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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

In 

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Article

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

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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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

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 ...