The term Pre-Columbian America is used to indicate the conditions and any facet of life of the civilizations of America before the arrival of Columbus . Currently, there is little information regarding the history and development of the peoples that inhabited America. This is because at the time a writing system had not been developed, and as a result, there was no written record of the establishment of hundreds of cultures based on that continent. Other societies did develop different writing systems as we will see below. Pre Columbian is a term used to describe
On the other hand, the arrival of Europeans to the continent and their subsequent colonization, led to the destruction of habitat, customs and possible records that were found in different human settlements in America. As a consequence, this caused the loss of the culture and history of many peoples throughout the Americas at the hands of the Spanish colonizers. Still, archaeological findings allow us to know many details of civilizations that developed in the pre – Columbian era, for example, through architectural constructions as in the case of the city of Tiwanaku , located 15 kilometers from Lake Titicaca .
The arrival of the first tribes to America
There is great controversy as to how was the arrival of humans in the Americas. One of the most supported hypothesis, says that man came to America from Asia . It is believed that the entry route used by the first men was through the theoretical union that existed between the Asian and American continents, known as the Beringia Bridge.
According to this hypothesis, the settlement of the American Indians developed from north to south . However, according to archaeological findings, this hypothesis has been questioned, based on the dating of instruments found in South America, which seem to show that human settlements first developed in South America.
In the midst of these arguments, it is not ruled out that the settlements that existed in America have come from the Asian continent , taking into account the resemblance between the aboriginal groups of America and the Asians. Pre Columbian is a term used to describe
Cultures of Pre-Columbian America
Throughout the American continent many civilizations of varied cultures and customs were found. Some civilizations developed on plains, others along the coasts, others settled on the banks of rivers, and many in mountainous areas. Not all ethnic groups in Pre-Columbian America developed equally. Some were nomads , others settled in simple communities, and the most prominent built cities and monuments as the basis for their empires. There were egalitarian societies, others organized as chiefdoms and some as state societies that encompassed diverse ethnic groups.
The most advanced pre-Columbian cultures in America settled in the Andes and Mesoamerica. Among the most prominent civilizations, we can mention the following: Aztecs, Mayas and Incas. These societies had a complex political development, they managed to create a hierarchical society and extend their influence and power over large territories.
Also known as Mexicas. They settled on an islet that was located in Lake Texcoco, on this area is the current city of Mexico. In 1325 they founded Tenochtitlán, their capital. They developed a sophisticated metallurgy with which they managed to make instruments and ornaments in gold, silver and bronze . They created their own writing in pictograms , which documented the relevant facts as rituals, historical facts, genealogies, and others; These pictograms are known as codices made with amate paper made from plant bark, they also used deer skins and cotton. The language of the Aztecs was Nahuatl. Pre Columbian is a term used to describe
They used their own metric system to carry out their works. Their culture was enriched by religious traditions, cosmology, astronomy, art, and political structure . In this society the political authority appears as the guarantor of the reproduction of life. The archaeological finds demonstrate the advanced development of knowledge that they had on the construction of large-scale temples. Another interesting aspect of the Aztecs is their cyclical conception of time, where the past is readjusted to explain the present, in this way the future constantly conditions the past. This is important since this conception of time serves to understand the explanation that the Aztecs themselves gave to the Spanish conquest.
This ethnic group managed to become an empire that controlled a large area of the Yucatan peninsula and the current territories of countries such as Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador , covering approximately 350,000km. The capital of this empire was in the city of Chichén Itzá. They were highlighted by the creation of a system of hieroglyphic writing, sculptural art and architecture . Pre Columbian is a term used to describe
They developed a complex mathematical, ecological and astronomical system , which demonstrate the advances of the culture in comparison with others of the American continent. In this society’s worldview and cooperation were two main areas of social organization, in addition to the geographical environment and the economy . Currently, there is a text written in the Latin alphabet with allusion to the Mayan culture, the Popol Vuh, which frames a set of legends, customs, deities and activities of the Mayan culture .
This empire was based on the Peruvian Andes. Unlike the Mayans and the Mixtecas, the Incas occupied an extensive area from Ecuador to the Maile River located in Chile ; dominated from the coasts of the Pacific Ocean to the Amazon jungle, they had to adapt to this ecology, so it was that they organized themselves in different ecological levels, there were groups on the coasts, in the jungle area and towards the top of the mountains, each ecological level had a particular task in the production of both food and products. Pre Columbian is a term used to describe
Its main city was in Cuzco. His policy was framed in the alliances between peoples that submitted to the power directed from Cuzco whose head is the Inca who is considered a God on Earth. The ayllus were the units on which the Inca organization was based. They were made up of a group of families that had a common ancestor. All these units participated in the work within the ayllu following the principle of reciprocity; the chiefs of these ayllus were known as curacas .
The Inca culture also stands out for the construction of temples and cities with high precision carvings . They developed skills in making gold and silver ornaments and carving stone and wood ⁽ . They also had skills in making fabrics. They used a semasiographic writing system, through the tocapu, which were clothing with colored geometric figures, they gave messages; They also used quipus , which consisted of colored ropes with different knots, these quipus gave a numerical message and served as a registration system. Pre Columbian is a term used to describe
The city of Machu Picchu, like the Nazca lines, are a clear example of the knowledge that this empire handled in its vast domain known as the Tawantinsuyu.