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Article

Anasazi  

[Navajo: ‘the ancient ones’]

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 (see Native North American art, §II, 2). The most celebrated of these stone and adobe structures were multi-room, multi-family dwellings built atop mesas and in natural caves found at the base of canyons (see fig.). Built c. 1100–c. 1300, they are located at various sites, including Mesa Verde in south-west Colorado and Chaco Canyon in north-west New Mexico. The Anasazi also produced painted pottery, basketry, and weaving.

Article

Cahokia  

David M. Jones

Site in the USA in East St Louis, IL, of a huge Pre-Columbian city. Founded c. ad 700, it was the largest prehistoric city ever built north of Mexico and was probably influenced by political and civic ideas from Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian. At its height, between c. ad 1050 and c. 1250, Cahokia encompassed c. 13 sq. km and had a population of c. 10–15,000. Although located in the north-west part of the middle Mississippi Southern Cult area, it was the political, economic and religious centre for more than 50 towns (see Native North American art, §I, 4, (v)). The exact nature of its power or rule, however, is uncertain. A potential rival in the south-east of the cult area was Moundville, AL, nearly as large. Cahokia began to decline after c. 1250, although some of its satellite towns, at such sites as Angel, Aztatlan, Dickson and Kinkaid, continued to flourish as local centres. A drastic population decline ...

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 (see also Mesa Verde). The earliest rooms often became storage rooms as later dwellings were built above and in front of them. The blocks were multi-storey and terraced, with access between terraces by wooden ladders. Inter-storey floors–ceilings were made with log rafters. Walls had key-hole and trapezoidal doorways and in some cases square windows. Open spaces in front of the blocks were excavated and filled to create level ceremonial areas, and circular, semi-subterranean ...

Article

Ceibal  

Jeremy A. Sabloff

[Seibal]

Pre-Columbian Maya site on a hill overlooking the Río Pasión, c. 16 km east of Sayaxche in the Southern Maya Lowlands of Petén, Guatemala. Excavations and surveys were conducted in the 1960s by the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, under the direction of Gordon R. Willey and A. L. Smith. The ceremonial center of Ceibal covers c. 1 sq. km, while the overall settlement extends throughout the 25 sq. km zone surveyed by Gair Tourtellot. The density of settlement varied with the topography. Ceibal is best known for its Late Classic–period (c. 600–c. 900 ce) occupation, having enjoyed a brief but significant florescence during the 9th century, when many other Classic Maya sites in the Southern Lowland area were collapsing. During this period the site was invaded by non-Classic Maya peoples from the Gulf Coast lowlands, an intrusion that is particularly evident in the sculpture, ceramics, and architecture of Ceibal. The well-preserved carved stelae feature a number of foreign elements, including non-Classic hieroglyphs and clothing. Twenty-two such monuments have been found at Ceibal, the vast majority of which were erected after ...

Article

R. Gwinn Vivian

Archaeological zone of Pre-Columbian towns and roads in North America, in the San Juan Basin, north-western New Mexico. Chaco Canyon was the centre from c. ad 850–1150 of Chacoan culture, one manifestation of the Anasazi tradition, and considered ancestral to contemporary Pueblo peoples of the Southwest. A community of at least 12 multi-storey, tiered ‘great houses’ and hundreds of contemporaneous single storey ‘small house sites’ were built within a 15 km sector of the canyon. ‘Great houses’ were constructed with core walls with veneer masonry and ranged from 80 to 580 rooms. Small houses were of simpler masonry and averaged about 20 rooms each. Both types were domestic structures, but also contained round ceremonial rooms known as kivas (see Kiva). ‘Great kivas’, up to 18 m in diameter, are restricted to ‘great houses’ or occur as isolated buildings. ‘Great houses’ are associated with elaborate water-control systems that collected and diverted rainfall run-off to gridded agricultural fields. ‘Great houses’ in the canyon itself were linked to ‘outlier’ communities on the peripheries of the San Juan Basin by wide (...

Article

Indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic coasts of Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. They are biologically classified as Arctic Mongolians and are descended from peoples of a region in north-east Asia, who probably began to migrate c. 12,000 bc. Such peoples generally do not use the term ‘Eskimo’ (‘eaters of raw meat’) of themselves, which was the Canadian Algonquin name for them adopted by European explorers. There are instead three main groups, the largest of whom are the Inuit of Canada and Greenland.

For main discussion see under Native North American art.

Inuit

Native North American art, §I, 1(i): Geography and peoples: Arctic

Native North American art, §I, 6: Status of art and role of the artist

Native North American art, §III, 1: Carving and sculpture: Arctic

Native North American art, §XI, 1: Quillwork: Introduction

Native North American art, §XV, 3(ii)(a): Other late 20th-century developments: Tourist art

Native North American art, §XVII, 1: Historiography: Anthropological approaches...

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 1841 as Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and the Yucatan. An expanded two-volume version, Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan, was published in 1843 and contained over 120 woodcut illustrations, and provided the first pictorial views of ancient Mesoamerica.

The ancient sites of Mitla, Palenque, Izamal, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal were first photographed by French photographer and explorer (Claude-Joseph-)Désiré Charnay between 1858 and 1860. The resulting images were collected into a book published in 1863 entitled Cités et ruines américaines, which later included an essay by the influential French architect and theorist Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Charnay made a second trip to the region from ...

Article

Robert J. Sharer

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya Southern Lowland city on the Motagua River flood plain in Guatemala, 100 km from the Caribbean. Quiriguá flourished in the Classic period (c. 250–c. 900 ce) and is famous for its sculpted monuments, the largest and among the most beautiful produced by the ancient Maya. Photographs and drawings were published by A. P. Maudslay from 1889 to 1902, and the site has been the subject of several excavations, most recently by the University of Pennsylvania (1974–1979).

Ancient Quiriguá covered c. 4 sq. km, but only the largest structures and carved stone monuments rise above 1–2 m of recent alluvium. Most are concentrated at the site core, covering c. 500 sq. m. The sandstone and rhyolite monuments include upright stelae, flat altars, and zoomorphic sculptured boulders. Most combine historical texts with portraits of Quiriguá’s rulers being presented with symbols of authority to reinforce their earthly and supernatural power. The monuments were erected in the Great Plaza (300 × 150 m). A massive, buried platform in the northern third supports Monuments 1–7 (five stelae and two zoomorphs), all dedicated during the final twenty-four years of the reign of Quiriguá’s greatest ruler, ...

Article

George E. Stuart

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya culture in the northeast of the tropical rainforest of Petén, Guatemala. It was discovered in 1962 by oil prospectors, and Richard E. W. Adams and John Gatling carried out preliminary excavations and mapping on behalf of Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and the Instituto de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala in the same year. Pottery samples from the first test pits indicated that the site was occupied from the Late Preclassic period (c. 300 bcec. 250 ce) to the end of the Classic period (c. 900 ce). Its standing stone buildings, some of which were well preserved, resembled those at Tikal, a much larger Maya site 75 km to the southwest. In 1981 Ian Graham of Harvard University discovered that many of the large pyramids at Río Azul had been cut into and looted; because of this, Adams returned to the site in ...

Article

Olivier de Montmollin

Valley forming part of the Upper Grijalva tributaries region on the southwestern edge of the Lowland Maya area in Chiapas, Mexico. It was the site of several Pre-Columbian settlements noted for their Classic period (c. 250–c. 900 ce) art. The nearest large Maya centers are Chinkultic in the Comitán Highlands and Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Piedras Negras in the Lacandón jungle, running eastward to the Usumacinta River. Ceramics predating the Classic period suggest that the upper tributaries were originally inhabited by speakers of the non-Maya Zoque language. However, the ceramics and iconography of the Classic period suggest that by this date the area was inhabited by speakers of Maya and that close links had been established with the Lowland Maya area. Between the collapse of the Classic Lowland Maya culture (c. 800–c. 950 ce) and the Spanish Conquest (1521 ce ), close links existed with the Highland Maya cultures of Guatemala....

Article

Robert J. Sharer

Intermontaine basin immediately north of Motagua Valley in the northern Maya Highland area of Guatemala, covering an area of c. 74 sq. km and with an average elevation of c. 1000 m. The region was investigated in 1972–1974 by Robert J. Sharer and David W. Sedat for the Verapaz Project of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. Twenty-four Pre-Columbian sites were located within the valley, twenty-one of which were sampled by surface surveys and nine by excavations. The data from this work indicate that the sedentary occupation of the valley dates to between c. 1200 bce and the Spanish Conquest in the 1520s.

The first peak of local socio-political development began in the Middle Preclassic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bce) and culminated in the Late Preclassic period (c. 300 bcec. 250 ce). A second, more rapid developmental cycle peaked during the Late Classic period (...

Article

Salango  

Richard Lunniss

Pre-Columbian site in Manabí Province on the central coast of Ecuador, centered at the southern end of a sandy bay, sheltered by a headland and Salango Island. It had several phases of occupation, paralleled on nearby La Plata Island.

An early Valdivia culture settlement, indicated by ceramics, stone artifacts, and animal remains and dated by radiocarbon analysis to the 4th or late 3rd millennium bce, lay between the beach and a lagoon. Extending over the area of the lagoon was a Machalilla-phase midden containing a high density of fish bone and shell, and many mother-of-pearl fish-hooks. Thirty-eight individuals were found in graves cut through the midden, for which radiocarbon analysis has given dates in the second half of the 2nd millennium bce. Attributes of the Chorrera culture and Engoroy style are found in ceramics associated with a rectangular wooden structure built over a clay floor capping part of the Machalilla midden. The formal design of its construction and the more elaborate nature of the associated burials and depositions of artifacts suggest a ritual or ceremonial purpose. The dismantling of this building was immediately followed by the construction of the first of several low rectangular platforms surmounted by wooden structures. Later mounds were surrounded by clay-filled trenches supporting posts. Pottery of the Engoroy type, dated by radiocarbon analysis to the first half of the 1st millennium ...

Article

Janet Catherine Berlo

[Bilbao]

Pre-Columbian Highland Maya site in Escuintla, southern Guatemala, on the outskirts of the modern town of Santa Lucía Cotz. It is the type site of the Cotzumalhuapa art style also known at El Baul, El Castillo, Palo Verde, Palo Gordo, and other sites in the region. Both site and style flourished during the Classic period (c. 250–c. 900 ce). The ceremonial center of Santa Lucía of Cotzumalhuapa stood on a manmade acropolis surmounted by seventeen pyramidal platforms. L. A. Parsons recorded seventy-six stone monuments at the site, although only six remain in situ. In 1880, thirty monuments, including eight famous stelae of ballplayers from the Monument Plaza, were removed to the Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. Other pieces are kept at the local finca (landed estate), Las Ilusiones, and at the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia, Guatemala City.

The Santa Lucía Cotzumalhuapa style, typically executed in a combination of high and low relief, is best known from stelae and other stone sculptures. The stelae, set in a vertical position, are rectangular stone slabs dressed on six sides but usually carved on only one face. The Berlin stelae are a coherent group, each depicting a ballplayer, shown in profile and carved in low relief, supplicating a front-facing sky deity in high relief. Irregularly shaped boulder sculptures also occur, and horizontally tenoned stone heads are common. Figural realism is common in the sculptures, and the imagery focuses on the relationship between humans and supernatural beings, portrayed in a frozen narrative suggestive of action and sequence. The central themes are concerned with death and include the ballgame, the sacrifice of trophy heads and hearts and skeletal imagery. There are strong iconographic similarities with the art of such central Mexican centers as ...

Article

Sayil  

Jeremy A. Sabloff

Pre-Columbian Maya site set in a valley surrounded by low hills, 24 km southeast of Uxmal, between Kabáh and Labná in the Puuc region of the Northern Maya Lowlands of Yucatan, Mexico. It flourished during the Late Classic (c. 600–c. 900 ce) and Early Postclassic (c. 900–c. 1200 ce) periods. Sayil was one of the major Puuc sites that rose to prominence when the great Classic-period Southern Lowland sites collapsed and the center of lowland civilization shifted to the Northern Maya Lowland area. The central part of Sayil was mapped by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1934, and small-scale, sporadic archaeological research continued at the site until the early 1980s. From 1983 to 1988 the Sayil Archaeological Project, directed by Jeremy A. Sabloff and Gair Tourtellot, undertook a full-scale settlement survey of Sayil, the first carried out at any Puuc region site. This revealed a heavily occupied urban zone covering ...

Article

David M. Jones

Pre-Columbian site in the USA, east of Phoenix, AZ. Occupied between c. 300 bc and c. ad 1400, it was founded by indigenous Ootam peoples, but by c. ad 600 it had become the principal site of the Hohokam, who had invaded the region from northern Mexico as early as c. ad 1. The Hohokam town on the upper terrace of the Gila River and the adjacent agricultural fields along the lower terrace covered over 120 ha. The town comprised an estimated 5000 densely packed structures of adobe and wooden log-beams, built and rebuilt over time, of which the ground-plans have been uncovered (see fig.). Dwellings were grouped around wells, mounds, cemeteries of cremation burials, a pottery-making enclave and at least two ballcourts. The culture of the inhabitants was a combination of indigenous evolution and outside introductions. There is strong evidence of influence from Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian in the building of both earthen platform mounds, in imitation of stone-clad Mesoamerican pyramids, and earthen-sided ballcourts. (Other evidence of the introduction of the ball-game includes latex rubber balls imported from Mesoamerica.) Imported technology included the lost-wax metal-casting technique, to produce copper bells (...

Article

Marie Mauzé

Region of eastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent Canadian–US mainland, opposite the Fraser River delta and canyon. It is the homeland of the Native American Coast Salish and the location of a number of Pre-Columbian sites, including Marpole, Glenrose, St Mungo, Locarno Beach and Musqueam around the Fraser delta. The first art, including sculpture in the round, appeared during the Developmental period (c. 3500–c. 1100 bc). The Marpole site, for example, has yielded ground slate fragments decorated with drilled holes, notched or scalloped edges and patterns of incised lines. Similar decorations were applied to bone and antler. From St Mungo come carvings in bone or soft stone resembling segmented insect larvae (Vancouver, U. BC, Mus. Anthropol.). The most impressive example, from Glenrose, is a small tool handle of antler in the shape of a human figure (Vancouver, U. BC, Mus. Anthropol.). It has a large, deeply carved face, perforated earlobes, almond-shaped eyes and eyebrows and nose forming a ‘y’. It is one the oldest anthropomorphic sculptures from the Northwest Coast (...

Article

David M. Jones

Rock shelter in North America, in the Castle Mountains, AZ. It was occupied in Pre-Columbian times from c. 10,000 bc to c. ad 1300. Ventana Cave was excavated by the American archaeologist Emil Haury and the results were published by the University of New Mexico Press. The earliest layers of occupation contained crude, then more sophisticated, stone tools (including projectile points, of which the type—Clovis or Folsom—is disputed), a variety of faunal remains and shells from the Gulf of California, c. 160 km to the west. The inhabitants practised a hunting–gathering economy. Later layers contained artefacts of the Hohokam culture ( fl c. 300 bcad 1300) of the US Southwest, including evidence of their agricultural way of life ( see also Snaketown ), such as maize-grinding stones, pottery and remains of netting, cordage, basketwork, leather and feather objects and cotton textiles. The pottery is typical of early Hohokam styles, with red-on-buff decorations (...