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Timelines of World Art: Americas (Native North America, USA, Latin America & Caribbean, Pre-Columbian)

c. 8000 BC

Beads made of clam shells, engraved bones and pebbles represent an early interest in body decoration in present-day Wyoming. Originally these beads were strung onto cords through holes made with pointed stone tools. Read more...

c. 7000 BC–c. 6000 BC

Figurines of abstract form and little facial definition made of unfired clay are found in places such as Cowboy Cave in contemporary Utah. Read more...

c. 2700 BC–c. 1700 BC

Monumental temples are built at the Pre-Columbian-period site of La Galgada in the Peruvian highlands. These temples are later converted into tombs containing very early examples of textiles and jewellery. Read more...

c. 2300 BC

Red-slipped ceramic figurines, often of women with elaborate hairstyles, made by the people of the Valdivia culture of coastal Ecuador, are the earliest known pottery statues of humans in the Americas. Read more...

c. 2000 BC–c. 1100 BC

Figurines, typically of animals, made of split-twigs wrapped in a manner similar to that used to fashion baskets, are produced in the Great Basin region of North America and are occasionally found pierced by a sharp object. Read more...

c. 2000 BC–c. 250

Among the earliest examples of Mesoamerican pottery are the containers and figurines found in burials at Tlatilco near Mexico City. The statues often represent richly ornamened females, as well as acrobats, people wearing masks and humans that appear misshapen. Read more...

c. 1500 BC

More than 300 stone slabs surround the central platform at the Pre-Columbian complex of Cerro Sechin in northern Peru. The large stones are engraved with standing dignitaries in formal attire, while the smaller slabs are carved with images of the remains of human and animal ritual sacrifice. Read more...

Cerro Sechín, central platform, east section of north façade, relief carving of a triumphant dignitary, granodiorite stone, h. 3.44 m, c. 1500 BC (in situ)

c. 1500 BC

Jade is worked in Central America to fashion small amulets. This tradition, using local stone, produces ornaments for use by the living and for burials. Read more...

c. 1500 BC–500

The distinguishing features of carvings made on the Native American Northwest Coast are established. They include depictions of humans and animals chiselled in flat, low relief; an emphasis on facial features, often on large heads, and a proponderance of symbolically meaningful images on items of daily use. Read more...

c. 1000 BC–

Chavín potters of coastal Peru form technically advanced ceramic containers that often combine distinctive shapes such as globular bottles topped by long necks decorated with bold, abstracted geometric and animal patterns. Read more...

c. 900 BC

Colossal stone heads, weighing several tons, are among the earliest and most distinctive creations of the ancient Olmec. Their different features and naturalism suggests that these sculptures might have been portraits of early kings. Read more...

c. 500 BC–c. 200 BC

The key feature of the Zapotec city of Monte Albán in Mexico is the Main Plaza, which contains in one corner a series of stone slabs carved in low relief with images of captured and dead enemies and some of the earliest known hieroglyphs in Mesoamerica. Read more...

c. 500 BC–AD 500

Anthropomorphic and animal figures are painted on the sheer red sandstone walls of the Great Gallery in Utah's Barrier Canyon. These images, with abstracted heads set on detailed torsos, are among the best prehistoric rock paintings in North America. Read more...


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