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Key terms for Chapter 1 of Visions of America

Paleo-Indians

The name given by scientists to the first inhabitants of the Americas, an Ice Age people who survived largely by hunting big game, and to a lesser extent by fishing and collecting edible plants.

Archaic Era

Period beginning approximately 9,000 years ago lasting an estimated 6,000 years. It was marked by more intensive efforts by ancient societies to shape the environment to enhance food production.

Aztec

Led by the Mexica tribe, the Aztec created a powerful empire whose capital, the great city of Tenochtitlán, was built on an island in Lake Texcoco in 1325 CE.

Capitalism

An economic system in which the market economy determines the prices of goods and services.

Humanists

Individuals who advocated a revival of ancient learning, particularly ancient Greek and Roman thought, and encouraged greater attention to secular topics including a new emphasis on the study of humanity.

Reformation

The movement for religious reform started by Martin Luther.

Spanish Inquisition

A tribunal devoted to finding and punishing heresy and rooting out Spain's Jews and Muslims.

Columbian Exchange

The term used by modern scholars to describe the biological encounter between the two sides of the Atlantic, including the movement of plants, animals, and diseases.

Plantation

An English settlement or fortified outpost in a foreign land dedicated to producing agricultural products for export. (Later the term would become synonymous with a distinctive slave-based labor system used in much of the Atlantic world.)

Privateer

A form of state-sponsored piracy, usually directed against Spanisg treasure fleets returning from the Americas.

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