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What is Pre-Columbian Art

Pre-Columbian art refers to the creations of the Maya, the Aztecs, the Inca, and Native North Americans, encompassing the art of indigenous people of North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean prior to the arrival of the Spanish at the beginning of the 16th century. Mesoamerica refers to Central America, when discussing a cultural region in the Americas, covering areas from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica.

There were two main cultures, the Aztecs in Mesoamerica and the Incas of Peru. Both cultures created impressive art and architecture. They built massive monuments from such primitive ways. The Mayans of Mesoamerica were amazingly advanced in mathematics and astronomy.  They were overrun by Aztecs from the north in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, who in turn were conquered by the Spanish in 1519. The conquest of Peru followed in 1532.

The Pre-Columbian cultures had a belief that the end of the world was periodically imminent. They believed this could only be averted by human sacrifice. Their gods, were depicted as monsters who could only be satisfied by blood, by torture and sacrifice. There are still some of these beliefs in Pre-Columbian superstition have never stopped.

The Mayans created pyramids, stone sculpture, and hieroglyphic writing in cities in the Yucatan, but these were largely wiped out by the Aztecs in the 12th century. The Aztecs also created massive structures at their capital, Tenochtitlán. These civilizations were taken over by European settlers at the beginning of the 16th century. Many elements of Pre-Columbian language and culture survive throughout the Americas up to the present day.

For more information about Pre-Columbian art, contact our art department or take a look at some our pieces featured here. We appreciate you inquiries.