Week One
Mesoamerica and Beyond

I. The Formative/Pre-Classic period

A. 8000-3500 B.C.E., domestication of crops

B. 3000-1800 B.C.E., agricultural economies and
settled villages

C. 1800-300 B.C.E., emergence of cities, temples and pyramids, trade, writing

-Olmecs (Veracruz "Olmec Heartland" and Central Mexico; San Lorenzo, 1200-900 B.C.E.)

-Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Mixe-Zoque (Oaxaca)

-Maya : highland (Guatemala, Chiapas) and lowland (Guatemala, Belize, Yucatan)

II. Language and Culture

A. 7-11 language families w/ +/-63 surviving languages and many more dialects. Most commonly known:

-Mixtec (western Oaxaca)

-Zapotec (eastern Oaxaca)

-Nahuatl (central and western Mexico, eastern Huasteca (Veracruz)

    • Varieties in Chiapas and El Salvador
    • Varieties in northern Mexico

-Maya (Guatemala, Yucatan, Chiapas, Belize, Huasteca (Veracruz)

    • 28 surviving, most variety in Chiapas and Guatemala
    • K'iche' Maya, language of Popol Wuj (highlands)
    • Yucatec Maya, language of Yucatan peninsula (lowlands)

III. The Mesoamerican calendar(s)

-ritual (tzolk'in):

13 numbers + 20 day names = 260 days to return to where it started.

1 Imix, 2 Ik, 3 Ak'bal, 4 K'an, etc. takes 260 days to return to I Imix

The oldest calendar, earliest examples from Olmec/Oaxaca region c. 900 B.C.E.

-solar (haab):

18 months of 20 days + 5 "dangerous" extra days at end of year = 365 days

-Calendar round/Divinatory calendar:

Combo of both, one cycle = 52 years. This "century"/transition marked by New Fire Ceremony

-Maya Long Count:

A cycle of 13 bak'tuns (about 5,128 yrs each), began on Aug. 12, 3114 B.C.E., Calendar Round 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u. Next bak'tun was Returned to on Dec. 21, 2012 C.E. with a different Calendar Round date, 4 Ajaw 3 K'ank'in.

-k'in = day
-uinal = 20 days
-tun = 18 uinals (+/- one solar year)
-k'atun = 20 tuns (+/- 20 years)
-bak'tun = 400 tuns (+/- 400 years)