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Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs

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“Masterly. . . . The complexities of Mexico’s ancient cultures are perceptively presented and interpreted.” —Library Journal

Michael D. Coe’s Mexico has long been recognized as the most readable and authoritative introduction to the region’s ancient civilizations. This companion to his best-selling The Maya has now been revised by Professor Coe and Rex Koontz.

The seventh edition incorporates new findings in a number of disciplines. The solution to the long-standing puzzle of the origin of maize-farming has at last been solved, and spectacular new discoveries shed light on Mexico’s earliest civilization, the Olmec culture. At the great city of Teotihuacan, recent investigations in the earliest monumental pyramid indicate the antiquity of certain sacrificial practices and the symbolism of the pyramid. Expanded information on the Huastec region of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico is included, while discoveries in the sacred precinct of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan have led to a refined understanding of the history and symbolism of this hallowed area.

ISBN-13: 9780500841785

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Publication Date: 09-17-2019

Pages: 272

Product Dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Michael D. Coe is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University. His books include The Maya, Mexico, Breaking the Maya Code, Angkor and the Khmer Civilization, and Reading the Maya Glyphs. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut. Javier Urcid is the Jane’s Chair Professor of Latin American Studies at Brandeis University, where he teaches archaeology, material culture, and Mesoamerican civilizations. Rex Koontz is Professor of Art History at the University of Houston and Consulting Curator of Ancient American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He has written widely on ancient Mexican art, architecture, and aesthetics.

Table of Contents

Preface 6

1 Introduction 8

The Geographic Setting 10

Languages and Cultures 14

Periods 15

2 Early Hunters 17

The First Americans 18

Tools of the First Hunters 19

Landscapes of the Early Hunters 21

Hunting in the Basin of Mexico 23

3 The Archaic Period 25

The Desert Culture in North America 26

The Origins of Mexican Cultivated Plants 26

The Importance of Maize 27

Other Cultigens 29

Caves and Rockshelters rusted with of Northeastern Mexico 30

Santa Marta Rockshelter 31

The Tehuacan Valley and Early Domestication 32

Other Archaic Sites 35

The Origins of Settled Life 36

4 The Formative Period: Early Villagers 37

The Early Formative in Chiapas 39

Early Formative Villages in Oaxaca 40

The Site of Tlatilco 41

Established Villages of the Middle Formative 46

Late Formative Cultures of the Central Highlands 48

The Mezcala Puzzle 51

The Shaft-Tomb Art of Western Mexico and the Teuchitlan Tradition 52

5 The Formative Period: Early Civilizations 57

Defining a Civilization 57

The Olmecs 58

The San Lorenzo Olmecs 65

El Manati 73

The Middle Formative Olmecs of La Venta 74

Chiapa de Corzo: a La Venta Outlier? 80

Tres Zapotes and the Long Count Calendar 80

The Olmecs beyond the Heartland 83

Early Zapotecs 89

Building L-Sub at Monte Albán 90

Building J at Monte Albán 93

Later Life of San José Mogote 95

The Rio Verde Drainage in Coastal Oaxaca 96

Izapa 99

La Mojarra and the Isthmian Script 101

6 The Classic Period 102

The Great Urban Centers 102

Teotihuacan 104

The Great Acropolis of Cholula 126

Cerro de las Mesas and Classic Veracruz 129

Classic Monte Albán 132

The Classic Downfall 140

7 The Epiclassic Period 141

The Maya Connection: Cacaxtla and Xochicalco 141

The Mixteca Baja and the Ñuiñe Script 151

Tula Chico 154

Cantona 154

El Tajin 156

Central Veracruz 161

Central Oaxaca 164

The Pacific Littoral of Guerrero and Oaxaca 168

Guanajuato and Northwestern Mexico 170

The End of the Epiclassic 173

8 The Post-Classic Period: The Toltec State 174

A Time of Troubles 174

The Chichimeca of Northern Mexico 176

Tula and the Toltecs 177

The Toltec Annals 177

Archaeological Tula 180

Tula and Chich'en Itza 189

9 The Post-Classic Period: Rival States 192

Late Zapotec Culture at Mitla 192

The Royal Houses of the Mixteca 194

The Huastec 200

The Tarascan Kingdom 204

Casas Grandes and the Northern Trade Route 207

10 The Aztecs 208

The Rise of the Aztec State 208

The Consolidation of Aztec Power 211

The Island City 213

Aztec Society 217

The Long-Distance Merchants 219

Becoming an Aztec 220

Marriage 222

The Triple Alliance and the Empire 223

The Emperor and the Palace 224

Food and Agriculture 226

War and Human Sacrifice 227

Aztec Religion 231

Aztec Art and Architecture 238

Aztec Thought and Literature 248

Epilogue 251

The Spanish Conquest 251

New Spain and the Colonial World 255

The "Ladinoization" of Mexico 257

Aftermath 258

The Principal Domestic Plants of Pre-Spanish Mesoamerica 259

Chronological Table 260

Reigning Monarchs of the Aztec State 261

Text References 261

Further Reading 261

Sources of Illustrations 267

Index 268