Most likely cradles of civilization in the modern U.S.

So let's say by whatever luck of animal migration periods during Pangea, or better luck for horses in the Americas post the trans-Bering migrations, the Americas keep their horses and have a wider variety of animals to farm for meat, eggs, and milk. What new cradles of civilization might pop up? I assume Mesoamerica is still a major center, but how about the Mississippi and Ohio River regions? OTL corn made it's way north from Mexico and was farmed here before the Mississipian culture collapsed. Is trade across the Gulf of Mexico even remotely possible? How much more hostile is the Gulf weather-wise and geography-wise versus the Med?

I assume that the Great Plains and the deserts would be home to nomads maybe similar to the steppe nomads of Eurasia like the Turkic peoples (hell, after horses were re-introduced, the Comanche and Apache certainly played the part of Scythians, Turks, or Mongols), but how about another sedentary civilization on the West Coast? Any regions over there that might work for a cradle of civilization? Maybe an OTL Pueblo-like culture spreads to California from Arizona?
 
Most civilisations rose, fell, and rose again. The Americas seem a little more... tenuous. Given something like horses, perhaps the Mississippi civilisation could have come back after its collapse? I remember reading that the first Spanish explorers there found people living in log cabins and with a relative level of civilisation, just lacking the over-arching organisation to be a state.

Horse-focused peoples in Asia always created off-shoots that moved into civilised areas and took over some of the bordering states - one might argue about the Hittites, it certainly happened in Babylon. These fusions of different approaches were not a negative thing, though they might have knocked what we might see as the prior trajectory off course.

I can't see that the Caribbean is ipso facto more hostile weather-wise than S E Asia, and civilisations rose there, even taking account of monsoons etc

On the West coast, I often wondered if it was a population thing? The numbers never seemed to be there for anyone, but Europeans certainly found the place easy to settle in
 
If you have horses in North America, you'll reduce the Mississippi valley to a less well protected Transoxiana at best, and a Dniepr at worst.
 
Been a while since Anthropology classes, but the Adena, Hopewell and Mississippian cultures along the Ohio, and Mississippi Valleys were all advanced cultures, the last being almost a "proto-civilization". They all left some really fascinating mounds, of all sorts, over eastern North America, leading to endless speculation in the 1800's about "lost civilizations" (of sundry origins) in North America. Incidentally some of that speculation inspired Joseph Smith and Mormonism :). The Mississippian was still in existence to a degree in the 1500's when the 1st Spanish explorers like DeSoto started passing through. I believe the Natchez tribe around Vicksburg MS were considered sort of their last hold-outs...
 
Ohio/Mississippi area technically should count given it was a local center of plant domestication and later hosted the most complex local civilisation.

The Mid-Columbia River is basically akin to a drier version of the Loess Plateau in China (i.e. cradle of civilisation there) where the rain falls in the cold season rather than the warm season. That's a bit of a problem, but perhaps you could have pastoralists trading with fishing villages at places like Celilo Falls/Wyam and have an intensification of plant gathering and eventually the nucleus of a civilisation relying on irrigated agriculture.
On the West coast, I often wondered if it was a population thing? The numbers never seemed to be there for anyone, but Europeans certainly found the place easy to settle in
The Central Valley of California had one of the densest populations found anywhere in North America. The problem was that in California at least, they were about at the peak of what they could support with their acorn gathering. Europeans found the place easy to settle because it was decimated by major disease outbreaks right before settlement, like recurring malaria epidemics in the 1830s basically destroyed the native populations of the Lower Columbia and Willamette Valley (this and other epidemics reduced the population of that area by something like 85%--and more in some areas--between 1830 and 1850). Before then they certainly had the numbers in that part of the world as well.

Granted, although the populations were dense, there wasn't much organisation beyond the level of villages (some of which had a few hundred people) and occasionally smaller villages reliant on a greater one. Although in all parts of the West Coast there had been similar sedentary (in parts) societies for over 3,000 years.
 
So let's say by whatever luck of animal migration periods during Pangea, or better luck for horses in the Americas post the trans-Bering migrations, the Americas keep their horses and have a wider variety of animals to farm for meat, eggs, and milk. What new cradles of civilization might pop up?

Minor nitpick, but Pangaea is way too far back for such a POD, the latter timeframe works well enough.

What new cradles of civilization might pop up? I assume Mesoamerica is still a major center, but how about the Mississippi and Ohio River regions?

I’d argue the region was a cradle of civilization in OTL (the Eastern Agricultural Complex and such, though later agriculture was very Mesoamerican derived), so I don’t see why not. A more long term civilization would do better in the Upper Mississippi than the Lower half (constant flooding and changes in course, led to the collapse of a lot of different cultures in OTL). There’s also the underlooked Tennessee Valley, which has a perfect geographic position. If you go further north, there’s the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence. While the river valleys of the East Coast are good on paper, they seem more like they’re poised to adopt that kind of lifestyle rather than develop it in situ.

OTL corn made it's way north from Mexico and was farmed here before the Mississipian culture collapsed. Is trade across the Gulf of Mexico even remotely possible? How much more hostile is the Gulf weather-wise and geography-wise versus the Med?

That’s a likely route through which the the corn got there (there’s evidence of corn in Eastern North America as early as 1000 BCE, but it only really kicked off after more friendly breeds to the local climate were introduced), and in light of recent evidence, it seems like trade in the Gulf (Mobile Bay and the Veracruz coast in specific are two areas that seems to have had close ties) was far more extensive than once thought. It’s a shame that we know so little about pre-Columbian sailing capabilities in the region.

I’d hardly compare the Gulf of Mexico to the Mediterranean, it’s much larger and isn’t much of a sheltered sea. More coastal oriented sea travel is probably what we’re looking at.


I assume that the Great Plains and the deserts would be home to nomads maybe similar to the steppe nomads of Eurasia like the Turkic peoples (hell, after horses were re-introduced, the Comanche and Apache certainly played the part of Scythians, Turks, or Mongols), but how about another sedentary civilization on the West Coast? Any regions over there that might work for a cradle of civilization? Maybe an OTL Pueblo-like culture spreads to California from Arizona?

It’s an often used comparison, but with such an environmental altering, there’s the possibility of more extensive desertification taking place in the region. The river valleys of the region would definitely be more sedentary, and I could see two major riverine trade routes becoming more entrenched in the region, one along the Missouri, and another along the Red River.

The Pacific Coast never really needed large intensive sedentary civilizations (personally think that what we got in OTL was perfect for the region), they had plenty of resources already accessible (and as a result had truly humongous populations of mostly non-agricultural people) though the river valleys of the Pacific Northwest have potential for that (and there’s always the possibility of a spread southwards).

As far as an Oasisamerican lifestyle becoming entrenched in California, it wouldn’t work at all in the region. The environments are really different, and as a result, the cultures that developed there are highly specific to their respective regions.
 
Although it did have obsidian

There isn't local obsidian in the Central Valley, but there were extensive trade networks connecting it with the mountains. In fact, obsidian was one of the primary goods that was traded, particularly before the introduction of the bow and arrow.
 
The Pacific Coast never really needed large intensive sedentary civilizations (personally think that what we got in OTL was perfect for the region), they had plenty of resources already accessible (and as a result had truly humongous populations of mostly non-agricultural people) though the river valleys of the Pacific Northwest have potential for that (and there’s always the possibility of a spread southwards).
While arguably no place ever needed intensive sedentary civilisations, it's worth noting the comparisons given between the PNW and places like Jomon-era Japan with similarly large populations living similar lifestyles. An outside introduction of agriculture (probably not maize since it would have to pass through the arid Plateau first) would have similar effects. I like amaranth since it's known for hybridisation with other amaranth species and mutation (there are native amaranths) so could produce some useful cultivars.

Or native intensification. It seems that the camas harvested from plots regularly tended was larger than the camas anyone might dig up in a meadow. How far might that go? Not sure about the other often-cited Sagittaria (aka wapato) species but certain plots of those were also "owned" and managed. OTL they took to introduced potatoes very well although were limited by the amount of available land (all the forests and rugged land, plus they didn't have a concept of slash and burn agriculture) and land fertility (essentially no domestic animals and again no slash and burn). They of course did have the concept of farming the local tobacco species (seen also all over California for that matter). Yet OP proposes they'd have at least horses (pretty revolutionary on the Plateau and to a lesser degree in coastal areas) which opens up plenty of options.

There were various regional periods of large population and declines in the area (like on the Plateau in the 1st millennium AD) so maybe during one of these phases you have that intensification. I'd say a more precarious area like the Plateau (maybe the Mid-Columbia near Celilo Falls or Fraser/Thompson area near the large Keatley Creek site) would be the best bet since there's all manner of disasters from drought to landslides blocking salmon runs which might trigger alternate strategies to arise, one of which leads down the path to a more agricultural society.
As far as an Oasisamerican lifestyle becoming entrenched in California, it wouldn’t work at all in the region. The environments are really different, and as a result, the cultures that developed there are highly specific to their respective regions.
The Central Valley is difficult because of the huge amount of levees needed for flood control (hence why if it could ever be agricultural it would spread from elsewhere), but I don't think that's the case with Southern California. IOTL traits of the Patayan culture (an Oasisamerican offshoot) were spreading west in the few centuries before contact, including some agriculture.
Forts, citadels, cavalry
I think you'd have a situation like Central Asia where there's a clear divide between city-dwellers and pastoralists, and the latter rules over the former. The Plains are too useful as a trade route between Oasisamerica (and further south) and the Mississippi Valley to not have some level of urban development, yet also perfectly fit for a sort of "khanate" development.
 
Well if there is some form of Naval development you could see small cities pop up all around the gulf of mexico and the mexican coast sort of like coastal city states. As for the best possible places i can think of. The east coast from florida north to the gulf of the st. Lawrence . Relatively speaking they all had a good average temperature for the growth of civilization. Fertile lands. The Appalachian mountains to the west and the great lakes and rivers were natural barrries.
 
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