Ancient Americas: A Brief History and Guide to Research by Hanns J. Prem

By Hanns J. Prem

Outlines the significantly lengthy and complicated cultural heritage of Mesoamerica, in addition to the Andean continuum. It combines an outline of pre-Columbian historic occasions and events with a attention of vital study difficulties and efforts and areas the final flowering of indigenous complicated civizations inside of their respective geographic and sociocultural frameworks.

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Trade of goods for daily consumption took place over considerable distances, because hard stones and obsidian had to be imported in the lowlands, which were poor in raw materials. This was true even more so for luxury items. Whether there was a specific group of people who specialized in such trading (this was attributed to the group putun)or not is uncertain. TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGEThe technical knowledge of the Mayans was comparable to that elsewhere in Mesoamerica. However, as a special invention of their own, bottle-shaped hollows were sunk several meters deep into the limestone and served as storerooms in the southern lowlands and as cisterns in the northern lowlands.

REASONSAt the end of the Classic there was a destruction of central power in the city-states. The collapse occurred everywhere, not at the same time, but so fast that frequently half-finished buildings were not completed. Population numbers and complexity were drastically reduced. The nobility, experienced in rituals and specialized techniques, seemed to have vanished. Reasons for the decline are still obscure. The simple hypotheses based on one main reason, which have so far been suggested in large numbers, usually are not satisfactory explanations.

Page 9 STRATIFICATION OF THE POPULATIONStatements about the presence of social groups can be supported only by indirect evidence. At the head of society there were administration officials; possibly the same persons held the higher priestly offices (a theocratic system often is visualized). Their tasks were administration and organization of a large community that had to be supplied from the outside, planning of building concepts, and supervision of construction. Then there were artisans for shaping obsidian, manufacturing ceramics, building houses, painting murals, and making stone sculptures.

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