The Surprising Truth About Pre-Columbus North America

A growing number of anthropologists now believe that North American prior to Columbus' arrival was dotted with impressive cities and towns.
June 23, 2003, 5am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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A new generation of anthropologists and archaeologists is saying that "the Americas in 1491 were not a wilderness. They were a huge, special garden, planned and maintained by the active efforts of a wildly diverse range of societies. Environmentalists tend not to like this line of argument, because to them it implies that there is no preferred "natural" state—so let the bulldozers rip. If it is true that the pre-Columbus Americas had tens of millions of people and highly developed civilizations, what happened? Why were there so few traces when the conquistadors and the colonists began to arrive in earnest? One demographer has estimated, that 'in the first 130 years of contact about 95 percent of the people in the Americas died—the worst demographic calamity in recorded history.'"

Thanks to Terry Mock

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Published on Thursday, March 7, 2002 in The Atlantic Monthly
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