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The 360 ​​cm diameter stone of the sun is one of the most famous works of art of the Aztecs

Pre-Columbian , Pre-Columbian, or Pre-Columbian (often also pre-Columbian ) refers to the prehistoric and historical history of America prior to its discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492 . The term is also used to describe events that happened after Columbus' discovery, but without European influence. It covers the period from the first settlement of America in the Upper Paleolithic to the European colonization of America in the early modern period .

Pre-Columbian is often used specifically in connection with the early advanced civilizations of America, such as the Aztec , Toltec , Maya and Olmec in Mesoamerica and the Inca and Moche in the Andes .

Many of the pre-Columbian civilizations became sedentary, developed agriculture, built monumentally and had complex social hierarchies. Many of these civilizations had already perished at the time of the European discovery of America and are only known through archaeological research. Others are known from historical documents from the late 15th century to the early 16th century. Few, such as the Maya, had their own historical records. These texts were heretical in the eyes of the Spanish conquerors and were therefore burned. Few Aztec or Mayan documents still exist today.

The term “pre-Columbian” for the time before the discovery by Columbus is now being critically questioned because it constructs a discontinuity in the history of the indigenous peoples.

See also


  • José Alcina Franch: The Art of Ancient America ("L'art precolumbien"). Herder, Freiburg / B. 1979, ISBN 3-451-17103-1 .

Web links

Commons : Pre-Columbian  - collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. pre-Columbian, pre-Columbian . In Michael Kinne: The prefixes post-, pre-, and neo-. Contributions to loan word formation . Günter Narr Verlag 2000, ISBN 3823351486 , Studies on the German language - Volume 18 , p. 206 ( excerpt in the Google book search)
  2. präkolumbinisch in PONS -Onlinewörterbuch
  3. Anja Bröchler: Pictures / Writing / History. Tlatelolco's future past. Indigenous historiography of the conquest of Mexico in the 16th century. In: Judith Becker, Bettina Braun (ed.): The encounter with strangers and the historical awareness. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3525101124 , pp. 79–106, here: p. 79.