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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

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

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

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 C. Grove

Pre-Columbian site in the Central Highlands of Mexico, c. 100 km south of modern Mexico City. A major centre, it was occupied during the Early and Middle Pre-Classic periods, between c. 1400 bc and c. 500 bc, and is the only Central Highland site with a large number of Olmec ‘Frontier’-style low-relief monuments. Excavations have been carried out by ...

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

Chavín  

Pre-Columbian artistic and cultural tradition of the Central Andean area of South America. It is named after the site of Chavín de Huántar, and it flourished during the later part of the Initial Period (c. 1800–900 bc) and the Early Horizon (c....

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

Peter W. Stahl

Pre-Columbian culture, named after the site of La Chorrera on the River Babahoyo, in the Guayas Basin, Ecuador. It flourished between c. 1000 and c. 500 bc, during Ecuador’s Late Formative period (c. 1500 bcc. 500 bc). The terms ‘Chorrera’ and ‘Chorreroid series’ encompass a number of diverse but related cultures of the Guayas coast, ranging northwards from the province of El Oro to the northern area of the province of Manabí and reaching inland to the banks of the Daule and Babahoyo rivers....

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...

Article

George Bankes

Pre-Columbian culture and art style of South America. It was centred on a small, dry valley c. 50 km north of the Chicama Valley, Peru. Various sites were located and excavated in the 1930s by Rafael Larco Hoyle. Ceramics from Cupisnique burials and stone-walled structures in the Chicama Valley were attributed to the north-coast version of the ...

Article

Jeff Karl Kowalski

Site of a Mesoamerican Pre-Columbian Maya city, c. 15 km north of Mérida, Yucatán. Excavation and mapping carried out between 1956 and 1965 revealed that the site covers more than 19 sq. km and contains about 8400 ruined structures, most of which are small platforms that formerly supported perishable pole-and-thatch houses. The majority of some 240 stone-faced, vaulted buildings probably served as élite residences, although the largest pyramidal platforms and vaulted structures, located around the central Cenote Xlacah (...

Article

Culture area of the Isthmian region of Latin America, which is more broadly classed by archaeologists as part of the Intermediate area (see South America, Pre-Columbian, §II). It comprises the Atlantic watershed and central highlands areas of Costa Rica, from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean and from the Nicaraguan to the Panamanian border. Environments include the low coastal wetlands of the Caribbean and the Pacific drylands, numerous river valleys and plateaus, and an almost continuous chain of mountains and volcanoes running north–south. Despite a diversity of ecological niches, the archaeological remains of the region are similar enough to be considered as a single cultural group. The prehistoric archaeological record begins ...

Article

Edzná  

George F. Andrews

Site of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Maya urban centre, occupied from c. 700 bc to c. ad 1000; its ruins lie in the upper part of a shallow basin known as the Edzná Valley, c. 50 km north-east of the city of Campeche, Mexico. On the basis of several mapping projects, the site is known to cover at least 17 sq. km and therefore ranks among the largest known archaeological sites in the Lowland Maya area. The importance of Edzná, for both archaeologists and art historians, lies in its strategic location between southern Campeche and the Petén in Guatemala and Yucatán to the north. Some of its sculpted monuments show influences from the ‘classic’ sculptural style of the Petén, while others show similarities to the Yucatecan style. The same influences can be seen in architecture: the Large Acropolis includes several buildings in the Petén style, while the Cinco Pisos pyramid shows a combination of Chenes and Puuc traits. While much of Edzná’s history is still obscure, it seems clear that the western part of central Campeche formed an important regional variant of Lowland Maya culture, with Edzná as its principal centre....

Article

Warren B. Church

Pre-Columbian site in Río Abiseo National Park, Peru, occupied c. 450 bcad 1532. Gran Pajatén sits at 2850 m above sea-level in a highland rain-forest setting often compared to that of Machu Picchu. The site is a complex of stone terraces, stairways, platforms, and circular buildings extending over approximately 1 ha along a crescent-shaped ridgetop above the Montecristo River, a tributary of the Abiseo and Huallaga rivers. Ceramic evidence and radiocarbon dates of ...

Article

Jorge G. Marcos

Pre-Columbian culture of coastal Ecuador, which flourished c. 500 bcc. ad 500. Archaeological research initiated by Geoffrey Bushnell in 1951 has shown that the Guangala people occupied the forest of the Santa Elena Peninsula from the Chongón-Colonche Cordillera to the sea, extending north through the narrow coastal strip of southern Manabí Province. Like their predecessors, who made Engoroy style pottery, the Guangala people were experts at farming dry land, mostly using condensed fog for irrigation, as well as being accomplished sailors. Ceramic wares similar to those of Engoroy and Guangala have been found in Guatemala, suggesting that a long-distance trade network between Ecuador and Mesoamerica already existed at this period. Studies of settlement patterns in the Chanduy Valley show that Guangala people established permanent hamlets in diverse micro-environments, as well as larger sites, which served as centres of economic, religious, and political power, and regional and long-distance trade. Guangala houses were built on a rectangular plan and had wooden frames and wattle-and-daub construction, with ornate baked clay eaves, window, and door frames....

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....