New World Prehistory: Archaeology of the American Indian

New World Prehistory: Archaeology of the American Indian

New World Prehistory: Archaeology of the American Indian

New World Prehistory: Archaeology of the American Indian

Excerpt

When Cortez arrived in 1519 he found Mesoamerica occupied by a great number of ethnic groups with highly distinctive cultures and speaking different, often unrelated languages. One characteristic feature of Mesoamerican civilization throughout its history was intense regionalism; horizon styles emerged periodically, but they interrupted only temporarily and briefly this basic pattern of regional diversity. On the Gulf coastal plain and neighboring escarpment were three distinctive groups, Huastec, Totonac, and Olmec; the Central Mexican Plateau and adjacent southern escarpment were occupied by Otomi and Nahua speakers (among the latter, the politically dominant Aztec). The highlands and Pacific coasts of Oaxaca, eastern Guerrero, and southern Puebla were occupied by Mixtec and Zapotec; west of the Aztec in the highlands of Michoacán were Tarascans, and various groups of the Maya language family occupied the Yucatan peninsula and the highlands and Pacific coast of Guatemala. The balance of Mesoamerica was occupied by less highly developed groups, some of which continued to remain on a chiefdom societal level as late as 1519. All of these groups, although individually . . .

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