50 Historical Facts about Pre-Columbian Americas

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Paleo-Indians who are thought to be the earliest settlers of the Americas, (18,000-8,000 B.C.) hunted the Glyptodon (an armored mammal the size/weight of a Volkswagen Beetle) to extinction with stone tools.

27. The Muisca people of ancient Mesoamerica had such an abundance of gold that it became their preferred material for handicrafts. The legend of El Dorado is also related to them. El Dorado was the name of a Muisca tribal chief who covered himself in Gold Dust and dived into a lake as part of a ritual. The story later morphed into one of a golden city in the center of a lake.

28. The Incan Empire lacked the use of wheeled vehicles, lacked the knowledge of iron and steel, and above all, they lacked a system of writing but were still able to construct one of the greatest imperial states in human history.

29. Execution by ritual torture was commonly carried out by Native tribes in the northeastern United States and Canada. The torture could continue for days and was conducted publicly in the captors' village, where the entire population (including children) would watch and participate.

30. The "Fuente Magna bowl" is an artifact discovered in Bolivia that is covered in Sumerian cuneiform writing. The bowl is over 4,000 years old and likely was brought to Bolivia by seafaring Sumerians, an incredible example of Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact.

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31Human Migration to Americas

Human Migration to Americas

The oldest evidence of humans in the Americas was found in 2021. Ancient fossilized human footprints discovered in New Mexico are thought to be at least 21,000 years old, which pushes the time of human migration into the North America by at least 5,000 years earlier than previously accepted.

32. As far back as 20,000 B.C., 8,000 years before the Clovis culture migrated south into North America, there was an already established civilization in Chile at Monte Verde.

33. Nezahualcoyotl, king of Texcoco in pre-Columbian Mexico, passed a really harsh law against homosexuals. He decreed that homosexual couples should be suffocated in a heap of ash. Their passive partners had their intestines pulled out, then their bodies were filled with ash, and finally, were burnt.

34. The Mayan people collected megalodon teeth and used them as sacred offerings. These teeth may have also served as inspiration for their sea monster myths.

35. The Aztecs sacrificed children to their water deities for rain. Archaeologists have found the remains of 42 children sacrificed to Tlaloc (and a few to Ehecátl Quetzalcóatl) in the offerings of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, as well as other victims.

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36Aztecs vs Spaniard Hygiene

Aztecs vs Spaniard Hygiene

The Aztecs followed Spaniards around with incense burners when they came to the Americas. The Spaniards believed this to be a divine honor; however, it was a necessity due to the wide gap in hygiene between the two cultures. The Aztecs found their stench unbearable.

37. Aztecs took two showers a day and used flowers as soap and cleaned their mouth with them as well. The Spaniards at the time avoided water because it was thought water on your skin made you more susceptible to the plague and they used urine to clean their mouths and teeth.

38. Hohokam Indians once constructed the largest irrigation canal in North America. By 1200, they had hundreds of miles of waterways. The remains of these ancient canals now lie beneath the streets of Phoenix metropolitan area. A portion of this ancient canal was recently renovated for the Salt River Project and helps to supply the city's water.

39. Quimbaya artifacts are ceramic and gold objects which were found in Colombia and date back to 1000 A.D. These belong to the Quimbaya civilization. Quimbaya 'Jets' in particular refers to artifacts that resemble modern day aircrafts.

40. The Aztecs made swords embedded with prismatic obsidian blades that are far sharper than even high-quality present-day steel razor blades.

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41Petroglyph Of A Sailing Boat

Petroglyph Of A Sailing Boat

Rock carving of a sailing boat found near Copper Harbor, Michigan suggests that ancient civilizations as early as 1640 B.C. mined copper in North America as part of a large copper trade with the Old World during the Bronze Age. An estimated 22,000 copper ingots may have been exported.

42. Aztec kings wore cloaks made entirely of hummingbird skins. It would take about 8,000 hummingbirds to create an adult-sized cloak.

43. In contrast to the Maya, who liked their chocolate warmed, the Aztecs drank it cold, seasoning it with a broad variety of additives, including the petals of the Cymbopetalum penduliflorum tree, chili pepper, allspice, vanilla, and honey.

44. The Aztecs once fed 200,000 people in inarable swampy land by creating floating gardens they farmed extensively.

45. Although American chemist Charles Goodyear is credited with the invention of vulcanized rubber in the 19th century, recent archaeological evidence shows that the ancient Mayas had been using the technique thousands of years before his discovery.

46Moctezuma's Chocolate Addiction

Moctezuma's Chocolate Addiction

Moctezuma II, the emperor of the Aztecs, while dining, took no other beverage than chocolate, served in a golden goblet. Flavored with vanilla or other spices, his chocolate was whipped into a froth that dissolved in the mouth. Reportedly, he consumed no fewer than 60 portions each day.

47. European settlers hunted buffalo for skins, leaving the meat to rot, in some cases allegedly with the specific intent of depriving the Plain Indians of a food source.

48. The Aztec god Tlaloc was said to require the tears of the young. As a result, if children did not cry, the priests would sometimes tear off the children's nails before their ritual sacrifice.

49. Monks Mound is the largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in the Americas and the largest pyramid north of Mesoamerica.

50. In the mythology of Andean civilizations of South America, the amaro, Amaru, or Katari (Aymara) is a mythical serpent or dragon. The Amaru was believed capable of transgressing boundaries to and from the spiritual realm of the subterranean world.

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