Mesoamerica/Translation

Mesoamerica/Translation

Mesoamerica (Spanish: Mesoamérica) is a region and cultural area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries.

As a cultural area, Mesoamerica is defined by a mosaic of cultural traits developed and shared by its indigenous cultures. Beginning as early as 7000 BC the domestication of maize, beans, squash and chili, as well as the turkey and dog, caused a transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent formative period, agriculture and cultural traits such as a complex mythological and religious tradition, a vigesimal numeric system, and a complex calendric system, a tradition of ball playing, and a distinct architectural style, were diffused through the area. Also in this period villages began to become socially stratified and develop into chiefdoms with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods such as obsidian, jade, cacao, cinnabar, Spondylus shells, hematite, and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important.

Among the earliest complex civilizations was the Olmec culture which inhabited the Gulf coast of Mexico and extended inland and southwards across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Frequent contact and cultural interchange between the early Olmec and other cultures in Chiapas, Guatemala and Oaxaca laid the basis for the Mesoamerican cultural area. This formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. In the subsequent Preclassic period, complex urban polities began to develop among the Maya with the rise of centers such as El Mirador, Calakmul and Tikal and the Zapotec at Monte Albán. During this period the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures, and the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya Hieroglyphic script. Mesoamerica is one of only five regions of the world where writing was independently developed. In Central Mexico, the height of the Classic period saw the ascendancy of the city of Teotihuacan, which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area and northward. Upon the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition between several important political centers in central Mexico such as Xochicalco and Cholula ensued. At this time during the Epi-Classic period the Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, and became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of Oto-Manguean languages. During the early post-Classic period Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, and the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán. Towards the end of the post-Classic period the Aztecs of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mesoamerica.

The distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition ended with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, and over the next centuries Mesoamerican indigenous cultures were gradually subjected to Spanish colonial rule. Aspects of the Mesoamerican cultural heritage still survive among the indigenous peoples who inhabit Mesoamerica, many of whom continue to speak their ancestral languages, and even maintain certain cultural practices harking back to their Mesoamerican roots.

Read more about Mesoamerica/Translation:  Etymology and Definition, Geography, Chronology and Culture

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... Further information Maya art, Olmec#art, and Visual arts by indigenous peoples of the Americas#Mesoamerica and Central America The ancient Olmec "Bird Vessel" and bowl, both ceramic and dating to circa 1000 BC as well as other ceramics are produced in kilns capable of exceeding approximately 900°C ... The only other prehistoric culture known to have achieved such high temperatures is that of Ancient Egypt ...

... The sacred bundle is also known from Mesoamerica, particularly from the Aztecs and the Quiché Mayas (see Popol Vuh) ... The pre-Aztec Borgia Codex uniquely visualizes the mystic powers emanating from such a bundle ...

... Talgua Cave, (“The Cave of the Glowing Skulls” “Cueva del Rio Talgua”), is a cave located in the Olancho Valley in the municipality of Catacamas in northeastern Honduras ... The misnomer “The Cave of the Glowing Skulls” was given to the cave because of the way that light reflects off of the calcite deposits found on the skeletal remains found there ...

... See also Maya art Mesoamerican artistic expression was conditioned by ideology and generally related to focusing on themes of religion and/or sociopolitical power ... This is largely based on the fact that most works that survived the Spanish conquest were public monuments ...

... Mesoamerican architecture is the set of architectural traditions produced by pre-Columbian cultures and civilizations of Mesoamerica, traditions which are best known in the form of public, ceremonial and urban monumental buildings and structures ... The distinctive features of Mesoamerican architecture encompass a number of different regional and historical styles, which however are significantly interrelated ...

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