List of pre-Columbian cultures
In North America, indigenous cultures in the Lower Mississippi Valley during the Middle Archaic period built complexes of multiple mounds, with several in Louisiana dated to 5600-5000 BP (3700 BCE-3100 BCE). Watson Brake is considered the oldest, multiple mound complex in the Americas, as it has been dated to 3500 BCE. It and other Middle Archaic sites were built by pre-ceramic, hunter-gatherer societies. They preceded the better known Poverty Point culture and its elaborate complex by nearly 2,000 years. The Mississippi Valley mound-building tradition extended into the Late Archaic period, longer than later southeastern mound building dependent on sedentary, agricultural societies.(Russo, 1996:285)
Some of these civilizations had long ceased to function by the time of the first permanent European arrivals (ca. late 15th – early 16th centuries), and are known only through archaeological investigations or oral history from tribes today. Others were contemporary with this period, and are also known from historical accounts of the time. A few, such as the Olmec, Maya, Mixtec, and Nahua had their own written records. However, most Europeans of the time viewed such texts as heretical and burned most of them. Only a few hidden documents remain today, leaving modern historians with glimpses of ancient culture and knowledge.
From both indigenous American and European accounts and documents, American civilizations at the time of European encounter possessed many impressive attributes, having populous cities, and having developed theories of astronomy and mathematics.
Where they persist, the societies and cultures which gave rise to these civilizations continue to adapt and evolve; they also uphold various traditions and practices which relate back to these earlier times, even if combined with those more recently adopted.
A word on human sacrifice. This was a religious practice principally characteristic of pre-Columbian Aztec civilization although other Mesoamerican civilizations like the Maya and the Zapotec practiced it as well. The extent of the practice is debated by modern scholars.
- Paleo-Indians, ca. 18,000–8000 BCE
- Archaic Period, 8000–1000 BCE
- Post-archaic period, 1000 BCE-onward
- Eastern Woodlands
- Woodland period, 1000 BCE–1000 CE
- Adena, 1000–200 BCE, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York.
- Hopewell culture, 200 BCE–500 CE, Southeastern Canada and eastern United States
- Troyville culture, 400-700 CE, Louisiana and Mississippi
- Coles Creek culture, 700-1200 CE, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi
- Plum Bayou culture, 700-1200 CE, Arkansas
- Mississippian culture, 800 CE–1500 CE, Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States
- Caborn-Welborn culture, 1400-1700 CE, Indiana and Kentucky.
- Caddoan Mississippian culture, 1000 CE–1650 CE, Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, Northeast Texas, and Northwest Louisiana.
- Fort Walton Culture, 1100–1550 CE, Florida.
- Leon-Jefferson Culture, 1100–1550 CE, Florida.
- Plaquemine culture, 1200-1730 CE, Louisiana and Mississippi.
- Upper Mississippian culture,
- Woodland period, 1000 BCE–1000 CE
- Ortoiroid people, ca. 5500—200 BCE
- Ciboney people, Greater Antilles, ca. 1000—301 BCE
- Guanahatabey, Cuba, 1000 BCE
- Saladoid culture, 500 BCE—545 CE
- Ostionoid culture, 600—1500 CE
- Arawak people, ca. 500-1500 BC
- Aztec, 1325–1521 CE, central Mexico
- P'urhépecha or Tarascan state, 1300–1530 CE, Michoacán
- Huastec, 1000 BCE–1500 CE, Hidalgo, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas
- Mixtec, unknown–1600 CE, western Oaxaca
- Maya, 2600 BCE–1697 CE, Mexican Southern states: Chiapas, Tabasco,Campeche and Yucatán Peninsula; Central America: Belize; Guatemala; El Salvador; Honduras
- Toltec, 900–1100 CE--may be mythological
- Formative Period, 2500 BCE-200 CE, La Blanca, Ujuxte, Monte Alto Culture, Mokaya Culture
- Teotihuacán, 200 BCE–800 CE, near Mexico City
- Totonac, unknown–1500 CE, eastern Mexico
- Western Mexico shaft tomb tradition, 300 BCE–400 CE, Jalisco, Nayarit, and, to a lesser extent, Colima
- Zapotec, 500 BCE–1500 CE, Oaxaca
- Mixe, 400-present
- Olmec, 5100–400 BCE, Veracruz and Tabasco
|Late Horizon||1476 CE – 1534 CE||Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia: Inca Empire; Brazil: Cambeba|
|Late Intermediate||1000 CE – 1476 CE||Bolivia: Aymara nations; Colombia: Muisca, Nariño, Tairona; Ecuador: Los Huancavilca, Kingdom of Quito, Manteño, Nariño;
Peru: Chimú, Chincha, Cajamarca, Piura, Chancay, Chachapoyas, Chiribaya, Chucuito, Huaman Huilca, Ilo, Qotu Qotu, Pacacocha, Palli Marca, Piura, Sican, Tajaraca, Huaylas, Conchucos, Huamachuco, Rucanas, Chanka, Ayabaca, Bracamoros, Huancabambas, Tallan culture, Huarco, Ichma, Parinacota, Cuntis, Chinchaycochas, Huarochiri, Kheswas, Tarmas, Paltas, Camanas
|Middle Horizon||600 CE – 1000 CE||Bolivia: Tiwanaku; Brazil: Marajoara culture; Colombia: Cauca culture, Nariño, Quimbaya, Tairona; Ecuador: Cañari culture, Nariño; Peru: Huari, Piura|
|Early Intermediate||200 CE–600 CE||Bolivia: Tiwanaku; Colombia: Quimbaya, San Agustín, Tairona, Tierradentro, Tolima; Ecuador: La Bahía, Cara, Quitu; Peru: Moche, Nazca, Lima, Pechiche, Piura|
|Early Horizon||900 BCE–200 CE||Colombia: Calima culture (200 BCE–400 CE), Chibcha; Ecuador: Chorrera, La Tolita; Peru: Chavín, Cupisnique, Late Chiripa, Paracas, Pechiche, Sechura|
|Initial Period||1800/1500 BCE – 900 BCE||Ecuador: Cotocollao; Machalilla; Peru: Early Chiripa, Kotosh, Toríl (The Cumbe Mayo aqueduct was built ca. 1000 BCE), Argentina: Tehuelches (?-1820)|
|Period VI||2500 BCE – 1500/1800 BCE||Ecuador: Valdivia; Peru: Norte Chico (Caral), Buena Vista, Casavilca, Culebras, Ventarrón, Viscachani, Huaca Prieta|
|Period V||4200 BCE – 2500 BCE||Ecuador: Valdivia; Peru: Honda, Lauricocha III, Viscachani|
|Period IV||6000 BCE – 4200 BCE||Peru: Ambo, Canario, Siches, Lauricocha II, Luz, Toquepala II|
|Period III||8000 BCE – 6000 BCE||Ecuador: Las Vegas, 8000–4600 BCE; Peru: Arenal, Chivateros II, Lauricocha I, Playa Chira, Puyenca, Toquepala I|
|Period II||9500 BCE – 8000 BCE||Ecuador: El Inga; Peru: Chivateros I, Lauricocha I|
|Period I||? BCE – 9500 BCE||Colombia: El Abra, (12,500–10,000 BCE); Peru: Oquendo, Red Zone (central coast; Argentina & Chile: Patagonia|
- Indigenous peoples of the Americas – for coverage on present-day indigenous peoples
- Lithic stage in Canada
- Cultural periods of Peru
- Pre-Columbian Ecuador
- Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas
- Robert W. Preucel, Stephen A. Mrozowski, Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism, John Wiley and Sons, 2010, p. 177
- "Prehistory of the Caribbean Culture Area." Southeast Archaeological Center. (retrieved 9 July 2011)
- "Aboriginal Roots of Cuban Culture." (retrieved 9 July 2011)
- John Albert Bullbrook, The aboriginal remains of Trinidad and the West Indies, A. L. Rhodes, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1941
- John Albert Bullbrook, The Ierian Race, Historical Society of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1940
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pre-Columbian cultures.|
- National Museum of the American Indian, collections search
- Pre-Columbian cultures in present-day United States, Four Directions Institute