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Science in Central America and South America

By | 2017-09-10T14:57:10+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Central America, Science, South America|

A rubber ball made by the Olmec people (about 1000 BC) With different natural resources available to them, the people of South America and Central America invented different things than the people of Europe, Asia, or Africa did. One early invention was rubber. The Olmec people invented rubber (in fact the word "Olmec" means "rubber people" in the Aztec language, Nahuatl). The Olmec began to [...]

Maya gods and rituals – Central American religion

By | 2017-09-10T13:09:15+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Central America, Religion|

Maya pyramid at Tonina (ca. 700 AD) Maya people believed that the world was created by One Deer. One Deer created the mother and father of the gods (like Brahma and Gayatri or Gaia and Kronos). Then the mother and father created many other gods. They created the gods of the crops like the Corn God, the god [...]

Central and South American religion

By | 2017-09-10T10:53:07+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Central America, Religion, South America|

Maya Corn King on a plate The people who lived in South and Central America before 1500 were polytheistic - they believed in many different gods. Because they lived pretty near one another, and ate many of the same foods, some of their gods were pretty much the same. The Mayan Corn God, for example, [...]

Mayan Corn God – Central American religion

By | 2017-09-10T10:38:34+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Central America, Religion|

Maya pyramid to the Corn God at Tonina (ca. 700 AD) Because corn (maize) was Mayan people's main food, their most important god was the Corn God. A popular Mayan story was the story of the Maize Mountain - click here to read the story. More about Mayan religion More about the Maya people Bibliography and [...]

Aztec gods and rituals – Central American religion

By | 2017-09-09T23:48:53+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Central America, Religion|

The Aztec god of seeds, Xipe Totec (ca 1500 AD) Aztec people, like the people of China, India, or Africa at this time, were polytheistic - they had many gods. Many of these gods were parts of nature. Coatlicue was the god of creation. Xipe Totec was the seeds to be planted, that would grow into food (like Persephone for the Greeks). Tlaloc [...]

Maya writing – Ancient Central America

By | 2017-09-09T23:45:08+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Central America, Literature|

A page from the Madrid Codex It's possible that the Maya learned how to write from the Olmec, but there aren't any definite examples of early Olmec writing, so it might also have been the Maya who invented writing in the Americas. Like most other writing systems, Maya writing is a syllabary, not an [...]

Corn and Maize Mountain – A Mayan story

By | 2017-09-09T23:42:29+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Central America, Literature|

A bolt of lightning in the sky Maya people liked to tell a story about how people first got corn (maize) to eat. There were a lot of different versions of this story. But they mostly had the same basic idea. They said that at one time all the corn was hidden inside a mountain, and [...]

Aztec language, writing, and literature

By | 2017-09-09T23:39:39+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Central America, Literature|

An Aztec book, or codex (ca 1500 AD) The Aztec system of writing was very much like the Maya system. Probably the Aztec people learned how to write from the Maya. Aztec writers wrote their literature in books, which folded like a fan. We call these books codices (one codex, two or more codices). Aztec writers [...]

Who were the Zapotec? Central American history

By | 2017-09-09T18:05:48+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Central America, History|

A Zapotec head The Zapotec civilization, like the Maya, grew up in the region that had been ruled by the Olmec, after the collapse of Olmec power about 500 BC. The main city of the Zapotec kings was Monte Alban (in modern Mexico). The Zapotec developed their own hieroglyphic writing system, possibly building on earlier Olmec [...]

Who were the Olmec? Central American history

By | 2017-09-09T17:56:29+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Central America, History|

Olmec clay statue ca. 1100-500 BC The earliest state government in North or South America was the Olmec. They formed their state about 1200 BC. This is about the time of the Mycenaean kingdoms in Greece, or the Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, or the Assyrians in West Asia. So the Olmec aren't the first state in the world, but they were [...]