Pre- Columbian Civiliations

Abbey Williams and Sam Hager


The Olmecs were the first pre-Columbian civilization of Mesoamerica. The Olmecs lived in very hot and humid lowlands along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The aztec name for these people is Olmecatl, but in modern language means "rubber people". These people extracted latex from trees that were growing in the area and mixed it with the juice of a local vine to create rubber. The Chief site included; San Lorenzo, La Venta, Laguna do los cerros, and Tres Zaotes. (all of these were located in southern Mexico.) The Olemcs developed one of the first writing systems in the Americas.


In the early 21st century, some 70 Mayan languages were spoken by more than 5 million people, most of which were bilingual in Spanish. The Mayans possessed one of the greatest civilizations of the Western Hemisphere. They developed an agriculture based on corn, beans, squash, and cassava. The Principle Cities were; Tikal, Uaxactun, copn, Bonampak, Dos Pilas, Calakmul, Palenque, and Rio Bec. The peak of Mayan Population was 2 million people, and most of them were settled in the lowlands of what is now Guatemala.


Another name for the Aztecs was Aztlan "White Land". Elements of their tradition suggest that they were a tribe of hunters and gatherers on the northern Mexican plateau. The Aztecs ruled a very large empire in the 15th and early 16th centuries. The Aztec referred to themselves as Culhua-Mexica, to link themselves to Colhuacan, the center of the most civilized people of the Valley of Mexico. Aztec religion was syncretistic, absorbing elements from many other Mesoamerican cultures, they believe in 13 heavens and 9 underworlds.


Teotihuacan is the largest and most important city of pre-Aztec Mexico. Is was located roughly 30 miles from modern day Mexico City. The city took up 8 square miles and housed about 150,000 people. The city began in about 400 B.C but didn't start growing until nearly 3 centuries later. In about 750 A.D the city burned possibly in a civil war.


Inca, also spelled Inka, were South American Indians who at the time of the Spanish Conquest in 1532, ruled and empire that extended along the Pacific coast and Andean highlands from the northern border of the Ecuador to the Maule River in central Chile. One thing the Incas had in common with other Andeans cultures is that they left no written records.


The Toltecs held sway over Central Mexico from the 10th to the 12th century. "Toltec" means unbanite or cultured people. The Toltecs sacked and burned the great city Teotihuacan. The Toltecs fromed states into an empire around the 10th century. In the 12th century, an invasion destroyed Toltec harmony in Central Mexico.