The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492

  title={The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492},
  author={William M. Denevan},
  journal={Annals of The Association of American Geographers},
  • W. Denevan
  • Published 1 September 1992
  • History
  • Annals of The Association of American Geographers
The myth persists that in 1492 the Americas were a sparsely populated wilder- ness, "a world of barely perceptible human disturbance." There is substantial evidence, however, that the Native American landscape of the early sixteenth century was a humanized landscape almost everywhere. Populations were large. Forest composition had been modified, grasslands had been created, wild- life disrupted, and erosion was severe in places. Earthworks, roads, fields, and settle- ments were ubiquitous. With… 

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