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Joan K. Lingen

Pre-Columbian site, sometimes referred to as the Temple Site, near Penonomé on the Río Caño, Coclé Province, central Panama. Major excavation was undertaken in 1925 by Hyatt Verrill, who referred to El Caño as a large ceremonial precinct with rows of stone columns, of which at least 100 had carved human or animal figures up to 2.1 m tall. The ceramics from El Caño are so similar to the elaborate polychrome ware from Sitio Conte, c. 5 km to the south, that the two sites must have been contemporaneous. Olga Linares interpreted El Caño as a funerary or ceremonial centre or both, used from c. ad 500 until c. 900 and then abandoned. Nevertheless, the site was occupied at the time of the Spanish Conquest in the mid-16th century. The sculptures and associated ceramics have been acquired by numerous collections, including the Museo Nacional de Panamá, Panama City; the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, New York; and the Museum Rietberg, Zurich....


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 ...


Muriel Porter-Weaver

Pre-Columbian culture and ceramic assemblage found in Mexico. It is named after the Capacha ceramics from Colima and part of Jalisco and the site of El Opeño in Michoacán, which flourished during the Early Pre-Classic period (c. 2000–c. 1000 bc). Similar ceramic assemblages from these sources, along with other shared cultural features, indicate early contact between Mesoamerica and north-west South America (see below).

The Capacha ceramic assemblage, radiocarbon dated to c. 1350 bc, was named by Isabel Kelly. It consists largely of pottery once placed in graves or tombs but subsequently looted. Although no living sites or mounds are known, the ceramics are the oldest so far found in Colima. The pottery is predominantly monochrome and made of a thick, heavy, grainy paste. The most common form is a large, open-mouthed jar with a cinctured body, measuring up to 380 mm high and locally called a bule...



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 1938 and first explored by Linton Satterthwaite (University of Pennsylvania) and A. Hamilton Anderson (first archaeological commissioner of Belize) in the 1950s. The central part of the site was mapped, several buildings and tombs were excavated, and a series of carved stone monuments was discovered. The iconography of the monuments indicates that Caracol developed a distinct regional style during the Early Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 600); this style was subsequently adopted in much of the Maya region. A. F. Chase and D. Z. Chase have documented the dominance of Caracol during the so-called Maya hiatus of ...


Janet Henshall Momsen, C. J. M. R. Gullick, Kusha Haraksingh, Liliana Herrera, Alissandra Cummins, C. C. McKee, Ricardo E. Alegria and Mela Pons-Alegria

Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, comprising numerous islands scattered in a wide arc stretching from Cuba to Aruba. The islands may be divided into three groups: the Greater Antilles, consisting of Cuba, Hispaniola (divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, and Jamaica; the chain of small islands from the Virgin Islands to Aruba known as the Lesser Antilles; and the islands to the north of the Greater Antilles that form the Bahamas (see fig.). This article discusses the major cultures found throughout the Caribbean Islands and their influence and importance within the region. For more detailed surveys of specific arts and artists, see the individual islands’ surveys.

Janet Henshall Momsen, C. J. M. R. Gullick and Kusha Haraksingh, bibliography contributed by Liliana Herrera

The islands cover a total land area of 234,000 sq. km, and their geology falls into three areas: the faultblock mountains of the Greater Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, and the islands close to the north coast of South America; the volcanic peaks of the inner arc of the Lesser Antilles; and the limestone plateaux of parts of Cuba, the Bahamas, and the outer arc of the Lesser Antilles. The climate is marine tropical, with local variations based on wind direction and altitude. There is a risk of hurricanes in summer months. Rainfall largely determines vegetation, but most of the original forest has been cleared for cultivation....


Pedro Querejazu

(b La Paz, 1933).

Bolivian sculptor. He taught himself to sculpt by studying Pre-Columbian sculpture and ceramics. Between 1959 and 1961 he traveled in several Latin American countries; he then lived in Europe for twelve years, working in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Switzerland. While in Europe he married the Swiss sculptor Francine Secretan, with whom he returned to Bolivia in 1974, settling in La Paz. In 1964 he was awarded the first “Queen Elizabeth” prize in the 10th International Sculpture Biennale in Brussels. Carrasco’s preferred materials were stone and bronze. His subject matter was based on the knowledge of the age-old traditions of native peoples and on their relation to nature, although his work is modernist in appearance. His earliest works represent seated women and later the munachis, or love and fertility amulets. In the early 1970s his art became more synthetic, more cryptic, and abstract. During this period his interpretation of the genesis of life was notable, conveyed in enormous spheres that were split open to reveal magical interior worlds. After returning to Bolivia his art became more figurative, as in ...


David M. Jones

Pre-Columbian site, also the name given to an archaeological culture and region of northern Chihuahua, Mexico. Between c. 1060 and c. 1340 the site of Casas Grandes was an administrative centre and emporium, known as Paquimé, for a vast region of some 87,000 sq. km of northern Mexico. Paquimé may have been established by merchant groups from Mesoamerica to the south. The evidence of trade throughout the region, and of the influence of Mesoamerican religious cults, demonstrates extensive contact with the cities of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (see Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian, §I, 4) and with the communities of the Southwest USA (see Native North American art, §I, 2, (i)). Trade items included marine shells, turquoise and other minerals, exotic birds, and finished decorative pieces made of shell, pottery, and stone.

Throughout the region the inhabitants built integrated systems of check dams, terraces, ditches, and reservoirs to collect run-off water in order to increase agricultural productivity. Between ...


Henning Bischof

Pre-Columbian site near Casma, Ancash Department, on the northern coast of Peru. The site, known especially for its clay and stone reliefs, dates from the late Pre-Ceramic period (c. 2500–c. 1800 bc) or Initial Period (c. 1800–c. 900 bc). There is no evidence for ceramics contemporary with the main construction phases, which are dated by thermoluminescence and radiocarbon analyses to c. 1800–c. 1500 bc. Stratigraphic superimpositions support this date, placing Cerro Sechín before the Chavín culture. There were also several less significant reoccupations, especially during the Chimú period (c. ad 1200–c. 1500).

First excavated by Julio C. Tello in 1937, Cerro Sechín was re-excavated and partially reconstructed by Arthur Jiménez Borja, Lorenzo Samaniego, and Alberto Bueno between 1969–74. Further investigations were carried out from 1979–85 by the Catholic University of Peru. Most of the carvings remain in situ, although some were removed to the Museo Nacional de Antropología y Arqueología, Lima, and a few others were stolen. The ...


W. Iain Mackay

Series of Pre-Columbian cultures that flourished in Chachapoyas Province, Department of Amazonas, northern highland Peru, tentatively dated between the 10th and the 15th centuries ad. The region lies partly in the Andean highlands and partly in the high rainforest of the Amazon Basin, at heights ranging between 3000 m and 1800 m above sea level. The large number of planned fortified cities and settlements located along the upper reaches of the Utcubamba River includes such sites as Kuelap, Yalap, Levanto, Revash and Vituya Viejo. Some of these may date from the Middle Horizon (c. ad 600–c. 1000), and continued in use until the arrival of the Spaniards. In 1950 Henri Reichlen and Paule Reichlen postulated a chronology for the region, beginning with the occupation of Kuelap and ending with Revash.

In his Comentarios reales the chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega refers to the conquest of the Chachas...


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 (...


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 Roman Piña Chan (1953) and by David Grove (1972–6).

Chalcatzingo was established in the centre of the Amatzinac Valley between two large hills that dominate the valley floor, the Cerro Chalcatzingo and the Cerro Delgado. The slopes, first occupied c. 1400 bc, were terraced c. 1000 bc. During Chalcatzingo’s zenith—c. 700–c. 500 bc—public and élite earthen and stone-faced platform mounds were built on the upper terraces, while residential structures were spread across the lower terraces. Although excavated artefacts show the Chalcatzingans to have been culturally central Mexican, the monuments indicate close associations with the Gulf Coast Olmec culture. Its public architecture and monumental art distinguish Chalcatzingo from most other Pre-Classic Central Highland sites....


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 c. 3 sq. km. Initial excavation and restoration of the Tazumal group was conducted by S. H. Boggs in 1950, and the entire site was investigated by Robert Sharer on behalf of the Chalchuapa Project of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 1966–70. The latter project documented sedentary occupation at Chalchuapa from c. 1200 bc to the Spanish Conquest of 1521, with a severe decline following the Ilopango volcanic eruption of c. ad 200. Major architectural and sculptural development began in the Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc) and culminated by the end of the Late Pre-Classic period (...


John R. Topic and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site at the juncture of the Moche and Chicama valleys in northern coastal Peru, and capital city of the ancient kingdom of Chimú, flourishing c. ad 850–1470. The ruins of Chan Chan overlook the Pacific Ocean from a bluff near modern Trujillo. Watercolours of c. 1789 commissioned by Bishop Baltazar Jaime Martínez de Compañon y Bujanda include plans of Chan Chan and some drawings of artefacts from the site. In the 19th century further plans and drawings were made by Mariano Eduardo Rivero, Ephraim George Squier, and Adolph Bandelier. Extensive archaeological work was conducted between 1969 and 1975 under the direction of Michael E. Moseley and Carol J. Mackey; the collections resulting from these excavations are held by the Instituto Nacional de Cultura in Trujillo.

The core of the city covers approximately 6 sq. km, but its walled fields, isolated pyramids, and cemeteries extend over more than 20 sq. km. High walls subdivide the site into isolated units that are often repetitive in their internal organization; at ground level this gives the impression of a vast maze, but from the air the unity and order of the overall site plan can be appreciated. At the centre of the city is a rectilinear area measuring ...



Jane Feltham

Pre-Columbian culture of South America. It centred on the Chancay Valley of the central Peruvian coast, ranging north and south to the Fortaleza and Lurín valleys, and is known for its distinctive pottery and textile styles. Chancay culture flourished between c. ad 1100 and 1470, under Chimú rulership in the 15th century. Vessels and textiles have been found at such sites as Cerro Trinidad, Lauri and Pisquillo, mostly in graves covered with stout timbers and a layer of earth.

Chancay vessels were made by coiling; modelled features sometimes occur, but elaborate jars were moulded. The fabric, fired to a light orange, is thin and porous. Some vessels are covered with a plain white slip, but most are also painted with brownish-black designs. Forms include bowls, goblets, tumblers, cylindrical jars and ovoid jars with rounded bases and narrow, bulging necks that sometimes end in a flaring rim. Vessel heights range from 60 mm for bowls to 750 mm for jars. Animals (especially birds and reptiles) and humans are frequently modelled on the upper shoulder or around a handle. More elaborate jars are zoomorphic or consist of two flasks connected by a bridge. Some show scenes, such as a dignitary being carried on a litter. Vertical black bands often divide design areas, within which are patterns of stripes, wavy lines, crosshatching, diamonds, triangles and dots, chequers, volutes and stylized birds or fishes, sometimes in assymetrical halves. Characteristic of the style are large, necked jars with faces (known as ...


Patricia Strathern

(b Fleurieux, Rhône, May 2, 1828; d Paris, Oct 24, 1915).

French photographer, archaeologist, and writer. An intrepid traveller, he used photography as a method of recording and documenting the sites he explored and wrote about. He left for the USA in 1857, spending two years in Mexico from 1857 to 1859. Using the wet collodion process and large plates, his photography (e.g. Mexico—Chichen Itza, c. 1858; see Berger and Levrault, cat. no. 40) was something of a technical feat in the circumstances. He returned to Europe in 1861, and his first book, Antiquités mexicaines, was published the same year. In 1863 he photographed in Madagascar and from 1864 to 1880 worked in South America, Java, Australia, and Canada. In 1880 he returned to Mexico, where he made some important archaeological discoveries in Pre-Columbian sites.

See also: Pre-Columbian sources in American architecture; Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian, §X, 1.



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. 900–c. 300/200 bc).

The stone sculpture and architecture at Chavín de Huántar first attracted scientific attention in the late 19th century. In 1939 the Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello presented his evidence that the Chavín culture formed the basis of Pre-Columbian civilization in Peru, a view that was soon generally accepted. Although many achievements have been attributed to Chavín, its diagnostic features remain the style and iconography of the stone-carvings found at the ruins at Chavín de Huántar. However, it is no longer thought that this site itself was the source of all related phenomena.

Archaeological finds with Chavín features occur over a range of ...


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 c. 200 bc to c. ad 1000.

The importance of Chavín de Huántar was never entirely forgotten during the Spanish colonial period, and the ruins attracted 19th-century travellers, including Charles Wiener and Ernst W. Middendorf. The first systematic study of the ruins (from 1919) was carried out by the Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello, who by the early 1930s had conceptualized the Chavín culture as the fountainhead of central Andean civilization. ...


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 Tula in Hidalgo have suggested that the Central-Highland Mesoamericans invaded Yucatán and forced the local Maya to construct buildings and carve sculptures featuring their own forms and motifs. Central Mexican architectural elements include colonnaded structures, serpent columns, and balustrades, and walls with sloping base sections (see Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian, §III). Sculptures show a preference for serial group arrangements and narrative compositions. Warrior figures with ‘pillbox’ headdresses, butterfly pectorals, and atlatls (spearthrowers) are prominent, along with depictions of warrior animal totems (jaguars and eagles), chacmools (reclining offertory figures), and Central Mexican gods such as Tezcatlipoca and Tlalchitonatiuh (...



John R. Topic

Pre-Columbian kingdom on the north coast of Peru; the term is also used of an associated culture and art style. Chimú art developed, from earlier roots, during the period c. ad 850–1000, flourished from c. 1000 to 1470, and continued, with modifications, into Spanish colonial times. The Chimú capital, Chan Chan, may have been founded as early as ad 850, but the kingdom did not attain more than local importance until c. ad 1200. Although both were centred in the Moche Valley, the precise relationship between Chimú and the earlier Moche culture is uncertain, particularly because the nature of Huari cultural intrusion on Moche culture is unclear. At the peak of its expansion, c. 1470, the Chimú kingdom controlled the entire northern coast of Peru from the modern border of Ecuador southward almost to Lima. Within this area there were several local styles before the Chimú conquest, and the Chimú sometimes borrowed techniques and motifs. The Chimú were themselves conquered in the final quarter of the 15th century by the ...


José Alcina Franch

Pre-Columbian city that flourished c. ad 1450–1540, 28 km (by road) north of Cuzco, Peru; excavated by José Alcina between 1968 and 1970. The town centre is on a high plateau, 3720 m above sea level, near Lake Piuray on the old road from Cuzco to the Yucay Valley. Chinchero was ‘founded’ as an Inca imperial city at the beginning of the reign of Tupac Inca Yupanqui (reg ad 1471–93) and became the country residence of his panaka (lineage group). The proximity of Cuzco—15 km by the Inca road—meant that the architecture of Chinchero was heavily influenced by the imperial Inca style (see also South America, Pre-Columbian, §III, 2, (iii)).

The urban nature of the site is evident not only from the size and quality of its buildings but also from the way they are sited. There was an internal communication system and also a drainage system that catered for the whole area, ensuring the draining of all residual waters into the ravine adjacent to the site. The city-plan can be divided into three sectors: a residential and administrative sector, a religious sector and an agricultural sector. The first two evolved around two squares, that of the present village and the ...