1491 Ecosystems and Architecture in the Americas

What did Columbus really find?  Just ask eco-antrhopolofist Charles C. Mann, who wrote “1491” about pre-European Americas and  “1493” about the ecological carnage and disease that wiped the natives out.  “From southern Maine down to about the Carolinas, you would have seen pretty much the entire coastline lined with farms, cleared land, interior for many miles and densely populated villages generally rounded with wooden walls. And then in the Southeast, you would have seen these priestly chiefdoms, which were centered on these large mounds, thousands and thousands of them, which still exist. And then as you went further down, you would have come across what is often called the Aztec empire and maybe better known as the Triple Alliance ’cause it was a group of three people, which was a very aggressive, expansionistic empire that had one of the world’s largest cities as its capital, Tenutchtitlan, which is now Mexico City. Bigger than either London or Paris, it was a fantastic place. The Spaniards who first saw it just couldn’t believe their eyes. It was in the middle of an immense lake called Lake Texcoco with this huge, artificially constructed set of islands there surrounded by boats. It was kind of like Venice.”


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