The differentiation of early periods i.
The initial phases of the Archaic involved the cultivation of wild plants, transitioning into informal domestication and culminating with sedentism and agricultural production by the close of the period. Following Toltec decline, a further period of unrest in the Late Postclassic Period lasted until , when the Aztec defeated the rival city of Azcapotzalco and became the dominant force in central Mexico. The three largest linguistic groups are the Mayan , the Otomanguean , and the Uto-Aztecan. The history of human occupation in Mesoamerica is divided into stages or periods. Most of the time following the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century is classified as the Colonial period. Political and religious institutions are traditionally bound together into a complex of hierarchically arranged yearlong offices through which adult males may attain status and power in the community. Mesoamerican Indian cultures have a common origin in the pre-Columbian civilizations of the area.
One important topographic feature is the Isthmus of Tehuantepeca low plateau that breaks up the Sierra Madre chain between the Sierra Madre del Sur to the north and the Sierra Madre de Chiapas to the south. Named clans and lineages have actually been reported in a few present-day Tzeltal Mayan communities.
Start Your Free Trial Today Social, political, and religious institutions The basic social and economic unit of Mesoamerica is the extended family of two to four generations.
These sub-regions are more conceptual than culturally meaningful, and the demarcation of their limits is not rigid.
Inherited names are now most commonly of Spanish origin, but native surnames are known among some Mayan groups. Progress through the ranks typically involves an alternation between civil and religious offices.
His definition was based on geographic limits, ethnic composition, and cultural characteristics at the time of the conquest. Otomangueans are to be found in a wide area of Mesoamerica between Uto-Aztecan peoples to the north and east and Mayan and other peoples to the south. The bulk of the population resided in hamlets or on individual farms most of the year, moving to town residences only for short periods either to transact business or to participate in religious festivals. Such distinctions are made in a few Mayan and Zoque communities, and they are common immediately north of Mesoamerica. These are known, with slight variation depending on region, as the Paleo-Indian , the Archaic , the Preclassic or Formative , the Classic , and the Postclassic. Struggles for control of this rich but limited farmland resulted in a dominant landowning class that shaped the first great Mesoamerican civilization, the Olmec. Mesoamerican religion is a complex syncretism of indigenous beliefs and the Christianity of early Roman Catholic missionaries. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:.
Mesoamerican Indian. However, at this site, as well as in the Valley of Mexico, the Olmec presence can be widely detected. San Lorenzothe oldest known Olmec centre, dates to about bce, a time when the rest of Mesoamerica was at best on a Neolithic level.
Bodies of water[ edit ] Outside of the northern Maya lowlands, rivers are common throughout Mesoamerica.
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