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Central American Civilizations. Major Central American Cultures  OLMEC ca. 1200-300 bce  ZAPOTEC ca. 500 bce- 1000 ce  TEOTIHUACAN flourished 100-650.

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Presentation on theme: "Central American Civilizations. Major Central American Cultures  OLMEC ca. 1200-300 bce  ZAPOTEC ca. 500 bce- 1000 ce  TEOTIHUACAN flourished 100-650."— Presentation transcript:

1 Central American Civilizations

2 Major Central American Cultures  OLMEC ca bce  ZAPOTEC ca. 500 bce ce  TEOTIHUACAN flourished ce  MAYAN  Preclassic 2000 bce-100 ce  Classic ce  Postclassic 900 ce-1500 ce  TOLTEC ce  AZTEC ce

3 Olmec ca bce

4 Olmecs  Established the first major Mesoamerican civilization.  Often regarded as the Mother Culture of later Middle American civilizations,the Olmec people called themselves Xi  First to use stone architecturally and sculpturally  Clever mathematicians and astronomers who made accurate calendars  Highly developed technical skills  magnetic compass  skill with iron ores  complex drainage system  First writing in North America

5 Lord of the Two Scrolls  Monumental sculptures and ruins suggest a highly stratified society with rulers, administrators, engineers, foremen and a large peasantry  Destruction and burial of monuments and sculpture suggest the need to harness uncontrolled power

6 Olmec heads glorified the rulers when they were alive and commemorated them as revered ancestors after death Made of basalt, they range from 5 to 11 feet high Quarried stone needed to be transported 65 miles from Tuxtla Mts. via log rollers, wooden sleds and rafts

7 Olmec Religion  Olmecs recognized at least 10 gods including a jaguar god, a serpent god, a fire god, a rain god, a corn god, and the Feathered Serpent  Prodigious offerings were given in the form of mosaic pavements of jaguar masks, jade sculptures, and possibly human sacrifices  Four ceremonial sites uncovered:  San Lorenzo ca bce  Laguna de los Cerros ca bce  La Venta ca bce  Tres Zapotes ca. 300 bce

8 Shamanism  The most well-known aspect of shamanism in Mesoamerican religion - and in the whole of Native American shamanism - is the ability to assume the powers of animals associated with the shaman.  Such animals are called nahuales, and in Olmec art the most common of these is the jaguar.  The spirituality and intellect of man and the ferocity and strength of the jaguar are all combined in the shaman and his jaguar nahuale. The Jaguar Child may exemplify this combination. This is a very common representation in Olmec art, and it often includes.slitted eyes and a curved mouth.

9 Olmec influence on Central-American Civilizations  Art  Religious symbolism  Hieroglyphic writing  Bar and dot numbering system  Calendar  Bloodletting ritual  Ball game Olmec Glyph shows the World Tree sprouting out of Creation Mountain

10 Zapotecs ca. 500 bce-1000 ce  Carried on traditions of Olmecs  Ruled by powerful aristocrats  Aggressive conquerors  Human sacrifice  Developed hieroglyphic script to record conquests  Fast and dangerous ball game  First great stone pyramid builders in Central America  Center of civilization at Monte Alban  Agriculture nurtured by extensive irrigation systems led to great population growth

11 Teotihuacan flourished ce  Named by the Aztecs: place of the gods  Writing and language did not survive  Primary manufacturing center of Central America: obsidian Pyramids of the Sun and Moon

12 MAYANS  Although there was never such a thing as a Mayan Empire, the diverse peoples and politico-religious formations that in the past occupied Yucatán and modern day Belize, Chiapas, Guatemala and Honduras, all had common cultural characteristics:  a highly developed calendar  a rich complex writing system, and sophisticated mathematics.  Archeologists and historians recognize several periods in the history of these cultures:  Preclassic 2000 bce-100ad  Classic ad  Postclassic 900 ad-1500 ad

13 Mayan Royal Audience Mayan Ball Game

14 Mayan Hieroglyphics  The unit of the Maya writing system is the glyphic cartouche, which is equivalent to the words and sentences of a modern language.  Maya cartouches included at least three or four glyphs and as many as fifty.  There is no Maya alphabet.  Writing considered to be a sacred gift from the gods.  Knowledge of reading and writing was jealously guarded by a small elite class, who believed that they alone could interact directly with the gods

15 The Maya wrote using 800 individual signs or glyphs, paired in columns that read together from left to right and top to bottom. Maya glyphs represented words or syllables that could be combined to form any word or concept in the Mayan language, including numbers, time periods, royal names, titles, dynastic events, and the names of gods, scribes, sculptors, objects, buildings, places, and food. the sky, an ahau (king), a house, a child, and the city of Palenque. Glyphs representing, from left to right:

16 Codices  Maya glyphs were also painted on codices made of either deer hide or bleached fig- tree paper that was then covered with a thin layer of plaster and folded accordion- style.  Record rituals, chronologies and important events.  Most were burned by the Spanish during the 16th c. 4 Extant Codices: Dresden, Madrid, Paris, Grolier

17 Toltec ca ce  The Toltecs, a Nahuatl-speaking people, ruled much of Maya central Mexico from the 10th-12th centuries ad.  About AD 900 they sacked and burned the great city of Teotihuacan. They formed a number of small states of various ethnic origins into an empire later in the 10th century.  Last dominant Mesoamerican culture before the Aztecs, and inherited much from Maya civilization.  The Toltec capital was at Tula  The most impressive Toltec ruins are at Chichen Itza in Yucatan, where a branch of Toltec culture survived beyond the civilization's fall in central Mexico.

18 Chichen Itza: Chac-Mool  The advent of the Toltec marked the rise of militarism in Mesoamerica.  They were also noted as builders and craftsmen and have been credited with carved human and animal standard-bearers, and peculiar reclining Chac-Mool figures.  Beginning in the 12th century the invasion of the nomadic Chichimec: among the invaders were the Aztec, or Mexica, who destroyed Tula about the mid-12th century. Tula: Toltec Warriors

19 Aztecs ce  Aztecs came into the Valley of Mexico during the 12th and 13th century A.D., and rose to be the greatest power in the Americas by the time the Spaniards arrived, in the 16th century.  According to myth, Huitzilopochtli told Tenoch to lead his people to a place of refuge on a swampy island in Lake Texcoco. When they reached their destination, they were to look for an eagle perched on a cactus.  At that location, they were to build their city and honor Huitzilopochtli with human sacrifices. The city they built was called Tenochtitlán: the city of Tenoch. Aztec Calendar Stone

20 Offerings to the Gods Images of the gods Huehueteotl-Xiuhtecuhtli, together with Tlaloc, presided over most of the offerings found in the Templo Mayor. Representing fire and water respectively, this pair of deities probably symbolized the concept of "burning water," a metaphor for warfare

21 Human Sacrifice  Human sacrifice was conducted on a sacrificial stone, a flint knife and a recipient to deposit heart offerings, called cuauhxicalli.  Invested with great importance because it was a way to insure that life follow death, mirroring nature  By way of human sacrifice, the most precious thing in life was offered, namely blood and life itself, so that by way of death arose life anew.


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