Talk:Pre-Columbian era

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This article is getting to be a bit of a mish-mash and doesn't quite flow very well. Yes, it's my fault. I expanded the article but the end result doesn't quite scan. Any assistance in expanding and re-organizing the article would be much appreciated.

--Richard 20:12, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

I reorganized it, and deleted this, which didn't seem to fit in this article, but maybe should be elsewhere. Also, maybe this article should be titled Pre-Columbian Civilizations? ArgentTurquoise 19:04, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
Some 5 to 7 million people lived in the Amazon region, divided between comparatively dense coastal settlements and more nomadic inland dwellers. The latter lived on a complex combination of swiddlen agriculture, alteration of the forest ecosystem, and hunting and gathering.[1]


"Although not as technologically advanced or politically complex as the Mesoamerican civilizations further south, there were extensive pre-Columbian sedentary societies in what is now the United States of America." Where is your evidence to back this up, in my own research this isn't the case. For instance, read some of the political histories on the Iroquois, especially regarding the Iroquois Constitution and their influence on the United States Constitution (

--PatrickandBrenda 00:51, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I would have to agree with Red_Black. Check out "Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas" by Ronald Wright. It covers the Iroquois league and their founding system of democracy. They ruled by true debate and concensus as I recall. Something I do not believe any other society has ever achieved.

Africans in Pre-Columbian America[edit]

Why is it not added? Asia is added but not Africa even with evidence that Africans were in the Americas you do not add it. WHY?

I agree. The Spanish recorded that there were Africans (Guineans) serving in the Inca administration. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:39, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Check out the new Pre-Columbian templates[edit]

The original template is at Template:Pre-Columbian. The "new and improved" version is at Template:Pre-Columbian/Test.

Once we have a usable version of Template:Pre-Columbian/Test, we plan to move it into Template:Pre-Columbian and then insert it at the bottom of the Aztec, Maya civilization and Inca empire articles.

Discussion is at Template talk:Pre-Columbian. Please share any feedback and suggestions that you may have.

--Richard 19:23, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Migrations via the South Pacific[edit]

The article in its present state completely ignores theories and archaeological evidence with respect to possible early migrations from Australia and Polynesia to South America. These migrations may have been the "first wave." --Matses 17:16, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

There is no evidence for any migrations from Australia to South America, and no one with any credibility has suggested such migrations took place. Perhaps you mistyped when you wrote Australia above.
There is indirect evidence of contact between Polynesian people and South America in the spread of the sweet potato across the Pacific, but no genetic evidence to support the idea of any migration. South America was peopled by migration down from North America long before Polynesians reached the eastern Pacific.-gadfium 20:41, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Kennewick man is direct genetic evidence. You mad Siberians? (talk) 03:06, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Kennewick Man considerably predates Polynesian contact with the Americas.-gadfium 04:18, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
In any case, the attempts at genetic testing failed as they couldn't extract the ancient DNA. Dougweller (talk) 09:05, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

Is it right? "Classical antiquity" is a noun, as article titles generally should be. Pre-Columbian is an adjective. "Pre-Columbian Americas" as a change? Would anyone mind? Marskell 20:07, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

I suppose not, though it is kinda handy being able to use the shorthand when writing La Blanca is a [[pre-Columbian]] archaeological site of Mesoamerica, located.., which I do quite often. I guess it would still work as a redirect if the title is changed. Alternative titles to consider might include pre-Columbian era, pre-Columbian history, or similar.--cjllw | TALK 03:04, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
I guess I'd mind slightly. I see your point, but agree with the qualifier "generally", and think this is one of the exceptions to "generally". This is pretty general usage, it seems to me. And I'm not familiar with the term being used for anywhere other than the Americas, so adding that seems unnecessary to me. -- Infrogmation 11:57, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
Why would present usage have to be altered at all? You could still write/link "Pre-Columbian" just as you do Mesoamerican now (taking you to Mesoamerica). If no "Americas" is to be added, I'd suggest a shift in denotation to noun form, at least: "The Pre-Columbian is a historical era..." This would avoid clunky uses of "is used to refer to" that are needed with adjective or adverbial titles.
Part of it is that I don't like the lead here. There seems a hesitation over whether history or historiography should be discussed. I think the former; the latter can be gone over in a "Use of the term" section after the intro. Marskell 12:45, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
Agree that the lead (and some of the body) of the article could do a better job in defining the focus. I've attempted a slight rewrite in that vein to avoid the 'term refers to' framing.--cjllw | TALK 15:25, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
A related question is whether we should capitalize it. "The Pre-Columbian era", as it's proper noun? But maybe that'll just muddy things. I'm sitting with a few papers and Preceramic is getting capitalized all over the place. Marskell 17:52, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, good point, I actually hadn't thought too much about the distinction before now. I typically use pre-Columbian, but I guess that's usually as an adjective. Maybe when standing for the era it could be capitalised, per accepted usage of Preclassic, Classic, Postclassic. Problem is, the references themselves are not always consistent, but generally I've seen nocaps usage. Perhaps we should capitalise the specific phrase Pre-Columbian era (or Era ?), and leave other mentions of it as pre-Columbian...?--cjllw | TALK 00:56, 14 February 2007 (UTC)
A glance at Google scholar confirms that both are used, but that lower case is more common, as you suggest. I think we should capitalize, however, when using it for the era. "The Pre-Columbian comprises..." makes more sense to me than "The pre-Columbian comprises..." Maybe there's a third opinion around? Marskell 13:00, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Pre-Columbian What?[edit]

I am not sure that the word 'waspcentric' exists. I would prefer it, however, if the title had a noun, but, much more important, that it was moved to occupy a more central position in the history of America, noth and south. As an outsider I notice that the material on the United States is not helpfully linked to this article which, I would have thought, should occupy a central position in the history of the United States (and also the other countries of America). Roger Arguile 13:47, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

And the Seminoles? What happened to them? It does seem to an outsider the WP lacks people who have taken a serious interest in the host peoples of the Americas. One doe snot hear their voices at all? Is this not much taught in the USA as a subject of study? Roger Arguile 13:53, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

This editor seems to have retired, but just to clarify and as someone who actually lived within walking distance of Seminoles, I can say that I was taught about them in school. They are not a pre-Columbian tribe. Dougweller (talk) 09:09, 5 September 2013 (UTC)


Some idiot put "COLUBIA SUCKS" on the first line in the article. Obviously I'm taking it out. Just giving a heads up. Nadiasama 16:44, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

    • edit: Nevermind. Someone got it.

Reference List[edit]

  • Sorenson, John L. and Johannessen, Carl L. (2006) "Biological Evidence for Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Voyages." In: Contact and Exchange in the Ancient World. Ed. Victor H. Mair. University of Hawai'i Press. Pp. 238-297. ISBN-13: ISBN 978-0-8248-2884-4; ISBN-10: ISBN 0-8248-2884-4
  • Wright, Ronald. (2005) "Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas." Mariner Books. ISBN-10: 0618492402; ISBN-13: 978-0618492404
  • Mann, Charles. (2006) "1491" A survey of civilization, agronomy, architecture, politics, etc in the pre-Columbian Americas.

I took these out thinking that they were placed before hand, but I guess not. Sorry for the trouble, but I did in fact fix the reference page, but whoever portrayed these references will have to put the at the end of the sentence they represented.

For example: *Wright, Ronald. (2005) "Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas." Mariner Books. ISBN-10: 0618492402; ISBN-13: 978-0618492404 @ Reference tab.

Should be: Wright, Ronald: Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas, Mariner Books, 2005 ISBN-10: 0618492402; ISBN-13: 978-0618492404 @ Sentence wto which it portrays.

P.S. This isn't my prefence; I looked at the most popular articles like Mozart or science, and this is how they posted references. Italics, position of date, etc,. were reflected from the Mozart article. InternetHero 09:57, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Certainly no need to blindly copy the fmt of Mozart. Ling.Nut 01:00, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

I know this is a lot of trouble but I tried to make a bibliography, but there wasn't enough information so I figured whoever put the books listed above knew where they representated. I could have just put them at the end, but I figured that would be rude. The format here didn't allow any references.

I figured the most popular articles were an example to follow??InternetHero 09:57, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

There are many different standards for citation and reference. The policy on wikipedia is that in any article the standard of reference implemented by the articles main contributor(s) should be followed throughout the article. look at WP:CITE#HOW to get more information about the policies of citation and reference in wikipedia articles. ·Maunus· ·ƛ· 13:30, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Did you remove some of the sources in the reference list? It probably would have been better to leave them there, for another editor to format and cite properly.... Ling.Nut 14:05, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Thanks you. I'm very sorry for the trouble, but I was only trying to help. When I do laundry tomorrow, I will look up WP:CITE#HOW.InternetHero 06:11, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

The Essence of Time[edit]

I have again reverted the mention of "religious writings dedicated to the essence of time that became the pinnacle of Mexico's scientific achievements, although, twenty-seven parchment books were publicly destroyed by Bishop Landa at Mani in [[1562]].<ref>Baldwin, Neil: ''Legends of the Plumed Serpent: Biography of a Mexican God'', HarperCollins Canada, 1998 ISBN 978-1891620034</ref>" which although it now is duly sourced is really enormously misplaced in the context of describing the Maya Civilization. It is a vague esoterism that provides no actual information about what was the content of maya calendrical literature. The codices burned by Diego de Landa are also much to specific to appear in a short paragraph supposedly presenting the milliennial Maya civilization.·Maunus· ·ƛ· 15:40, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

The concept of finding the source and essense of time was passed down for generations upon generations between noble families. Their religious life was absolutely based on astronomical layouts corresponding with the earth itself. With the knowledge of the eclipse and it's time, emporers used it to gain a strangle hold on their citizens in such away that must have changed their very self. Even today, their calculations of the lunar and solar eclipses are off by only 33 seconds. Why must such an obviously important part of their lives be excluded as: 'writing'. You use the word: 'esoterism', yet, that concept is exactly what you're trying to give a principle to. They spent their lives reckoning time and I think its an important notion to portray.InternetHero 05:47, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

It would be if it had any basis in facts.·Maunus· ·ƛ· 07:21, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Maunus. The bit about the essence of time is not an accurate summary of Mayan writings. The destruction of books is too specific an event to go in an overview article such as this one.-gadfium 09:13, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
You guys don't even know how to properly post in the talk nor do you even allow the footnote concept to be used. : = first reply. :: = second reply etc., I will contact the appropiate authorities on this one. Ok, the destruction of the books is too specific an event for this article, but not idea of the Mayans and their dedication to the concept of time. I don't know where you guys get your references from but this article is in need of cleanup; not the cleanup of the article itself, but the cleanup of hoarding editors who call upon each other for help and let their emotions get involved in a process designed to be based on rationality and logic. To the case in point, I think such a strong concept of their everyday lives in the form of their writings can't be simply excluded as: 'writing'. There is much, much more here.
If you don't like books maybe this will jog your reason. The contents of the codices must have varied, but some of them were evidently similar to astronomic almanacs. We have examples of a Venus table, eclipse tables in a codex in Dresden. There is a codex in Paris that seems to contain some kind of Maya Zodiac, but if it is and how it must have worked are still unknown.[2] InternetHero 20:36, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
The material in this article about the Maya civilization should be a summary of what is in that article. Your additions are giving your own interpretation to the focus of Mayan writing, which is not in that more detailed article, and does not appear to be backed up by the online source you've given. My understanding is that the majority of Mayan writing that has been translated to date deals with the succession of rulers and the wars that they fought.-gadfium 00:48, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
It seems the author of the website has deleted it. Oh well, I don't really need that article anway. Actually, Mayan writting in book form were very much to do with astronomy and mathematics; inscriptions on stone or wood were as you say. Anyway, labelling Mayan 'writing' asthe pynnacle of Mexico's achievements is pretty 'esoteric' and I think that's what I was trying to clear up. I figured out Gravitational Time Dilation from the Maya's referral of 'time as 'Earth' in a about a month and a half and I never took a course on Physics or even contributed to any of its articles in general, so I figured they could have easily come up with it even faster than I. See: Lateralization of Brain Function for a reference of my easily acquired creativity, though, it did take work - honor as the prerequisite. Anyway, Einstein probably got his ideas from them and people say he's smart, so I guess labelling 'writing' as the Mayas 'pynnacle' is very, very 'esoteric'. InternetHero 14:37, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Ancient Pueblo Peoples / Anasazi[edit]

Should not the North American section mention the above and link to Ancient Pueblo Peoples? AWhiteC (talk) 14:01, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Maybe it was after this era?KF5LLG (talk) 14:06, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Penacook Federation[edit]

I take exception to the statement: "The Iroquois League of Nations or "People of the Long House" was a politically advanced and unique social structure...". While the Iroquois Federation was the first Native federation in the Northeast, it was not unique. Moreover the Penacook federation deserves a mention, as it provided much more to the history of the world than the Iroquois. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:45, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Pre-Colombian technology[edit]

I know that the wheel was unknown in the Americas before the Europeans arrived but how about metal work? Did the pre-Colombians have bronze or iron? I would like some mention of this in the article please.  SmokeyTheCat  •TALK• 05:03, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

The Maya had an extensive history of scientific observations and the mathematics to tie it all together but the only technology they produced was three calendars. The only metals technology they possessed was use of gold, silver, and maybe copper for decoration by high-class individuals. They never reached a Bronze Age and certainly not an Iron Age. At the time of Columbus' arrival, the Americans were firmly implanted in the Stone Age. They only had stone, bone, and wood tools for agriculture and hunting. Iron technology was brought over by the Europeans. The horse did not exist anywhere in the Americas. Horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs were all introduced by the Europeans. This in no way suggests that the Americans were inferior. It's just how things were. It seems to me a subsection on Pre-Columbian American technology would be in order simply to describe what existed prior to 1492.--Virgil H. Soule (talk) 14:51, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
One could copy other article pieces alone and compile a good assessment of technology, pre-Columbian. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:40, 1 March 2012 (UTC)


I think that there should be separate articles for North and South America. Then it would focus on only one America per article, and it would be a lot easier (I think) to research. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:22, 12 October 2009 (UTC)


What evidence is there that "the Iroquois League of Nations ... was at the very least inspirational if not directly influential" on the development of the form of government of the United States? It's an interesting hypothesis, but I've never encountered the suggestion before and there's no citation to supporting materials. If there's nothing to support the statement, shouldn't it come out of the article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:31, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Just google Iroquois+US constitution and see how many things pop up. Heiro 15:36, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I have also added a ref 33 questions about American history you're not supposed to ask By Thomas E. Woods - 2007 - page 62.Moxy (talk) 15:52, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Time line, lack of citations, article inconsistencies[edit]

Apparently quick fixes are not that easy in this article, so I list a couple of smaller issues here and leave it to others to address them.

Due to varying definitions on the exact start of culture and different (archeological) knowledge at the time of the publication it is to be expected to find some variation of dates in literature. To some degree it might be unavoidable that this situation spills over into WP. There are a few things we could and should do here however.

  • If possible, make sure that our time line is consistent throughout the article and at (ideally) with related articles as well.
  • Make sure we use the most recent reliable sources for our time line.
  • if some inconsistencies can't be avoided those conflicting dates or descriptions should have inline citations rather being sources by general references or sources given in other WP articles, so that it is easy to see from which sources the inconsistencies arise. That's also helpful for future improvement and article maintenance, as it is easier to see which dates and sources might have to be updated by more recent ones.
  • if an inconsistency of dates is due to different definitions or dating methods, that should be transparent to readers, i.e. in such a case we should not just mention the different dates but also provide the explanation, why they are different. Though that level of detail might not suited for summary articles.

Keeping those points in mind, the following things in the current article might need to be fixed:

  • Norte Chico and Valvidia are both described as the oldest civilization/culture in the Americas. Well, there can only be one. This could probably fixed by changing formulation to "one of the oldest" or providing some inline citation or explanation.
  • None of the mesomamerican cultures have inline citations. Though one of the inconsistency has been fixed now, many of the dates are still not really matching the dates given in the associated main articles (see for instance Olmec, Teotihuacan, Maya)

--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:46, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

I'm currently on the road IRL for work, but should be home in a few days. I have 5 or 6 books on Mesoamerican cultures by reliable sources that I can use to fix the dates and other inconsistencies and add citations for. If you can wait for a few more days, prolly be able to get to it by this weekend. Heiro 02:09, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
There's no rush. I don't have much literature at hand to do it myself, that's why I noted it here. If you provide inline citation for this article it would be very much appreciated if you synchronize the dates which those given in main articles as well, so that the whole complex will be somewhat consistent.--Kmhkmh (talk) 04:20, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
As I work thru each culture, I'll post consistent dates across multiple articles with citations. There are quit a few and I'm not sure how much free time I'll have (havent been home for 10 days now), but I will get what I can squared away. Heiro 04:26, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Great civilizations[edit]

The third paragraph starts with the phrase "Pre-Columbian is used in the context of discussing the great indigenous civilizations of the Americas..." While I don't have any input one way or the other about how great any of these civilizations were or are, it just strikes me as a little too subjective a statement, seeming to make some kind of values judgments about the civilizations that I don't think should appear in a historical article. I think it should be removed, but preferred to bring it up here to let the decision be made by someone with more expertise. Shanedphillips (talk) 01:48, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Poorly written/confusing/hollow[edit]

The chapter History / North America abounds in loca communia lacking concrete information - like a politician's blabla. "Dramatic rise in population" - how much? Where precisely? - "many plants domesticated" - which, please??

Nuremberg - Ángel García (talk) 10:22, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Furthermore in History/North America: "The vastness and variety of the climates, ecology, vegetation, fauna, and landforms separations have define ancient peoples implicitly as cultural or linguistic divisions." "Landforms separations" should probably be "landform separations" and the remainder of the sentence is very confusing. I'm not sure how to fix it because it's not clear to me exactly what the writer is trying to communicate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shanedphillips (talkcontribs) 02:02, 28 February 2011 (UTC)


The middle of this section talks says "This is where the first farms and industries were developed," a statement I believe is in reference to Colombian history long after the Chibchas civilization. It goes on to include several more sentences about the relatively recent history and present day of Colombia. I don't believe any of this information should be included in a history of Chibchas. Shanedphillips (talk) 07:00, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Unmatched Stonework?[edit]

The Inca section mentions "unmatched stonework".

What does that mean? Is that a kind of masonry or does it merely mean that no one did it better? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:38, 22 March 2017 (UTC)