History of México)
earliest recorded period of Mexico's history
before the year 1519 and the arrival of the Spanish.
E S O A M É R I C A
Spanish explorers first arrived in Mexico in 1519, an estimated
10 million Indian inhabitants were already here. And they had
an organized social structure - a true civilization - that
was over 3,000 years old. This civilization was a force to
be reckoned with. The Spanish quickly realized that it couldnt
be swept aside. So they built their Colonial empire upon the
existing Indian culture. Which is why Mexico's past wasn't
erased. Instead, the Indian culture merged with Spain's. The
result is that there are over 20 million Native Mexicans here,
speaking nearly 60 languages and dialects. And they are all
descendants of these ancient civilizations.
Mother Tribe to all Mexican Indians - their name means "rubber",
for which they are responsible for discovering. They were a theocratic society
- god centered, their main god was a jaguar. The Olmecs (1200 B.C. until 200
A.D.), Mexico's first established culture, developed in the coastal states
of Veracruz and Tabasco. This was a particularly influential culture, since
subsequent groups borrowed heavily from the Olmec's religious, architectural
and artistic traditions. Despite the absence of a local supply of stone, they
developed massive buildings (La Venta, San Lorenzo, Tres Zapotes). They also
created an advanced calendar that included the concept of zero. This culture
is particularly mysterious, since we know little about its origin, political
structure, or reason for disappearance.
Located 30 miles northeast of Mexico City - the name means "place of the
gods" abandoned almost three thousand years before the Aztecs arrived. Main
buildings: Pyramid of the Sun (built over a cave), Pyramid of the Moon,
Temple of Quetzalcoatl (covered with imagery of Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc - god
of rain) and the street of the dead. The city was completely in line with the
planet Venus. Quetzalcoatl (lord of peace) - was the feathered serpent god,
his human form was light skin and a light complexion, had a long beard and
hair. He gave the people fire and hated human sacrifice. He got into a fight
with Tezcatlipoca-Smoking Mirror-and he lost and was banished from Mexico,
but he said that he would return on his birthday the first year of the reed.
He was last seen leaving Mexico in a boat-sailing to the east from Veracruz.
His birthday occurs once every 52 years.
First appearing in about 1200 B.C. this culture developed in three distinct
periods, each corresponding to a different region of Central America and
Mexico. The Mayan are most noted for their complex systems of mathematics
and astrology, prolific city-building and Baroque architecture. By 1400
A.D. the Mayan state had splintered and almost disappeared, leaving an
incredible collection of ceremonial centers and ancient cities.
sacred book of the Mayans "Popul Vuh" The Popol Vuh tells
of: creation, flood, monkeys used to be men, the Hero Twins, Xibalba,
Ballgames. The sacred tree of the Mayans was the Ceiba tree. The
Mayan Calendar is off one day out of every 3,333 1/3 days. The
Mayan Number System was a base of 20 Hieroglyphics:
Dot = one
Line or bar = five
Shell = zero
The religious calendar and sun calendar together made up the 52 year cycle
- very important in all Indian cultures of Mexico.
Sun Calendar = 18 months of 20 days (+ 5 unlucky or sacred
Religious calendar = 13 of 20 days
Together = 52 year cycle
Chichen-Itza - in the state of Yucatan has many Toltec
influences and is the only Mayan city with a Chac-Mool. Toltec Influence:
Serpent Columns, Chac-mool, Temple
of the Warriors (with the 1,000 Columns of 16 ft tall warriors) The Temple
of Kukulcan - Quetzalcoatl has a descending staircase on the spring
equinox-March 21 (It has 4 sides of 91 stairs).
built like a fortress, walled-off by the cliff overlooking the
pacific ocean on the Yucatan peninsula.
Zapotecas / Mixtecas
in the valley of Oaxaca in around 900 B.C. the Zapotecs were great
city builders and artisans who created notable temples, burial chambers,
pottery, and metal work. The Mixtec culture conquered the Zapotecs
and developed around Mitla and Yagul. They revived Monte Alban, though
it was only used as a site for burial tombs. By the early 1400's
the Mixtecs became vessels of the mighty Aztec empire. These two
cultures continue their existence today in the State of Oaxaca, which
is inhabited by some 2 million of their descendants.
mighty warriors occupied the northern reaches of the Valley of Mexico
from around 950-1300 a.d. They built one of Mexico's most impressive
cities - Tula
and were master craftsmen. The Toltecs went to war with the Mayans
and eventually defeated them, creating a cross Toltec-Mayan religion
and society. The Toltecs are believed to have developed the art of
melting metals (metalurgica), like silver and copper.
This civilization dominated Mexico for nearly 200 years (1345-1521) and was
flourishing when Spanish conquerors arrived in 1519. The Aztecs used an
elaborate system of taxing and patronage to subjugate an enormous empire
that stretched well into Central America. They too were master builders and imitators
of Mexico's previous cultures. They borrowed heavily from their Olmec, Toltec,
and Mayan predecessors to develop a complex linguistic, religious, artistic,
architectural and military heritage. The mighty empire came to a sudden and
tragic end in 1521, though much of its influence is still evident today in
the culture of the Central Plateau region.
Texcoco Tenochtilan - "place of the cactus"
El Calendario Azteca - "La Piedra del Sol" - 12 ft high and weighting
After the fall of the Aztec capital
Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) in 1521, Spain embarked on a period
of exploration and conquest to consolidate its control of the
rest of Mesoamerica. Millions of natives fell victim to western
disease, for which they had no resistance.
and the Catholic church imposed their authority to create an
economy that reflected many of the worst features of colonialism
and religious authoritarianism (including the Inquisition). Spain
and its European creditors derived tremendous wealth from their
Indian work force, which worked on enormous agricultural estates
and huge mining operations. Colonial society was broken into
a tight caste system reminiscent of European feudalism.
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