In this National Geographic documentary from 2016, “History books traditionally depict the pre-Columbus Americas as a pristine wilderness where small native villages lived in harmony with nature. But scientific evidence tells a very different story: When Columbus stepped ashore in 1492, millions of people were already living there. America wasn’t exactly a “New World,” but a very old one whose inhabitants had built a vast infrastructure of cities, orchards, canals and causeways.” Worksheet.
- 1491: New Relevations of the Americas Before Columbus (Amazon.com link), by Charles Mann. Wikipedia summary. Atlantic Monthly excerpt.
According to Mann, “before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.”