America Before Columbus

What did America look like before being discovered by Christopher Columbus? Find out as we go back in time with the documentary film America Before Columbus.

Pre-Columbus America had an already established old world where ancient civilizations flourished. Some had rich cultures and vast cities containing millions of citizens, deviating from the common uneducated folklore that pristine wilderness ruled every part of the continents.

Many great tribes and empires lived in the Americas before the European civilizations set sail for conquest.

A Mesoamerican civilization named the Maya consisted at their height of more than 40 cities, each with a population between 5,000 and 50,000. This vast population spanned from 250-900 A.D. had developed a writing system, beautiful art, architecture, mathematics, calendars, and even an astronomical system surpassing Europe’s civilizations at that time.

Another named the Incan civilization (1438-1533 A.D) in now situated Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and southern Colombia, was supposedly the most sophisticated found among native people – Spanish historians reported. Although the Incas had been around since the early 13th century, if not earlier – their strong, expansionist empire, the Tawantinsuyu, existed for less than 100 years.

A third great civilization was called the Aztecs. The Aztec led through fear and fierce brutality, siphoning thousands of slaves and riches from their neighbour to become the most powerful civilization i midamerica.

The list goes on with more tribes who’s earned a name for themselves, such as the Arikara, Cherokee, Iroquois, Pawnee, Sioux, Apache, Comanche and more.

The actual population figures for indigenous peoples in the Americas before the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus have proven difficult to establish.

Scholars, archaeologists and historians estimate however, that it is in the range from a low of 2.1 million to 7 million people to a high of 18 million at its peak.

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America Before Columbus
  • Info
  • Release date22 Nov, 2009
  • Full runtime92 min
  • Directed byCristina Trebbi
  • Narrated byVictor Garber
  • Produced byGruppe 5 Filmproduktion, National Geographic Channel, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF)