Meso -Amerikaanse beskawings

Meso -Amerikaanse beskawings

Antieke Meso-Amerika (hedendaagse Mexiko en Sentraal-Amerika) was getuie van 'n buitengewone floreer van kulture vanaf die begin van die Olmec-beskawing omstreeks 1200 vC, deur die Maya-beskawing en tot die katastrofale val van die Aztec-beskawing in die 16de eeu nC. Groot stede is gebou met hoë piramides, ryke is gesmee en kuns is vervaardig in alles, van turkoois tot eksotiese skulpe.

In hierdie versameling ondersoek ons ​​'n paar van hierdie groot mense van die Amerikas. Ons kyk na hul oorsprong, godsdiens, oorlogvoering, materiële kultuur en hul laaste onderskeie ondergang as gevolg van oorlog, die grille van die klimaat en uiteindelik die koms van buitelanders van oor die see. Alhoewel elke kultuur uniek was, vleg baie drade deur hierdie beskawings, soos hul skeppingsmites, gode, godsdienstige praktyke, kuns en argitektuur. Saam het hierdie mense een van die rykste en oorspronklikste kulturele erfenisse in die wêreldgeskiedenis agtergelaat.

Op 'n geheimsinnige wyse, omstreeks 600 nC, is die groot geboue van Teotihuacan doelbewus deur 'n vuur vernietig, en kunswerke en godsdienstige beeldhouwerke is verpletter in 'n volledige verandering van die heersende elite. Die vernietigers was moontlik van die opkomende stad Xochicalco of van binne in 'n opstand wat gemotiveer is deur 'n tekort aan hulpbronne, moontlik vererger deur uitgebreide ontbossing, gronderosie en droogte. Wat ook al die rede, na hierdie klimaatgebeurtenis, het die breër stad nog twee eeue lank bevolk gebly, maar die plaaslike oorheersing daarvan het slegs 'n herinnering geword.


Meso -Amerikaanse beskawing

Die term Meso-Amerika dui die deel van Mexiko en Sentraal-Amerika aan wat in die voor-Spaanse tyd beskaaf was. In baie opsigte was die Amerikaanse Indiane wat Meso -Amerika bewoon het, die mees gevorderde inheemse mense in die Westelike Halfrond. Die noordelike grens van Meso -Amerika loop wes vanaf 'n punt aan die Golfkus van Mexiko bokant die moderne hawe van Tampico, en val dan suidwaarts om 'n groot deel van die sentrale woestyn van die hoogland Mexiko uit te sluit, en ontmoet die Stille Oseaan -kus oorkant die punt van Baja (Laer) Kalifornië . In die suidooste strek die grens van noordwestelike Honduras aan die Karibiese Eilande tot by die Stille Oseaan -kus in El Salvador. Ongeveer die helfte van Mexiko, die hele Guatemala en Belize, en dele van Honduras en El Salvador is dus ingesluit in Meso -Amerika.

Geografies en kultureel bestaan ​​Meso -Amerika uit twee sterk kontrasterende streke: hoogland en laagland. Die Mexikaanse hooglande word hoofsaaklik gevorm deur die twee Sierra Madre -reekse wat oos en wes afloop. Vir hulle lê 'n vulkaniese cordillera wat strek van die Atlantiese Oseaan tot by die Stille Oseaan. Die hoë valleie en ingeslote wasbakke van Mexiko was belangrike sentrums van die pre-Spaanse beskawing. In die suidoostelike deel van Meso -Amerika lê die gedeeltelik vulkaniese hooglande Chiapas - Guatemala. Die laaglande is hoofsaaklik kusgebiede. Veral belangrik was die kusvlakte wat suidwaarts langs die Golf van Mexiko strek en uitgebrei het tot die Petén-Yucatán-skiereiland, die tuisland van die Maya-volke.

Die landbou in Meso -Amerika was gevorderd en kompleks. Baie gewasse is geplant, waarvan koring, boontjies en pampoen die belangrikste was. In die hooglande was die bewerking van min of meer permanente landerye die reël, met intensiewe landbouvorme soos besproeiing en chinampas (die sogenaamde drywende tuine wat uit mere of damme herwin word) wat in sommige streke beoefen word. Daarteenoor was die landbou van die laeveld gereeld van die veranderende variëteit, 'n stuk oerwoud is eers gekies, afgekap en verbrand teen die einde van die droë seisoen en dan betyds met 'n graafstok geplant vir die eerste reën. Na 'n paar jaar se aanplanting is die veld aan die bos oorgelaat, aangesien mededinging van onkruid en dalende vrugbaarheid van die grond tot 'n afname in opbrengste gelei het. Daar is egter goeie bewyse dat die kweek-en-brand-stelsel van verbouing dikwels aangevul is deur 'verhoogde veld' verbouing in die laaglande. hooglande. Boonop is in sommige laaglandstreke terrasse gebou en aangewend om te boer. Tog was die demografiese potensiaal vir landbou waarskynlik altyd groter op die hooglande as in die laaglande, en dit is bewys in die meer uitgebreide stedelike ontwikkelings in die voormalige gebied.

Die uiterste diversiteit van die Meso -Amerikaanse omgewing het geproduseer wat onder sy subgebiede simbiose genoem is. Interregionale uitruil van landbouprodukte, luukse items en ander goedere het gelei tot die ontwikkeling van groot en goed gereguleerde markte waarin kakaobone vir geld gebruik is. Dit het moontlik ook gelei tot grootskaalse politieke eenheid en selfs tot state en ryke. Hoë landbouproduktiwiteit het gelei tot 'n nie -boerdery klas ambagsmanne wat verantwoordelik was vir 'n gevorderde klipargitektuur, met die konstruksie van trappe piramides en hoogs ontwikkelde style van beeldhouwerk, pottebakkery en skildery.

Die Meso-Amerikaanse denkstelsel, wat in vouskermboeke met velvel of baspapier aangeteken is, was miskien selfs van groter belang om dit van ander mense van die nuwe wêreld af te weer. Hierdie stelsel is uiteindelik gebaseer op 'n kalender waarin 'n rituele siklus van 260 (13 × 20) dae met 'n "vae jaar" van 365 dae (18 × 20 dae, plus vyf "naamlose" dae) saamgevoeg is, wat 'n 52-jaar Kalenderronde. Die godsdienstige lewe was gerig op hierdie siklus, wat uniek is aan hulle. Die Meso -Amerikaanse pantheon was geassosieer met die kalender en bevat 'n ou, dubbele skeppingsgod, 'n god van koninklike afkoms en oorlogvoering, 'n songod en maangodin, 'n reengod, 'n kultuurheld genaamd die geveerde slang en vele ander gode. Kenmerkend was ook 'n gelaagde stelsel van 13 hemele en nege onderwêrelde, elk met sy voorsittende god. 'N Groot deel van die stelsel was onder die beheer van 'n priesterskap wat ook 'n gevorderde kennis van sterrekunde behou het.

Sowat sewe Meso -Amerikaanse taalfamilies en drie taalisolate is in Meso -Amerika gevind. Garífuna, 'n latere invoer, is 'n Arawakaanse taal. Die meeste Meso-Amerikaanse tale is gegroepeer in een van vier gesinne: Uto-Azteekans, Maya's, Mixe-Zoquean en Otomanguean. Uto-Aztecan het 'n dominante rol gespeel, veral deur sprekers van die Nahua-groepe waarvan Náhuatl, die amptelike taal van die Aztec-ryk, die belangrikste was. Die Maya -familie bevat 'n aantal onderling onverstaanbare tale, waarvan ten minste sommige deur die inwoners van die groot seremoniële sentrums van Maya gepraat is. Die moderne Mexikaanse staat Oaxaca is nou die middelpunt van die heterogene Otomanguese filum, maar die enigste taalgroepe van die familie wat 'n groot rol gespeel het in die Meso -Amerikaanse beskawing was die Mixtec en Zapotec, wat albei groot, kragtige koninkryke gehad het ten tye van die Spaanse verowering. Tarascan, moedertaal van 'n 'ryk' in die weste van Mexiko wat die Asteekse aantasting suksesvol weerstaan ​​het, word nou beskou as 'n taalisolaat, dit wil sê dat dit geen bekende familielede het nie. Huave en Cuitlatec is ook taalisolate.


Oorsprongsteorieë van die Meso -Amerikaanse beskawings

Sedert die ontdekking van “ verlore ” stede in die oerwoude en reënwoude van Midde -Amerika, het teorieë oor die oorsprong van die Meso -Amerikaanse beskawings in groot mate toegeneem en is daar geen einde in sig nie. Boeke, artikels, internetplasings oor die vermeende oorsprong van die Olmeke, die Maya's, die Asteke en ander het vir sommige 'n winsgewende onderneming geword en vir ander 'n bron van verwarring. Watter sin kan ons van dit alles maak?

Laat ons eers ons terme definieer. “Middle America ” is 'n geografies-geologiese term wat ongeveer nege groot kulturele gebiede insluit, soos Wes-Mexiko, die wasbak van Mexiko, Oaxaca, die Maya-laaglande en Hooglande. Dit is die algemene gebied wat die moderne nasiestate van Mexiko, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador en Belize beset. Mesoamerika ” is 'n kulturele term wat gedefinieer word in 'n artikel van Kirchoff uit 1943 wat die gebied beskryf wat gekenmerk word deur 'n gemeenskaplike kulturele basis en gemeenskaplike tradisies. Geografies strek dit van sentraal -Mexiko tot sentraal Honduras en westelike Costa Rica, meer spesifiek van die Soto La Marina -rivier in Tamaulipas en die Fuerte -rivier in Sinaloa suidwaarts. Sowat 50 kulturele eienskappe is gelys, hoewel hierdie klassifikasie sy beperkings het. Onder hierdie kenmerke is die rituele vliegspel, sekere vorme van selfopoffering, balbane met ringe en hiërogliewe skrif, om maar net 'n paar te noem. Dit sluit nou die westelike Mexiko in, wat lankal as buite die Meso -Amerikaanse invloedsfeer beskou is.

Vergelykings tussen die ou en die nuwe wêrelde was onvermydelik vanaf die begin van Europese kontak met die inheemse mense van Midde -Amerika. Bernal Diaz del Castillo, kroniekskrywer van die Spaanse inval in Mexiko, beskryf die wonderwerke van Tenochtitlan in gloeiende terme. Die Asteekse hoofstad is selfs vergelyk met die Europese Venesië, asof die Asteke nie op hul eie in staat was om sulke beskaafde prestasies te behaal nie. Die Spanjaarde was baie minder beïndruk met die oorblyfsels van die klassieke Maya -beskawing. Maar selfs hier word die argitektuur en die monumente toegeskryf aan die Egiptenare, die Israeliete, die Chaldeërs en almal behalwe die Maya's. Die soektog na die oorsprong van die Meso -Amerikaanse beskawings was aan die gang.

Om historiese redes is die aandag meer gevestig op die Asteke en die Maya's as op ander ewe belangrike inheemse volke in Midde -Amerika. Die klassieke Maya -beskawing het eeue voor die koms van die Spanjaarde tot 'n einde gekom, maar die Maya's het wonderlike argitektoniese en monumentale herinneringe aan hul glorie in die verlede gelaat. Ondanks die byna totale vernietiging van die Maya -hiërogliewe kodeks deur die fanatiese Spanjaarde, het onlangse vordering met die ontsyfering van die Maya -skrif nuwe hoofstukke in die geskiedenis van die Maya's oopgemaak. Die Aztec -beskawing is deur die Spaanse verowering tot 'n skielike en gewelddadige einde gebring. Maar kort na die vernietiging van Mexiko-Tenochtitlan het die Franciskaanse Sahagun en ander godsdienstige en sekulêre kroniekskrywers en historici klassieke Nahuatl, sowel as baie Asteekse tradisies en seremonies opgeteken. Alhoewel die basiese doel van die godsdienstige skrywers was om alle oorblyfsels van die inheemse kultuur te vernietig, het hulle ten spyte van hulself baie daarvan bewaar. Gevolglik het ons baie meer werklike dokumentêre bewyse vir die Asteke en die Maya's as vir die meeste ander kulturele groepe in Midde -Amerika.

Die geskiedenis van Meso -Amerikaanse navorsing is gevul met kleurryke karakters met lewendige verbeelding. Die vroeë ontdekkingsreisigers was nie opgeleide argeoloë nie en kan dus verskoon word vir hul onbeteuelde entoesiasme en wilde bespiegelinge. Die laat 19de -eeuse skrywer Augustus Le Plongeon het homself daarvan oortuig dat die antieke Maya nie net volledig ontwikkel is uit die Verlore Kontinent van Atlantis nie, maar dat hulle die Maya -kultuur daarna na die Middellandse See teruggebring het. 'N Ander vroeë ontdekkingsreisiger, graaf Frederick Waldeck, het pre-Columbiaanse olifante oral in antieke Maya-ruïnes gesien. Hy het dus tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat die Maya's van olifante van hul voorouers moes geweet het, wat natuurlik per skip uit Afrika of Asië gekom het met vooraf kennis van olifante. Waldeck was so vaardig om olifante te ontdek dat hy hulle geskets het waar niemand anders iets kan sien wat soos 'n olifant lyk nie. Volgens sy teorie is die stamagtige neus van die reengod, Chac, aan die voorkant van die beroemde Codz-Pop of Palace of Masks in Kabah, Yucatan, omskep in 'n stam van 'n olifant. Net so sien sommige onlangse “ alternatiewe ” historici 'n man van Asiatiese kenmerke en die koppe van twee olifante met tulband -mahouts wat daarop leun op Stela B, 'n klipmonument in Copan, Honduras, gedateer na AD 731. In op hierdie gebied van ondersoek, ken die menslike verbeelding geen perke nie.

Die olifantteorie illustreer wat gebeur wanneer feit en fantasie lyne begin kruis. Daar is niks inherent onmoontlik aan die idee van pre-Columbiaanse trans-oseaniese reise nie. Voordat ons egter ongegronde bespiegelinge doen, moet ons ten minste eers na die beskikbare bewyse kyk.

Die oorblyfsels van twee keiserlike mammoete, saam met die vuursteen en obsidiaanse wapens wat gebruik is om hulle dood te maak en te slag, is gevind by Santa Isabel Iztapan in die wasbak van Mexiko, naby die toe moerasagtige kuslyn van die Texcoco -meer. Hierdie vondste dateer tans uit ongeveer 7700 tot 7300 v.C. Daar bestaan ​​dus geen twyfel dat die vroeë mens in Mexiko kennis gehad het met mammoete nie. Hoewel revisionistiese historici die bestaan ​​van mammoete en mammoetjagters in Midde -Amerika kan erken, gaan dit veel verder as die bewyse wanneer hulle beweer dat die Maya's modelle en uitbeeldings van olifante wat hulle uit Afrika of Asië saamgebring het, moes gebruik het. Alhoewel dit denkbaar is dat die Maya 'n soort stamgeheue van mammoetjag in die ou tyd behou het, volg dit egter nie dat enige van hul onmiddellike voorouers die oseaan oorgesteek het met kennis van Afrikaanse of Asiatiese olifante saam nie. Dit is tipies van die misleidende argumente wat pseudo-historici en pseudo-argeoloë gebruik het om hul oorsprongsteorieë te bewys.

Volgens die ortodokse akademiese opvatting het klein groepies jagters en versamelaars oor die Beringstraat gekruis via 'n brug tussen die Asiatiese en Noord -Amerikaanse kontinente tydens die ystydperk van Wisconsin, wat ongeveer 10 000 jaar gelede geëindig het. Presiese datums kan egter nie gegee word nie en skattings verskil baie. Hierdie algemeen aanvaarde teorie het ook sy beperkings, wat soms meer vrae laat ontstaan ​​as wat dit beantwoord. Maar op die oomblik kan hierdie verduideliking dit meer aanbeveel as wilde bespiegelinge en ongegronde teorieë oor verlore kontinente en beter verlore beskawings of besoekers uit die buitenste ruimte. Gevolglik is daar skerp meningsverskil tussen professionele argeoloë en sekere gewilde skrywers oor die vroeë bewegings van mense en die oorsprong van beskawings in die Amerikas. Alternatiewe of revisionistiese historici verwerp vinnig wat hulle as tradisionele of harde akademiese standpunte beskou op grond daarvan dat professionele geleerdes 'n gevestigde belang het om die waarheid te verberg vir die misleide publiek.

Boeke van Erich von Daniken, Graham Hancock, Robert Temple, Zecharia Sitchen en ander gewilde skrywers oor die oorsprong van beskawings en die mensdom verkoop miljoene eksemplare. Intussen het akademiese studies oor dieselfde onderwerpe noukeurig nagevors in navorsingsbiblioteke, ongelees behalwe deur ander spesialiste en heeltemal onbekend vir die algemene publiek. Die topverkoper-skrywers oor Meso-Amerikaanse onderwerpe trek voordeel uit hierdie feit. Wie wil deur 'n vaal tome ploeg op die keramiekvolgorde van Uaxactun as u kan lees hoe buitenaardse diere die cenote by Chichen Itza gebruik het as 'n lanseerplatform vir hul ruimteskepe? Persoonlik sou ek gefassineer gewees het as 'n verlate ruimteskip op 'n bergtop in Peru gevind sou word, maar totdat ek dit het, verkies ek om sin te maak uit die beskikbare bewyse.

Ter ondersteuning van hul teorieë oor pre-Columbiaanse trans-oseaniese reise, wys revisionistiese historici soms daarop dat nie al die skeletoorblyfsels van die vroegste menslike inwoners van die Amerikas van die streng Mongoolse tipe is nie. Dit word beskou as bewys dat verskillende rassetipes uit baie verskillende dele van die wêreld die Amerikas eeue voor Columbus bereik het. Dit daag natuurlik ook die Bering Straits -teorie uit. Dit is natuurlik 'n belangrike navorsingslyn wat geologie, paleontologie, fisiese antropologie en ander navorsingsgebiede insluit. Ons is egter hier hoofsaaklik besorg oor die oorsprong van die belangrikste beskawings van Midde -Amerika.

Meso -Amerikaanse navorsing het twee hoofrigtings ingeslaan: diffusionisme en onafhanklike uitvinding. As 'n wettige antropologiese term verwys “diffusionisme ” na die studie van die oorsprong van kulturele kenmerke en die verspreiding daarvan van die een samelewing na die ander. Die ekstreme weergawe is van mening dat alle kulture afkomstig is uit een hoofsentrum van hoë kultuur. 'N Meer redelike siening is dat daar meer as een groot kulturele sentrum of plek van herkoms was, maar dat interkulturele invloede mettertyd plaasgevind het. Onafhanklike uitvindingisme, aan die ander kant, is die siening dat die betrokke kultuur of beskawing, soos dié van die Classic Maya, min of meer onafhanklik ontwikkel het van enige groot invloed van buite. Enige eksterne invloed wat wel plaasgevind het, sou 'n minimale uitwerking op die ontwikkeling van die betrokke kultuur gehad het.

Hyper-diffusionisme ” is 'n uiterste vorm van diffusionistiese teorie. Dit is die benadering wat algemeen beskou word deur wat ons pseudo-argeoloë of pseudo-historici, navorsers en skrywers kan noem wie se teorieë oor die oorsprong van die Meso-Amerikaanse beskawings gebaseer is op niks meer as blote spekulasie en twyfelagtige manipulasie van die beskikbare bewyse nie. Ongelukkig vir die algemene publiek is baie van hierdie hiper-diffusioniste of alternatiewe historici nie net baie oortuigende skrywers nie, maar dit gee ook die indruk dat hulle die onderwerp noukeurig ondersoek het. By nadere ondersoek val die meeste van hul teorieë egter onder hul eie gewig uit, of het hulle eenvoudig geen konkrete bewyse om dit te ondersteun nie.

In deel twee gaan ons kyk na 'n paar spesifieke diffusionistiese teorieë oor die oorsprong van die Meso -Amerikaanse beskawings en die skrywers wat hierdie onortodokse opvattings het.


15 feite oor die Maya -beskawing

In Meso -Amerika vind u vandag uitgestrekte antieke stede met hoë piramides, balbane, sauna's, monumentale beeldhouwerke en raaiselagtige hiërogliewe - alles te danke aan die Maya's. Hier is 15 dinge wat u miskien nie weet van hierdie antieke beskawing nie.

1. HUL PIRAMIDTE EN STEDE WORD NOG ONTDEK.

Dit is ongelooflik om te dink dat iets so groot soos 'n piramide vandag argeoloë kan ontwyk. Maar dit was slegs 'n paar jaar gelede dat 'n meer as 1000 jaar oud Maya -piramide by Toniná in die Mexikaanse deelstaat Chiapas ontdek is. Dit was weggesteek onder 'n natuurlike heuwel. In 2015 het navorsers gesê dat hierdie nuutgevonde monument eintlik die hoogste piramide van Mexiko was, 75 meter hoog, wat die 213 voet-piramide van die son by Teotihuacan oortref. Die ruïnes van twee Maya -stede wat deur dik plantegroei versteek is, is ook onlangs in die staat Campeche in Mexiko ontdek.

2. HULLE WAS SJOKOLADEETERS.

Meer as 3500 jaar gelede het die Olmeke van Meso -Amerika waarskynlik die eerste mense geword wat besef het dat jy sjokolade met 'n bietjie werk kan gebruik, maar die Maya's het dit in 'n kunsvorm verander. Argeologiese bewyse dui daarop dat die Maya kakao minstens 2600 jaar gelede verwerk het, en die chemiese handtekeninge van kakao is gevind in Maya -keramiekvate in Guatemala wat dateer uit 600 vC. Maar die drank wat hulle geproduseer het, was nie soos die warm sjokolade wat ons vandag drink nie. Die Maya meng kakao met water, heuning, chilipepers, mieliemeel en ander bestanddele om 'n skuimige, pittige drankie te maak. Maya -kuns en hiërogliewe dui daarop dat die drink van kakao 'n belangrike deel was van vieringe en rituele, byvoorbeeld, die Dresden Codex toon 'n beeld van die voedingsgod K'awil wat 'n houer met kakaobone hou.

3. HULLE HET 'N GEKOMPLIKEERDE STELSEL VAN HIEROGLIEPE.

Maya -skrif, wat dateer uit die laat voorklasse (300 vC tot 100 CE), word bewaar op geboue, klipmonumente, skaars boeke en erdewerk. Terwyl woorde in die Engelse taal gevorm word met kombinasies van 26 letters, word geskrewe Maya -woorde gevorm uit verskillende kombinasies van meer as 800 hiërogliewe, wat elk 'n lettergreep verteenwoordig. Die stelsel word beskou as die mees gesofistikeerde in sy soort in Meso -Amerika. Slegs in die afgelope paar dekades het Mayaniste die vermoë gekry om die meeste glyfe te lees.

4. 'N TOevallige argeoloog het 'n MAYAANSE HANDSKRYF gebars.

Tatiana Proskouriakoff, 'n gebore Amerikaner in Siberië, is opgelei tot argitek. Toe sy nie werk in haar vak kon kry nie, het sy in die dertigerjare begin teken vir 'n kurator by die Penn Museum in Philadelphia, en sy is uitgenooi op 'n ekspedisie na die Piedras Negras Maya -werf in Guatemala. Ondanks haar gebrek aan formele akademiese opleiding, het Proskouriakoff uiteindelik 'n Mayanis in eie reg geword. In die middel van die 20ste eeu was daar nie baie vordering met die ontsyfering van Maya-glyfe nie. Dit het nie die sexyste titel nie, maar Proskouriakoff se koerant uit 1960 "Historical Implication of a Pattern of Dates at Piedras Negras, Guatemala" was 'n bom. Sy was die eerste om te erken dat die Maja se "opwaartse padda" -glyf geboorte voorstel en dat hul "tandpyn" -grafie die datum waarop die koning na die troon bestyg het, verteenwoordig, wat gelei het tot die identifisering van aankondigings oor geboorte en dood, asook die name van die heersers vir 'n Maya -dinastie.

5. DIE MAYA HET BOEKE GESKRYF ... EN DIE EUROPEENERS HULLE Gebrand.

Die Maya's het boeke in hul uitgebreide hiërogliewe skrif geskryf op lang repe duursame papier gemaak van die binneste bas van vyebome. Maar daar is slegs drie Maya -kodeks wat vandag oorleef: die Dresden Codex, die Madrid Codex en die Paris Codex. (Daar is ook die fragmentariese Grolier Codex, maar geleerdes betwis die egtheid daarvan.) Baie meer Maya -boeke het die slagoffer geword van die vogtige toestande van Meso -Amerika - of die aankoms van Europeërs wat doelbewus Maya -tekste vernietig het. Diego de Landa, 'n Fransiskaanse broeder uit Spanje wat in die 1540's in Yucatan aangekom het, beskryf so 'n toneel: 'Ons het 'n groot aantal boeke in hul briewe gevind en omdat hulle niks gehad het waarin daar nie bygeloof en leuens van die duiwel was nie, ons het hulle almal verbrand, waaroor hulle in 'n ongelooflike mate spyt was en wat hulle hartseer gemaak het. "

6. HUL KALENDER, TERWYL KOMPLEKS, HET DIE EINDE VAN DIE WORRELD NIE VOORSPEL nie.

Daar was baie gepraat in sekere paranoïese hoeke van die internet dat die oordeelsdag, soos voorspel deur die Maya -kalender, op 21 Desember 2012 sou kom. Die datum het gekom en gegaan en die apokalips het nooit gerealiseer nie, maar enige Mayanis kon dit vir u gesê het jy het niks om oor te bekommer nie. 21 Desember 2012 het pas saamgeval met die einde van 'n volle siklus van 5125 jaar in die Maya se sogenaamde Long Count-kalender. Hierdie kalender was indrukwekkend omdat dit nul as plekhouer gebruik het - een van die vroegste gebruike van nul as 'n wiskundige konsep in die geskiedenis. En dit was slegs een van die kalenders wat die Maya gebruik het. Hulle het ook 'n 260-dae heilige kalender, of Tzolk'in, wat gebruik is om godsdienstige seremonies te beplan, sowel as 'n 365-dae sonkalender, bekend as die Haab '.

7. HULLE HET MOOI INTENSE SKOONHEIDSREGIMME.

Die Maya's was nie tevrede met die aantrek van klere en grimering om hulself mooi te maak nie. In die kinderjare het mans en vroue hul koppe gebind om hul skedels kunsmatig te vervorm tot 'n langwerpige vorm, wat waarskynlik hul sosiale status aangedui het. Die Maya's het ook gate in hul voortande geboor en dit met jade, piriet, hematiet of turkoois ingelê. Hulle het basies die rooster uitgevind.

8. HULLE HET RITUELE KEWENS GENEEM.

Vir die Maya's was hallusinogene en bedwelmende middels die beste manier om met geeste te praat. Hulle drink stowwe soos balché, wat gemaak is met gegiste (en moontlik psigedeliese) heuning. Maar om vinniger dronk te raak en miskien om braking te vermy, het hulle moontlik alkohol en psigo -middels toegedien deur die rektale roete. Daar is baie tonele op Maya -erdewerk wat klysters in 'n rituele konteks uitbeeld. Navorsers wat die uitwerking van 'n ou rituele klysma in die tagtigerjare ondersoek het, het self geëksperimenteer en dit self probeer, en het gerapporteer dat hul resultate 'beslis die teoretiese suggestie ondersteun dat alkohol goed uit 'n klysma geabsorbeer word'.

9. HULLE HET MENSLIKE AFDELINGS BLOU GESKIL.

Die lewendige pigment, bekend as Maya Blue, het argeoloë al lank gefassineer omdat dit ongelooflik veerkragtig is en eeue lank op klipmonumente oorleef, selfs in die moeilike omstandighede van Meso -Amerikaanse oerwoude. Maar die vrolike kleur is ook in menslike offerande gebruik. Toe die Maya die reengod wou behaag, het hulle menslike offerandes blou geverf en hulle harte op klipaltare uitgesny of in die putte neergegooi.

10. HULLE WAARDEER 'N GOEIE SWEET.

Die Maya's het sauna-agtige strukture gebou uit klip of adobe wat vir gesondheidsdoeleindes en rituele reiniging gebruik is. Sweethuise is gevind op plekke soos Tikal in Guatemala en Joya de Cerén, 'n Maya -dorpie wat omstreeks 600 nC in El Salvador begrawe is. Die vroegste sweetbad is ontdek in Cuello, in die noorde van Belize. Op 3000 jaar oud is dit voor die beroemde baddens van die Romeinse beskawing.

11. HULLE HET EKSTRA SPORT SPEEL.

Ballcourts neem prominente vaste eiendom op in Maya-stede soos Chichen-Itza in Mexiko. Dit is waar die Maya 'n speletjie, bekend as pitz, opgevoer het. Spelers sou probeer om 'n swaar rubberbal (ongeveer so groot soos 'n voetbal) te slaag sonder om hul hande te gebruik terwyl hulle toerusting dra om hul ribbes, knieë en arms te beskerm. Die uiteindelike doel was om die bal deur 'n baie hoë klipring te kry. Die beoefening van die sport was nie juis 'n tydverdryf nie, maar eerder 'n belangrike ritueel, en verloor kan menslike opoffering tot gevolg hê. Volgens die Maya -skeppingsverhaal in hul epiese teks, bekend as Popol Vuh, lewe op aarde het eers moontlik geword nadat twee broergode die bonatuurlike here van die onderwêreld in 'n balspel verslaan het.

12. HULLE HET MAG TEMPELINGE VAN TURKIES.

Kalkoene, wat nou 'n simbool van Amerikaanse danksegging is, is moontlik eers deur die Maya makgemaak. Kalkoene is nie net vir voedsel gebruik nie; die Maya's het ook die voëls se dele soos bene en vere gebruik om waaiers, gereedskap en musiekinstrumente te skep. Mexikaanse kalkoenbene wat uit die Preklassiese Maya -periode dateer, is op die argeologiese terrein van El Mirador in Guatemala ontdek. Hierdie ligging was ver buite die omvang van die spesie in die natuur, en argeoloë het tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat die Maya's op hierdie stadium kalkoene mak gemaak het.

13. ARGEOLOGE BESPREEK NOG STEEDS WAAROM DIE BESKIWING IN AFSLUIT GEGAAN HET.

Die beskawing was regtig besig om sy hoogtepunt te bereik op die hoogtepunt van die Classic Maya -periode (300 tot 660 CE). Maar dinge het in die 8ste en 9de eeu begin suid loop. Maya -stede in die suidelike laaglande wat voorheen met bevolkings gespog het, is tot 70 000 mense verlaat. Wetenskaplikes en argeoloë het gewys op 'n verskeidenheid skuldiges om te verduidelik wat gebeur het, insluitend droogte, hewige aanvalle en oorlogvoering tussen Maya-stadstate, migrasie na die strand en oorbevolking, of miskien 'n dodelike kombinasie van die dinge.

14. HULLE HET NIE VERWYD NIE.

Sekerlik, baie van die groot Maya -stede was geheimsinnig verlate, maar die mense het nie verdwyn nie [PDF]. Die afstammelinge van die Maya's bestaan ​​vandag nog, baie van hulle woon in hul voorvaderlike tuislande, soos Guatemala, waar die Maya -mense eintlik 'n meerderheid van die bevolking uitmaak. 'Maya' is eintlik 'n sambreelterm vir baie verskillende inheemse etniese groepe wat verskillende Maya -tale soos Yucatec, Quiche, Kekchi of Mopan kan praat.

15. HULLE KUNSTE EN MONUMENTE IS OP RISIKO.

In Guatemala en Belize gebruik die inwoners blykbaar die woord huecheros- afgelei van die Maya -woord vir armadillo, of huech- om te praat oor mense wat argeologiese terreine buit. Onwettig opgegrawe vase, standbeelde en ander artefakte van Maya -terreine het die onwettige oudheidsmark binnegekom, en plunderaars se tonnels vernietig argeologiese terreine. In een opvallende voorbeeld is 'n piramide deur plunderaars in die Maya -stad Xultún in Guatemala in twee gesny. In sommige gevalle is die oudhede van Maya teruggekeer na hul land van herkoms. Die Denver -kunsmuseum het in 1998 'n gesnyde hout -vensterbank na Guatemala teruggegee toe die artefak uit El Zotz, 'n Maya -nedersetting net wes van die groot stad Tikal, geneem is.


Die Zapotec

Die Zapotec-beskawing het ontwikkel in die hedendaagse Mexiko en duur van ongeveer die 6de eeu v.G.J. tot die 16de eeu nC.

Leerdoelwitte

Verduidelik die kultuur, godsdiens, uitbreiding en ondergang van die Zapotec -beskawing

Belangrike wegneemetes

Kern punte

  • Die Zapotec -beskawing het sy oorsprong in die drie sentrale valleie van Oaxaca in die laat 6de eeu v.G.J.
  • Daar is vyf verskillende Zapotec -tydperke, aangedui met Monte Albán 1-5 (na die plek van herkoms).
  • Die Zapotec was politeïste wat 'n kalender en logosillabiese skryfstelsel ontwikkel het.

Sleutel terme

  • Mitla: Die belangrikste godsdienstige stad van die Zapotec -kultuur. Uitgebreide geboue en kunswerke toon die rykdom van godsdienstige lewe vir die Zapotec -elite.
  • Monte Alban: Die plek van herkoms vir die Zapotec -beskawing.
  • Cocijo: Die weerlig- en reëngod van die Zapotec -beskawing. Hy was die belangrikste van die godsdienstige figure en daar word geglo dat hy die heelal met sy asem geskep het.

Die Zapotec -beskawing het sy oorsprong in die drie sentrale valleie van Oaxaca in die laat 6de eeu v.G.J. Die valleie is verdeel tussen drie verskillende groot samelewings, geskei deur 'n niemandsland in die middel, vandag beset deur die stad Oaxaca. Argeologiese bewyse uit die tydperk, soos gebrande tempels en opgeoffer gevangenes, dui daarop dat hoewel die drie samelewings taalkundige, kulturele en godsdienstige tradisies gedeel het, hulle ook teen mekaar meegeding het.

Panorama van Monte Albán: Die uitsig vanaf die oorsprong van die Zapotec -heersers wat die mag verder uitgebrei het as die sentrale valleie van Oaxaca.

Vyf fases

Die staat Zapotec het by Monte Albán gevorm. Hierdie konsolidasie van mag het 'n uiterlike politieke uitbreiding begin tydens die laat Monte Albán 1 -fase (400–100 vC) en gedurende die Monte Albán 2 -fase (100 BCE - 200 CE). Zapotec-heersers van Monte Albán het beheer oor provinsies buite die vallei van Oaxaca oorgeneem met hul uitstaande militêre en politieke invloed, wat vinnig minder ontwikkelde plaaslike entiteite ingehaal het. Teen 200 CE, aan die einde van die Monte Albán 2 -fase, het die Zapotecs hul invloed uitgebrei, van Quiotepec in die noorde tot Ocelotepec en Chiltepec in die suide. Die godsdienstige en kulturele stad Monte Albán het die grootste stad geword in die huidige suidelike Mexikaanse hooglande. Hierdie magtige stad het hierdie status behou tot ongeveer 700 nC.

Monte Albán fases: Historiese Monte Albán -fases en die duur van elke fase.

Uitbreiding en afname

Tussen Monte Albán fase 1 en 2 was daar 'n aansienlike uitbreiding van die bevolking van die Vallei van Oaxaca. Namate die bevolking toegeneem het, het die mate van sosiale differensiasie, die sentralisering van politieke mag en seremoniële aktiwiteite toegeneem. 'N Ander uitwerking van hierdie bevolkingsopbloei en die politieke uitbreiding van die weermag tydens Monte Albán 1-2 is die ontwikkeling van gefragmenteerde, onafhanklike state. These areas developed regional centers of power with distinct leaders and linguistic dialects. However, the Zapotec rulers retained control over vast swaths of the region. Some archeologists argue that the building centered on the main plaza of Monte Albán contains depictions of elaborate heads, which represent the rulers of conquered provinces.

Jade warrior mask from Monte Albán: This jade replica illustrates the fierce military presence that initially expanded the Zapotec holdings during Monte Albán phase 2.

The Zapotecs were ultimately destroyed by Spanish invaders. Having lost militarily to the Aztecs in battles from 1497–1502, the Zapotecs tried to avoid confrontation with the Spaniards, and hopefully the tragic fate of the Aztecs. The Spaniards took advantage of this pacifist stance and ultimately defeated the Zapotecs after five years of campaigns ending in 1527. The arrival of new diseases and steel weapons also weakened any attempts at a revolt from the Zapotec population. There were some subsequent uprisings against the new rulers, but for all intents and purposes, the Zapotecs were conquered. However, the seven Zapotec languages, and hundreds of Zapotec dialects, still survive with populations that have spread throughout Mexico and also Los Angeles, California.

Zapotec Writing and Religion

The Zapotecs developed a calendar and a logosyllabic system of writing that used a separate glyph to represent each of the syllables of the language. This writing system is thought to be one of the first writing systems of Mesoamerica and a predecessor of those developed by the Maya, Mixtec, and Aztec civilizations.

Like most Mesoamerican religious systems, the Zapotec religion was polytheistic. Two principal deities included Cocijo, the rain god (similar to the Aztec god Tlaloc), and Coquihani, the god of light. These deities, along with many others, centered around concepts of fertility and agriculture. It is likely that the Zapotec practiced human sacrifices to these gods of fertility, and also played elaborate and ritualistic ball games in the court at Monte Albán. They also practiced dedication rituals, which cleansed a new space. Fine pieces of rare jade, pearl, and obsidian were found in a cache in Oaxaca, and were probably used to cleanse religious sites or temples upon the completion of construction.

The ball court at Monte Albán: A religious ball game utilizing a rubber ball was practiced throughout Mesoamerica by young men playing for sacred, and often sacrificial, purposes.

According to historic, as well as contemporary, Zapotec legends, their ancestors emerged from the earth or from caves, or turned into people from trees or jaguars. Their governing elite apparently believed that they descended from supernatural beings that lived among the clouds, and that upon death they would return to the same status. In fact, the name by which Zapotecs are known today results from this belief. The Zapotecs of the Central Valleys call themselves “Be’ena’ Za’a”—the Cloud People.

A funerary urn in the shape of a “bat god” or a jaguar: c. 300–650 CE. Height: 9.5 in (23 cm).

Mitla

Evidence of the central role of religion in the Zapotec cultural hierarchy is pronounced at the religious city of Mitla. It is the second most important archeological site in the state of Oaxaca, and the most important of the Zapotec culture. The site is located 44 kilometers from the city of Oaxaca. While Monte Albán was most important as the political center, Mitla was the main religious center, as evidenced by the elaborate buildings and artwork throughout the city. The name “Mitla” is derived from the Nahuatl name “Mictlán,” which was the place of the dead or underworld. Its Zapotec name is Lyobaa, which means “place of rest.” The name “Mictlán” was Hispanicized to “Mitla” by the Spanish.

Fretwork on a building in the religious capital of Mitla: This complex fretwork illustrates the religious importance of this ancient city in the Zapotec culture.

What makes Mitla unique among Mesoamerican sites is the elaborate and intricate mosaic fretwork and geometric designs that cover tombs, panels, friezes, and even entire walls. These mosaics are made with small, finely cut and polished stone pieces, which have been fitted together without the use of mortar. No other site in Mexico has this.


Postclassic

The Postclassic Period is that period roughly between the fall of the Classic period cultures and the Spanish conquest. The Classic period saw larger states and empires replaced by small polities of a central town or city and its hinterland, ruled by kings and a small hereditary elite based at palaces, a marketplace, and one or more temples.

Early Postclassic (900/1000–1250): The Early Postclassic saw an intensification of trade and strong cultural connections between the northern Maya area and Central Mexico. There was also a flourishing of a constellation of small competing kingdoms, that competition expressed by warfare-related themes in arts. Some scholars refer to the Early Postclassic as the Toltec period, because one likely dominant kingdom was based at Tula. Sites are located in Central Mexico (Tula, Cholula), Maya area (Tulum, Chichen Itzá, Mayapan, Ek Balam), Oaxaca (Tilantongo, Tututepec, Zaachila), and the Gulf Coast (El Tajin).

Late Postclassic (1250–1521): The Late Postclassic period is traditionally bracketed by the emergence of the Aztec/Mexica empire and its destruction by the Spanish conquest. The period saw increased militarization of competing empires across Mesoamerica, most of which fell to and became tributary states of the Aztecs, with the exception of the Tarascans/Purépecha of Western Mexico. Sites in Central Mexico are (Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Cholula, Tepoztlan), in the Gulf Coast (Cempoala), in Oaxaca (Yagul, Mitla), in the Maya region (Mayapan, Tayasal, Utatlan, Mixco Viejo), and in West Mexico (Tzintzuntzan).


Episode 52: The Precolumbian Civilizations of Mesoamerica

It’s become more and more widely known that, before first contact with Europe, the Americas were populated by advanced civilizations with complex systems of writing, government, and technological innovation. A number of these civilizations were clustered in the area known as Mesoamerica, which presented geographic difficulties for its inhabitants due to its harsh climate and environment, and yielding few natural resources. So, how did Mesoamerican civilizations thrive?

Guest Ann Twinam from UT’s Department of History discusses three of the major Mesoamerican civilizations: the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec (Mexica), and their once-forgotten contributions to human civilization.

Gaste

  • />Ann Twinam Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin

Hosts

  • />Joan Neuberger Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin

Let’s just start with a definition: what is Mesoamerica?

I think, broadly, we can define Mesoamerica as an area that includes Mexico and Central America. In that area, when we talk about pre-contact civilizations, we’re talking about the Olmec, the Maya, and the Aztec (as three of the major civilizations there are many others).

And when you say pre-contact, you mean before the Europeans arrived to the new world.

That’s right. I like to say that better than conquest.

Goed. Let’s start with the lay of the land. What are some of the key characteristics of geography, what kind of natural resources, and how did they shape Mesoamerica for the centuries before Europeans arrived?

I think that’s a great question. I think the first thing that you need to do is imagine the topography. One way is to think of Mexico and Mesoamerica is to imagine it as a 3D pyramid and then chop it off horizontally, about halfway down, and then look at it from the side. That’s kind of what Mexico looks like. In the center, we have this high plateau, with mountains that are running north and south, and then the sides of Mexico and Central America sort of slope downward to the sea level areas, including the ports of Veracruz on the Caribbean and Acapulco in the Pacific.

And why is the topography important? Has it had a historical impact?

The topography is critical because it meant that there were different resources in the highlands than on the coast. There were areas for trade and it brought about conquest as well. The central area, the high area, produced obsidian, which is really critical. It’s a black volcanic stone and it’s as sharp as surgical steel—so it was clearly an important trade artifact. And the lowlands produced seashells and feathers from tropical birds, and these were considered to be very valuable for rituals. Also, the topography is important because the mountains on that central plateau are running north and south. What that meant was that there was an easy corridor for tribes migrating southward. And the history of Mesoamerica is really the history of people on the move, as people are moving from north to south.

Another key characteristic, unlike what we’re familiar with in North America or the US, is the absence of navigable rivers. So it’s very difficult to move goods from one place to another. And this was made even harder because there were really no animal resources in Mesoamerica. There were no large domesticated animals. There were no beasts of burden. If you moved something in Mesoamerica, it moved either on the backs of men or in canoes if you were situated on a lake.

Colossal Olmec Head #1, Museo Antropológico de Xalapa, Veracruz

Let’s turn to talk about the people. What are the key groups of people or key civilizations of Mesoamerica?

There are many, but the three that I thought I’d talk about were the Olmec, the Maya, and the Aztecs. We can look at those in chronological order. One of the earliest Mesoamerican people were the Olmecs who arose during what we call the formative period, from about 1500 BCE to 400 BCE, and they established settlements both in the Mexican highlands and along the coast. And they’re really important — they’re called the Mother Culture of the Americas. They’re associated with a number of characteristics that then later passed on to other Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Maya and the Aztec. These included a lot of things: one was monumental sculpture. The Olmecs are known for their huge carved heads. These were six to fifteen feet high, they weighed tons, and they were very characteristic. They had slanted eyes, sort of squished noses, and flattened lips. If you see one, you know it’s Olmec.

They’re also known for their ceremonial complexes. The Olmecs were the first to build central places for worship with defined avenues. Another thing the Olmecs were known for was constructing some of the first pyramids. Later civilizations also had pyramids, although they looked somewhat different from the Olmec, who were the first.

They were also the first in sports. The Olmecs were the ones who started, or are associated with starting, the complex ball game that Mesoamerican peoples played. You would try to put a rubber ball through high hoops. These civilizations created ball courts for people to sit and watch these games. The first of these ceremonial complexes appears in the Olmecs.

The other thing the Olmecs did was count really well. We used to think it was the Maya, who lived centuries later, who invented the calendar, but now we know it originated with the Olmecs. They invented two calendars, the solar calendar of 365 days and the lunar one of 260 days. And every 52 years, the first day of a lunar and solar calendar coincided. This is critical because Mesoamerican peoples think in 52-year chunks, just as we think in decades or centuries, they think in fifty-two year chunks. So it was, we think, the Olmecs who begin to think about the fifty-two year chunk thinking, which also becomes very important later on for the Maya and even as important for the Aztecs. So this was another thing that they pioneered.

We used to think—the poor Maya are getting dissed here a bit—that the Maya developed writing, but now we know that it began with the Olmec too. These are important reasons, given their architecture, and their ball courts, and the calendar, why they are the Mother Culture of the Americas.

So did the Olmec civilization simply disappear? Did it merge into later cultures? Wat het gebeur?

Well, when we don’t know. Weknow a series of things that might of happened: peoples revolting, environmental reasons, in this case there might have been a volcanic eruption, there could have been climate change. It’s one of those mysteries we still haven’t solved.

Let’s turn then to talk about the second great group, the Maya. When did they become important, or when did they appear in Mesoamerica?

The Maya appeared around 0 BCE, and they were a pre-contact civilization, which is important, through 800, but unlike the Olmecs, the Maya continue to exist today. In modern Guatemala, in Mexico, in Yucatan, in Belize, and Honduras there are still people who descended from the Maya and who still speak Maya dialects.

Although picturesque, the Mayan site of Tulum, in the state of Quintana Roo, is actually small in comparison to major Maya sites such as Chichen Itzá or Uxmal.

And were they similar to the Olmecs? You talked about things that we thought were originated by the Maya, but were in fact older.

Ja. As I said, the Olmecs are the Mother Culture, but then later civilizations, like the Maya, also picked up some of these characteristic things. For example, just like the Olmec (perhaps even more impressive than the Olmec), the Maya built ceremonial centers. These are now, of course, important tourist sites like Uxmal and Chichen Itza and Tikal. However, the Maya pyramids are very distinctive from other Mesoamerican pyramids because they’re really steep and really narrow. But the Maya also had the same ball courts or had ball courts like the Olmec and they also used the same version of the Mesoamerican calendar. They too had this view of time and divided their chronology into these fifty-two year cycles. They innovated though in that they developed a way of counting back. So they counted each individual fifty-two year cycle as it went back. This is something called the long count, which made it possible for them to count back thousands of years in their history. And, of course it was these kinds of cycles and counting that we associated a few years ago with false worry that the Maya calendar predicted that the world was going to end in 2012. It was part of these cyclical counts that that idea arose.

So what happened was, after the classic Maya civilization collapsed around 900, although the Maya themselves didn’t disappear, they largely abandoned many of their ceremonial centers. And so when the Spanish arrived in the early 16c, although many of these centers still existed, the Maya themselves couldn’t read the writings on their codices, or the inscriptions that were carved throughout the temples or on their obelisks. Their history was effectively lost. As time went on, many of their centers were covered with jungle and trees. They were only discovered by explorers such as John Stevens in the early 19c. Or, more recently, infrared satellites have been used to try to locate Maya ruins. The first interpretations were essentially that they were the intellectuals of the Americas — and remember we gave them all these accomplishments, like writing and the calendar and all these things, which we now know they didn’t pioneer. But it was clear that they had a sophisticated form of writing. The theory developed that they were this peaceful, intellectual civilization with a particular interest in mathematics and astronomy. So one of the great challenges of the 20c, and actually still ongoing, was to try to decipher the Maya script and to find more about this civilization in their own words.

How has learning to read their texts changed what we know about them? What do we know about them now that we didn’t know before?

Well their lists told us everything. They told us their histories. We now know who their leaders were, we know about their wars, we know more about their religion. We know that, far from being the peaceful stargazers we thought, we now know they engaged in constant combat. Nor was their religion non-bloody or ethereal. They forwarded and continued this Mesoamerican propensity for offering blood as a gift for the gods—especially the Mayan nobles, both men and women. We have pictures of these we see them now in paintings of them doing this. They were expected to offer blood to the gods. The women often put spines through their tongues and blood would come and they would sacrifice the blood. Men had some instruments that allowed them to prick even more sensitive reproductive parts. You could look at those pictures as well. The Maya were not as peaceful or otherworldly as we previously thought. But they really pale compared to the more current understandings of the Mexica, or as we call them more commonly, the Aztecs.

So then when did the Aztecs appear, and how did they fit into this picture of civilizations in Mesoamerica?

The Aztecs are really part of this whole Mesoamerican theme—the theme of migration that I talked about, of migrating peoples, moving from north to south. We have in the Aztec codices, their history as they engaged in this migration. We know they moved down into the central valley and what was a lake system, which is now around Mexico City, around the 1320s. And this area was already settled by numerous other city-states. In the early years, the Aztecs were subordinate to these other city-states. Eventually they founded their capitol, Tenochtitlan, which was located on an island in the lake system. The center of Tenochtitlan is now modern Mexico City. Like the Olmecs and the Maya, the Aztecs built pyramids, ball courts, they had ceremonial centers, and they also used the fifty-two year calendar.

Circular calendar of the Mexica (Aztec), Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico City.

How were they different from the earlier peoples?

The Aztecs really were the most successful expansionists in the pre-contact period. They conquered from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean. They were demanding tribute from conquered populations. This of course is related to this idea that, as populations grew, and this was an environment where it was resource-scarce, the conquered civilizations would try to get food and other kinds of tribute flowing into the center to get their own population to grow. Conquest became an important part of Aztec history.

Of course what’s most well known about the Aztecs is that conquest went along with their practice of bloodletting. They carried it to the Mesoamerican extreme, transferring this to tens of thousands of people who were killed through human sacrifice. To understand why this happened: it’s a pretty gory thing to think the Aztecs were so involved in human sacrifice that sometimes tens of thousands of people could be killed as in one case, at the dedication of the great temple at Tenochtitlan. But you have to understand it from the Aztec perspective, from the Aztec religion or their view of where they were in the world. And sort of critical to this was their creation myth. The Aztecs believed the world had been created and destroyed four times before they had lived. They believed they lived in the fifth world that had been created they called it a sun. At the start of the fifth sun, according to their legends, the world was in darkness so the gods met to create the world. They asked one god to throw himself in the fire and let the world begin, but the god chickened out. So then they asked another god, and he was a lesser god, and so he finally threw himself into the fire so that the world might be created. Then the first god was ashamed so hy jumped into the fire as well. Then the story goes that the gods waited around the fire for the sun and the moon to rise, and when they didn’t, they asked why the two gods hadn’t turned themselves into the sun and the moon and created the new world. The gods said they were waiting for sacrifice. So as the legend goes, one by one the gods threw themselves into the fire and as they did so the sun and the moon began to rise and the world was created again. And this established the fundamental idea that sacrifice to the gods was essential to keep the world going first sacrifice of gods themselves and then later human sacrifice.

These were quite large-scale sacrifices. Who were the victims? What did they think of this? Where do they come from?

The victims came from various different groups. Many of them were warriors. When the Aztecs fought other city-states to demand tribute, they would fight to capture, not to kill. They would bring the victim back and he would be sacrificed on the pyramid. His body would then be thrown down the pyramid and his captor would engage in ritual cannibalism. This was a mutual kind of thing because if soldiers from Tenochtitlan were captured, they would also find themselves led up the pyramid of another city-state to be sacrificed. This was a very common practice in the Aztec areas of conquest.

And there were many who really believed in this. For example there was a famous warrior who taken captive and he was such a good soldier they agreed not to sacrifice him if he would fight for them. He agreed to do that for many years, but then he returned and asked to be sacrificed. There were other people sacrificed as well. Women were not taken up to the top of the pyramid. The Aztec sacrifice was particularly gory. They would use obsidian knives to cut out the living hearts of their victims and then offer the blood to gods. Women were not led up the pyramid that way. They usually did a dance at the bottom of the pyramid and then they would be beheaded. There were some particularly gory ceremonies where crying children were sacrificed to Tlaloc, who was the rain-god. When children cried it was assumed that was good.

Is there any sense in which the mass sacrifice of the population was connected with some kind of population control?

There have been a number of theories about that, but when you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense. If you really want to control population, you want to control the women who are producing young children. What you’re doing is sacrificing the warriors, who when they come back, are agriculturalists. So actually no, it didn’t make a demographic sense to sacrifice mostly men. You’re also sacrificing not your own people. You’re sacrificing people from the periphery.

So then what happens to the Aztecs? Do they die out before the Europeans come? Are they there?

Oh no, the Aztecs are fully there when the Europeans arrive. Tenochtitlan is a wonder. It is described in amazing detail by the conquistadors. Cortez was very lucky to be able to conquer Tenochtitlan. Some Spaniard would have done it eventually, given the technology that the Europeans had: the ability to move a lot of people across the Atlantic, the use of steel, horses. There were many advantages Europeans had, but that first band of conquistadors had to win every single battle. This again goes back to the human sacrifice. They had a lot Indian allies, allies on the coast, because what Cortez did was pick up many Indian groups who rejected the Aztecs, because they didn’t want to send people for human sacrifice. They saw the Spaniards as someone to ally with. So by the time Cortez arrives at Tenochtitlan, he has an army of thousands and thousands of Indian warriors as well as Spaniards.

OK, I have one final question. Is Quidditch the modern day version of the basketball game of Mesoamerica?


ANCIENT MAYA CIVILIZATION

The ancestral Maya dates back 4,000 years, around 2000 BCE. Major change all over Mesoamerica began after 2000 BCE in the Preclassic or Formative period. The Maya began as nomadic farmers and eventually transitioned to more settled life villages are known to have spread throughout the Maya lowlands by 1000BCE . By the Late Preclassic period (

300 BCE), regional centers had formed in the southern Maya lowlands.

For more on the Maya, check out some of these resources !

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The Lost Zapotec: Vibrant Mesoamerican Civilization of The Cloud People

In the Valley of Oaxaca, located in the Southern highlands of Mesoamerica, an indigenous, pre-Columbian civilization, known as the Zapotec civilization or the “Cloud People”, flourished around 2,500 years ago. They left behind impressive ruins and provided a lasting influence to the many cultures that superseded them.

During the Monte Alban 1 phase (400–100 B.C.), the Zapotec civilization began to form in the Oaxaca Valley. They were the largest indigenous group in Oaxaca, with populations reaching approximately 350,000 at their height. Members of the Zapotec civilization created and developed a powerful state system that went through periods of development and decline. The Zapotecs can be divided into three distinct groups - the Valley Zapotec (in the Valley of Oaxaca), the Sierra Zapotec (to the north), and the Southern Zapotec (in the south and east, near the Isthmus of Tehuantepec). The peoples were primarily peasant farmers, living in communities of approximately 5,000.

A funerary urn depicting a seated figure from the Zapotec culture – 100 -700 A.D. Wikimedia, CC

Altogether, the Zapotecs lived in farming villages, mountain settlements, scattered ranches, rural areas, and two urban centers, Juchitán and Tehuantepec. A typical Zapotec community contained government buildings, a place of worship, school buildings, dry-goods stores, and possibly a health building or clinic. Their houses were made of stone and mortar. The Zapotec were hunters, and were believed to have hunted antelope, deer, jackrabbits, squirrels, fox, rats, and quail. They did their hunting with darts and spears. They strategized hunting by disturbing bushes to drive squirrels and rabbits to a central location.

Detail of an ancient Zapotec mosaic. Publieke domein

The languages of the Zapotec civilization belong to an ancient family of Mesoamerican languages known as the Oto-manguean language family. Around 1,500 B.C., the Oto-manguean languages began to split off, creating differing languages across the regions. The Zapotec language is a tone language, which means that the meaning of a word may vary based upon the tone with which the word is spoken. Today, the Zapotec language is still heard in parts of the Northern Sierra, the Central Valleys, the Southern Sierra, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, along parts of the Pacific Coast, and in parts of Mexico.

The Zapotecs developed their own logosyllabic system of writing, which assigned a symbol to each syllable of their language. This is believed to be one of the first writing systems created in Mesoamerica, and a predecessor of the Mayas, Mixtec, and Aztec writing systems. Their writings were to be read in columns, from top to bottom. The Zapotec used their writing system to record important events in their civilization’s history. Archaeologists have found many Zapotec writings, but a number of them still remain to be deciphered.

The religion of the Zapotecs was polytheistic, with two primary deities. The deities included rain god Cocijo, and Coquihani, the god of light. Their lower-level deities were both male and female, often focusing on agriculture and fertility. The males wore breechclouts and capes, and the females wore skirts. There is some variation as to what the Zapotecs believed of their origins. Archaeological evidence suggests that they believed their ancestors emerged from the earth or caves, or that they formed from jaguars or trees. Alternatively, there is some indication that they believed to have descended from supernatural beings living among the clouds, a status they would return to upon death.

Mesoamerican sculpture, said to be a Bat God of the Zapotec religion. Publieke domein

The Zapotecs are an example of an ancient civilization that experienced periods of both thriving and struggling. There is no trace of a violent destruction, and the reason for their decline is unknown, although it occurred during a time of much conflict in the area. Their location was later adopted by the Mixtec as a sacred site, and royal burial location, and can still be visited to this day.


Relationship with Other American Civilizations

The Aztecs incorporated many elements from the cultures around them into their traditions. Their calendar was in use by others in the area before they arrived, but they refined and recorded it on huge, carved stones. Their calendar was based on a 365 day solar cycle they had learned about from earlier cultures. They also developed a second, 260 day calendar for their religious rituals which became widely used by neighboring people.

© Justin Ennis - Aztec Relief

Before the Aztecs civilization, the Toltec people had lived in the area and built pyramids, temples, and small cities. When the Aztecs took over, they continued using the pyramids and temples built by the Toltec culture, and they began worshiping some of the Toltec gods.

The Aztecs had a complex relationship with other groups of people in central Mexico. They adopted some of the ways of the older cultures who had been there before them. They also transformed traditions, religious beliefs, and technologies over time, creating a unique culture of their own.


Kyk die video: Meso Compounds