Collected by Maggie Fuller , AFAR Staff
Back before they were called the Americas, North and South America played host to great civilizations: from the Pueblo cultures to the Mayas and Aztecs to the Incas. These cultures thrived during different periods from 2600 BC until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. These cultures overcame the challenges of nature with an ease that still sometimes eludes us, and created scientific systems that we don’t fully understand today.
Collinsville, IL, USA
This 2,200-acre historic site was formerly the city of Cahokia. It’s the largest archaeological site related to the Mississippian culture and one of the largest earthen constructions in the Americas north of Mexico. Cahokia was inhabited from...
Fort MacLeod, AB T0L 0Z0, Canada
From a distance, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump looks like any other Canadian Rockies foothill area, but closer inspection reveals a UNESCO World Heritage site that holds 6,000 years of First Nations (native peoples') history beneath its grassy...
Mesa Verde, CO, USA
For anyone who believes that truly historic architecture doesn’t exist in the states, Mesa Verde National Park will make you think again. Still standing in the park are cliff dwellings built in 600 CE by the ancestral Pueblo people who once...
1100 W Ruins Dr, Coolidge, AZ 85128, USA
Don't go looking for Casa Grande, the national monument of pre-Columbian ruins, in Casa Grande, the sprawling exurb of a town about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. You have to drive about 20 miles away to the small town of Coolidge to find the...
55800 San Juan Teotihuacán, State of Mexico, Mexico
While it's not in Mexico City proper, the sacred pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan is close enough–about 30 miles– for an easy day trip if you're interested in architecture, archaeology, and indigenous history. The site's primary structures, the...
Carretera Merida-Campeche Km. 78, 97890 Uxmal, Yuc., Mexico
Overshadowed by its larger and more well-known cousins, Palenque and Chichén-Itzá, Uxmal ("Oosh-mahl") is the ruins of an ancient Maya city located near present-day Campeche. In its heyday, Uxmal was one of the largest cities of the...
Deep in the Guatemalan jungle lies the lost Maya city of Tikal. A stronghold of the ancient Maya world between 200 and 900 C.E., Tikal continues to fascinate. Be sure to arrange a sunrise tour, which allows you to watch the jungle wake up from the...
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