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Anasazi  

Term applied to the prehistoric ‘Basketmakers’ (fl to c. ad 750) of the south-western United States and their successors, the Pueblo tribes, who still live in the region. The Anasazi are famous for their communal buildings, many now ruined, which were known as ‘pueblos’ by the first Spanish explorers (...

Article

Paul Gendrop

Construction method that enables an exact joint to be made between two pieces of wood, stone or other material by means of a tenon or peg (espiga) on one piece fitted into a corresponding mortice or socket (caja) in the other. In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica the ...

Article

Paul Gendrop

Term applied to a type of roadway, avenue or processional path characteristic of urban sites and groupings of structures within sites in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. At Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 900) Teotihuacán, for example, the East and West avenues appear to be arteries that acted as outlets for smaller streets and alleyways, the urban function of which was to subdivide the city and channel the flux of pedestrians. At the same time, the function of the northern section of the ...

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

Henning Bischof

Modern town, partially overlying a Pre-Columbian site in Ancash Department, Peru. Ancient Chavín de Huántar flourished between c. 1000 bc and c. 300 bc, and the ceremonial architecture and more than 200 stone sculptures of this period were used to define the Chavín culture and art style. Subsequent research has shown that they were the culmination of Chavín culture rather than its origins. The site was reoccupied, after a short break, in the Huarás and Callejón periods, from ...

Article

Richard A. Diehl

Wall decorated with serpent motifs built adjacent to temple pyramids in the Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–1521) in cultures of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Three coatepantlis are known: the courtyard wall in front of the Great Temple, the most important Aztec temple in the imperial capital at Tenochtitlán (...

Article

Huastec  

Beatriz de la Fuente

Region and culture of Mesoamerica, that produced distinctive Pre-Columbian architecture, sculpture, pottery and shell ornaments. From the Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc) to the Late Post-Classic period (c. ad 1200–1521) the Huastec people occupied the Gulf Coast of Mexico; today they inhabit southern Tamaulipas, northern Veracruz, eastern San Luis Potosí and parts of Querétaro, Hidalgo and Puebla....

Article

Phil C. Weigand

Site in Narayit state, Mexico. The term is also used for an associated regional style of pottery and figurines. The site has an architectural complex that dates largely from the Early Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–c. 1200), while the Narayit style is an earlier phenomenon, spanning the Middle and Late Pre-Classic periods (...

Article

Richard F. Townsend

Site of a 16th-century rock-cut Aztec temple, c. 60 km south-east of Mexico City. The temple at Malinalco is an example of a widespread type of ritual building described in 16th-century ethno-historical texts and associated with the cult of the earth. Its monolithic inner chamber is the only excavated example to have survived intact. The temple forms part of a ritual and administrative centre built at the hilltop Matlazinca town of Malinalco after it had been incorporated into the Aztec empire. The buildings were begun in ...

Article

Andrea Stone and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian Maya cave shrine in the Lowland Maya area, c. 30 km east of Poptún in Petén, Guatemala. Naj Tunich (Maya: ‘stone house’) lies at an elevation of 650 m along part of a spectacular upland karst zone (limestone terrain characterized by water-formed caverns) containing some of the longest caves in Central America. It was rediscovered in ...

Article

America’s interest in Pre-Columbian culture began to take tangible form in the 19th century. American explorer John Lloyd Stephens (1805–52) and artist Frederick Catherwood journeyed to Chiapas and the Yucatán peninsula in 1839 to describe and document Mayan ruins. Their research was published in ...

Article

Paul Gendrop

Name applied variously to an area in the lowlands of Campeche, Mexico, a Pre-Columbian Maya site and a Maya architectural style of the Late Classic period (c. ad 600–c. 900). Count Maurice de Périgny explored the region in 1906–7 and discovered several groups of palaces, temples and platforms. Building I of Group B typifies the style. It comprises a low palace-like building with large interior spaces with integrated benches and a main façade flanked at each end by a solid tower with rounded corners. The towers are simulated, slightly squat versions of Maya pyramids crowned by temples, each with a stairway framed by ...

Article

J. C. Langley

Spanish term for a form of wall profile found throughout Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, comprising a vertical panel (tablero) resting on a slanting talus (talud). It is particularly associated with the type of pyramidal structure developed at Teotihuacán in the Basin of Mexico and characteristic of its culture (...

Article

Warwick Bray and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian archaeological zone in the region of the headwaters of the River Magdalena, Cauca Department, Colombia. Dating evidence for the sites and artefacts is imprecise, although some of the burial architecture probably dates to c. ad 600–850. Scattered throughout the area are cists and graves, stone statues, carved boulders, house sites, and painted underground sepulchral chambers grouped in ridge-top cemeteries; these were apparently unknown to the inhabitants of the region when the Spaniards arrived in ...

Article

Elizabeth Baquedano

Structure used in Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian to display the heads of sacrificed human victims or a stone platform carved with human skulls. Skull racks were usually placed near temples or ballcourts (see Ballcourt, §1). Those displaying real skulls comprised a wooden framework supporting skulls skewered on horizontal poles run through holes drilled through the temples. Skull racks were described by Spanish conquistadors and missionary friars. ...