Talk:List of pre-Columbian cultures

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Article changes[edit]

I have added to this article recently - having found some "lost civilisations" in Wikipedia!

Is this article needed, bearing in mind the existence of "Category:Pre-Columbian cultures"?

If it is worth keeping, why not have references to it at the foot of the articles it references?

I don't understand about the system of categories. I tried to but a reference to "Category:Pre-Columbian cultures" in this article, and it just did not appear in the preview.

Also, this article is marked as a disambiguation page. Is this right?

(I managed to edit this article without logging on - and it has given a numeric URL as my signature. Should the system not disallow/discourage this?)

(I am a newbie - don't kill me!)

AWhiteC 10:58, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Welcome to Wikipedia, AWhiteC- no need to worry about your edits, your additions are just fine, and your contributions are most welcome.
You've raised a few valid points, I will try to address them:
  • In general, there is no problem in having both an article and a Category structure which cover the same ground; in fact, it is probably desirable. Categories are one very useful way to group associated articles, whereas an article of this nature can provide more detailed information than is possible via categories. Articles, Lists and Categories usually complement one another.
  • You are right, this particular article as it stands is quite under-referenced (hardly any other articles link to it), and so it would help to have more links to it placed in relevant articles. The reason there are so few at the moment is probably just because not many realise it even exists. You'd be welcome to start adding some if you find this article useful.
  • I agree that its marking as a disambig page is probably not relevant- the contents of this article seem to function more as a List-type article. It could probably be renamed as such, say changed to something like List of pre-Columbian American cultures (not all of those mentioned are necessarily "Ancient"). However, it would be better to do a search first to see if there is not already some other article under a different title which serves the same purpose (since articles are created independently & at different times, this sometimes occurs). If there is a similar article, then the two could be proposed to be Merged.
  • With categories, if you enter "[[Category:Pre-Columbian cultures]]" in an article, it does not appear in the article itself, but shows up in the box at the bottom (the article is now a member of that category, and will display on the category page). If you want instead to refer to a category explicitly in the article, you need to put a colon before it, thus: "[[:Category:Pre-Columbian cultures]]", and then it will show up in the text just like any regular link. See also Wikipedia:Category.
  • As for being able to edit without logging on, this is perfectly OK. Wikipedia's open philosophy allows anyone to edit, and while the use of logons (User names) is encouraged, it is not compulsory. If you are not logged on, then the system records your current IP address instead. There are numerous problems and discussions surrounding this policy, but it is generally regarded as one of the "core" Wikipedia policies. For convenience, it's better to stay logged on, but it's really up to the individual.
  • If there's anything else, just ask around, either on an article talk page, a user's talk page, or check out the Wikipedia:Community portal. As for this article, I'll look around to see if there is anything similar, and perhaps rename as per above. Of course, you'd be welcome to try it yourself!--cjllw | TALK 00:56, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

Hi cjllw. Thanks for that! I propose we:
  • Remove "disambig" formatting.
  • Search for similar articles as you suggest. Assuming there aren't any ...
  • Change to list-type article (to be entitled "List of pre-Columbian American Cultures" as you suggest).
  • Put this article in Category:Pre-Columbian cultures. It will then be indirectly referencable from all other articles in that category.
AWhiteC 09:36, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm uncomfortable with this article in one sense. Are these supposed to be cultures that predated Contact, cultures that existed at Contact, or both? Because we have both things here: The Mississippians, Inka, Aztecs, Mixtecs, and Mayans were all still going when Europeans showed up, while the Moche and Anasazi were gone. So what are the criteria? TriNotch

All major cultures, including civilisations (however defined), predating Columbus - whether existing at Contact or not - that's my opinion of what people would want. To attempt to list all pre-Columbian cultures however simple or complex would be too arduous, would need updating too often to keep up with research, and would be confusing. This article is in two lists, which should guide the user to more-detailed classifications. It's all about what users would want - what do you think?
By the way, I tried to search for "pre-columbian american civilisations" and failed! I spell civilisations with an s not a z, being from the UK. I'm not complaining - but how do we get around this one? (Probably a FAQ)
AWhiteC 20:43, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
This sounds fine, the only problem now being what constitutes a "major" culture. For example, do the politically and socially simple Adena Culture or Hopewell Culture peoples of North America qualify, since they cover a broad area? Or only their more complex descendents, the Mississippians? What about non-agricultural chiefdoms of North America, like the Chumash? How about historically important groups that were not very hierarchically organized, like the Iroquois? As for civilizations/civilisations, I think the usual option is to have one redirect to the other. I'm not sure whether to default to UK or USA spelling for such a problem. I suppose it would depend on whether Wikipedia has more UK or USA users? TriNotch 02:23, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

The The major headings are problematic. They should be either all geographic (eg, drop Mesoamerica and add Central America as a geographic zone) or should be done using the culture area names from Gordon Willey's work (eg, Mesoamerica, Intermediate zone, Inca, etc.). I think the geographic descriptions will resonate with people more. Rsheptak 02:01, 3 November 2006 (UTC)


To List of pre-Columbian cultures? "Civilization" sets a high bar. This page is probably most useful for the smaller, little talked about cultures people might like to browse. Alternatively, List of pre-Columbian cultures and civilizations, but that's a bit of a mouthful. Marskell 10:57, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Agreed as first stated - for you reasons. :: Kevinalewis : (Talk Page)/(Desk) 13:29, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
I don't see any reason not to, so will move it now. Cultures can include civilizations, so I'll use first. Marskell 17:51, 16 May 2007 (UTC)


Would it be useful to add links to books, such as Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in a "See Also" section? Dionix (talk) 23:56, 8 January 2008 (UTC) this is very good for children ages 8 and up they will learn it in school when they reach about p7 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:26, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Exclusion of most of Central America[edit]

This list includes Northern America, the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, and South America. That leaves most of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, and all of Panama completely unrepresented in this list. There were numerous pre-Columbian cultures in these areas, and we should include space for them here. Any suggestions for how to do that? Kaldari (talk) 18:56, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

I've added a new section for the Isthmo-Colombian area, which covers the gap. Kaldari (talk) 19:42, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Orgaizing by time period or region[edit]

It seems a major problem with this list is that some parts are organized by time period and some parts are organized by region. We should probably decide on one or the other as the primary means of organization. Kaldari (talk) 18:53, 25 March 2012 (UTC)