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Article

Tikal  

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 ...

Article

Duccio Bonavia

Region in South America, centred on Lake Titicaca on Peru’s south-eastern border with Bolivia. It was an important culture area in Pre-Columbian times (see South America, Pre-Columbian, §III), being one of only six areas in the Central Andes large enough to allow important human concentrations. Geographically, it corresponds to the Puno depression of south-eastern Peru and the Bolivian altiplano (a small part of the Andean altiplano that extends as far south as Argentina). Lake Titicaca is endorheic (its waters do not reach the sea) and has a large plateau catchment area, whose rivers all flow into the lake. It has one outlet, the River Desaguadero, which flows into Lake Poopó (also endorheic) in Bolivia. Titicaca, at c. 3809 m above sea-level the highest navigable lake in the world, is surrounded by extensive plains and pastures, which rise gradually to form plateaux (punas) at over 4000 m, until they reach the arid areas at the foot of the snow-capped mountain peaks ...

Article

Margaret Young Sanchez

[Tiahuanaco]

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....

Article

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....

Article

David M. Jones, Jaime Litvak King and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site near the former western shore of Lake Texcoco, now in Mexico City. A village there was occupied c. 2000–c. 300 bc. Discovered in a brickyard, the site was excavated by Miguel Covarrubias for the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia in 1947, by Román Piña Chan in 1952 and 1960, and by Arturo Romano in the 1960s. The evidence was re-examined by Paul Tolstoy and L. T. Paradis in 1970. Tlatilco is famous as a cemetery site, but finds also included triangular, bottle-shaped storage pits, and fragments of wattle-and-daub house walls. Some authorities claim evidence of low one- and two-step platforms, possibly to support temples. Its four developmental phases are related to the archaeological periods of the Basin of Mexico: Ixtapaluca (c. 1400–c. 800 bc), Zacatenco (c. 800–c. 400 bc), Ticomán (c. 400–c. 100 bc), and Patlachique (...

Article

Toltec  

Richard A. Diehl

Term applied to Pre-Columbian peoples of Central Highland Mesoamerica, north of the Basin of Mexico, and to their cultural and artistic traditions.

The Toltecs were one of the dominant cultural and political groups in Mesoamerica during the Early Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–c. 1200). They ruled much of central Mexico from their capital at Tula (Tollan) and strongly influenced groups throughout Mesoamerica and beyond, including northern Mexico and present-day Central America. The oldest extant historical records from Pre-Columbian central Mexico describe Tula and the Toltecs in highly exaggerated terms, but careful study of these sources has allowed scholars to use them as a supplement to archaeological discoveries. The annals stress the multiplicity of ethnic groups comprising Toltec society, specifically mentioning the Nonoalca and Tolteca–Chichimeca. The Náhuatl-speaking Nonoalca may have been priests and élites who abandoned Teotihuacán after c. ad 650; the Tolteca–Chichimeca were migrants from the frontier zone of Mesoamerica in north-central Mexico, who perhaps spoke Otomí. The term Toltec (Náhuatl ...

Article

Tonalá  

David M. Jones and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site in Chiapas, Mexico, 13 km north-east of the modern town of the same name. The ancient site, spread across a mountain slope, was explored by Philip Drucker in 1947 and mapped by Edwin Ferdon in 1949. It comprises five groups of masonry structures, together with various carved stelae, so-called altars, and stone sculptures, many of which appear to be earlier than the final masonry structures. Tonalá was occupied from at least the Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000 bcc. 300 bc) into the Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–1521). Throughout its occupation it appears to have been on a major Mesoamerican north–south communication route and to have played a prominent role in the spread of Olmec ideas and in trade between Teotihuacán in the Central Highlands and the Maya region, part of the traffic across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and down the Pacific Coast to the Maya cities of ...

Article

Toniná  

Claude-François Baudez

revised by Rex Koontz

Pre-Columbian Maya site in the mountains of northeast Chiapas, Mexico. Although its elevation is nearly 900 m above sea-level, the culture and art of Toniná belong to the tradition of the lowland Maya area. Few of the buildings survive, but the originality of the sculptures derives from the city’s peripheral location, which exposed it to artistic trends from diverse sources. Following early visits by various explorers and travelers, including Guillaume Dupaix in 1808 and John L. Stephens in 1840, Frans Blom and Oliver La Farge were responsible for the first systematic study of the site, during the 1920s. Two French expeditions were made to Toniná, in 1972–1973 and 1979–1980, and subsequent excavations have been carried out by Mexican researchers under the auspices of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico.

Toniná reached its apogee between c. 500 and c. 900 ce. Its ceremonial center, known as the Acropolis, is built on a hillside with seven terraces supporting the main civic buildings. The highest terrace is 57 m above an esplanade extending from the southern end of the Acropolis, where there are fewer buildings. There are, however, two ballcourts within this area. Two large pyramids standing side by side occupy almost all of the upper terraces. One has been explored: it stood 19 m high, with four staircases flanked by ramps with repeated, modeled stucco masks of the jaguar, patron of sacrifice and war. ...

Article

Beatriz de la Fuente and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian Olmec site in the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico that flourished c. 1000–c. 400 bc. It was originally called Hueyapan and extends for about 3.5 km along the right bank of the River Hueyapan at the foot of the Tuxtla Mountains. Tres Zapotes was discovered by José Melgar, who found the first Olmec colossal stone head in 1862. Eduard Seler and his wife visited the site in 1905, as did Albert Weyerstall between 1925 and 1927. Both parties found more sculptures. The site was excavated by Matthew Stirling from 1938 to 1940, when the lower half of Stele C was found, with the Maya Long Count date (see Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbian §II) corresponding to 31 bc, then the oldest known inscribed date (Stele 2 at Chiapa de Corzo bears a date of 36 bc, assuming a baktun 7). Stirling described and illustrated the site and more than 20 sculpted monuments, while colleagues ...

Article

Tula  

Richard A. Diehl and Trent Barnes

[Tollan]

Pre-Columbian city in Hidalgo, Mexico, that flourished as the capital city of the Toltec people between c. ad 950 and 1150–1200. Tula occupies a ridge overlooking the River Tula in the arid steppes 60 km north-west of Mexico City. Historically, Tula was the second of three major central Mexican urban polities (Teotihuacán, Tula, and Tenochtitlán) that exerted political, cultural, and artistic influence on other Mesoamerican societies. The Toltecs ruled a small ephemeral empire covering portions of central, north-central, and western Mexico, but their commercial and perhaps political influences extended southwards into Yucatán and Central America.

The community, first settled c. ad 800, grew into a city with a population of perhaps 10,000 by c. 950. Little is known of this early period or Corral phase, but Tula Chico, its largely unexcavated civic–religious precinct, has been identified. Tula Chico consists of platform mounds that once supported buildings arranged around an open plaza in a configuration similar to Tula Grande, the civic–religious precinct of the mature city. Tula Chico was replaced by the much larger ...

Article

Tulum  

George F. Andrews and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian Maya walled site on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, which flourished c. 1200–c. 1520. It lies on the east coast of Quintana Roo c. 40 km south-west of the island of Cozumel, on the summit of a limestone cliff c. 12 m high, facing the Caribbean Sea. The name ‘Tulum’, which means ‘wall’ or ‘fortification’, is modern, but there is reason to believe that its ancient name was Zama, one of the Maya cities that, according to the chronicles, existed at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The conquistador Juan de Grijalva is generally credited with the discovery of Tulum during his expedition by sea along the coast of Quintana Roo in 1518. It was the American explorer John Lloyd Stephens, however, who first drew widespread attention to the site, in 1843, through his descriptions of its principal buildings, which were illustrated with the excellent drawings of his collaborator, ...

Article

Tunja  

Natalia Vega

[Hunza]

City in the central region of Colombia. Capital of the department of Boyacá, it is situated at an altitude of 2793 m and had a population in the late 20th century of c. 180,000. In Pre-Columbian times it was the site of the Muisca village of Hunza, whose wood and straw houses were decorated with gold rattles and hanging plates on the doors and windows. The area was notable for its production of fine cotton blankets. In 1527 the Spanish conquistadors arrived, and in 1539 Gonzalo Suárez Rendón took possession of the land and drew up a conventional Spanish grid plan for the city. The region attracted many Spaniards, who built their houses of lime and rock with clay roofs and decorated the entrances with escutcheons. Between 1541, when it acquired city status, and 1610 Tunja enjoyed similar status to Bogotá. A wide knowledge of humanistic and classical culture is evident in the ambitious ...

Article

Román Piña Chán and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site on the edge of Lake Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico. From c. 1300 to 1525 it was the capital of the Purépecha kingdom, later called Tarascan by the Spaniards, of north-western and lowland Michoacán, adjacent Jalisco and north-western Guerrero. The Relación de Michoacán, an anonymous 16th-century chronicle recorded by a Franciscan missionary c. 1539–41 (Madrid, Escorial, Bib. Monasterio S Lorenzo), relates that the ?14th-century ruler Tariácuri consolidated the Purépecha kingdom and established his capital at Pátzcuaro. He later divided his kingdom, bequeathing Michuacán–Tzintzuntzan to his nephew Tangaxoan I. Thereafter, the site of Tzintzuntzan (‘place of humming-birds’) soon became the Tarascan capital.

Despite the presence of abundant volcanic stone in the region, the Tarascans created neither an imposing architecture nor a monumental art. Nevertheless, their ceremonial precincts included large platform structures that seem to have been in perfect harmony with the lake-filled landscape in which they were built. The city of Tzintzuntzan had at least three ceremonial precincts: one situated at the foot of Cerro Yahuarato, another on the spurs of Cerro Tariaqueri, and a third on the plain bordering the lake. The residential zones of the inhabitants were grouped around these precincts and extended into the hills and along the lake shore. At the time of the Spanish Conquest the population is estimated to have been 40,000. Enormous platforms were built of earth and stone cores clad with rectangular stone slabs set in mud. The platforms, over 400 m long, were terraced and served as stages for temple bases, known as ...

Article

David M. Jones and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site in the northern Petén region, Guatemala. It was a principal Maya political, cultural, and ceremonial centre during the Late Pre-Classic (c. 300 bcc. ad 250) and Classic (c. ad 250–c. 900) periods. Sylvanus G. Morley explored the site in 1916 and made photographs, plans, and drawings. Between 1926 and 1937 further plans and reconstructive drawings were made, and excavations were carried out for the Carnegie Institution of Washington, DC, by Morley, Oliver and Edith Ricketson, A. Ledyard Smith, Robert Smith, Robert Wauchope, Edwin Shook, and Tatiana Proskouriakoff. Uaxactún’s ceramic sequence, which began in the early Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc), established the foundations of Lowland Maya chronology and has ultimately been linked to the ceramic chronologies of most of Mesoamerica. In the Middle Pre-Classic period a few low platforms were the principal constructions, but the earliest pyramidal platforms were erected in the Late Pre-Classic period. The earliest stele to be erected has a Long Count date (...

Article

(b 1856; d 1944).

German archaeologist. His pioneering work in Peru and Bolivia between 1892 and 1912 revolutionized the archaeological study of Pre-Columbian South America. Uhle was trained as a philologist but later took up archaeology. His interest in Peru began when he was curator of the Dresden Museum. From 1892 he conducted field research for the universities of Pennsylvania and California, excavating on the Peruvian coast at Pachacamac and on Moche and Chimú sites. He worked in the valleys of the Chincha and Ica, discovering the production sites of Nazca ceramics. He later extended his work into the Peruvian highlands and to Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile; he also made a notable contribution to North American archaeology with his excavations of the Emeryville shell-mound in San Francisco Bay. His rigorous approach, influenced by the systematic excavations of Flinders Petrie in Egypt, emphasized stratigraphic excavation and the ordering of finds in an evolutionary sequence as a means of establishing chronology. The basic chronological framework he established for Pre-Columbian South America has only been superseded in the later 20th century....

Article

Uxmal  

Jeremy A. Sabloff and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian Maya site in the Puuc region of the Northern Maya Lowlands of Yucatán, Mexico, c. 80 km south-west of the modern city of Mérida. It flourished c. ad 800–c. 1000, at the end of the Late Classic period (c. ad 600–c. 900) and the beginning of the Early Post-Classic period (c. ad 900–c. 1200), but was also occupied earlier. Uxmal was one of the major Puuc sites that rose to prominence at a critical juncture in the development of Maya civilization, when the great sites of the Classic period (c. ad 250–c. 900) in the Southern Maya Lowlands collapsed and the cultural and geographic focus of Lowland civilization shifted to the Northern Maya Lowlands. Uxmal appears to have been the largest Puuc site and is certainly the most famous. Major construction there ceased by the end of the 11th century ...

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Annemarie Seiler-Baldinger

In 

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Beatriz de la Fuente

In 

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Peter W. Stahl and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian culture of Ecuador that flourished between c. 4000 bc and c. 1500 bc. It was the first major cultural manifestation along the south and south-western coasts of Ecuador and was defined by E. Estrada in 1956 from excavations at site G-31 near the modern coastal town of Valdivia, Guayas Province, from which it takes its name. It is classed archaeologically as part of the Intermediate area (see South America, Pre-Columbian §II). Valdivia remains have since been found in the lower Gulf of Guayaquil, northward through coastal areas, the Guayas Basin, and in the north of Manabí Province. Early pottery with similar stylistic affinities has been found in northern Peru, in the southern and northern highlands of Ecuador and in areas east of the Andes. Study of the highly distinctive Valdivia pottery, particularly from the south coast of Ecuador, has led archaeologists to develop an eight-phase cultural sequence. It has been suggested that Valdivia is ancestral to the subsequent Machalilla phase (...

Article

Joan K. Lingen and Trent Barnes

Pre-Columbian site on the Gulf of Panama, just west of the Panama Canal and c. 16 km from the 16th-century settlement of Old Panama in the Canal Zone. It is noted for its large number of burials and their accompanying grave goods. The site was discovered in 1948 and excavated in 1951 by Neville A. Harte, Samuel K. Lothrop, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, where the finds are held. Further excavations were directed by Thelma Bull in 1958. The excavations recovered 369 bodies in both individual and group graves. Lothrop described some of these as ‘bathtub’ burials, with the bodies placed in the grave floors either in an extended or a flexed position. More important people were buried in side chambers cut into the rock. In some cases, infants had been placed in urns and buried with an adult. Lothrop believed these bodies represented natural deaths, suicides, and sacrificial victims. Many had obviously been mutilated by decapitation, amputation, or dismemberment. According to Claude Baudez, this differential treatment of the dead suggests a stratified society....