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Elizabeth P. Benson

Pre-Columbian Maya site in Retalhuleu, in the Highland Maya region, near the Pacific coast of Guatemala. It is best known for its monumental stone sculptures, some of which were recorded in the 19th century. The site lies partly on the Finca San Isidro Piedra Parada, and it was known by this name when ...

Article

Colin McEwan

Pre-Columbian site in Manabí Province, Ecuador, 8 km inland in the Buenavista River Valley. It was a principal town, controlled by a lord, of the powerful indigenous polity of Salangome, recorded in 1528 by the navigator of the Spanish explorer and conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Human occupation at Agua Blanca spanned at least 5000 years and included components of all the principal ceramic-using cultures identified along Ecuador’s coasts. The ceramic sequence began with ...

Article

Phil C. Weigand

Site of Pre-Columbian culture near Chalchihuites, Zacatecas, northern Mexico. It was explored by Gamio in 1910 and by Kelly in 1971 and 1976. Its chronology is still uncertain, but the most important occupation was during the Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 900). Alta Vista was a small, highly developed ceremonial centre that exploited a massive ...

Article

Elizabeth P. Benson

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya ceremonial centre in the Río Pasión drainage, near the source of the Usumacinta River, El Petén, Guatemala. It was occupied nearly continuously from the Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc) into the Early Post-Classic period (c...

Article

Jeremy A. Sabloff

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya culture in the southern Lowland Maya region of Belize, c. 56 km north of Belize City. The site flourished c. 200 bcc. ad 900, although it was occupied both before and after these dates. Large-scale, intensive excavations carried out between the 1960s and the 1980s under the direction of ...

Article

Bahía  

Jorge G. Marcos

Pre-Columbian regional culture of coastal Ecuador that flourished c. 500 bcc. ad 500. Archaeological field research by Emilio Estrada and Matthew and Marion Stirling at Manta, Manabí, identified a platform-mounded Bahía urban and ceremonial centre. Since no extensive excavation of the area was conducted, the only evidence for Bahía houses is a number of terracotta models, similar in form to examples from China; some archaeologists, such as Meggers, consider them as evidence of transpacific influence. Excavation of a few test pits produced a relative ceramic sequence and some radiocarbon assays. In the Guayas Basin, to the south, Bahía-like Tejar and Guayaquil phases have been described by Meggers and Parducci. Bahía ...

Article

Izumi Shimada

Region in La Leche Valley on the north coast of Peru, which contains numerous archaeological sites. The central part of the valley, over 55 sq. km in area, has been designated the Poma National Archaeological and Ecological Reserve because of the concentration of some 30 major Pre-Columbian cemeteries and mounds nested within dense semi-tropical thorny native forest. The most notable period of local cultural development was the Middle Sicán (...

Article

J. C. Langley

Pre-Columbian site in Tlaxcala, central Mexico. It flourished c. 250 bcc. ad 900 and is notable for its wall paintings (in situ).

The ruins of Cacaxtla lie in the hilly uplands between Tlaxcala and Puebla, c. 100 km east of Mexico City, on ancient routes of communication between the Central Highlands and both the Gulf Coast region and the Southern Highlands of Mixteca. Only a small part of the site has been excavated, and its history is not yet fully understood. Archaeological evidence indicates human occupation since the Late Pre-Classic period (...

Article

Helaine Silverman

Major site of the Pre-Columbian early Nazca culture in the Nazca Valley on the south coast of Peru. It was the capital of a brilliant civilization that flourished c. ad 1–c. 400. The site covers 150 ha and comprises some 40 artificial and semi-artificial mounds of various sizes, the largest of which measure some 20 m high and 140 m per side at the base. There are also walled and open plaza areas and Nazca and post-Nazca burial grounds....

Article

W. Iain Mackay

Peruvian city and capital of the department of Cajamarca in northern Peru. It is also notable for being the site of a Pre-Columbian culture represented primarily by a localized pottery style dated c. ad 400–c. 1000. It is situated at an altitude of c....

Article

David M. Jones

Site of the Pre-Columbian Maya culture in Campeche, Mexico. It was the largest and most populous Maya city ever built and is notable for the number of stelae and monoliths erected by its ancient inhabitants. It was occupied from the Middle Pre-Classic period (c....

Article

David M. Jones and Jaime Litvak King

Site in the Toluca Valley, Mexico. It was the capital and principal ceremonial centre of the Matlazinca people. The name derives from calli (Náhuatl: house) and ixtlahuaca (field or plain), thus ‘Place of houses on the plain’. Calixtlahuaca is one of the few Matlazinca sites known with substantial remains, and its architectural ruins, scattered on the hillside between the modern villages of Calixtlahuaca and Tecaxic, combine elements from central and northern Mesoamerica. Most of the site lies beneath the villages or the fields between the villages. Surface survey and excavations were carried out between ...

Article

David M. Jones

Archaeological zone in north-west Arizona. Pre-Columbian sites in Canyon de Chelly are attributed to the Anasazi culture (c. 200 bcc. ad 1350) and were built between the 12th and 14th centuries ad when the Anasazi began to abandon their scattered small hamlets on cliff tops for fewer but larger settlements of cliff dwellings. These were constructed in the steep-sided, stream-cut main and subsidiary canyons with numerous overhanging cliffs; on the shelves of such overhangs the Anasazi built blocks of apartment-like structures constructed of adobe bricks or stone blocks (e.g. White House ruins). The removal of the Anasazi from plateau dwellings to cliff dwellings may have been for defence as aggression increased between groups (...

Article

Caracol  

Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase

Site of one of the largest Pre-Columbian Maya cities, on the eastern edge of the Maya mountains in the Vaca Plateau, Belize. It was occupied from c. 300 bc to ad 1250 and remained active during the Maya hiatus of c. ad 550–650. Although some distance from water, it had easy access to resources in the Maya mountains. Caracol was discovered in ...

Article

Robert J. Sharer

Pre-Columbian Maya site in the south-western Maya Highlands of El Salvador, c. 120 km south-east of Kaminaljuyú. Set at an altitude of c. 700 m, Chalchuapa comprises four main architectural groups—El Trapiche, Casa Blanca, Pampe, and Tazumal—in addition to other areas of ancient remains covering a total area of ...

Article

Cholula  

David M. Jones and Jaime Litvak King

Pre-Columbian site in Mexico, about 10 km south-west of the city of Puebla in north-central Puebla State. A huge Mesoamerican city and place of religious pilgrimage, it flourished throughout the Classic and Post-Classic periods (c. ad 250–1521). Its period of continuous occupation was one of the longest among sites in central Mexico, although there may have been a short hiatus in the Early Post-Classic period (...

Article

Muriel Porter-Weaver

Pre-Columbian site in Mexico, formerly on the Lerma River in southern Guanajuato, c. 129 km north-west of Mexico City. It gives its name to a distinctive ceramic style that flourished in the region during the Late Pre-Classic period (c. 300 bcc. ad 250...

Article

Cobá  

George E. Stuart

Pre-Columbian Maya site at Lake Cobá and Lake Macanxoc, 40 km inland from the coastal site of Tulum in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. The area is also the location of the modern town of Cobá, founded in the 1940s. At the height of its power Maya Cobá was apparently an important regional centre and perhaps acted as a commercial hub in the distribution and redistribution of goods between the interior of the northern lowlands and the ports of the East Coast. It also served as the seat of powerful rulers, and as such doubtless played a key role in rivalries with neighbouring states, such as ...

Article

Coclé  

Joan K. Lingen

Pre-Columbian culture of central Panama. It flourished in Coclé Province on the Gulf of Panama, and together with the Pre-Columbian culture of Veraguas Province (see Veraguas) it comprises the central Panamanian culture area. This is classed more broadly by archaeologists as part of the Intermediate area (...

Article

George F. Andrews

Pre-Columbian Lowland Maya site on the broad coastal plain of Tabasco, c. 3 km north-east of the modern town of Comalcalco, Mexico. There were two major periods of occupation: an early period from c. 1200 bc to ad 100 and a late period from c...