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27

Firstly, it is important to be aware that our understanding of the civilisations and culture of Pre-Columbian America is far from complete. Secondly, I don't propose to attempt to cover every civilisation, so this will - at best - be only a partial answer. However, with those caveats: As far as I am aware, we have no evidence that any pre-Columbian ...


19

Flint points, obsidian, buffalo hides, salt, pearls, shells and (as mentioned by T.E.D.) copper were among item traded by Native Americans before Europeans arrived. That said, trade in North America prior to European contact varied greatly in its extent and volume, depending on area and epoch. From Trade Among Tribes: Commerce on the Plains before Europeans ...


18

Disease plays a significant role. Estimates vary wildly, but there were probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million people living in the Americas before Columbus. The vast majority of those would have lived in the Mesoamerica and Inca areas. Europe's population at this time would have been in the vicinity of 90 million. What pretty much everyone ...


14

The implication of the question is that Meso-American cultures didn't employ any architectural defenses ("walls"). I don't think that's true at all. Below is a pictoral recreation of Cahokia. That city was probably far too large and spread out to totally wall up, but you can clearly see there was a wall around the central districts. The text with the ...


8

Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze ... By E. J. W. Barber, a text devoted to the development of cloth in the neolithic and bronze ages, on p. 261, describes the evolution of Indo-European words related to the shearing of sheep: So prior to the invention of more modern tools used to shear sheep, the wool was simply ...


7

I believe many did. Hopewell (mound builders) : This Hopewell mound in Newark Ohio looks an awe-full lot like a circular wall with a gate in the upper left hand corner. regarding the Inca, these look like defensive walls to me.


7

Let's start by making two assumptions: We're talking about the people who lived all throughout the Americas, from the far Arctic north to Tierra del Fuego in the far south. (Sometimes people use "Native American" to mean only the people who lived in what later became the US, but that's not a meaningful distinction before the US came to exist.) We're ...


7

Short answer As you say in your question, "It is always harder to show an absence" but in this case the absence of evidence, aside from the Arctic & Subarctic regions, seems complete. In short, none of the academic sources I’ve consulted mention the existence of pre-Columbian lamps or candles, but other means of artificial light are mentioned. examples ...


6

OK, as I said in my comment above, this isn't really a subject that I know enough about, but in the absence of any other answers I'll do my best ... Most of what is now Colombia was part of the Muisca Confederation before the Spanish Conquest. What we know about the Muisca was recorded by Spanish chroniclers many of whom were writing perhaps a century or ...


5

For what this website defines as history (roughly, "the story of humanity"), there's rather a lot of "pre-Columbian history" in South America, and you can't really depict it all in a single map. Population density maps for 6500BCE, 3500BCE, and 1491 AD would all look quite different from each other. For the purposes of the rest of the answer, I'm going to ...


5

There are no reliable records (as @Joe indicates in comments: no records from the locals, unreliable information from the colonists), so I have to resort to "educated guesswork". Population density is a function of food production. Hunter-gatherer tribes in North America required more territory to support their lifestyle than agricultural societies in ...


4

The Atlantic actually did an article about this very question (and various other, related topics) back in 2002, titled 1491. It notes some very interesting points, including that we do have actual records of death rates, from Spanish missionaries who settled in the area: [Henry F.] Dobyns began his exploration of pre-Columbian Indian demography in the ...


4

Before exposure to European disease the Americas were extremely populated. There is plenty of evidence of that. Middle estimates are about 50 million, though some argue 100 million+. But what we think of as plagues (like the Black Plague) are paltry nothings compared to what happened in the Americas. In some cases entire areas were wiped out...no survivors ...


2

Googling for native american technology "shears" brings up Goods, Power, History: Latin America's Material Culture by Arnold J. Bauer. At page 25 it hints that we don't know for sure: Just how the fibers were separated from the animal is, however, painful to imagine. Presumably, handfuls of wool were hacked off the creatures with razor sharp obsidian, or ...


2

I think this was always regarded as an ending to a metaphysical era more than a physical ending within the Mayan calendar. I had this described to me as a cycle in humanity's heart beat as one beat flows into the next (claiming the world ends would be the equivalent of the heart ends after it beats once and not acknowledging that it exists to beat again). ...


2

Well, here's what Wikipedia currently says on the subject: There are many theories about the type of Tiwanaku state, one opinion is that it was a far-reaching military empire, while other theory is that it was the center for regional religious pilgrimages and llama caravan trade routes without much political authority. The Tiwanaku empire was most ...


1

According to the "Pre-Colombian era" article on Wikipedia, there were 4 major cultural groups that developed permenant settlements of significance in South America: the Muisca, Valdivia, Quechua and Aymara. The Valdivian settlement ( in what is now coastal Ecuador) declined centuries before the Spanish arrived. The main Quecha group in 1500 were the Inca, ...


1

By some accounts, oils and furs were traded in the Pacific Northwest. Early accounts stress the enormous importance of oils in trade, feasting, and food. The Makah used to compete to see who could drink the most whale oil at feasts (Colson 1953). People were desperate for oils. Suffice it to say that “ooligan” is derived from a Tsimshian word ...


1

An area which may require a closer look is the southwestern cultures. Trade routes were actually quite well established in these regions, with many items being traded. An article Indigenous Trade: The Southwest , lists many of these trade materials(emphasis highlighting trade materials mine): Anasazi. Around the end of the first millennium a.d., Anasazi ...


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