Pre-Columbian History
Language Resources

Mesoamerica

Mesoamerica ranges from central Mexico to northwestern Costa Rica. The Mesoamericans were around for a total of about 3,000 years, after which the Europeans discovered the existence of the New World. The civilizations included Mayas, Mixtecs, Toltecs and Aztecs, just to name a few. They had many great inventions and advances in the fields of technology, mathematics and astronomy.

Olmecs — They were the earliest known tribe. Their capital was Tenochtitlán. Their achievements paved the way for later civilizations to follow suit with their important advances in art, maths and religion as well as many others.

Teotituacans — When the Olmecs were on the way out, the Teotituacans were ready to take control as the ruling power in Mesoamerica. Economically and politically they made some revolutionary changes in their region which influenced the practices of later civilizations. They were around from 650 B.C. until around 300 B.C. They are also noted for founding new dynasties in Tikal, Copan and Kaminaljuyú.

Mayas — The Mayas presented many academic advances and were known for their great intelligence. They are noted especially for their calendar predictions, considered much more advanced than the one used in modern times.

Aztecs — Originally a nomadic civilization known as the desert people, the Aztecs had a practice of constantly moving from one location to another. This eventually landed them as overall rulers with the creation of the triple alliance, which was a union between three tribes with a similar vision. Tenochtitlán was located where Mexico City is today.

South America

Norte Chico — Just north of Peru, this civilization was around from 3000 B.C. until around 1800 B.C. It's known as the oldest civilization in the continent and one of the oldest in the world.

Valdivia — Located on the coast of Ecuador they have been a recent discovery in comparison to other civilizations, despite being one of the oldest civilizations. Their presence dates back to 3500 BC. Known to be self sufficient, they lived primarily from fishing and farming. Their ceramic and stone work displays an impressive amount of detail.

Cañaris — This civilization was noted for its advanced architecture and religious beliefs, though it is difficult to go into much detail as records of them aren't in such an abundance as others. This is because their town was burned down during the Inca invasion. Although they suffered a heavy loss against the Inca, they are known to have put up the biggest fight against them out of all the tribes.

Chibchas — Hailing from the northern Andes, they had a slight difference to other tribes by developing a community of groups that all spoke the same language with slight annotations on the dialect. They were prominent around the 3rd century.

Moche — They were around 1500 years ago for a period of about 500 years, though most of the information on record is only on pottery and ceramics. From the detail of the ceramics there is evidence of human sacrifice and the ritual of blood drinking.

Inca Empire — This civilization was well-known, especially for conquering other tribes. Their capital was located in Cusco. They also achieved several impressive feats such as the creation of the Quipu (the knotted language system) .