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William A. Haviland

Site of a Pre-Columbian Maya city in the Petén region of north-eastern Guatemala. By the 2nd century ad Tikal had become the undisputed political and cultural leader in the southern Maya lowlands, from which it dominated the Maya world c. ad 250–c. 870. During the early part of this period there were extensive trading and political relations with Teotihuacán in the Basin of Mexico. By 593 Tikal was beset by political instability after war against Maya Caracol, but by the late 7th century recovery was under way, and the city experienced a second florescence before its final decline and abandonment in the latter part of the 9th century, for reasons still unclear. Scholarly interest in Tikal began in 1848, when it was visited by Modesto Méndez, Ambrosio Tut and the artist Eusebio Lara, who made somewhat fanciful drawings of several carved monuments and lintels. Over the next 100 years, others mapped, drew and photographed whatever monuments and standing architecture could be seen without excavation. Some objects were removed from the site, most notably carved wooden lintels now in London (BM), Basle (Mus. Vlkerknd) and New York (Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.). (Copies made from moulds of the originals in the European museums have been installed in their proper places in Tikal.) From ...


Margaret Young Sanchez


Tiwanaku is an extensive archaeological site in the Bolivian altiplano (high plains) 3842 m above sea level and 21 km southeast of Lake Titicaca; the name is also applied to a Pre-Columbian culture and political entity that flourished c. 300 bcec. 1150 ce. The site features monumental architecture and monolithic sculpture. Religious imagery carved on Tiwanaku monuments and used to decorate ceramics, carved wood, precious metal objects, and textiles, was widely influential in the south-central and central Andean region (Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Peru).

The ruins of Tiwanaku attracted the attention of Europeans by the mid-16th century, but scientific documentation of the site’s visible architectural and sculptural remains did not begin until the 1800s. In the 20th century, archaeological surveys and excavations at Tiwanaku and in the surrounding region revealed data on the site, its chronology, and its political and economic context, but much remains unexcavated. Centuries of stone-robbing for use in later construction, the cutting of a railway line through the site, lost and unpublished excavation data, and controversial restorations also limit understanding of Tiwanaku and its history....


Jaime Litvak King and Trent Barnes

Site in the Basin of Mexico, now part of modern Mexico City. It was a ceremonial centre and later a city-state, becoming politically and economically incorporated by the Mexica Aztecs of Tenochtitlán in 1473 (see Mexico City §I). Tlatelolco was established on an island in Lake Texcoco, just north of the larger island site of Tenochtitlán. The two islands were eventually connected by canals and chinampa agricultural plots (artificial islet fields anchored to the lake bed). The remaining site ruins comprise a large quadrangular plaza, with buildings surrounding it and a series of pyramid-platforms with temples showing several construction phases. Notable among them is a building with reliefs of calendrical motifs. After the Spanish Conquest several colonial buildings were erected around the plaza, including the church of Santiago de Tlatelolco and a 16th-century manor house, both using materials from the Pre-Columbian structures. A modern tower houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Residential areas of the ancient city presumably lie beneath the modern housing built by the Mexican government in the 1960s....



Susan Bergh


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, ...



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 ...