Stone age empires

The Mesoamerican and South American civilizations - Aztecs, Mayans, Incas - ruled vast areas, set up complex, well-ordered states and constructed impressive cities and monuments. And yet, strictly speaking, they were Stone Age cultures: they had no metal tools or weapons (gold and silver working was known, but for ornamental use only) and except for the Mayans, briefly, they had no systems of writing.

Others have explained how these empires existed without theses supposedly crucial elements. My question is this - why were there no equivalent cultures in the Old World? The earliest civilization I know of, the Sumerians, had both bronze and writing, as did later Eurasian cultures. Were there, in fact, massive empires I am unfamiliar with that made do with stone tools? Or did civilization simply evolve differently in the east?

Although Brú na Bóinne isn’t evidence of a massive empire it does suggest that a well-ordered state or states existed in parts of Ireland in the neolithic era.

Although it’s highly debatable whether the Cucuteni culture was an empire, it was certainly an example of a late Neolithic urbanized society.

There appears to have been a well ordered and complex society several thousand years B.C. in southern England.
There are a number of monumental structures,Stonehenge,Avebury,Woodhenge etc.etc. that required vast engineering projects involving large numbers of people and organisation to erect them.
It is also known that Europe wide trade went on at that time and it is believed that agriculture was invented independently there as opposed to having been learned from the M/E.(Cite T.V. documentary Britain B.C.)

Perhaps the differences between the Stone Age civilisations of the Old and New Worlds are that the Aztecs and Incas arose during what was the Middle Ages for Europe.

Didn’t Zimbabwe have a big stone age culture?

You are probably thinking of the Matupa Kingdom that built Great Zimbabwe. They were skilled craftsmen and were pretty well known for their ironwork. From what I understand they were in close contact with Arab traders and some think they may have been a part of a trade network that extended all the way to China.

Some of the first Iron Age people in the world were in West Africa in 1500 BC. By 200 AD the Iron Age had reached the very tip of Africa.

While some pockets of stone-age people have remained in Africa up to modern times, these have always been small ethnic minorities in isolated places that were too much work for the great empires to bother conquering, like the deep rain forest. Until the last few centuries Sub-Saharan Africa’s history was not too incredibly different from Europe’s- I’ve been struck by the similarities, for example, between Europe and Africa’s medieval period.