Ancient Mesoamerica

May 2, 2022
Nick

The Maya

Ancient Mesoamerica

The Maya are one of the most well-known indigenous cultures in Central America. They were first settled in Mexico around 3,000 years ago and expanded their territory throughout the region. These talented farmers developed an extensive artistic heritage as well as several unique writing systems.

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The Mayan population flourished during this time, with many cities being built including Chichen Itza (a prominent site for pilgrimage today). However, after approximately 200 AD, the Mayan population began to decline. Many factors led to the disappearance of the Mayans, including shorter generations, disease, and war. No copies of any Mayan writings remain, making it difficult to determine what actually occurred before that date.

However, stories passed down about events that took place prior to written record have been disputed by some historians. One theory is that the Mayas created two classes of people in order to keep the populations small enough to control. This would lead to forced birth regulation in order to maintain the ratio of workers and soldiers.

Another belief is that the Mayas shifted to a communal style of living and refusing to use private property, which left them vulnerable when the climate became hard. Finally, some believe that the Mayans simply outnumbered the conquistadors and escaped notice.

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Whatever the case may be, the effects of the Mayan population's decrease has had lasting impacts on Latin American culture.

The Aztecs

Ancient Mesoamerica

The most prominent group who defined Mesoamerica in the historic period were the Mexicas (also often known as the Aztecs). They inhabited a region along the Pacific coast that included parts of present-day Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia.

The earliest evidence of population growth occurred around 10600 BC, followed by several decades of slight decline, until establishing a more stable population during the late Bronze Age from about 1400 BC to 600 BC. This was an extremely brief appearance among these societies listed above, but their influence spread even further. By the time the first writings concerning them appeared in the historical record, they had become a dominant political, social, and religious force throughout all the areas mentioned.

They also played a significant role in the development of ballgame rules and equipment, so another aspect of their culture became popularly known. These games were well-known events where large crowds would gather to watch the matches and cheer for the favored team; modern fans sometimes refer to these televised broadcasts as "watching football" or "a sport called football."

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Other cultural aspects of Mesoamerican society include art, music, fashion, cuisine, and community service. None of these subjects explore the specific details of the Mexica people, but provide examples of how similar cultures can be very different across the world.

Art: Though many varieties of art exist, two main types are Mexican art and American art. For this topic, however, we will focus mainly

The Olmec

 

The first civilizations were formed in mesoamerica around 3,000 years ago. The olmec built ancient mexico city, Teotihuacan, and they created a writing system known as la quilla olla that is still used today.

You may be familiar with one of their most recognizable symbols-the so-called “crawling man” or el congo. This symbol appears in fact to have been a common feature in many ancient writings from this era, including such sites like La Quilla. However, beyond simple notation, analysis of the glyphs has revealed that the olmec possessed a very sophisticated understanding of numerical relations.

For example, the aztec calendrical cycle, which was discussed earlier, is founded upon the repeating order of numbers. It consists of a year containing 13 months, and there are only 12 days left before the next new day starts.

This must have made some kind of logical connection within it. To an even greater degree than in the case of the aztecs, who conceptualized time as contained in the motion of the sun, the olmbic civilization evidently understood its calendar conceptsually.

The Toltec

Ancient Mesoamerica

After this period, beginning in about 100 D.C., the Aztecs emerged as the most prominent group of people sharing a common culture. Their predominant language was Nahuatl, but they also used pre-Hispanic languages such as Huehuetzin (an old form of Chichimeque) and Tepuzahualeco.

What made them different from other cultures of the time was their understanding of religion and faith.

The Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910 and continued through 1920, with both government and military forces making advances against the opposing factions.

In 1915, General Lazaro Cardenas issued an order to terminate fighting between political parties, which helped begin the healing process after years of conflict. This order came too late to save what remained of the Spanish Empire.

By then, Mexico had become a second rate country within Western Europe. Due to the internal conflicts, it failed to prevent foreign invaders from settling near home; instead there were calls for independence. During these hard times, some Mexicans began migrating north towards the United States.

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Mexico since the development of its customs has been characterized by two basic conditions: ancient and new. Those who come to live here are influenced by those conditions.

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Those influencing conditions are why many immigrants feel compelled to migrate to the U.S. Most foreigners who choose to move to America will have experiences that shape their perspectives before they even cross the border.

The Cuicuilco

Ancient Mesoamerica

For thousands of years, humans have been making living space accessible by creating homes out of basic materials like soil, rocks, and wood. Though these may seem crude ways to create shelter for yourself, they are techniques that ancient people used to build cultures with hermit lifestyles.

The most famous of these shelters were built around the world after the flood. These stories usually involve an angel who helps save human lives from certain death.

Many civilizations believe in some form of deity or ultimate spirit controlling the forces of life and nature. People also tend to worship things and situations that give them comfort. It is only natural then, to offer sacrifices to make courtship better or to ask prayers to be done as you seek romantic outcomes.

As time went on, these rudimentary forms of housing evolved into larger structures made of stone, wood, and other material. What was once simply a way to keep each other alive became a way to symbolize power and status.

In order to show off their wealth and prove that they were worth it, people began building mansions out of the richest materials available. In this case, that meant maldecorating those buildings decorated with precious stones and wasting no money seeking beauty.

The Nahuatl

Ancient Mesoamerica

One of the most important languages in Mesoamerica was nahuali. It is difficult to explain the power and importance of this language, but think of it as kind of a Mexican Spanish.

It has been widely observed that the younger generation speaks very good English, just like the Americans. However, the older people still speak with their native tongue which is nahuatl.

This language is not only used among the natives,but also by many latin countries who have visited Mexico. Such is the influence of this language.

There are four major varieties of nahuatl. Each one differs greatly from the other. Therefore, no one really knows how two groups of speakers dialectally differ without knowing the variations of each variety.

However, there are some rules about nahuatl pronunciation. For example, nahuatl does not pronounce words trill. And it does not tap dance around letters or slide them back and forth.

The Zapotec

Ancient Mesoamerica

Before the arrival of Columbus, the most common language in southern Mexico was the Nahuatl language. However, there were also indigenous peoples living in southern Mexico who spoke an unrelated language called Huichol.

In the 1300s, these people known as the Aztecs began to increase in number and spread into other areas, particularly northern Mexico. They migrated south along a previously unknown path and came into contact with the Nahuatls. Through war or trade, the two groups blended together, becoming one nation.

The Aztecs shared more similarities with the Nahuatl people than they did with their own ancestors. Though they all could speak English, it was not until after the fall of the Aztec Empire that the natives learned how to write words.

By the time of the Spanish colonization of Mexico, there were seven different languages spoken throughout the country, all related in some way.

The Mathecs

Ancient Mesoamerica

In 2005, while doing research in Latin America, anthropology professor Julie Dutcher learned about the “mathec” stone which had been discovered only two years before in Nicaragua. Like the mathec from Honduras, it contained inscriptions that helped tell its story.

More specifically, this one recorded milestones in an ancient person's life, events such as his or her marriage and birthdays. It also included instructions for how to cure illness with herbal medicine.

Although most of the known tablets are dated by scholars who believe they started around 900 BC, some were written much later-all the way up until the Spanish conquest of 1500 AD. This makes them valuable not just because they contain recipes for curing diseases but also bring us insight into what the tribes alive at that time used to live like.

By studying these medicinal herbs and their corresponding descriptions in medical texts, we learn more about traditional forms of healing that reach back to when humans first began writing down rules for health and hygiene. By comparing illustrations of plants in medical texts with photographs of similar parts taken today, scientists have concluded that constipation was indeed once considered synonymous with sickness.

Another disease, called typhoid fever, was believed for centuries to be caused by demons rather than bacteria. Because certain prayers failed to help rid people of the symptoms, doctors would sometimes prescribe drugs to patients to treat the symptoms instead of waiting for the disease to run its course. Many cultures still practice prayer as

The Raramuri

Ancient Mesoamerica

During most of pre-Columbian history, native peoples made choices about how to live their lives. When we refer to “pre-Columbus”, we are referring to before any Europeans arrived in the Americas. It was another world before people had ever heard of Christopher Columbus or the explorers who sailed across the ocean.

In the early years, not many people were familiar with the Americas. So people mainly stayed where they were located. But as time went on, things began to change. More and more people knew someone else who said he would move if it wasn't for the threat of invasion from Europe.

About 16th century, people started leaving home for countless reasons: climate changes, lack of food supply, armed conflict, etc. And some really tough times causing people to migrate as a survival strategy.

The way that indigenous people lived also contributed to the migration. For example, the agriculture that been developed over centuries disappeared when European diseases reached America. Or consider the widespread adoption of traditional clothes and art forms among tribes and cultures.

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