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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 (...

Article

Joan K. Lingen

Pre-Columbian culture of the Veraguas Province of central Panama. This area extends from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean; it is bordered on the west by the Bocas del Toro and Chiriquí provinces and on the east by the Colon and Coclé provinces, and by the Azuero Peninsula provinces of Los Santos and Herrera. The extreme northern and southern parts consist of high mountains supporting a wet tropical climate, while the central area is dry. Veraguas culture was included by Richard Cooke as part of the central Panamanian cultural region, which exhibits cultural homogeneity through much of the archaeological record. More broadly, it is classed as part of the Intermediate area (see South America, Pre-Columbian, §II). Its earliest known site, Pueblo Nuevo on the Veraguas–Chiriquí border, has yielded a radiocarbon date of c. 230 bc, but the presence of iron tools in graves near Soná indicates the continuous use of the site into the 16th century ...

Article

Gordon R. Willey, David M. Jones, Gordon Brotherston, Peter W. Stahl, Elizabeth P. Benson, Warwick Bray, H. Stanley Loten, Ursula Jones, Karen Olsen Bruhns, Frederick W. Lange, Sara Lunt, Annemarie Seiler-Baldinger, Elizabeth K. Easby, M. E. Moseley, W. Iain Mackay, Susan A. Niles, Pauline Antrobus, Duccio Bonavia, George Bankes, R. José Berenguer, Daniel Schávelzon, Irmhild Wüst, Tania Andrade Lima, José R. Oliver, Ann M. Mester, Luis A. Borrero, Colin McEwan, Anthony Alan Shelton, William J. Conklin, Peter Cloudsley and Joanne Pillsbury

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Elizabeth Hill Boone and >Nelly Gutiérrez Solana

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Vicús  

George Bankes and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site near Chulucanas, Morropon Province, in the far north of Peru. It was the centre of a culture that flourished c. 500 bcc. ad 500. In the 1960s grave robbers found cemeteries containing deep shaft and chamber tombs on the hill of Vicús and at neighbouring sites. Further architectural remains discovered in 1987 included a large ceremonial structure with four terraces and a central asymmetrical ramp. Just to the north of this is a large complex of terraces with houses. Although these structures lack associated pottery, their proximity to the main Vicús cemetery suggests that they date to the same period.

It was the cemeteries that yielded the large quantities of fine pottery and metal artefacts for which the site is known. Many of these were in a purely local style, termed Classic Vicús, Vicús-Vicús, or simply Vicús. Reflecting the site’s location in a transitional zone between the Central and Northern Andes, this style was strongly influenced by neighbouring cultures. Some ceramics from the same area show close similarities to phases 1 and 2 of the ...

Article

Gordon R. Willey, David M. Jones, Gordon Brotherston, Peter W. Stahl, Elizabeth P. Benson, Warwick Bray, H. Stanley Loten, Ursula Jones, Karen Olsen Bruhns, Frederick W. Lange, Sara Lunt, Annemarie Seiler-Baldinger, Elizabeth K. Easby, M. E. Moseley, W. Iain Mackay, Susan A. Niles, Pauline Antrobus, Duccio Bonavia, George Bankes, R. José Berenguer, Daniel Schávelzon, Irmhild Wüst, Tania Andrade Lima, José R. Oliver, Ann M. Mester, Luis A. Borrero, Colin McEwan, Anthony Alan Shelton, William J. Conklin, Peter Cloudsley and Joanne Pillsbury

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Article

Gordon R. Willey, David M. Jones, Gordon Brotherston, Peter W. Stahl, Elizabeth P. Benson, Warwick Bray, H. Stanley Loten, Ursula Jones, Karen Olsen Bruhns, Frederick W. Lange, Sara Lunt, Annemarie Seiler-Baldinger, Elizabeth K. Easby, M. E. Moseley, W. Iain Mackay, Susan A. Niles, Pauline Antrobus, Duccio Bonavia, George Bankes, R. José Berenguer, Daniel Schávelzon, Irmhild Wüst, Tania Andrade Lima, José R. Oliver, Ann M. Mester, Luis A. Borrero, Colin McEwan, Anthony Alan Shelton, William J. Conklin, Peter Cloudsley and Joanne Pillsbury

In 

Article

Wari  

Susan Bergh

[Huari]

Pre-Columbian civilization that, between 600 and 1000 CE, created one of the ancient Andes’ major art styles, drawing inspiration from contemporary and earlier traditions, such as the Nasca.

During the Middle Horizon period (600–1000 CE), the Wari people forged the most politically complex and geographically expansive civilization to have existed in the central Andean region since settled life emerged there in about 5000 BCE. Only the later Inka Empire (1400–1532 CE) had greater influence and territorial extent. The eponymous Wari capital city was in Ayacucho in the south-central highlands of Peru; underexplored due to the vagaries of history, the enormous urban center covers more than 6 sq. km (2.3 sq. miles). Smaller but still impressive are the often better-documented provincial centers the Wari built in far-flung areas of the highlands, western foothills, and eastern slope, including Pikillacta; Cerro Baúl; Jincamocco; Viracochapampa, which was never finished or occupied; and Espíritu Pampa (respectively, ...

Article

Eduardo Williams

Art produced in the period before European contact in the 16th century in the culture area of West Mexico, which comprises the modern Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Michoacán.

West Mexican art is characterized by some of the most distinctive styles of Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian. There has, however, been little systematic research into or study of West Mexican material in its archaeological context; most examples have been obtained through the looting of sites and the consequent destruction of all information regarding archaeological context and provenance. The unique qualities of West Mexican art, pertaining particularly to the shaft-tomb tradition, lacked monumentality. Few Mesoamerican deities were represented, and there was an emphasis on the portrayal of realistic anthropomorphic and zoomorphic ceramic figures. This aspect may have had a symbolic connection with shamanism and relates primarily to tomb offerings. West Mexican art seems to have functioned on the level of village-centred or domestic cults, rather than in the state-level civic or religious ceremonies of nuclear Mesoamerica....

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David M. Jones and Jaime Litvak King

Pre-Columbian site in western Morelos, Mexico, c. 40 km south-west of Cuernavaca. The site and region were occupied continuously from c. 900 bc, but are known especially for the Late-Classic-period (c. ad 600–c. 900) occupation, when an urban and ceremonial centre with monumental architecture was built around and on the artificially terraced hills known as Cerro Xochicalco and Cerro la Malinche and on the adjacent hills and plains.

The archaeological zone was first mentioned by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in the 16th century. The Jesuit Antonio Alzate visited the site in 1777, conducted some primitive excavations on the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent and wrote a report in 1791. The Jesuit Pedro Marquez also visited the site, and his report was used by Alexander von Humboldt to describe the site and publish some illustrations of it in 1810. In 1877 Antonio Peñafiel made a study of the monumental architecture then known. Excavations were conducted by ...

Article

Yagul  

John Paddock and Trent Barnes

Site in Mexico, in the Valley of Oaxaca, inhabited as early as c. 400 bc; an extremely compact small city flourished there in the Late Post-Classic period (c. ad 700–1521). Its present name derives from the Zapotec terms for tree (yaga) and old (gula). Its centre occupies a large natural terrace on the south side of a high hill; the top was fortified, and houses covered the slopes. Since no modern community covers the Yagul remains, its temples, palace, secular public buildings, ballcourt, and streets are clearly visible.

Around 400 bc ceramic sculptures with Olmec traits were placed in burials at Yagul (Oaxaca, Mus. Reg.). The site was nearly uninhabited until c. ad 700. When nearby Lambityeco was abandoned c. ad 700, its inhabitants apparently moved to Yagul, where they undertook the first major constructions at the site. However, the preservation of later buildings has left their work covered over. After ...

Article

Carolyn Tate

Ancient Maya city in the modern state of Chiapas, Mexico, which flourished as an important lowland capital c. 300–810 CE. Yaxchilan occupies the hills and riverbank overlooking a great bend in the Usumacinta River. Its eighteen or nineteen rulers perpetuated a 400-year-long rivalry with Piedras Negras, about 48 km downstream, for control of the subsidiary centers and sacred caves of the region. Yaxchilan’s approximately 130 carved monuments include stelae, lintels, altar-pedestals, thrones, circular ballcourt markers, and five grand hieroglyphic stairways. Their texts and images present the broadest range of ritual activities seen at any Maya site. In addition to the variety of sculptural formats and subjects, some of the monuments of Yaxchilan are widely considered to be among the most skillfully designed and carved of Maya art works. And as at many Pre-Columbian centers, its designers created alignments to solar phenomena as they planned specific buildings.

The site became well known following the explorations of ...

Article

(b Santiago, 1931).

Chilean painter and ceramist. A self-taught painter, in the 1950s and 1960s he based his landscape motifs and colors on the Andes, using very simple forms suggestive of Pre-Columbian textiles in their flat, abstract designs and balanced chromatic effects. It was a question of subjecting archetypal shapes to a subtle and rational play of color. While remaining committed to a careful technique in both his oil paintings and pastels, Yrarrázaval fundamentally changed direction in 1973, when he began to represent isolated and suspended figures undergoing gradual deterioration: faceless and with their bodies swollen as if by internal pressure, they appear to have lost their identity, leaving behind only realistically painted shirts, collars, and ties. The suggestion is of a collective anonymity, an identity crisis embodied in purely external human gestures revealed through social rituals and through the status and prestige accorded to dress and fashion. Yrarrázaval continued in these works to emphasize the material quality of his paintings and the strong three-dimensional illusion of his forms, relying exclusively on the palette knife to reveal or conceal forms by a meticulous modeling of light and shade....

Article

Zaculeu  

George F. Andrews and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site around 4 km from the modern town of Huehuetenango in Guatemala. It flourished as a Highland Maya ceremonial and administrative centre c. ad 600–1525. The ruins of Zaculeu are high in the mountains of western Guatemala, in a relatively flat valley with mountains rising on all sides. Archaeological evidence shows that the site was occupied continuously from the Early Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 600) until its conquest by the Spaniards under the leadership of Gonzalo de Alvarado in 1525. At that time, the site was the Mam Maya capital, although it was evidently subjected to many outside influences and perhaps even conquest by neighbouring tribes during its long history. Most of what is known about Zaculeu is based on the excavations and restorations carried out in 1946–9 under the auspices of the Guatemalan Instituto de Arqueología e Historia. During this time nearly all the main structures were excavated and partly restored, numerous burials uncovered, and collections of ceramics and other artefacts made. Most of these artefacts are in the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología in Guatemala City, and there is a small collection in the site museum....

Article

Zapotal  

Nelly Gutiérrez Solana and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian ceremonial site in central Veracruz, Mexico. It flourished c. ad 500–c. 800 and is notable for the large ceramic figures found there and for one of the few known temples in Mesoamerica dedicated to the god of the underworld. Zapotal has been plundered and some of its sculptures taken abroad; two seated female figures (Brussels, Mus. Royaux A. & Hist.; St Louis, MO, A. Mus.) are probably from Zapotal. Excavations at the site have been carried out by the Universidad Veracruzana since 1971, and most of the artefacts unearthed are in the Universidad Veracruzana, Museo de Antropología, Jalapa.

The site consists of mounds orientated along a north–south axis, two of which measure 10 m and 15 m in height. An offering of numerous terracotta figures and vessels, which had been broken for ritual purposes, was discovered in an artificial platform known as Mound 2 (75×35×4 m). Over 100 burials have also been found. Some contained ‘smiling face’ clay figurines, a type found only in the Veracruz region, and an ossuary composed of a column of 82 skulls and bones was also unearthed. The skeletal remains from tombs bear evidence of human sacrifices....

Article

Zapotec  

John Paddock

Pre-Columbian people and stylistic tradition in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. These people’s name for themselves was Peni-Zaa (‘real people’), but the term Zapotec (‘people of the sweet fruit’) is an Aztec improvisation based on the rough phonetic similarity of zaa and Aztec tsa. There is no simple Zapotec art style, rather an orderly uninterrupted sequence of styles stretching from c. 500 bc to c. ad 800. After 600 bc culture was centred around the hilltop city of Monte Albán. The Zapotec and Mixtec peoples are still the most numerous of the Indian peoples in Oaxaca: the Zapotecs dominate the eastern portion of the state, the Mixtecs the western. Linguistic research, however, suggests that Zapotec inhabitants of the region could date back to c. 4500 bc.

From 1931 the Mexican scholar Alfonso Caso began exploring Monte Albán and the Oaxaca Valley; his work remains a primary source for the study of Zapotec–Mixtec culture. The centuries of isolation essential to a rare case of homogeneous development like that of the Zapotec people of Monte Albán were favoured by topography: range after range of mountains on every side made communication with the central valleys of Oaxaca, at whose confluence Monte Albán rises, laborious and slow. Settled agricultural villages appeared in the valleys, as elsewhere in Mesoamerica, by about ...