Before Columbus: 40 Captivating Historical Facts About the Pre-Columbian Americas 2

26Monte Verde Civilization

Monte Verde Civilization

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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. 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.

31Aztecs' Hygiene

Aztecs' Hygiene

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.

32. 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.

33. 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.

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

35. 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.

36Aztec Kings' Cloak

Aztec Kings' Cloak

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

37. 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.

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

39. 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.

40. 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.