops.

As such, Teotihuacán constituted a second grand civilizational climax or “unification” (400–600 ).

Teotihuacán power waned after about 600, and a “time of troubles” ensued, during which a number of states and nascent empires competed for supremacy.For example, the Maya excelled in the intellectual pursuits of hieroglyphic writing, calendar making, and mathematics, while the Teotihuacán civilization placed its emphasis on political and commercial power.Teotihuacán, in the Valley of Mexico, was an urban centre of some 150,000 people, and the influence of its civilization eventually radiated over much of Mesoamerica.These early villagers wove cloth, made pottery, and practiced other typical Neolithic skills.It appears that such villages were economically self-contained and politically autonomous, with an egalitarian social order.But rather quickly after this—between about 1200 and 900 —the building of large earthen pyramids and platforms and the carving of monumental stone sculptures signaled significant changes in this heretofore simple social and political order.

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