Beginning dates and terminal dates are approximations based on historical best estimates. The terminal date is sometimes given as 1000 AD.
Approx. 100 BC - Approx. 650
Emergence dates are uncertain. Some historians put it as early as 300 BC. The city was razed by 750 BC
Classic Maya Period
0251 - 950
Rise of the Maya Civilization.
Approx. 900 AD - 1168
Post-Classic Maya Period
950 - 1539
After the Classic Period, many of the major cities were abandoned, but a large Maya civilization persisted.
Rise and Emergence of the Aztecs
1325 AD - August 13, 1521
The terminal date references Cortes' defeat of the Aztecs at Tenochtitlán
1438 - 1533
The Incas constituted the largest empire in pre-Columbian American. The Inca Empire was primarily situated in modern-day Peru, but extended to large parts of Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
Spanish Contact and Conquest in Mesoamerica
Columbus' First Voyage
August 3, 1492 - March 4, 1493
Columbus departs in 1492, making first landfall on October 12, 1492. During the first voyages, Columbus made landfalls on what would become the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola. Columbus believed he had discovered East Asia.
Columbus' Second Voage
September 24, 1493 - June 11, 1496
The second voyage was a significantly large logistical endeavor.
Spanish Mesoamerican Contact Period 1511-1697
1511 - 1697
Spanish survivors from a wrecked caravel reached the coast of Yucatan in 1511. This marked the first contact in Mesoamerica. Contact period ends in 1697 with the fall of Nojpeten, the last of the independent Maya cities.
Conquest of Cuba
1511 - 1514
Spain established a permanent colony in what would become Havana.
Cortes' Arrival and Defeat of the Aztecs
March 4, 1519 - August 13, 1521
Cortes arrives on the Yucatan Peninsula and makes his way to Tenochtitlán, arriving on November 8, 1519.
Establishment of First Catholic Mission
Fray Bartolome de las Casas established the first Catholic Mission in Venzuela in 1520
de Alvarado defeat of Maya in Guatamala
1524 - 1530
Pedro de Alvarado arrived in Guatamala in 1524. The conquest was protracted but eventually took place in 1530 when the Kaqchikel Maya surrendered.
Conquest of the Inca Empire
1532 - 1572
Beginning with Francisco Pizarro and ending with Francisco Toledo, the Inca Empire was eventually conquered over decades of fighting.
Spanish Exploration and Contact with Native People in Modern U.S.
Ponce de Leon Reaches Florida
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's Exploration and Travels
1527 - 1536
Widely regarded as a "proto-anthropologist," de Vaca came to learn Native American languages, customs, and practices during his long travels in what would become the U.S.
Hernando de Soto's Campaign
1539 - 1542
de Soto, after his campaigns in Central America, engages in exploration and exploitation in what would become the United States. He dies near the Mississippi River in 1542.