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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

Amapa  

Phil C. Weigand

Site of Pre-Columbian culture on the coastal plain of Nayarit, Mexico. It was probably an important regional ceremonial centre for the western Mesoamerican cultures. Although it had been extensively studied, notably by Clement Meighan, by the late 1990s an absolute chronology for the site had yet to be established. Some researchers, using obsidian hydration dates, believe that the critical Cerritos phase began ...

Article

Joan K. Lingen

Site in Panama, in the Volcan Baru district of Chiriquí Province near the Costa Rican border. It is one of the best known and most elaborate Pre-Columbian Panamanian sites; it flourished c. ad 400–c. 800. Barriles was first excavated in 1949 by Matthew Stirling under the auspices of the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution. ...

Article

Mary Ellen Miller

Site of a Maya ceremonial centre in the tropical rain-forest of the Chiapas, Mexico, that flourished around the end of the 8th century ad. Bonampak is best known for its colourful and complex wall paintings, which are the most complete indigenous examples in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The paintings, brought to modern attention by ...

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 ...

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

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

Jeff Karl Kowalski

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya and Toltec city in the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico. It flourished during the Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–1521). Chichén Itzá (‘mouth of the well of the Itzá’) is named after its ‘Sacred Cenote’, a natural limestone sinkhole that served as a focus for pilgrimages and sacrificial offerings. Close artistic correspondences between Chichén Itzá and ...

Article

Cuzco  

Ann Kendall

Site in Peru, in the heart of the southern Andes, 3560 m above sea-level. It was the capital of the Inca empire. Cuzco occupies the head of the fertile valley of the Huatanay River, where it is connected by a low pass with the Anta Basin and Valley. The climate is temperate, with a rainy season from December to March. Now a city of over 275,000, a majority of whom are Indians, it is the present-day capital of the department of Cuzco....

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

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

Phil C. Weigand

Site in the highland lake district of Jalisco, Mexico. A Pre-Columbian settlement dating mostly to the Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–1521), it is partly overlain by the modern town of Etzatlán. Ruins surround the town and may represent wards of the ancient settlement: Rancho San Antonio (north-west), Ranchos Guaje and Cortijo (north-east), Huistla (west), Chirimoya and La Garita (east), and Santa Clara (south), together with Puerto de Veracruz, El Templo, and others. The siting of the ancient town and its environmental setting facilitated communications with peoples on the Pacific coast. Data gathered during modern sewer and water-line excavations and from archaeological excavations in ...

Article

David M. Jones

Site of Pre-Columbian Cakchiquel Maya fortress capital in the Guatemalan highlands near Lake Atitlán. It flourished during the Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–1521) and was captured by the Spanish in 1524. Iximché was visited by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1840...

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

Izapa  

Jacinto Quirarte

Site of Pre-Columbian Highland Maya culture in Chiapas, Mexico. It is notable for its Late Pre-Classic period (c. 300 bcc. ad 250) sculpture. The term Izapan is also more broadly applied to an important regional art style (see below). The visible ruins of Izapa cover ...

Article

David M. Jones

Site of Pre-Columbian Maya city within the limits of modern Guatemala City. It was a centre of religious, civic, and political power in the Middle to Late Pre-Classic (c. 1000 bcc. ad 250) and Classic (c. ad 250–c. 900) periods and is the largest known Highland Maya city. Occupation dates from the Middle Pre-Classic period (from ...

Article

Joan K. Lingen

Site of Pre-Columbian culture in Costa Rica, in the Línea Vieja sub-region of the Atlantic watershed of the eastern lowlands, 10 km west of Las Mercedes on the south-west bank of the Guacimo River. Archaeological remains indicate a multi-component site, but the most important occupation was the final phase, from ...