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See also Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

In the context of Mesoamerica, the term mosaic is used for decoration made up of small pieces of hardstones and other materials applied not only to architectural surfaces (as in the Greco-Roman mosaic tradition of Europe) but also to a variety of prized objects, including vessels, shields, masks, human skulls, and knife handles.

The earliest supposed Mesoamerican mosaic ornament is a group of turquoise chips found in an Early Preclassic (c. 2000–c. 1000 BCE) grave at El Arbolillo, Basin of Mexico. Three large-scale mosaic pavements (each c. 4.5 × 6.0 m) composed of square and rectangular serpentine blocks (c. 485 blocks each) depicted stylized jaguar faces at the Olmec site of La Venta. Each was an offering, deliberately buried under c. 1 m of clay and adobe. A wooden Olmec mask encrusted with jade was found at Cañón de la Mano, Guerrero, dated to ...


Textiles played a fundamental role in the social, aesthetic, and economic life of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Unfortunately, in the absence of the combination of burial practices and dry climate that preserved textiles in Egypt and coastal Peru, only fragments have survived, mainly in dry caves or in watery, oxygen-deprived environments, such as the “Sacred Cenote” at Chichen Itza. The earliest textile fragments (ex-Mus. Reg., Oaxaca) were found at the cave site of Guilá Naquitz in Oaxaca; they include examples dating to c. 8000 BCE of materials produced by techniques that did not require looms—knotted netting, cordage, coiled basketry. Similar pieces from Peru and the Great Basin, Nevada, have comparable dates. King (1973) suggested that certain non-loom techniques may have been brought across the Bering Strait into the Americas by early migrants. However, the earliest piece of Mesoamerican loom-woven cloth, which contains both cotton and yucca threads, dates to c. 1500 BCE, well after the appearance of cotton textiles in Peru (...