12OlmecJadite mask, 10th-6th C. BCECentralized along the Gulf Coast of Mexico around the modern city of Veracruz, the Olmec culture appeared as early as 1500 BCE and lasted until about 400 BCE. The Olmec are the first of the great Mesoamerican civilizations. They laid the foundations for those that followed.
13Olmec: the first Mesoamerican high civilization, 1500–400 BCE Olmec: the first Mesoamerican high civilization, 1500–400 BCE. Map shows Olmec sites of influence and (right) Colossal Head, one of 10 Olmec heads, four at San Lorenzo in Veracruz, Mexico, over 9ft high, Early Pre-classic, c BCE.
14Olmec culture. The yellow dots represent ancient habitation sites; the red dots represent artifact finds.
15Olmec head: (left) excavation, Veracruz, ca 1942; (below) at Anthropological Museum, Xalapa. The largest of the colossal heads is over 9’ high and weighs more than 25 tons, made of basalt, a stone that was brought from the Tuxtla mountains. (upper right) National Geographic artist rendering of transportation of colossal head.
17Kunz Axe, Mexico, Olmec, 800-500 BCE, Jade, American Museum of Natural History, New York City
18(left) Olmec ”Wrestler,” basalt figure of a bearded man, Veracruz, 26” H National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City (right) Olmec, Las Limas Monument, greenstone, “priest” holding Rain God deity from Las Limas, Veracruz, Middle Preclassic period, 21.5” high. Knees and shoulders incised - profile heads of four Olmec gods with cleft heads: considered Olmec Rosetta Stone, but all assertions of meaning are speculation.
19Right shoulder Right leg Left shoulder Left leg Las Limas Monument shows an androgenous youth holding a were-jaguar infant. The tatoo-like incised dieties (below) on shoulders and knees are thought to represent the Olmec pantheon. The four supernaturals show several common Olmec motifs, in particular the cleft head.Right shoulderRight legLeft shoulderLeft leg
20Olmec culture, San Lorenzo, first site, Early Preclassic, (c Olmec culture, San Lorenzo, first site, Early Preclassic, (c.1000 BCE) drainage system has been compared with Nile civilizations of Egypt
21Olmec, north end of Altar 5 at La Venta Olmec, north end of Altar 5 at La Venta. Two adult figures carry were-jaguar babies
29Olmec carved jade and serpentine figures and celts (ceremonial hand axes) and figures, excavated at a corner of a basalt courtyard, La Venta, figurines (found arranged as a tableau) are c. 8”H; celts are 9” to 10” H. Cranial deformation, loincloths, half-open mouths with deformed teeth
30Olmec “frontier”: hollow figures, white slipped ceramic, all 11-16” H, Early Formative ( BCE) Later Mesoamerican cultures induced crossed eyes during infancy – sign of beauty and elegance
31Olmec, "Hollow baby" white ware figure, c Olmec, "Hollow baby" white ware figure, c BCE, Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México
33Teotihuacán ["the place where one becomes a god“] looking down the Avenue of the Dead from the Pyramid of the Moon; map of Teotihuacán heartland and area of influence. C AD
34Teotihuacán with archaeological map showing distinct quarters of the city occupied by Otomi, Zapotec, Mixtec, Maya and Nahua peoples.
35(left) The so-called Great Goddess, largest finished free-standing monument, found at Teotihuacán in front of the Pyramid of the Sun, Early Classic period,10 ft high; (right) Stone mask, Early Classic, shell, obsidian and malachite mosaic
36Teotihuacán ceramics: (left) tripod vase with sgraffito (“cloisonné) design of Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent) CE; (right) sgraffito vessel with Tlaloc (rain/storm god) usual goggle-shaped eyes and fanged mouth. Cloisonné pottery involves coating the vessel's surface with a lime stucco-like substance then applying colors between incised lines.
37Teotihuacán, Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent), exterior sculptural decoration, Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the major temple structure within the administrative ceremonial center believed to have been built ca. 200/250 C.E. by a powerful ruler of Teotihuacán
38Burial of warriors sacrificed at the dedication of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, Teotihuacán, c CE. Note human mandibles and maxilla necklaces and spear heads
39Teotihuacán, Patio of Quetzalpapalotl (Quetzal-Butterfly”) Palace, with year symbol roof carvings; (below right) mural in true fresco technique showing Tlaloc (rain god) and (left) a artist's reconstruction of the "Tlalocan" (paradise of the rain god) fresco
45“Toltec” in Nahuatl means master builders. The Toltec formed a warrior aristocracy that gained ascendancy in the Valley of Mexico c.900 CE after the fall of Teotihuacán. A period of southward expansion began c.1000 and resulted in Toltec domination of the Maya of Yucatan from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
46Toltec site of Tula, State of Hidalgo, Mexico, with ruins of Pyramid B and colossal 15 ft. high Atlantean columns of warriors ready for combat with atlatl (spear thrower) at side, butterfly pectoral, and drum headdress
47Toltec, Tula Atlantes, Pyramid B Toltec, Tula Atlantes, Pyramid B. Temple roof supports carved as Toltec warriors (back view). (below) Tula stone bas-reliefs from Coatepantli (Serpent Wall), carvings of human skull in the jaws of a snake. At its apogee Tula covered 5.4 sq. miles and contained a population of 30,000 – 40,000
48Toltec, 10th -12th Century, CE) stone “chacmool” (red jaguar) from Tula, only complete one of seven at site, Post-Classical period
49Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, Temple of the Warriors, Early Post-classic ( CE). Toltec-Maya. Note Chacmool figure at top and colonnades that once supported a roof. Compare withToltec Pyramid B at Tula.
50Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, Temple of the Warriors, Early Post-classic. Toltec-Maya. Chacmool figure at topPhoto courtesy Joel Swonsen
51Toltec, Tula, plumbate-ware jar covered with mother-of-pearl and other shell mosaic. Supposed depiction of Quetzalcoatl emerging from the jaws of a feathered coyote
53and the great Toltec diaspora The ruin of Tula, 1150 CEand the great Toltec diasporaNahuatl poem:Everywhere there meet the eye,Everywhere can be seen the remains of clay vessels,Of their cups, their figures,Of their dolls, of their figurines,Of their bracelets,Everywhere are their ruins,Truly the Toltecs once lived here
55Aztec Empire in 1519; (right) Aztec Eagle Warrior, hollow, life-sized ceramic recovered from the Great Temple excavations. According to legend, Azteca (Mexica) tribe entered central Mexico from “Aztlan” in AD 1111.
56Aztec, Tenochtitlán: (right) Hernán Cortés, “Map of Tenochtitlan,” 1524, for Charles V of Spain. There were three major causeways that ran from the mainland into the city which was divided into four districts and populated by 150,000 – 200,000 people. In 1521, Cortez demolished the ceremonial center during the course of the longest continuous battle ever recorded in military history.“The city is spread out in circles of jade,Radiating flashes of light like quetzal plumes,Beside it the lords are borne in boats:Over them extends a flowery mist.”Aztec poem
57Aztec, Codex Mendoza, 1542, early colonial period, made for Antonio de Mendoza, the Viceroy of New Spain. This image illustrates the founding of Tenochtitlán in 1325 and and the conquest of Colhuacan and Tenayucan. The eagle is the sun, associated with Huitzilopochtle, the Mexica’s patron deity. The cactus may represent the human heart eaten by the sun god, Huitzilopochtle. Male figures are probably founders of Tenochtitlan, including Tenuch in the left quadrant years of Tenuch’s rule indicated by the blue squares in the marginFlag of Mexico
58Codex Mendoza, Folio 60, Punishments and Chores of Children Ages 11 to 16. The codex contains 72 annotated pictorial pages and 63 pages of related Spanish commentary. Part III, “The Daily Life Year to Year,” where this page appears, has no known prehispanic prototype.
60Codex Mendoza tribute list Codex Mendoza tribute list.The Aztecs received tribute from 371 city states. In 1430 the Mexica joined the Acolhua of Texcoco and the Tepaneca of Tlalaco to form the Aztec Triple Alliance. For more pages:
61Aztec, Templo Mayor (Great Temple); (right) excavation site in 1978 the heart of the sacred precinct in their capital city, Tenochtitlán (now in Mexico City). Only the base remains of what was once a massive double pyramid, which represented the hill where Huitzilopochtli (wee-tsee-loh-poch'-tlee), the god of god of war and of the sun, of the Aztec origin myth, was born
63Aztec, colossal stone relief of Coyolxauhqui (coh-yohl-shau'-kee, Moon Goddess) from Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, Late Post-Classic, c 11ft w; Coatlicue (Serpent Skirt), the earth goddess who gave birth to the Aztec deity, Huitzilopochtli, stone, 8 ft. h
64Aztec Calendar Stone from the Great Temple, Late Post-Classical period Aztec Calendar Stone from the Great Temple, Late Post-Classical period. The monolithic sculpture was excavated in the Zócalo, Mexico City's main square, on December 17, Measuring about 12 ft in diameter, 4 ft in thickness, and weighing 24 tons, the original basalt version is on display at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. It contains a hieroglyphic and pictographic layout of how the Aztecs measured time, and is thought to have been used for ritual sacrifice to Huitzilopochtle.
66January 17, 2011 news: Negotiations conducted for 3 years by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Institute of Anthropology and History before the Austrian Government, are about to reach a historical agreement that would bring the spectacular headdress, probably worn by Moctezuma II to Mexican territory.
67On display in Vienna, 2012Detail showing gold and turquoise