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Pre-Columbian Era (Pre-1491)

The pre-Columbian era combines all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the arrival of large European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period.

While the phrase "pre-Columbian era" literally refers only to the time preceding Christopher Columbus's voyages of 1492, in practice the phrase usually is used to mean the entire history of American indigenous cultures until those cultures were conquered or significantly influenced by Europeans, even if this happened decades or centuries after Columbus's first landing.  For this reason the alternative terms of Pre-Colonial Americas or Prehistoric Americas are also in use.


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