Other Cultures of Ancient Mexico

A lot of this information is highly questionable as different authorities have differing opinions. Since the field of Mesoamerican history is still in flux, it may be some time before all this is pinned down. Following is the impressions I have gleaned but they are, by no means, presented as concrete or final.

Zapotecs, c.500BC-1600AD

In the Valley of Oaxaca, Monte Alban is probably their most famous site and is wrapped up in astronomical alignments. Many historians think the script assigned to the Olmecs was actually a proto-Zapotecan script. They and the Mixtecs were renowned as artists and found employ with the Aztec emperors.

Their religion and calendar were like the remainder of Mesoamerica, and they believed their ancestors had emerged from caves to become jaguars that changed into people. This theme is reminiscent of some of the Mayan tales.

Their political power was broken by the Aztecs but they continued their cultural centers until broken by the Spaniards.

Mixtecs, dates uncertain

Apparently from the Valley of Oaxaca as well as the group above and succeeded the Zapotecs at Monte Alban. They were famed for their artistry and Mixtec artists were found at the Aztec capital.

There was also a Mixtec enclave found at Teotihuacan, but it is uncertain if they represented their tribe at that city or were merely squatters setting up shop in the ruins of the great city.

Toltecs, c.900-1200AD

They were once thought to perhaps be an empire of 900-1200AD but now generally believed to be nothing but a word meaning “civilized”; therefore the mythical ancestors of the Aztecs were not a single people as earlier surmised but any civilization who preceded them.

Many historians still cling to the notion that these specific Toltecs were the builders of Teotihuacan though the majority of artifacts does not corroborate the idea. The idea originally came from the Aztecs but it is now believed to be from the more general definition of the term rather than the specific.

The people now termed as Toltecs came from the town of Tula and eventually moved eastward to control parts of the apparently abandoned Maya city-states. They were the apparent rulers at such sites as Chichen Itza.

Chichimecs, various dates

This term applies to a variety of tribes in northern Mexico (and probably the southern United States as well, specifically southern Arizona and New Mexico) who were termed “barbaric nomads” by the civilized tribes of the south, notably the Aztecs.

And the Aztecs should know as they were probably one of the Chichimec tribes before their adventures took them to the southern area. A lot of these tribes offer some interesting middle ground between the civilized south and the tribes of the American southwest who also seem to have had knowledge of the ball game and similar tales of their origins.

Aztecs, c.1250-1522

Probably the best known of all the native Mexican tribes as these were the ones who were in control of the region when the Spaniards arrived. They made a lasting impression on their conquerors through their rather large blood-letting spectacles.

They arrived in the Valley of Mexico around 1250 and founded the town of Tenochtitlan around 1325. They became a dominant power about 1450, their short-lived empire being crushed by Cortés in 1521.

A lot can be found about this culture, on the web and elsewhere.

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2 Responses to “Other Cultures of Ancient Mexico”

  1. The Mayan Prophecies | 2012 Pole Shift | 2012 predictions, mayan prophecies, armageddon 2012 Says:

    […] Other Cultures of Ancient Mexico « 2012 Talk […]

    • rsmarshal Says:

      Not only is the page you linked not available, I tried to respond to one of your blogs and the comment function did not work.

      But thanks anyway.

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