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Anthropology 2100
Peter Timmins

March, 11, 2013 The Maya and the Aztecs The Maya: -The Maya occupied about 324,000 square km in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras -It was a varied landscape with lowland jungles on a limestone shelf in an area that is flat, hot and humid, and with few rivers, to mountainous uplands that were productive agriculturally because of the rich soils -The Maya were made up of about 40 independent states that were never highly urbanized but population densities were very high around ceremonial centres which formed the core of their cities -There was an indigenous development in both the lowlands and the uplands The Preclassic Maya – 1000BC – 250 AD: Nakbe - 600 and 400 BC: -It had stone buildings on platform mounds and a “royal compound” with buildings up to 45 m tall -There were carved stone stelae and they made plaster masks on pyramids and this would have required coordination of a large labour force and there was the emergence of a religious elite El Mirador – 550BC-150AD: -The site covers 16 square km with a core area of 2 sq. km with two groups of stone pyramids, plazas, platforms, and causeways -The Tigre Pyramid there is 55 m high and recent investigations have been conducted by Richard Hansen from Idaho State and it is a major multi-disciplinary study and he believes the 45 mapped sites in the Mirador basin formed the earliest state in Mesoamerica -The La Danta Pyramid is 70 m tall with a volume of 2.8 million cubic metres and it is one of the largest ancient structures in the world Cerros - 50 BC - AD 100: -The area developed a large ceremonial centre and temples were built on flat topped pyramids and glyphs show ritual bloodlettings and sacrifices and sacred kingship had developed by 50 BC The Classic Maya – 250AD – 900AD: -Archaeologists once thought settlement patterns involved small hamlets clustered around ceremonial centres but they did not investigate many hamlets or commoner sites -Recent surveys show very high population densities around ceremonial centres like Tikal, Uxmal, Palenque, Calakmul and Copan demonstrating that they were cities Maya Economy: -Initially they were slash and burn farmers of maize, beans, squash, peppers, and cacao and they intensified agricultural production as population grew -They constructed raised fields in swamps, irrigation canals, reservoirs, and terraced slopes and they harvested small fish from irrigation channels created around the raised fields -There was trade in salt, obsidian, cacao, and feathers and the overland trade was done using human porters and sea trade using large canoes with cocoa beans sometimes used as currency Marco Gonzales Site, Belize - 100 BC – 1200 AD: -It was a coastal trading site located on the southern tip of Ambergris Caye and it covered 7.5 acres with 49 structures mapped and a population of an estimated 20,000 people -There is evidence for extensive conch harvesting (shell mounds), salt making, and trade links to Lamanai Caracol - Caana (Sky Place): -It is the largest Maya structure in Belize and there are three smaller temples built on top of it -There is a ball court there and an altar stone within it Chocolate: -There has been cacao residue identified at the Preclassic Maya site of Colha (dated to 600 BC) and chemical analysis has found the residues in ceremonial “teapots” -Mayan hot chocolate was thick, foamy, and spicy because it was flavoured with chillies, vanilla and hallucinogenic mushrooms and it was the “food of the gods” Classic Maya Cities: -Tikal, Uxmal, Palenque, Calakmul, and Copan all have impressive public architecture in the form of temples, pyramids, platform mounds, palaces, and carved stelae March, 11, 2013 -Temple 1 at Tikal is 47 m high and it was built in 734 AD by Jasaw Chan K’awil and Temple IV is the tallest structure at Tikal at a height of 65 m -Jaguar Claw’s palace at Tikal was built in 350 AD to serve as a clan house for the family and temple V at dates to 700 AD and it is 58 m high and it had a small single room at the top that was used as a ritual space -Tikal supported a population of 60,000 at its height and there were over 3,000 separate buildings dating to between 600 BC - 900 AD and they competed with other cities for dominance (especially Calakmul) -One of Palenque’s main sites is the Temple of the Inscriptions
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