Portal:Mesoamerica

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Classic Period royal palace at Palenque

Mesoamerica (Spanish: Mesoamérica) is a region and cultural area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries.

As a cultural area, Mesoamerica is defined by a mosaic of cultural traits developed and shared by its indigenous cultures. Beginning as early as 7000 BC the domestication of maize, beans, squash and chili, as well as the turkey and dog, caused a transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent formative period, agriculture and cultural traits such as a complex mythological and religious tradition, a vigesimal numeric system, and a complex calendric system, a tradition of ball playing, and a distinct architectural style, were diffused through the area. Also in this period villages began to become socially stratified and develop into chiefdoms with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods such as obsidian, jade, cacao, cinnabar, Spondylus shells, hematite, and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important.

Among the earliest complex civilizations was the Olmec culture which inhabited the Gulf coast of Mexico. In the Preclassic period, complex urban polities began to develop among the Maya and the Zapotecs. During this period the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures, and the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya Hieroglyphic script. Mesoamerica is one of only five regions of the world where writing was independently developed. In Central Mexico, the height of the Classic period saw the ascendancy of the city of Teotihuacan, which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area and northward. During the Epi-Classic period the Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North. During the early post-Classic period Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, and the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán. Towards the end of the post-Classic period the Aztecs of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mesoamerica.Template:/box-footer

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The San Miguel volcano dominates the local topography

Quelepa is an important archaeological site located in eastern El Salvador. The site was founded around 400 BC, in the Late Preclassic period (500 BC - AD 250). The inhabitants constructed a platform from plaster and pumice and rebuilt it a number of times. Artefacts recovered during the excavations of the site indicate that the local population depended upon subsistence agriculture, these artefacts included metates (a kind of mortar) and comales (a type of griddle). The site belonged to the Mesoamerican cultural region. Quelepa is generally considered to have been settled by the Lenca people. Quelepa means "stone jaguar" in the Lenca language, probably in reference to the large Jaguar Altar found at the site.

Throughout its occupational history, the inhabitants crafted stone tools from obsidian. The site appears to have been linked to trade routes to western El Salvador and the Guatemalan Highlands and also to the north in Honduras.

Although sites in western El Salvador were severely affected by the eruption of the Ilopango Volcano in the Early Classic, the only affect this had upon Quelepa was the cutting of trade routes into Mesoamerica. This did not result in stagnation at the site but rather resulted in the florescence of a local culture.

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The name glyph of Ha' K'in Xook

Ha' K'in Xook (Mayan pronunciation: [haʔ k’in ʃoːk]), also known as Ruler 6, was an ajaw of Piedras Negras, an ancient Maya settlement in Guatemala. He ruled during the Late Classic Period, from 767–780 AD. Ha' K'in Xook was a son of Itzam K'an Ahk II, and he ascended the throne upon the death of his brother, Yo'nal Ahk III. Ha' K'in Xook's reign seems to have ended either with his death or his abdication in favor of his brother K'inich Yat Ahk II, but archaeologists and Mayanists have not come to a clear consensus on this. Ha' K'in Xook left behind several monuments, including stelae at Piedras Negras and a stone fragment from El Porvenir. In addition, a stone seat known as Throne 1 which was erected by K'inich Yat Ahk II, records either the death or abdication of Ha' K'in Xook.

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