Show Summary Details

Page of

 Printed from Grove Art Online. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 07 December 2019

Mesoamerica, Pre-Columbianlocked

  • Robert D. Drennan,
  • H. B. Nicholson,
  • Elizabeth Baquedano,
  • Peter W. Stahl,
  • Eloise Quiñones Keber,
  • Christine Niederberger,
  • Muriel Porter-Weaver,
  • David M. Jones,
  • Paul Gendrop,
  • Richard F. Townsend,
  • H. Stanley Loten,
  • Phil C. Weigand,
  • Emily Umberger,
  • Beatriz de la Fuente,
  • Elizabeth Hill Boone,
  • Nelly Gutiérrez Solana,
  • Elizabeth K. Easby,
  • Anthony Alan Shelton,
  • Christian F. Feest,
  • Warwick Bray,
  • Kieran Costello,
  • Roberto Rivera y Rivera,
  • José Alcina Franch,
  • Patricia Rieff Anawalt,
  • Lawrence G. Desmond
  •  and Hasso Von Winning


Term used to designate the Pre-Columbian region comprising present-day central and central-southern Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, and parts of Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Culturally it was one of two New World areas where civilization developed (the other being the central Andes, home of the Incas; see South America, Pre-Columbian, §III). In Mesoamerica a set of technological, social, economic, religious and political traits was shared by several different cultures, including the Aztec, Huastec, Maya, Mixtec, Tarascan, Teotihuacán, Toltec, Totonac, West Mexican and Zapotec. This set of cultural traits is recognizable as early as 1500 bc and continued, with additions, up to the Spanish Conquest in 1519. There was considerable regional diversity in details—some linger even today—but the presence of this elaborate cultural pattern set Mesoamerica apart from its neighbours to the north and south.

The northern boundary of Mesoamerica corresponded approximately to the northern limit of sufficient rainfall for reliable agriculture, and this was always the most clearly defined of its frontiers (...

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.

S. Sadie, ed.: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 3 vols (London, 1984)