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The cylindrical urn is concealed behind the human figure. The dress 
of the human figure consists of a cape, apron and a widespreading 
headdress. Over the face is worn a mask. 





1 1 







THIS little book is intended as a general commentary 
and explanation of the more important phases of 
the ancient life and arts of the Indians of Mexico and 
Central America, and especially of their history. The 
substance of it is drawn from many sources, for the 
anthropologist must mould together and harmonize 
the gross results of several sciences. Archaeology, 
ethnology, somatology, and linguistics all make their 
special contributions and we are only on the threshold 
of our subject. In the Mexican and Central American 
field we find the accumulated writings that result from 
four hundred years of European contact with the 
Indians and in addition a mass of native documents and 
monumental inscriptions expressed in several hiero- 
glyphic systems. 

The general method of this book will be to take up in 
order the recognized "horizons" of pre-Columbian 
history, beginning with the earliest of which we have 
knowledge. In relation to each horizon we will examine 
the records and discuss the principal developments in 
arts, beliefs, and social structures. The introductory 
chapter is designed to put before the reader such facts 
as may be necessary for a ready understanding of the 
discussions and explanations that will follow. 

The Mexican Hall of the American Museum of 
Natural History furnishes illustrations of most of the 
facts given herewith. This Hall contains both originals 
and casts brought together by various expeditions of 
the Museum and of other scientific institutions. The 
principal patrons of science whose names should be 
mentioned in connection with the upbuilding of these 


collections are: Willard Brown, Austin Corbin, R. P. 
Doremus, Anson W. Hard, Archer M. Huntington, 
Morris K. Jesup, James H. Jones, Minor C. Keith, 
the Duke de Loubat, William Mack, Henry Mar- 
quand, Dr. William Pepper, A. D. Straus, I. Mel. 
Strong, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Villard, William 
C. Whitney. But thanks are also due to innumerable 
persons who have contributed single specimens and 
small collections as well as those who have placed in- 
formation at the disposal of the scientific staff. The 
principal collectors have been: George Byron Gordon, 
Ales Hrdlicka, Carl Lumholtz, Francis C. Nicholas, 
Marshall H. Saville, and Eduard Seler. 





Geography and Natural Environment. History of European Contact. 
Languages. Ethnology. Physical Types. 


Stratification of Remains. Invention of Agriculture. Archaic Figur- 
ines. Ancient Customs. Archaic Pottery. Stone Sculptures of the 
Archaic Period. Extensions of the Archaic Horizon. Local Develop- 
ments of Archaic Art. Summary. 


Architecture. Massive Sculptural Art. Minor Arts. The Serpent in 
Mayan Art. The Human Figure. Design Composition and Per- 
spective. The Mayan Pantheon. The Mayan Time Counts. Ele- 
ments of the Day Count. The Conventional Year. The Calendar 
Round. Mayan Numbers. The True Year. The Lunar Calendar. 
The Venus Calendar. Hieroglyphs. Codices. Bases of Mayan Chro- 
nology. Historical Development of Art. Dated Monuments. Books 
of Chilan Balam. Correlation with Christian Chronology. Summary 
of Mayan History. 


Zapotecan Culture. Totonacan Culture. The Toltecs. Xochicalco. 
San Juan Teotihuacan. Tula. Cholula. The Frontier Cities of the 
Northwest. Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa. The Chorotegan Culture. 
Isthmian Gold Work. 


Mayas and Aztecs compared to Greeks and Romans. The Chichimecas. ' 
Aztecan History. Social Organization. The Tecpan or Temple Enclo- 
sure. The Calendar Stone. Stone of Tizoc. Coatlicue. Mexican 
Writing. Aztecan Religion. Conceptions of the Universe. Cere- 
monies. Poetry and Music. Minor Aztecan Arts. The Tarascans. 
'* Southern Mexico. Mitla. .Aztecan Influence in Central America. 



INDEX. . 229 




Funerary Urn from a Zapotecan Tomb Frontispiece 

Map of Mexico and Central America showing the Principal 
Archaeological Sites with a Detail Insert of the Valley of 
Mexico Facing 42 


I. a, Village Scene in Arid Mexico; b, In the Humid Low- 
lands 15 

II. a, Site of Pueblo Viejo, the First Capital of Guate- 
mala; 6, A Spanish Church at the Village of Camo- 
tan on the Road to Copan 23 

III. a, View of the Island Town of Flo res in Lake Peten; 6, 

The Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza 28 

IV. a, A Guatemala huipili; 6, Pouches of the Valiente 

Indians 38 

V. a, Zapotecan Girl from the State of Oaxaca; b, Lacan- 

done Woman from Southern Mexico .... 40 
VI. a, Large Archaic Figures found in Graves and offering 
Evidence of Ancient Customs and Arts; 6, Archaic 
Figures which show a Quality of Caricature or 

possibly Portraiture 48 

VII. a, Stone Sculptures of the Archaic Period; b, Typical 

Site of the Archaic Period 55 

VIIT. Widely Distributed Female Figurines 57 

IX. Distribution of the Archaic Culture ..... 58 
X. Distribution of Agriculture in the New World . . 60 
XI. A General View of the Ceremonial Center of Copan . 66 
XII. a, View of the Plaza at Copan from the Northwestern 
Corner; 6, View Across the Artificial Acropolis at 
Copan 68 

XIII. A Temple at Hochob showing Elaborate Facade 

Decorations in Stucco 70 

XIV. A Sealed Portal Vault in the House of the Governor at 

Uxmal 71 

XV. a, Realistic Designs on Vases from Chama, Guatemala; 
6, The Quetzal as represented on a Painted Cylin- 
drical Vase from Copan 78 

XVI. Stela 13, Piedras Negras 90 

XVII. a, The Upper Portion of Stela 1 at Yaxchilan, dealing 
with the Heavens; b, Analogous Detail of Stela 4, 

Yaxchilan . 95 

XVIII. Scheme of the Mayan Calendar as presented in the 

Codex Tro-Cortesianus 102 

XIX. Typical Mayan Inscription 106 



XX. Page 24 Dresden Codex 116 

XXI. a, Detail of the Dresden Codex showing Tonalamatl 
used in Divination: 6. Analysis of the above Tona- 
lamatl, according to Forstemann 120 

XXII. Development in Style of Carving at Copan . . . 123 

XXIII. General View of Monte Alban from the North . . 138 

XXIV. Detail of Monte Alban showing the Foundation Walls 

of Small Cell-like Rooms .140 

XXV. Zapotecan Potterv, Incense Burners, and Funerary 

Urns . '.142 

XXVI. a, Sculpture of Stone of the Early Zapotecan Period; 

b, Jade Tablets pierced for Suspension . . . 144 
XXVII. Laughing Head of the Totonacs 147 

XXVIII. a, An Elaborately Carved Stone Collar; 6, A Palmate 

Stone from the State of Vera Cruz .... 148 
XXIX. The Temple at Xochicalco before Restoration . . 154 
XXX. a, The Temple at Xochicalco after Restoration; b, 

Partial View of the Great Pyramid at Cholula . . 156 
XXXI. a, Pottery Plates from Cholula with Decorations in 

Several Colors; b. A View at La Quemada . . . 159 
XXXII. Stone Slab from an Ancient Sepulcher in the State of 

Guerrero 165 

XXXIII. a, Finely Carved Ceremonial Slab found at Mercedes, 
Costa Rica; b, Stone Figure from Costa Rica; 

c, Ceremonial Slab decorated with Monkeys. 
Mercedes, Costa Rica 169 

XXXIV. a, The GoldWork of the Ancient Mexicans; b, Orna- 

ment of Gold from Costa Rica 173 

XXXV. A Page from the Tribute Roll of Moctezuma ... 178 
XXXVI. Page from the Codex Telleriano Remensis ... 180 

XXXVII. Sahagun's Plan of the Tecpan in Mexico City . . 188 

XXXVIII. The Calendar Stone of the Aztecs 190 

XXXIX. The Shield Stone at Cuernavaca 193 

XL. Sculpture representing Coatlicue, the Serpent- 
Skirted Goddess 195 

XLI. Page from the Tonalamatl Section of the Codex Bor- 

bonicus 202 

XLII. a, Pictures of Tlaloc, the God of Rain, and of Ehecatl, 
the God of Winds, in the Codex Magliabecchiano; 
6. Mexican Genealogical Table on Maguey Paper . 204 
XLIII. a, A Page from the Codex Xuttall; b, Zapotecan 

Cruciform Tomb near Mitla 219 

XLIV. a. Detail of Wall Construction at Mitla; b-c, The God, 

Macuilxochitl, Five Flower 221 




1. The Great Snowstorm of 1447 shown in the Pictographic 

Record of the Aztecs 13 

2. A Mexican Picture of a Volcanic Eruption 16 

3. Yucatan Deer caught in a Snare 20 

4. The Moan Bird, or Yucatan Owl, personified as a Demi-god . 20 

5. Spanish Ship in the Aubin Oodex 22 

6. Cortez arrives with Sword and Cross and Moctezuma brings 

him Gold 25 

7. Ancient Aztecan Canoe 26 

8. Design on Modern Huichol Ribbon 35 

9. Woven Pouch of the Huichol Indians 35 

10. Atzcapotzalco Destroyed 44 

11. Diagram of Culture Strata at Atzcapotzalco 45 

12. Teocentli or Mexican Fodder Grass 46 

13. Figurines from the Earliest Culture Horizon in Mexico ... 49 

14. Archaic Figurine from Salvador 50 

15. Types of Eyes of Archaic Figurines 51 

16. Textile Designs painted on Archaic Effigies 52 

17. Typical Tripod Vessels of the Archaic Period, from Morelos, 

Mexico . 53 

18. Series showing the Modification of a Celt into a Stone Amulet 54 

19. Stone Sculpture with protruding Eyes and other Archaic 

Characters. Costa Rica 62 

20. Groundplans of Yaxchilan Temples 72 

21. Cross-section of Typical Mayan Temple in Northern Yucatan . 73 

22. Section through Middle of Temple of the Cross 75 

23. Mask Panel over Doorway at Xkichmook. Yucatan ... 77 

24. Design on Engraved Pot representing Tiger seated in 

Wreathe of Water Lilies. Northern Yucatan ... 80 

25. Painted Design on Cylindrical Bowl showing Serpent issuing 

from a Shell. Salvador 80 

26. Mayan Basket represented in Stone Sculpture 81 

27. Typical Elaborated Serpents of the Mayas 82 

28. Conventional Serpent of the Mayas used for Decorative Pur- 

poses 83 

29. Upper Part of Serpent Head made into a Fret Ornament . . 85 

30. Sculpture on Front of Lintel at Yaxchilan 87 

31. Types of Human Heads on the Lintels of Yaxchilan ... 87 

32. Sculpture on Upper Part of Stela ll,Seibal 88 

33. The Ceremonial Bar 91 

34. The Manikin Scepter 91 

35. The Two-Headed Dragon 92 

36. Gods in the Dresden Codex 94 

37. The Twenty Day Signs of the Mayan Month 98 

38. The Nineteen Month Signs ot thelVIayan Year 100 

39. Bar and Dot Numerals of the Mayas 103 

40. Face Numerals found in Mayan Inscriptions 105 

41. The Normal Forms ot the Period Glyphs 105 

42. Face Forms of Period Glyphs 105 

43. Representations of the Moon 108 



44. The Last Glyph of the Supplementary Series 109 

45. Hieroglyphs of the Four Directions 114 

46. Hieroglyphs containing the Phonetic Element kin . . . 114 

47. Mayan Ceremony as represented in the Dresden Codex . . 119 

48. The Front Head of the Two-Headed Dragon on Stelae at 

Piedras Negras, showing the increase in Flamboyant Treat- 
ment 125 

49. Grotesque Face on the Back of Stela B, Copan 126 

50. Jaguar in Dresden Codex with a Water Lily attached to Fore- 

head 126 

51. Late Sculpture from Chichen Itza , . 127 

52. Comparison of Mayan and Zapotecan Serpent Heads . . . 139 

53. Bar and Dot Numerals combined with Hieroglyphs on Zapote- 

can Monuments 141 

54. The Eyes of Totonacan Figurines 146 

55. Jointed Doll of Clay from San Juan Teotihuacan .... 157 

56. Vessel with "Cloisonne" Decoration in Heavy Pigments . . 162 

57. The Turtle Motive as developed in Negative Painting with 

Wax at Totoate, Jalisco 163 

58. Jaguar Head on Disk-Shaped Stone. Salvador .... 164 

59. Front View and Profile View Serpent Heads in Chorotegan 

Art 167 

60. Jaguar Design associated with Figurines that still retain 

Archaic Characters. Costa Rica 168 

61. Crocodiles from painted Nicoyan Vases 168 

62. Highly Conventionalized Crocodile Motive 170 

63. Simple Crocodile Figures in Red Lines on Dishes from 

Mercedes, Costa Rica 171 

64. Panels containing Crocodiles painted in White Lines on Large 

Tripod Bowls from Mercedes, Costa Rica 171 

65. Simplified Crocodile Heads in the Yellow Line Ware of 

Mercedes, Costa Rica 171 

66. Conventional Crocodiles from Costa Rica and Panama . . 172 

67. Pictographic Record of the Conquest of the Springs of 

Chapultepec 183 

68. Details from the Stone of Tizoc .... .... 194 

69. Detail showing the Construction of the Face of Coatlicue . . 196 

70. Hieroglyphs of Precious Materials 197 

71. Aztecan Place Names 198 

72. Aztecan Day Signs 199 

73. Variant Forms of Aztecan Day Signs ........ 200 

74. Aztecan Numbers and Objects of Commerce 200 

75. Analysis of Mexican Record 201 

76. Chalchuihtlicue, Aztecan Goddess of Water 205 

77. A Mexican Orchestra 213 

78. Mexican Blanket with the Design representing Sand and 

Water 216 

79. A Year Symbol from Southern Mexico 218 

80. Year Bearers in the Codex Porfirio Diaz ascribed to the 

Cuicatecan Tribe 218 

81. Wall Paintings of Mitla 222 


Geography and Natviral Environment. Un- 
fortunately the terms "Mexico and Central America' ' are 
not mutually exclusive. Central America is a natural 
division comprised between the Isthmus of Tehuantepec 
and the Isthmus of Panama. Mexico is a political 
division that includes several 
states in Central America, 
namely, Chiapas, Tabasco, 
Campeche, Yucatan, and the 
territory of Quintana Roo. 
The ancient high cultures of 
Mexico hardly extended as far 
north as the Tropic of Cancer 
and the region beyond this is 
of slight interest to us. Posi- 
tions south of Mexico will 
often be referred to the areas 
of the modern political units 
although these have no im- 
mediate relation to pre-Span- 
ish conditions. These political units are: Guatemala, 
British Honduras, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, 
and Costa Rica. 

Although lying within the tropics, the territory ex- 
tending from the Isthmus of Panama to Central Mexico 
exhibits great extremes of climate and topography and 
hence of plant and animal life. The year is everywhere 
divided into a wet and a dry season but the relative 
duration of each depends upon land form and altitude. 
The coast of the Pacific is considerably drier than that 
of the Atlantic. Three climatic zones are generally 
recognized, namely, the Tierra Caliente (Hot Land), 


Fig. 1. The Great Snow- 
storm of 1447 shown in the 
Pictographic Record of the 
Aztecs called Codex Telleri- 
ano Remensis. 


Tierra Templada (Temperate Land), and Tierra Fria 
(Cold Land), and in some regions each of these has an 
arid and a humid strip. The change from luxuriant 
forests to open thorny deserts is often very sudden. 
On the high plateau or Tierra Fria the natural warmth 
of the latitude is largely overcome by the altitude. In 
the Valley of Mexico snow falls only at rare intervals 
yet chilling winds are common in the winter. Much 
of the plateau from Mexico south into Guatemala is 
open farming land well suited to the raising of maize 
and wheat where water is sufficient. The shoulders of 
the mountains bear forests of pine and oak while the 
highest peaks are crowned with perpetual snow. 

A description of the mountains, rivers, and lakes will 
help towards an understanding of the problems that 
are before us. The broad plateau, crossed by irregular 
ranges of mountains, that occupies the states of New 
Mexico and Arizona continues far south into Mexico. 
On the western rim the Sierra Madre lifts a great pine- 
covered barrier, beyond which the land drops off 
quickly into the hot fringe of coastal plain bordering 
the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. The 
highest mountains of the western Sierra Madre are El 
Nevado and Colima, the first a snowy peak 14,370 feet 
high and the second an active volcano 12,278 feet high. 
On the western rim of the central plateau the second 
Sierra Madre is less continuous but it culminates in the 
loftiest peak of all Mexico the wonderful cone of 
Orizaba. This mountain rises from the tropical jungles 
well into the region of perpetual snow and attains an 
elevation of 18,314 feet above the sea. Its name in 
Aztecan is Citlaltepetl, which means Star Mountain. 
Two other famous peaks of Mexico are Popocatepetl 
and Iztacchihuitl, both names being pure Aztecan. 
The first means Smoking Mountain and the second 

Plate I. (a) Village Scene in Arid Mexico. Cactus and other 
thorny shrubs are ever present. The houses of the natives are of 
adobe with thatched roofs. (6) In the Humid Lowlands. The 
view shows part of the plaza at Quirigua with one of the monuments 
almost concealed in vegetation of a few months' growth. 



White Woman. These volcanic crests rise into the 
snowy zone from the table-land which is itself about 
8,000 feet above the sea. 

In southern Mexico the plateau area enclosed between 
the principal sierras narrows perceptibly, because the 
shore line of tlje Pacific and the 
mountain range that parallels it 
swing more and more towards the 
east. At the Isthmus of Tehuan- 
tepec a low valley separates the 
highland area of Mexico from that 
of Central America. This second 
table-land is not so wide as the 
one we have just considered and 
is more deeply dissected by rivers. 
The mountains of Guatemala rise 
to a considerable altitude, the 
highest being Tacana with 13,976 
feet elevation. Active volcanoes 
are numerous and earthquakes 
frequent and often disastrous. 
The Volcan de Agua and the 
Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of 

Water and Volcano of Fire) look down upon Cuidad 
Vieja and Antigua Guatemala, the old Spanish capi- 
tals which each in turn destroyed. The cordillera 
still presents its most abrupt front to the Pacific and on 
the eastern side, in Guatemala and Honduras, there 
are high forest-bearing ridges between the river sys- 
tems. The Cockscomb Mountains in British Honduras 
are a low outlying group. In southern Nicaragua the 
main chain is broken by a low broad valley that extends 
from ocean to ocean. In Costa Rica and Panama a 
single range stretches midway along the narrow strip 
of land, with peaks that rise above 11,000 feet. 

Fig. 2. The Smoke 
reaches the Stars, a 
Mexican Picture of a 
Volcanic Eruption in 
the Codex Telleriano 


The lowlands on the Pacific side of our area form a 
narrow fringe which becomes more valuable for agri- 
cultural purposes as we proceed towards the south. 
The lowlands of the Atlantic side are of varying widths. 
The greatest land mass of uniformly low elevation is 
the Peninsula of Yucatan. In eastern Honduras and 
Nicaragua there are extensive river valleys of low ele- 

The river system^ of Mexico and Central America 
flow into the two bounding oceans or into lakes which 
have no outlets. Several closed basins occur on the 
Mexican table-land. The Rio Nazas and the Rio 
Nieves flow into salt marshes in the northern state of 
Coahuila. But the most important interior basin is 
the Valley of Mexico. In this mountain enclosed val- 
ley, whose general level is 7,500 feet above the sea, there 
are five lakes which in order from north to south are 
named Tzompanco, Xaltocan, Tezcoco, Xochimilco, and 
Chalco. The last two contain fresh water, since they 
drain into Lake Tezcoco, but the rest are more or less 
brackish. Lake Tezcoco is by far the largest although 
its area has been greatly reduced by natural and artifi- 
cial causes since the coming of the Spaniards. 

The largest river of Mexico is the Rio Lerma which 
takes the name Rio de* Santiago during its deep and 
tortuous passage from Lake Chapala to the Pacific. 
Farther to the south is the Rio de las Balsas which like- 
wise flows into the western ocean. The name means 
"River of the Rafts" and is given because of a peculiar 
floating apparatus made of gourds tied to a wooden 
framework that is used on this stream. Flowing into 
the Gulf of Mexico are several large streams, among 
which may be mentioned the Panuco, Alvarado, 
Grijalva, and Usumacinta. The last is by far the great- 
est in volume of water, and with its maze of tributaries 


drains a large area of swamp and jungle in which are 
buried some of the most wonderful ruined cities of the 
New World. 

In the northern part of Yucatan there are no rivers 
on the surface on account of the porous Hmestone. 
Instead there are great natural wells called cenotes 
where the roofs of subterranean rivers have fallen in. 
Many of the ancient cities were built near such natural 

Passing to the south the most important river of 
Guatemala is the Motagua, which has cut a fine valley 
through a region of lofty mountains. In Honduras there 
are several large rivers, including the Uloa, Patuca, 
and Segovia. The lake region of Nicaragua is drained 
by the San Juan River that flows into the Caribbean 
Sea. Nearly all the streams of Central America that 
flow into the Pacific are short and steep torrents. An 
important exception is the Lempa River that forms 
part of the interior boundary of Salvador. 

Concerning lakes, mention has already been made of 
Chapala and Tezcoco, the most important in Mexico. 
The former is about fifty miles in length. In the state 
of Michoacan there are a number of beautiful lakes 
intimately connected with the history and mythology of 
the Tarascan Indians. The most famous is called 
Patzcuaro. In southern Yucatan the shallow body of 
w r ater known as Lake Peten also has a distinct historical 
interest. Several lakes in Guatemala are well known 
on account of the rare beauty of their situation. Lake 
Atitlan is surrounded by lofty mountains, and Lake 
Izabal, or Golfo Dulce, is famous for the luxuriance of 
the vegetation that screens its banks. Lakes Nica- 
ragua and Managua are well known on account of their 
connection with the much-discussed canal projects. 


The Island of Ometepec in Lake Nicaragua bears an 
active volcano. 

In regard to the geology it is only necessary to point 
out a few of the more important characters. The high- 
lands which bear so many active and quiescent volcanoes 
naturally show great masses of eruptive rocks, some due 
to recent action and others much more ancient. Porous 
tufa is a common material for sculptures in many parts 
of Mexico and Central America. In other places there 
are great beds of softer and finer grained material also 
of volcanic origin. In these places, such as Copan in 
western Honduras and Mitla in southern Mexico, build- 
ing in stone received its greatest development. The 
soft greenish stone of Copan seems to be a solidified mud 
flow r permeated with volcanic ash rather than a true 
lava flow of melted rock. Limestones are also common 
and important in the economic development. In some 
regions there are beds of a hard, blue limestone going 
back to the Carboniferous epoch. This stone makes an 
excellent cement after burning. The Peninsula of 
Yucatan is a great plain of limestone of much more 
recent formation. Like our own Florida it was once a 
coral reef which was lifted above the sea by some 
natural agency. This limestone gets older and more 
solid as we approach the base of the peninsula but at 
best is rather porous and coarse-grained. 

The fauna and flora present great variation. In the 
moist lowlands the monkeys play in the tree tops and 
the jaguar lies in wait for its prey. Alligators and 
crocodiles infest the rivers and swamps. Two small 
species of deer and the ocellated turkey are important 
items in the meat supply of Yucatan, that includes also 
the iguana, the peccary, and various large rodents. The 
tapir and manatee are the largest animals of the low- 
lands but neither seems to have been of great signifi- 


Fig. 3. Yucatan Deer 
caught in -a Snare. From 
the Mayan Codex, Tro- 

cance to the natives. Bats are frequently represented 

in the ancient art and a bat demon appears in several 


Upon the highlands of Mexico the Toltecan deer is 

still hunted, together with the wild turkey, that is the 

parent of our domestic birds. 
The turkey was, in fact, domes- 
ticated by the Mexican tribes. 
It probably occurred southward 
over the Guatemalan highlands 
but is now extinct in this latter 
region. In the southern part of 
Central America the place of the 
turkey as an item of diet is taken 
by the curassow, a yellow-crested 

bird with black plumage. The coppery-tailed trogon, 

the famous quetzal, was sacred in ancient times and 

is now the emblem of Guate- 
mala. This beautiful bird occurs 

only in the cloud cap forest zone 

on the high mountains of south- 
ern Mexico and Guatemala. 

Blue macaws, parrots, paroquets, 

and humming birds contributed 

their gay plumage to adorn head- 

dresses and feather-covered 

cloaks. These and many other 

birds doubtless flitted about in 

the aviary of Moctezuma. The 

black vulture, the king vulture 

and the harpy eagle are other 

conspicuous birds often figured 

in the ancient art. The coyote, ocelot, and puma are 

the principal beasts of prey on the highlands. 

Among the characteristic trees of the lowlands may 

Fig. 4. The Moan 
Bird, or Yucatan Owl, 
personified as a Demi- 
god. Dresden Codex. 


be mentioned the palm, which occurs in great variety, 
the amate and ceiba, both of which attain to large size, 
as well as mahogany, Spanish cedar (which is not a 
cedar at all but a close relative of the mahogany) , cam- 
peche, or logwood, rosewood, sapodilla, and other trees 
of commerce. Upon the higher mountain slopes are 
forests of long-leaf pine and of oak. In the desert 
stretches the cactus is often tree-like and there are 
many shrubs that in the brief spring become masses of 
highly colored blossoms. 

Some of the principal crops of Mexico and Central 
America have been introduced from the Old World, 
including coffee, sugar cane, and bananas. Other crops 
such as maize, beans, chili peppers, cocoa, etc., are 
indigenous. Among the native fruits may be men- 
tioned the aguacate, or alligator pear, the mamey, the 
anona, or custard apple, the guanabina, jocote, and 

History of European Contact. The great area 
with which we are concerned has been in touch with 
Europe since the beginning of the sixteenth century. 
Columbus on his last voyage in 1502 cast anchor at the 
mouth of the San Juan River, the outlet of Lake Nica- 
ragua. Later he skirted the shore of Costa Rica and 
Panama and entered the body of water which was 
named in his honor Bahia del Almirante Bay of the 
Admiral. He brought back sensational news of the 
gold in possession of the natives, which they had told 
him came from a district called Veragua. After a few 
years of stormy warfare the Spaniards established them- 
selves firmly in this golden land. Vasco Nunez de Bal- 
boa, who emerged from the bickering mob as the strong- 
est leader, was the first white man to cross the Isthmus. 
This he did in 1513, grandiloquently laying claim to the 
Pacific Ocean and all the shores that it touched in the 



name of Spain. The crown appointed the greedy and 
black-hearted Pedrarias Davila governor of Darien and 
in 1517 he succeeded in having Balboa beheaded on a 
flimsy charge. Colonization and exploration went for- 
ward rapidly. In 1519 the old city of Panama, now in 
ruins, was founded. The rich region around the Nica- 
raguan lakes was discovered by Gil Gonzales Davila and 
the city of Granada was founded in 1524. The explora- 
tion from the southern base came in contact with 
that from the north in Salvador shortly after this 

Let us now direct our attention to the conquest of 
Mexico. Perhaps the Portuguese were the first to sight 
the mainland of Yucatan in 1493. There is little to 
prove this except one or two charts or maps made in the 
first decade of the sixteenth century 
that show the peninsula in its prop- 
er location. In 1511 or 1512^ ship 
from Darien was wreckeoTand some 
of the sailors were cast upon the 
coast of Yucatan . Most were killed 
and sacrificed but two survived. 
One of these survivors was Geron- 
imo de Aguilar, who later was 
rescued by Cortez and became his 
guide and interpreter. 

The first accredited voyage of discovery to Mexico 
was one under the command of Francisco Hernandez de 
Cordoba, which sailed from Cuba in February, 1517. He 
coasted the northern and eastern shores of Yucatan. 
When he attempted to obtain water he was worsted in a 
serious battle with the Maya Indians. His expedition 
finally returned to Cuba in a sad plight. The next year 
Juan de Grijalva set out to continue the exploration of 
the new land with the stone built cities. He landed at 

Fig. 5. Spanish 
Ship in the Aubin 

Plate II. (a) Site of Pueblo VieJ9, the First Capital of Guate- 
mala; (6) A Spanish Church at the village of Camotan on the Road 
to Copan. 



Cozumel Island and took possession. He explored the 
eastern coast of Yucatan as well as the northern and 
western ones, discovered the mouth of the large river 
that bears his name, and proceeded as far as the Island 
of Sacrifices in the harbor of Vera Cruz. 

The next year Hernando Cortez was sent out by 
Velasquez, the governor of Cuba, to conquer the new 
land. He landed at Cozumel Island and rescued Ge- 
ronimo de Aguilar. Then he followed the coast to the 
mouth of the Grijalva River where he disembarked and 
fought the important battle of Cintla, the first engage- 
ment in the New World in which cavalry was used. 
After a signal victory Cortez continued his way to Vera 
Cruz. Here delay and dissension seemed about to 
break the luck of the invaders. 

Although the Mexicans were somewhat inclined to 
regard the Spaniards as supernatural visitants and to 
associate their coming with the fabled return of Quet- 
zalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, still Moctezuma refused 
to grant an interview to Cortez. The Totonacan city of 
Cempoalan opened its gates and became allies of the 
invaders. Finally, at the instigation of their stout- 
hearted captain, the Spaniards destroyed their ships on 
the shore in order to steel their resolution through the 
impossibility of retreat. Then the little band of 450 
white men with their retinue of natives marched towards 
the highlands. The route led past Jalapa and over the 
mountains to the fortified city of Tlascala. This city 
after a skirmish likewise enlisted in the Spanish cause, 
a course that came easy because Tlascala was a tra- 
ditional enemy of Tenochtitlan, the ancient Mexico 
City, and had withstood the attacks of the Aztecs for 
many years. From here Cortez passed to the sacred 
city of Cholula where, suspecting treachery, he caused 
many of the inhabitants to be massacred. 


Fig. 6. Cortez arrives with 
Sword and Cross and Mocte- 
zuma brings him Gold. Codex 
Vaticanus 3738. 

In the Spanish histories one hears much concerning 
the omens, the prophecies, and the vain appeals to the 
gods that became more and more frequent and frantic 

as the invaders approached 
the capital. Arriving at 
Ixtapalapan they entered 
upon the great causeway 
leading out to the Venice- 
like city in thexlake. Ac- 
cepting the inevitable, 
Moctezuma and his nobles 
met the Spaniards and con- 
ducted them to the Palace 
of Axayacatl, which was 
prepared for their habita- 
tion. This took place in 
November, 1519. The fears of Moctezuma were soon 
fulfilled, for he was taken prisoner and held as a hostage 
of safety in his own capital. 

Meanwhile Velasquez, convinced of the unfaithful- 
ness of Cortez, dispatched Narvaez to capture the 
rebellious agent. But Narvaez was himself captured 
and his soldiers went to augment the army of the victor. 
Alvarado had been left in command of the garrison at 
Tenochtitlan during the absence of Cortez. The time 
approached for the great feast of Tezcatlipoca and the 
Spaniards, fearing the results of this appeal to the 
principal Aztecan god, resolved to be the first to strike. 
The multitude assembled in the temple enclosure was 
massacred and after this deed the soldiers fought their 
way back to the stronghold in which they were quar- 
tered. The Aztecs were thoroughly aroused by this 
unwarranted cruelty as well as by the cupidity of the 
Spaniards. Cortez hastened back to take personal 
charge but in spite of victories in the storming of the 


pyramids and in other hand-to-hand contests, the in- 
vaders were so weakened that their condition was truly 
alarming. Moctezuma died in captivity and the last 
restraint of the natives was removed. 

The night of June 30, 1520, is famous as La Noche 
Triste The Sad Night for on this night the Spaniards 
attempted to steal out of the city that had become 
untenable. The natives were warned by a woman's 
shriek and a desperate encounter took place on the nar- 

Fig. 7. Ancient Aztecan Canoe. Lienzo de Tezcoco. 

row causeway leading to Tlacopan. The bridges were 
torn down and the Spanish soldiers in armor were 
hemmed in between the deep canals. At last, however, 
the firm land was reached. Here, instead of following 
up the victory, the natives permitted the Spaniards to 
re-form their ranks. A few days later Cortez was able 
to restore something of his lost prestige by the decisive 
victory at Otumba, after which he continued his retreat 
to the friendly Tlascala. 


A year was spent in recuperation, 'n building boats 
for an attack from the lake, and in putting down the 
Aztecan outposts. Finally Tenochtitlan was besieged 
again. The buildings were leveled with the ground as 
the Spaniards advanced. The brave defense of 
Cuauhtemoc availed for naught against cannon and 
steel armor. On the 13th of August, 1521, the con- 
quest of Tenochtitlan was achieved and the spirit of a 
warlike people forever broken. 

The Valley of Mexico having been taken, numerous 
expeditions were sent out to subdue the more distant 
provinces and to establish colonies. Alvarado invaded 
the south and by 1524 he had captured Utatlan and 
other native strongholds on the highlands of Guate- 
mala and had invaded Salvador. Cortez himself under- 
took a wonderful march from Vera Cruz to the Gulf 
of Honduras to punish an unruly subordinate. His 
course lay through the swamps and jungles of the 
Usumacinta basin, thence across the savannahs of 
southern Yucatan to Lake Peten, and, finally, over the 
mountains to Lake Izabal and the Motagua River. 
Even today much of his route would be called impass- 
able for an army. Puerto Cortez, on the northern 
coast of Honduras, was founded at the conclusion of this 
expedition. The exploitation of Yucatan and Tabasco 
was granted to Francisco Monte jo, who began the con- 
quest of this lowlying territory in 1527. Soon after 
entering the country he won a costly victory at Ake and 
later made his quarters at Chichen Itza. But the odds 
were too great and by 1535 all the Spaniards had been 
killed or expelled. The son of Monte jo renewed the 
struggle. In 1540 Campeche was founded and early 
in 1542 the city of Merida was established upon the site 
of an earlier Mayan town. 

Progress was also rapid in the north. Nuno de Guz- 



Plate III. (a) View of the Island Town of Flores in Lake Peten 
where the Last Capital of the Itzas was located; (6) The Sacred 
Cenote at Chichen Itza into which Human Beings were thrown as 



man departed in 1529 on a mission to conquer Michoa- 
can and the great northern province known as New 
Galicia. His rule was marred by many acts of cruelty. 
In 1538 Coronado, the successor of Guzman, led his 
army northward to the land of the Pueblo Indians and 
then out into the Great Plains. Before the first Eng- 
lish settlement was made in North America the power 
of Spain was firmly established, not only throughout 
Central America and Mexico, but also in the south- 
western part of the United States. 

/The spiritual conquest was no less remarkable than 
the territorial. The priests accompanied and even 
preceded the armies with the doctrine of the cross. The 
rough and ready characters that enliven the wonderful 
drama of this period had the vices of greed and cruelty, 
but nearly all were imbued with a pride of religion, if not 
with the true flame. The firmness and bigotry on the 
one hand and the open sympathy on the other with 
which the Catholic fathers met the practical problems 
before them resulted in vast achievements. Either by 
accident or design certain patron saints and efficacious 
shrines of special interest to the natives were not long in 
becoming known. The Virgin of Guadeloupe and the 
Black Christ of Esquipulas brought many converts to 
the foreign faith. Church building was carried on 
apace. The various religious orders became rich and 
powerful and exerted a strong influence upon civil 

The later history of this great region can be passed 
over briefly. Cortez was the first governor general of 
Mexico but he was soon shorn of his power as dictator 
at large. The First Audiencia was appointed in 1528 
and is noteworthy simply by reason of its misrule. The 
Second Audiencia, beginning two years later, put 
through some excellent reform laws. The first Viceroy, 


the great and good Mendoza, arrived in 1535 and for 
fifteen years the land prospered under his rule, which was 
benign without being weak. He was succeeded by Luis 
de Velasco, who emancipated many of the enslaved 
Indians. The long line of viceroys continued until 1821 
when Spain was forced to relinquish her provinces in 
America. Among the greatest of the viceroys was 
Bucareli, the forty-sixth in line, who ruled Mexico from 
1771-1779 while the United States of America were just 
beginning to feel the pulse of life. 

During the viceregal period in Mexico the region to 
the south was ruled by the captain general of Guate- 
mala. The dominion was subdivided into five depart- 
ments corresponding to the modern republics of Guate- 
mala (which then included the Mexican state of Chi- 
apas), Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. 
Panama was ruled from the South American province 
of New Granada. 

Weakened by Napoleonic wars and rent by internal 
dissensions, Spain found herself in the first two decades 
of the nineteenth century unable to maintain her wan- 
ing power in America. Bolivar and his brother patriots 
raised the standard of revolt in South America in 1810 
and in the same year war for independence broke out in 
the north. Hidalgo, the parish priest of Dolores, rang 
the liberty bell of Mexican freedom on the 16th of 
September, 1810. This beloved patriot was captured 
the year following, and shot, but the revolution once 
begun was continued under Morelos and other leaders. 
After 1815 the cause seemed hopeless, but in 1820 there 
was a new uprising and General Iturbide, who was sent 
to put it down, turned his army against the government 
and established himself as emperor. Central America 
was also included in this Mexican empire. The rule of 
Iturbide soon became unpopular and in 1823 he abdi- 


cated his throne. The Mexican republic that was then 
instituted continued until the French intervention in 
1861. During this time the most noteworthy events 
were the war with the United States in 1846-47 and the 
passing of the reform laws under Benito Jaurez that 
freed Mexico from the oppressions of the church. 

As a result of the French intervention Maximilian of 
Austria was made emperor. This unfortunate ruler, 
who did much to beautify Mexico City, was dethroned 
and shot in 1867. The republic was then re-established. 

The other republics of Central America formed a 
federal union at the time the first Mexican empire came 
to an end in 1823. This union was preserved till 1839 
and several later attempts were made to restore it. The 
five republics have had such tempestuous careers as a 
result of warfare, usurpation, and political brigandage 
that their material and social development has been 
stunted. Costa Rica is, however, on the high road to 

Panama was until 1903 a part of Colombia. British 
Honduras had its origin in the concessions given to 
English logwood gatherers and to the fact that pirates 
found refuge behind the coral reefs that line the shores. 
The English claim to the Mosquito Coast rested upon a 
similar flimsy basis, and was finally abandoned. 

Languages. About thirty distinct groups of re- 
lated languages, technically known as linguistic stocks, 
were found in Mexico and Central America. Some of 
these stocks occupied small areas and showed little in 
the way of word variation. A few stocks were stretched 
over wide territories and were divided into many mutu- 
ally unintelligible tongues, which in turn were sub- 
divided into well-defined dialects. Several entire stocks 
are now extinct and others are rapidly approaching 
extinction through the substitution of Spanish. A 


number of languages, however, are still spoken by 
hundreds of thousands of natives. 

The linguistic stock having the greatest geographical 
extension within the area under consideration is the 
Nahuan, with which has recently been consolidated the 
great Shoshonean group of languages. This stock may 
be compared to the Indo-Iranian stock of the Old World, 
which comprises most of the modern and ancient lan- 
guages of Europe as well as those of a large part of Asia. 
Within the United States are the numerous Shoshonean 
tribes extending as far north as Idaho. In southern 
Arizona and northwestern Mexico is the Piman group 
of languages that also belongs to the Nahuan stock. 
East of the Sierra Madre are the Tarahumare and 
the Tepehuane. These languages are mutually unin- 
telligible and all are subdivided into dialects. The 
general relationship is proved only through laborious 
comparison and analysis of the words and grammar, 
in the same way as the philologist proves that Persian, 
Greek, Russian, English, and Welsh are all related 
tongues. Farther to the south are still other divisions 
of the Nahuan stock, including the Huichol and Cora 
of the mountainous region north of Guadalajara and 
the Mexican or Aztecan of the valley of Mexico and 
adjacent country. The Mexican language is still 
spoken by a million or more natives and is divided into 
a number of dialects. Properly the Aztecs are a single 
tribe whose chief city was Tenochtitlan, the ancient 
Mexico City. Mexican colonies were widespread be- 
fore the coming of the Spaniards and during the Con- 
quest the distribution of this nation was made still 
greater. The Mexicans, and especially the natives of 
Tlascala, accompanied the Spaniards on military expe- 
ditions against other tribes and as a consequence many 
place names in southern Mexico and Guatemala were 


translated into the Mexican language. There were, 
however, large groups of Indians of the Nahuan stock 
already located in this territory. The Pipiles were 
given their name, which means "boys," because their 
speech was somewhat different from classical Mexican. 
They were situated in southern Guatemala and in 
Salvador. Still farther south were the Niquirao of 
Nicaragua and a little-known group called the Sigua in 
Costa Rica. 

The wide geographical distribution of Nahuan lan- 
guages has an undeniable historical significance. The 
numerous tribes represent a very wide range in culture 
albeit nearly all are dwellers of arid or semi-arid regions. 
Some like the Paiute are miserable "diggers" willing to 
eat anything that will support life; others like the 
Comanche are warlike raiders; more progressive tribes 
like the Hopi have adopted agriculture and developed 
interesting arts and customs; while the highest members 
of the group are among the most civilized nations of the 
New World. It seems clear that language as a basis of 
classification extends over a much greater stretch of 
time than does culture. Particular phases of art, 
religion, and government develop and disappear, but 
the grouping of sounds used to express ideas remains as 
proof that peoples now far apart geographically as well 
as in their habits and achievements were once close 
together. The peculiar grouping, in this instance, may 
indicate a general southward movement. 

The second most important group of languages is the 
Mayan, now spoken by over half a million people. 
This stock has only one outlying member, namely, the 
Huasteca of northern Vera Cruz. The other twenty- 
one languages cover a continuous area in the Mexican 
states of Yucatan, Tabasco, and Chiapas and in the 
republic of Guatemala. The most important language 


of the group is the Maya proper, which is spoken by the 
natives of Yucatan and by the Lacandone Indians of the 
Usumacinta Valley. The Quiche, Cakchiquel, Choi, 
and Chorti are other prominent languages. 

In the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are the 
Zapotecan and Zoquean stocks, which differ widely in 
sound and structure from the Mayan and Nahuan 
tongues that hem them in. West, north, and east of 
the Valley of Mexico are, respectively, the Tarascan, 
Otomian, and Totonacan stocks, which show no great 
amount of subdivision. In Honduras, Nicaragua, and 
Costa Rica are several language groups that have never 
been carefully studied. It seems likely that some of 
these will be consolidated when words and grammatical 
structures are better known. The Chiapanecan lan- 
guages, now practically extinct, were spoken in three 
localities on the Pacific side of Nicaragua and Costa 
Rica, while a fourth division occupied a small area far 
to the northwest on the banks of the Chiapas River. 
Parts of the Isthmian region were held by tribes having 
linguistic affiliation with South America. It is not 
unlikely that a considerable back flow from South 
America made itself felt along the Atlantic coast of 
Central America, if we may judge by ethnological 
features and by suggested language connections. 

Ethnology. To a less extent than the native lan- 
guages the old-time customs still hold out against the 
tide of European influence. In regions not easily 
accessible on account of deserts, mountains, or tropical 
jungles, there are a number of groups of Indians that 
preserve in a large measure their ancient arts and ideas. 
Unfortunately the study of these remnants has not been 
very thorough. 

The Pima, Seri, Tarahumare, Tepehuane, and other 



tribes of the extreme north and northwest of Mexico 
have until recent times been comparatively unmodified 
by Spanish influences. Basketry, textiles, and pottery 

Fig. 8. Design on Modern Huichol Ribbon. 

Fig. 9. Woven Pouch of the Huichol Indians showing 
Two-Headed Austrian Eagle. 

have been maintained by them as well as many religious 
ceremonies. Farther south among the Cora and 
Huichol there is also considerable purity in this regard. 
The woven fabrics of these Indians are very beautiful 


but introduced ideas are frequently seen. For instance, 
a very common motive in Huichol textile art is the two- 
headed Austrian eagle evidently taken from the coins 
of Charles V. Crowns similar to those worn by the two- 
headed eagle are often shown on the heads of rampant 
animals. But the greater number of the motives are 
doubtless of native origin. 

Among the Huichol and Tarahumare the curious 
peyote, or hikule worship may be studied. A small 
variety of cactus is eaten, which induces ecstasy or 
stupor accompanied by color visions and peculiar 
dreams. Associated with the eating and gathering of 
this plant there are elaborate ceremonies. The religious 
cult of the peyote has swept over a large portion of the 
Great Plains Area of the United States and is known 
even to Indians in the neighborhood of the Great Lakes. 
There can be no doubt that the narcotic action of the 
peyote was known to the Aztecs, who made a ceremo- 
nial use of it under the name teonanacatl. An intoxi- 
cating drink called teswin is commonly made in .north- 
ern Mexico from the heart of the mescal plant. It takes 
the place of the famous pulque, the ancient beverage 
of the Mexican highlands. Hunting dances in which are 
employed regalia and ceremonial objects of great inter- 
est occur among the Huichol and neighboring tribes. 
The so-called "god's eyes" made of yarn strung spider- 
web fashion over crossed sticks are practically identical 
with the "squash blossoms" of the Pueblo Indians. 
There are also real temple structures, or "god houses," 
which are very significant when we consider the former 
importance; of the temple among the more highly civi- 
lized peoples to the south. In these and other respects 
the Huichol culture is about midway between the cul- 
ture of the Southwestern Pueblo tribes and that which 
formerly existed in central Mexico. 


Elsewhere in northern and central Mexico it is 
possible to find many suggestions of ancient Indian 
ways of living. In nearly all the outlying villages the 
old-time thatched huts are still used, while baskets, 
gourd vessels, wooden bowls, earthen pots, and other 
household objects hark back to native origins although 
often modified by European contact. For instance, 
glazing is commonly seen on the modern pottery. 
Many travelers in Mexico bring away as souvenirs 
pieces of pottery from Guadalajara and Cuernavaca. 
These wares are made by Indians, but in decoration 
they have only slight traces of the ancient art of the 

In dress there are noteworthy survivals. The pon- 
cho and serape made either on the narrow hand loom 
or on a crude form of the Spanish tread loom are pic- 
turesque elements in the national dress that are rapidly 
disappearing from view. Time was when the rich 
plantation owner wore a gayly colored blanket on 
fiesta days. The most famous centers for the manu- 
facture and sale of blankets were the cities of Saltillo 
and San Miguel. The Saltillo pattern shows a medal- 
lion consisting of concentric diamonds in various colors 
upon an all-over design in stripes. The motives are 
minute geometric figures skilfully interlocked. The 
colors are rich and permanent and are combined in a 
very pleasing manner. Saltillo blankets must be classed 
among the finest textile products of the world. The 
best period was before 1850. San Miguel blankets 
show characteristically a rosette instead of a diamond 
in the center. Many beautiful blankets come from 
other localities in Mexico. The Chimayo blankets have 
the same part Indian, part Spanish origin and are made 
by the Spanish-speaking natives in the mountain val- 
leys of New Mexico. 

& , $!* 




Plate IV. (a) A Guatemala huipili decorated with Highly Con- 
ventionalized Animals in Embroidery; (6) Pouches of the Valiente 
Indians of the Chiriqui Lagoon, Panama. 



In southern Mexico there are many towns of Indians 
where the women still wear the finely embroidered 
huipili. This old-time garment varies considerably in 
different towns but as a rule it is a simple sack-like gown 
cut square at the neck and with short sleeves. Some- 
times it is shortened to a blouse, and is worn with a 
skirt ; at other times a short huipili is worn over a longer 
one. An easily visited town where the natives still 
wear the old-time dress is Amatlan, within an hour's 
walk of Cordova. The women of the Isthmus of 
Tehuantepec have a gorgeous costume of which the 
most remarkable feature is a wide ruff worn around the 
neck or on the back of the head. The Mayan women 
of Yucatan wear white huipili with needlework in color 
around the bottom. On the highlands of Guatemala 
the huipili is usually a blouse. The skirt sometimes 
consists of a strip of cloth wrapped several times around 
the body. 

The Lacandone Indians live in the marshy jungles 
that border the winding Usumacinta. They speak the 
same tongue as the Maya Indians of Yucatan but in the 
matter of culture they have acquired little from the 
Spaniards. They still weave simple garments and make 
pottery vessels. In hunting they use the bow and 
arrow, the latter usually tipped with a point of stone. 
In their religious practices they use incense burners 
which are comparable to those of the sixteenth century. 

The Caribs occupy the greater part of the north coast 
of Guatemala and Honduras, running east from the port 
of Livingston on the Gulf of Amatique. These people, 
originally of South America and later of the West Indies 
as well, were deported by the English from the Island 
of St. Vincent in 1796. They have now established 
themselves in the new land where they raise the manioc 
or cassava root and press out the poisonous juice in a 





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basketry tube as do their kindred in the Orinoco Val- 
ley. Long before the forcible immigration it is likely 
that the Caribs, who were cannibalistic in habit, had 
raided the shores of Central America in their seagoing 
canoes. A significant passage in the chronicles of the 
Mayas states that naked man-eating savages visited 
Yucatan long before the coining of the Spaniards. 

The Mosquito Indians of the east coast of Nicaragua 
have a very considerable negro admixture. They are 
fishermen of low culture. It has recently been possible 
to connect the original Indian stock of this unhealthy 
coast with other tribes who live farther inland. The 
interior tribes of eastern Honduras and Nicaragua re- 
tain a great deal of their old-time culture but they have 
been seldom visited or described. Large communal 
houses are constructed in some parts of this region. The 
bow and arrow is still skilfully used in killing game. 
The authority of the government does not make itself 
felt among these wild and primitive Indians although 
many acknowledge outwardly the Catholic faith. 

In the narrow Isthmian region there are tribes of 
Indians that resist manfully the inroads of civilization. 
Perhaps the best known of these are the San Bias 
Indians who inhabit the mountain fastnesses east of 
the Canal Zone. In northern Costa Rica the Guatuso 
and Talamanca tribes still maintain to a considerable 
degree their old native character. 

Physical Types. Minor physical differences in 
stature, head form, and facial expression mark off pretty 
clearly the tribes of this area from each other. The 
stature is lowest among the Mayas and Mazatecas, 
the average being about 5 feet 1 inch while among the 
Tarascans, Tlascalas, and Zapotecs, it averages about 
5 feet 3 inches. The other tribes of Central America 


and of central Mexico fall between these extremes. In 
northern Mexico the stature increases considerably, 
average measurements for the Yaqui being in excess of 
5 feet 6 inches. To make up for their lack of height 
the southern Indians are sturdy and heavy muscled, 
with deep chests. Their hair is usually black and 
straight, but occasionally wavy. Light beards and 
mustaches are sometimes worn, especially by the Mayas. 
The eyes are so dark brown as to appear black to the 
casual observer. They are set rather Vide apart and 
while usually horizontal they seem, in some instances, to 
have a slight Mongoloid tilt. Noses vary greatly but 
are often finely aquiline. The cephalic index (obtained 
by dividing the breadth of the head by its length and 
multiplying the result by 100) is rather high. The 
Mayas are strongly round-headed with an index of 85.0 
while their linguistic relatives, the Tzendals, have a 
medium index of 76.8. The other tribes of southern 
Mexico fall between these extremes. No long-headed* 
peoples are found in this area although in northern 
Mexico some tribes approach the long-headed type. 


IN 1910 an actual stratification of human products 
was found in the environs of Mexico City in which 
three principal culture horizons could readily be dis- 
cerned. A collection made at this time is on exhibition 
in the American Museum of Natural History. In part 
this stratification verified theories of culture succession 
already held by students working in this field. Since 
that time careful research in several localities has been 
carried on under the International School of Archge- 
ology and many authenticated specimens from the three 
layers have been brought together. The lowest layer, 
characterized by crude figurines of a peculiar style, was 
soon found to correspond to an art long known as 
Tarascan. This art had been referred to the Tarascan 
Indians of the state of Michoacan, notwithstanding the 
fact that the most noteworthy specimens came from 
outside the Tarascan area. 

It now seems likely that the archaic art was the com- 
mon product of all the tribes then living on the Mexican 
highlands but that the Nahuan tribes led in its develop- 
ment and dissemination. It is most common in regions 
inhabited by the Nahuan tribes and seems to have been 
carried southward by certain of these tribes who mi- 
grated to Guatemala, Salvador, and Nicaragua. In 
these southern Nahuan areas the archaic art, at least so 
far as the human figurines are concerned, is often in- 
distinguishable from that of the north. Beyond Nica- 
ragua it is possible to follow the stream of this ancient 
art well into South America, but these southernmost 
occurrences are accompanied by changes in form and 




Stratification of Remains. Atzcapotzalco was 
once an important center of the Tepanecan tribe situ- 
ated on the shores of Lake Tezcoco. It was an early 
rival of Tenochtitlan, the Aztecan 
capital, and was conquered and partly 
destroyed in 1439. The principal 
modern industry of Atzcapotzalco is 
the making of bricks, and several 
mounds and much of the surface of 
the plain have been removed for this 
purpose. In the mounds are found 
many pottery objects of the Toltecan 
period, while on the surface of the 
ground are encountered fragments of 
the typical Aztecan pottery in use 
when the Spaniards arrived. 

The stratification of the plain 
varies in different places so far as 
the thickness of the different strata is 
concerned, but the order is always the same. At one 
locality it is as shown in Fig. 11. First comes a layer of 
fine soil of volcanic ash origin, probably deposited by 
the wind. This is five or six feet in thickness, yellowish 
at the top, and much darker towards the bottom, with 
streaks and discolorations. The Aztecan pottery is 
found close to the surface, while Toltecan pottery occurs 
in the middle and lower sections. Underneath the soil 
layer lies a thick stratum of water-bearing gravel mixed 
with sand. This gravel stratum is possibly the old bed 
of a stream that formerly entered Lake Tezcoco near 
this point. In some places it is fifteen or eighteen 
feet in thickness. Scattered throughout the gravel are 
heavy, water worn fragments of pots as well as more or 
less complete figurines of the archaic type. 

At other sites, such as Colhuacan, the Toltecan layer 

Fig. 10. Atz- 
capotzalco Des- 
troyed. The tem- 
ple burns at the 
Place of the Ant. 



is of greater thickness and the archaic layer of lesser 
thickness. The remains extend below the present level 
of the water and may indicate that considerable changes 
have taken place in the level of the lake. But we must 
remember that many of the ancient settlements were 

I"fi*>sfe r JSr * - ' 

Temple mounds of Tol- 
tecan period. 

Surf ace' finds of Aztec an 

Remains of Toltecan 

Deep stratum of water- 
bearing gravels contain- 
ing remains of archaic 

Bed rock of hard clay. 

Fig. 11. Diagram of Culture Strata at Atzcapotzalco. 

built over the water and that land was made in ancient 
times, as it is today in the gardens of Xochimilco, by 
deepening canals. Archaic remains are also common on 
the denuded tops of hills which may once have been 
covered by soil. 



Invention of Agriculture. Before examining in 
greater detail the art of the Archaic Horizon let us stop 
and consider its real significance. It is generally 
admitted that America was originally populated from 
Asia, but on a culture level no higher than the Neolithic. 

The simple arts of stone 
chipping, basketry, fire- 
making, etc., were prob- 
ably brought over by the 
earliest immigrants but 
there is abundant evidence 
that pottery-making, 
weaving, and agriculture 
were independently in- 
vented long after the ori- 
ginal settlement. The cul- 
tivated plants in the New 
World are different from 
those of the Old World 
and there is a vast area in 
northwestern America 
and northeastern Asia, up- 
on the only open line of 
communication, where agriculture and the higher arts 
have never been practised. 

Now the invention of agriculture is an antecedent 
necessity for all the high cultures of the New World. It 
is equally clear that this invention must have taken 
place in a locality where some important food plant 
grew in a wild state. By far the most important food 
plant of the New World is maize. While this plant has 
changed greatly under domestication, botanists are in- 
clined to find its nearest relative and possible progenitor 
in a wild grass growing on the highlands of Mexico and 
known by the Aztecan name teocentli, which means 

Fig. 12. TeocentU or Mexi- 
can Fodder Grass. 


sacred maize. It is known that maize is at its best in a 
semi-arid tropical environment. It cannot be brought 
to withstand frost although the growing season can be 
cut down to meet the requirements of a short summer. 
Geographically its use extended from the St. Lawrence 
to the Rio de la Plata and from sea level to an elevation 
of f fteen thousand feet in tropical regions. The Mexi- 
can highlands occupy the central position in the area 
of its distribution and archaeological evidence strongly 
points to this region as being the cradle of agriculture 
and the attendant arts. Besides maize, the most 
widely distributed food plants of the New World are 
beans and squashes. Certain other plants were culti- 
vated in more restricted areas and may have had dif- 
ferent places of origin. For instance, manioc was 
doubtless brought under cultivation in a humid lowland 
region, probably the Amazon Valley, and the same may 
be said of sweet potatoes. The common potato was 
found under domestication in Peru and there is no very 
good evidence that its use extended into Central America. 
Irrigation would have been necessary before agricul- 
ture could have been developed to any great extent on 
the highlands of Mexico. Although irrigation is often 
looked upon as a remarkable sequel of the introduction 
of agriculture into an arid country, yet from the best 
historical evidence at our command we should rather 
regard it as a conception which accounts for the very 
origin of agriculture itself. The earliest records of 
cultivated plants are from Mesopotamia, Egypt, 
Mexico, and Peru where irrigation was practised and 
where in these regions are also seen the earliest develop- 
ments of the characteristic arts of sedentary peoples, 
namely, pottery and weaving and the elaborate social 
and religious structures that result from a sure food 
supply and a reasonable amount of leisure. 



Plate VI. (a) Large Archaic Figures found in Graves and offer- 
ing Evidence of Ancient Customs and Arts. From Tepic and Jalisco ; 
(6) Archaic Figures which show a Quality of Caricature or possibly 




If this theory is true we must admit that below the 
Archaic Horizon we should find traces of a horizon of 
non-agricultural peoples. Unfortunately, such peoples 
make fewer objects and scatter them more widely than 
do sedentary agriculturists. 

No one on the basis of present knowledge can offer 
more than an opinion concerning the date of the inven- 
tion of agriculture in the New World and the subse- 
quent beginning of the pottery art that will now claim 
our attention. The thick deposits argue great age and 
a thousand years or even more might have elapsed be- 
fore this archaic art ran its natural course and was suc- 
ceeded by higher arts at about the time of Christ. 

Archaic Figurines. Archaic art is characterized 
by figures of men and women modeled in clay and some- 
times painted. The forms are peculiar and the tech- 


Fig. 13. Figurines from the Earliest Culture Horizon in Mex- 
ico: a-c, Atzcapotzalco; d, San Juan Teotihuacan; e, Tuxpan; 
/, Zapotlan; g, Cuernavaca. 



nique well standardized. Most are modeled in a flat 
gingerbread fashion into a gross shape. Upon this 
gross shape special features are indicated by stuck-on 
ribbons and buttons of clay and by gougings and incis- 
ings with some pointed instrument. Modeling was 
done entirely by hand, moulds being as yet unknown. 
The figurines are usually from two to five inches in 
height and often represent nude women in sitting or 
standing positions with the hands upon the knees, hips, 
or breasts. The heads are characteristically of slight 

Fig. 14. Archaic Figurine from Salvador. 

depth compared with their height, the limbs taper 
rapidly from a rather plump torso and hands and feet 
are mere knobs with incised details. When the figures 
are intended to stand erect, as is often the case, the feet 
show signs of having been pinched between the thumb 
and finger of the potter so that they have a forward and 
backward cusp and a broad base of support. Groov- 
ings are seen in connection with the hair, eyes, mouth, 
fingers, toes, and details of dress and ornament. Paint 
is often added to this surface to indicate tattooing, tex- 
tile patterns, etc. 


The eyes of the archaic images and the mouths as 
well are made according to several methods. First, 
there is the simple groove; second, a groove across an 
applied ball or button of clay; third, a round gouging 
made by the end of a blunt implement held vertically; 
fourth, a round gouging in an applied ball or button of 
clay; fifth, two gougings made with a round or chisel- 
edged implement held at an angle. The second form 
of eye, which resembles a grain of coffee, and the fifth 
form with the double gouging made from the center out- 

Fig. 15. Types of Eyes of Archaic Figurines. 

ward, are found from the northern limits of archaic art 
in Mexico as far south as Colombia and Venezuela. 

The technique of manufacture naturally changes 
somewhat with the increase in size. There is also 
reason to believe that the largest hollow figures come 
from the end of the Archaic Period in Mexico, and 
especially those that have been found in the state of 
Jalisco and the territory of Tepic. The eyelids are often 
rather carefully modeled and sometimes an eyeball is 
put in between the lids. These and perforated eyes 
seem to be the latest characters to be developed in the 
archaic art and it is significant that they are not found 
over such a wide area as the forms of eyes given above. 

Ancient Customs. We may gather much of an 
ethnological nature from the study of these quaint 
figures. Articles of dress and adornment are shown as 
well as musical instruments, weapons, etc. Head- 
dresses may consist of fillets, turbans, and objects 
perched on one side of the head. Noserings and ear- 


rings are abundantly represented and in considerable 
variety. We may be sure that weaving was rather 
highly developed because many garments such as 
shirts, skirts, and aprons are painted or incised with 
geometric designs. Body painting, or tattooing, appears 
to have been a common usage. Among weapons the 
allatl, or spear-thrower, was already known and knobby 
clubs seem to have been popular. Men are shown 
beating on drums and turtle shells, while women nurse 
children and carry water. Since the large figures of 
clay are often found in tombs it is not impossible that 

Fig. 16. Textile Designs painted on Archaic Effigies. 

they were intended to be portraits of the dead. Many 
have a startling quality of caricature. 

Archaic art is a pretty certain index of the religion 
then in vogue. There is a notable absence of purposely 
grotesque or compounded figures representing divinities 
such as will be found in the later horizons. Dogs are 
rather frequently modeled in clay and were apparently 


developed into a rather special domestic breed. Snakes 
are sometimes shown. We miss entirely the characteris- 
tic Mexican gods such as Tlaloc and Ehecatl. We can 
find no evidence that human sacrifice was practised. 
The presence of human figurines in graves has already 
been mentioned. The nude female figurine in a sitting 
or standing position has an unbroken distribution from 
Mexico into South America and it is not unlikely the 
primitive agriculturists associated it with fertility and 
used it as an amulet to secure good crops. 

Archaic Pottery.. The ordinary pottery of the 
Archaic Period from Mexico and Central America is 

Fig. 17. Typical Tripod Vessels of the Archaic Period, from 
Morelos, Mexico. 

heavy and simple in shape. The globular bowl with a 
constricted neck is a common form as well as wide- 
mouthed bowls with or without tripod supports. Lugs 
and handles are very common. When plain, the tripods 
are large, hollow and rounded, with a perforation on the 
under side, but they are often modified into faces and 
feet. Many vessels are decorated by the addition of 
faces enabling us to make a direct connection with the 
figures in clay already described. 

In fact the decoration of pottery of this early period 
is predominantly in relief. Paint is sparingly used and 
then only in the simplest geometric fashion. There is 
a general lack of conventionalized motives presenting 
animals and other natural forms in highly modified 
ways. In later ages the painted decoration is much 


concerned with the serpent, but except for a few wind- 
ing serpents in relief, this motive is not seen on the 
pottery of the Archaic Period. 

Stone Smlptures of the Archaic Period. The 

earliest ston^^dptures are recognized first by resem- 
blance to the ceSfc^rt just described and second by a 
quality which the^^^gfcrf being archaic in an abso- 
lute sense. The greatS^^^^ulty of working stone as 
compared with clay and tn^^fcger time required in the 
process makes stone art less subject to caprice than 
ceramic art. Perhaps the most primitive examples of 
stone sculpture are boulders rudely carved in a sem- 
blance of the human form with features either sunken 
or in relief. The arms and legs are ordinarily flexed so 
that the elbows meet over the knees. The eyes and 
mouths in the most carefully finished pieces protrude, 
but the face has little or no modeling. Many celts are 

Fig. 18. Series showing the Modification of a Celt into a Stone 

modified into figures by grooves, and faces are frequently 
represented on roughly conical or disk-shaped stones. 
We know very little from actual excavations concern- 
ing houses of the Archaic Period. It is likely that they 
were small and impermanent, possibly resembling the 
modern huts. The pyramidal mound as a foundation 


Plate VII. (a) Stone Sculptures of the Archaic Period. This 
resembles the pottery as regards style: the eyes protrude and the 
limbs are carved in low relief against the body; (6) Typical bite 
of the Archaic Period. The use of pyramids may have begun 
towards the end of this period. 



for the temple was possibly developed towards the end 
of the Archaic Period. It would be interesting to 
determine whether adobe moulded into bricks was 
known at this time, as it was at a later time in the same 
region, or whether walls were built up out of fresh mud 
possibly reinforced by slabs of stone. 

Extensions of the Archaic Horizon. The 

curious objects of ceramic art that we have found deeply 
buried under the debris of higher civilizations in the 
Valley of Mexico can be traced practically without 
change in form to Nicaragua. They are encountered 
for the most part in arid and open country, and since 
we have every reason to believe that the earliest agri- 
culture was developed under irrigation, it is but natural 
to find the use of agriculture spreading first into other 
arid regions. 

In the Isthmian region (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and 
Panama) many figurines of archaic type are found, and 
besides there are fine series of figurines that are obvi- 
ously developed from the archaic. Still further south 
and east in Colombia and Venezuela the typical art of 
the archaic horizon again appears in almost pure form, 
although local developments are also to be noted ^ 
Everywhere the remains are most plentiful in arid- 
regions. It now seems that the trail of this ancient 
pottery art, marking the first dissemination of agricul- 
ture, can be traced across the northern part of South 
America to the mouth of the Amazon and southward 
along the Andes to the coastal regions of Peru. It is 
surely significant that figurines from the Island of 
Marajo near Para, Brazil, have fundamental similarities 
to those from Venezuela and Central America and. that a 
stratification of human remains at Ancon, Peru, as 
explained by Dr. Max Uhle, shows plastic art in clay 


Plate VIII. Widely Distributed Female Figurines: (a) 
Nicaragua; (6) Panama; (c) Venezuela; (d) Island of Marajo, 


Plate IX. Distribution of the Archaic Culture. The areas in 
solid black show the distribution of figurines of the archaic type; the 
areas in dots show the probable extension of pottery on the Archaic 
Horizon; the dotted lines give the ultimate extension of pottery. 



similar if not identical with that of Central America in 
the lowermost level. The problem of local develop- 
ments deserves careful study because if the theory that 
this pottery art spread hand in hand with agriculture 
be true then the greatest similarities should be seen 
in the_oldest objects. Once the primary dissemination of 
agriculture and ceramics had taken place there would 
be few inventions capable of breaking down the ordinary 
boundaries of language and environment as these had 
done. In our own times the horse, introduced by the 
Spaniards, spread rapidly through native tribes, modi- 
fying their lives greatly. It is capable of demonstration 
that with the horse went the two types of saddle the 
pack saddle and the riding saddle. Similarly, in the 
rapid first spreading of agriculture, pottery and possibly 
weaving appear as parts of a complex. Of course, we 
must grant a sufficient time in the original home of agri- 
culture for these things to be developed. 

Two maps of the New World are given herewith : the 
first showing the extension of the archaic horizon and 
the second the final distribution of pottery among the 
American Indians and the final distribution of agricul- 
ture. The agricultural area is subdivided according to, 
first, the arid land type where irrigation is generally 
practised; second, the humid land type; and third, the 
temperate land type. The first type of agriculture 
appears to be the earliest and the range coincides for the 
most part with the range of the archaic pottery art. 

Local Developments of Archaic Art. We 

have now examined the status of this earliest pottery in 
Mexico and Central America and discussed the problem 
of its distribution into South America. Let us next turn 
our attention to some of the developments that took 
place when this art was locally permitted to work out 

Plate X. Distribution of Agriculture in the New World. The 
dotted line gives the limits of pottery; solid black, agriculture in arid 
regions of considerable altitude, mostly with irrigation; dotted areas, 
agriculture under humid lowland conditions; lined area, agriculture 
under temperate conditions. 



its higher destinies. The sudden rise of the superior 
culture of the Mayas snuffed it out untimely in southern 
Mexico, but in other and more distant regions the in- 
fluence of the ascendant Mayan civilization was less 
strongly felt and was not sufficient to more than modify 
the original character of the archaic art. In other 
words, where the archaic art was given a few extra cen- 
turies to run it arrived at superior results. 

It is probable that the unusually elaborate effigies,i 
from western Mexico are somewhat later in date than 
the comparatively simple figurines of central Mexico] 
But still better examples of local development out o'f 
the archaic are to be found in the Isthmian area. Here 
the most ancient remains (according to types, since 
actual stratigraphy has not yet been determined) appear 
to be common in the arid regions and rare in the humid ( 
regions. But in certain humid regions, such as the 
Peninsula of Nicoya on the Pacific side of Costa Rica 
and the Mercedes district on the Atlantic side, are found 
modified types of clay figurines and stone carvings that 
still retain many archaic features. Now, there is little 
doubt that in general these figurines and sculptures be- 
long to an horizon above that of the truly archaic. The 
associated decorative art in painting is of a higher type 
than that of the Archaic Period in the north and shows 
in fact many points of contact with the painted designs 
on the vessels of the Mayan civilization. 

Perhaps the most interesting type of figurine (found 
in both the localities named above, but more common in 
the west) represents a nude female in a sitting pose. 
The actual body treatment is very like that of the 
archaic seated females from Salvador and Mexico, but 
the surface is painted over with designs in glossy black 
upon dark and brilliant red. The paints as well as the 


designs are peculiar and it is possible to group the 
figurines with vases in which the same pigments and 
decorations are used. Now, these associated vases are 
characteristically of the cylindrical shape that was in 

great vogue among the 
Mayas in post -archaic 
times and the designs paint- 
ed upon these vases also 
have many features in com- 
mon with Mayan work. 

Likewise when we pass 
to the Chiriqui region in 
western Panama we find 
the seated female to be 
common. Again, the asso- 
ciated designs are compli- 
cated and developed far 
beyond the point reached 
in the truly archaic of the 
northern stratigraphic se- 
ries. The figurines belong 
to what has been called 
"alligator ware," because 
the alligator or crocodile is 
the subject of many of the 
designs. A safer classifi- 
cation is made on the basis 
of the clay and pigments. 

Fig. 19. Stone Sculpture with 
protruding Eyes and other 
Archaic Characters. Costa 

The archaic technique is 
also presented in much of 
the relief decoration of still 
other kinds of pottery from the Isthmian area. In the 
beautiful yellow ware of Chiriqui small human figures 
in the ancient style serve to decorate handles, knobs, 
and legs. 



In stone art as well as in pottery there are local devel- 
opments out of the archaic mode in Costa Rica and 
Panama. Crude figures with the parts carved in low 
relief around oval boulders seem to give away to more 
conventionalized sculptures made on slabs of sandstone. 
For this second type the limbs are partly freed from 
the torso, while in still later sculptures they are 
freed entirely. 

The ancient gold work of Costa Rica and Panama also 
reflects the technique of archaic art although most of it, 
to judge by the religious significance of many of the sub- 
jects and designs, was made long after the Archaic 
Period. Just as the pottery figurines were built up by 
the addition of ribbons and buttons of clay to a general- 
ized form so the patterns for gold castings were made by 
adding details in rolled wax or resin to a simple under- 
lying form of the same material. This art will be dis- 
cussed more fully in another place, the mention here 
being made simply to emphasize the general connection 
between the art of the Archaic Period and that of later 

Summary. In concluding this section let us sum 
up the general facts of ancient American history as 
these appear in relation to the archaeological evidences 
of the ar<5haic horizon. 

I. Pre- Archaic Horizon. 

The peopling of the New World from Asia 
by tribes on the nomadic plane of culture. 
II. The Archaic Horizon. 

Invention and primary dissemination of agri- 
culture, together with pottery making and loom 
weaving. Homogeneous culture with unde- 
veloped religion and unsymbolic art. Practi- 
cally limited to arid tropics. 


III. Post Archaic Horizon. 

Specialized cultures in North, Central, and 
South America dependent upon agriculture. 
Strong local developments in esthetic arts, re- 
ligious ideas, and social institutions. Agricul- 
ture extended to humid tropical and temperate 

We will now make an effort to analyze still further the 
historical levels in the Post Archaic Horizon. 


wonderful culture of the Mayan Indians to 
A which we will now turn our attention was developed 
in the humid lowlands of Central America and especially 
in the Yucatan peninsula. Artists are everywhere of 
the opinion that the sculptures and other products of 
the Mayas deserve to rank among the highest art pro- 
ducts of the world, and astronomers are amazed at the 
progress made by this people in the measuring of time 
by the observed movements of the heavenly bodies. 
Moreover, they invented a remarkable system of 
hieroglyphic writing by which they were able to record 
facts and events and they built great cities of stone 
that attest a degree of wealth and splendor beyond any- 
thing seen elsewhere in the New World. 

(The Mayan culture was made possible by the agri- 
cultural conquest of the rich lowlands where the exuber- 
ance of nature can only be held in check by organized 
effort., On the highlands the preparation of the land 
is comparatively easy, owing to scanty natural vegeta- 
tion and a control vested in irrigation. On the lowlands, 
however, great trees have to be felled and fast-growing 
bushes kept down by untiring energy. But when 
nature is truly tamed she returns recompense many 
fold to the daring farmer. Moreover, there is reason 
to believe that the removal of the forest cover over large 
areas affects favorably the conditions of life which under 
a canopy of leaves are hard indeed. 

The principal crops of the Mayas were probably much 
the same as on the highlands, with maize as the great 
staple. Varieties favorable to a humid environment 



had doubtless been developed from the highland stock 
by selective breeding as agriculture worked its \\-.\\ 
down into the lowlands. Archaic art appears along 
the edges of the Mayan area in the state of Vera Cruz, 
Mexico, and in the Uloa Valley, Honduras. In both 
these regions are also found clay figurines that mark the 
transition in style between the archaic and the Mayan 
as well as finished examples of the latter. There can be 
no doubt, then, that the archaic art of Mexico marks an 
earlier horizon than the Mayan. Whether or not it was 
once laid entirely across the Mayan area cannot be 
decided on present data but it seems unlikely. We have 
already seen that this first art was distributed primarily 
across arid and open territory. 

With their calendrical system already in working 
order the Mayas appear on the threshold of history 
about the beginning of the Christian Era according to a 
correlation with European chronology that will be ex- 
plained later. The first great cities were Tikal in 
northern Guatemala and Cppan in western Honduras, 
both of which had a long and glorious existence. Many 
others sprang into prominence at a somewhat later date; 
for example, Palenque, Yaxchilan or Menche, Piedras 
Negras, Seibal, Naranjo, and Quirigua. The most 
brilliant period was from 300 to 600 A. D., after which 
all these cities appear to have been abandoned to the 
forest that soon closed over them. The population 
moved to northern Yucatan, where it no longer reacted 
strongly upon the other nations of Central America 
and where it enjoyed a second period of brilliancy 
several hundred years later. 

Architecture. Thejdea_of_a civic center- is ad- 
mirably illustrated jn_Mayan cities, particularly those 
of the first bnlTiant period. The principal structures 

Plate XII. (a) View of the Plaza at Copan from the North- 
western Corner. This view shows the monuments in position and 
the steps which may have served as seats; (6) View Across the Arti- 
ficial Acropolis at Copan showing a Sunken Court and the Bases of 
Two Temple Structures. Photographs by Peabody Museum Expedi- 



are built around courts or plazas and .there is usually 
an artificial acropolis which is a great terraced mound 
serving as a common base or platform from which the 
individual pyramidal bases of several temples rise. At 
some sites this acropolis is a natural hill which has been 
trimmed down or added to, but at other sites it is 
entirely artificial. At Copan there is an especially fine 
example of artificial platform mound rising from one 
end of the Great Plaza and affording space for several 
temples as well as for sunken courts with stepped sides 
that may have been theatres. The river washing 
against one side of this great mound has removed per- 
haps a third of it and made a vertical section that shows 
the method of construction. It is apparent that the 
mound was enlarged and old walls and floors buried. 

Mayan buildings are of too principal kinds. One is 
a temple pure and simple and the other has been called 
a palace. The temple is a rectangular structure crown- 
ing a rather high pyramid that rises in several steps or 
terraces. As a rule the temple has a single front with 
one or more doorways and is approached by a broad 
stairway. The pyramid is ordinarily a solid mass of 
rubble and earth faced with cement or cut stone and 
rarely contains compartments. Some temples have 
but a single chamber while others have two or more 
chambers, the central or innermost one being specially 
developed into a sanctuary. The so-called palaces are 
clusters of rooms on low and often irregular platforms. 
These palaces may have been habitations of the priests 
and nobility. The common people doubtless lived in 
palm-thatched huts similar to those used today in the 
some region. 

The typical Mayan construction is a faced concrete. 
The limestone, which abounds in nearly all parts of the 


Plate XIV. A Sealed Portal Vault in the House of the Governor 
at Uxmal. The veneer character of the cut stone comes out clearly. 
Peabody Museum photograph. 



Mayan area, was burned into lime. This was then 
slaked to make mortar and applied to a mass of broken 
limestone. The facing stones were smoothed on the 
outside and left rough hewn and pointed on the inside. 
It is likely that these facing stones were held in place 
between forms and the lime, mortar and rubble filled in 
between. The resulting wall was essentially mono- 
lithic. The rooms of Mayan buildings are characteris- 
tically vaulted but the roof is not a true arch with a 
keystone. The vault, like the walls, is a solid mass of 
concrete that grips the cut stone veneer and that must 


Fig. 20. Groundplans of Yaxchilan Temples: 
42; (6) Structure 23. 

(a) Structure 



have been held in place by a false work form while it was 
hardening. The so-called corbelled arch of overstepping 
stones was doubtless known to the Mayan builders but 

Fig. 21. Cross- section of Typical Mayan Temple in Northern 
Yucatan: a, upper cornice; b, medial cornice; c, upper zone; d, lower 
zone; e, wooden lintels; /, exterior doorway; g, interior doorway; 
h, offset at spring of vault; i, cap stone. 

was little used. Taking the single rectangular room as 
the unit of construction the width was limited to the 
span of the vault, which seldom exceeded twelve feet, 
while the length was indeterminate. 

The first variation from the temple with one rectan- 
gular room was the two-roomed structure with one cham- 
ber directly behind the other. In this case there were 
two vaulted compartments separated from each other 
by a common supporting wall pierced by one or more 
doorways. The inner room was naturally more dimly 
lighted than the outer one and as a result was modified 
into a sanctuary, or holy of holies, enhanced by sculp- 


tures and paintings, while the outer room developed 

gradually into a portico. The outer wall was cut by 

doorways till only pier-like sections remained, and 

finally these piers were replaced by square or round 

, columns. The development of the Mayan temple may 

/ be traced through a thousand years of change and 


Much attention was paid by Mayan builders to the 
question of stability which was accomplished directly 
by keeping the center of gravity of the principal masses 
within the supporting walls rather than by the use of 
binding stones. The cross-section of a two-roomed 
temple of late date will illustrate how this was done. 
There are three principal masses, one over the front 
wall, one over the medial partition, and one over the 
back wall. The roof where these sections join is of no 
great thickness. The central mass is symmetrical and, 
if the mortar has the proper cohesiveness, very stable. 
For the front and back masses the projection of the 
upper or frieze zone tends to counterbalance the over- 
hang of half the vault. In the earlier temples the upper 
zone of the fagade often slopes backward so that the 
balance is not so perfect. 

So far we have given brief space to the question of 
elevations. Taken vertically there are three parts to 
/the Mayan building: first, the substructure or pyra- 
' y midal base; second, the structure proper; third, the 
superstructure. In the case of temples the structure 
proper is one story in height. Two and three stories 
are rather common in palaces, but the upper stories are 
in most cases built directly over a solid core and not 
over the rooms of the lower story. The upper stories, 
therefore, recede, so that the building presents a ter- 
raced or pyramidal profile. One building at Tikal is 
five stories in height, in three receding planes, the three 

Fig. 22. Section through Middle of Temple of the Cross, showing 
Perspective of East Half of Building. After Holmes, a, stairway; 
6, a pier between doorways; c, end of portico or front room; 
d, small doorway; e, great doorway; /, doorway to sanctuary; </, end 
wall of sanctuary; h, sculptured tablet; i, arch brace of masonry; 
j, cap stones of doorway arch; k, partition wall; I, steps for as- 
cending interior of roof comb; m, binding stones and capping of 
roof comb. 



uppermost stories being one above the other. In a 
tower at Palenque we have an example of four stories 
but this is unusual. 

On top of the building proper, especially if it is a 
temple, we frequently find a superstructure. This is a 
sort of crest, or roof wall, usually pierced by windows. 
When this wall rises from the center line of the roof it is 
called a roof comb or roof crest, and when it rises from 
the front wall it is called a flying fagade. The highest 
temples in the Mayan area are those of Tikal that 
attain a total height of about 175 feet, counting pyra- 
mid and superstructure. 

Massive Sculptural Art. The decoration of 
Mayan buildings may be considered under three heads : 
first, interior decoration; second, fagade decoration; 
third, supplementary monuments. In many temples at 
Yaxchilan, Tikal, etc., are found splendidly sculptured 
lintels of stone or wood. At Copan we see wall sculp- 
tures that adorn the entrance to the sanctuary and at 
Palenque finely sculptured tablets let into the rear wall 
of the sanctuary. Elsewhere are occasional examples 
tof mural paintings, sculptured door jambs, decorated 
interior steps, etc. 

The fagade decorations of the earlier Mayan struc- 
tures are freer and more realistic than those of the later 
buildings. In many cases they consist of figures of men, 
serpents, etc., modeled in stucco or built up out of 
several nicely fitted blocks of stone. Grotesque faces 
also occur. In the later styles, decoration consists 
largely of "mask panels," which are grotesque front 
view faces arranged to fill rectangular panels, but there 
is an increasing amount of purely geometric ornament. 
The masked panels represent in most instances a highly 
elaborated serpent's face which sometimes carries the 



special markings of one of the greater gods. These 
panels, considered historically, pass through some inter- 
esting developments. Angular representations of ser- 
pent heads in profile are sometimes used at the sides of 

The supplementary monuments are stelse and altars. 
These are monolithic sculptures that are often set up 
in definite relation to a building either on the terraces 

Fig. 23. Mask Panel over Doorway at Xkichmook. Yucatan. 

or at the foot of the stairway. The stelae are great 
plinths or slabs of stone carved on one or more sides 
with the figures of priests and warriors loaded down 
with religious symbols. The altars are smaller stones 
usually placed in front of the stelse. Many stelae and 
altars are set up in plazas and have no definite archi- 
tectural quality. 

Minor Arts. While the richly ornamented temples 
and the great monoliths attract first attention as works 
of art, the humbler products of the potter, the weaver, 
and the lapidary also attained to grace and dignity. 

The Mayas were expert potters and employed a 
variety of technical processes in the decoration of their 

Plate XV. (a) Realistic Designs on Vases from Chama, Guate- 
mala, representing the Best Mayan Period in Pottery; (6) The 
Quetzal as represented on a Painted Cylindrical Vase from Copan. 
Bands of Hieroglyphs are commonly found on Mayan Pottery. 



wares, such as painting, modeling, engraving, and 
stamping. We can only take time to examine a few 
examples of the best works, leaving the commoner 
products practically undescribed. Suffice it to say, 
that tripod dishes were much used, as well as bowls, 
bottle-necked vessels, and cylindrical vases, and that 
the common decorative use of hieroglyphs serves to 
mark off Mayan pottery from that of other Central 
American peoples. The realistic designs are drawn in 
accordance with the highest principles of decorative 
art. Serpents, monkeys, jaguars, various birds, as well 
as priests and supernatural beings, are used as subjects 
for pottery embellishment. Geometric decoration is 
also much used. 

The polychrome pottery is rare and exceptionally 
beautiful, with designs relating to religious subjects. 
The background color of these cylindrical vases is 
usually orange or yellow, the designs are outlined in 
black, and the details filled in with delicate washes of 
red, brown, white, etc. The surface bears a high 
polish made by rubbing. Plate XV reproduces the design 
units on two vases from Chama, Guatemala. The first 
example pictures a seated man with a widespreading 
headdress made of two conventional serpent heads 
from the ends of which issue the plumes of the quetzal. 
The hieroglyphs are Mayan day signs Ben and Imix 
on the left and Kan and Caban on the right. The 
second example presents a god before an altar. The 
god has the face of an old man and his body is attached 
to a spiral shell. This divinity has been called the Old 
Man God. He was probably associated with the end 
of the year. 

In the next illustration an engraved design on a bowl 
from northern Yucatan is given. A jaguar attired in 

Fig. 24. Design on Engraved Pot representing Tiger seated in 
Wreathe of Water Lilies. Northern Yucatan. 

Fig. 25. Painted Design on Cylindrical Bowl showing Serpent 
issuing from a Shell. Salvador. 



the dress of man is seated in a wreathe of water lilies. 
After the vessel had been formed, but before it had been 
fired, this design was made by cutting away the back- 
ground and incising finer details on the original surfaces. 
Other designs in relief were obtained by direct modeling 
or by stamping. The stamps were moulds or negatives 
made from bas-relief patterns. 

Fig. 26. Mayan Basket represented in Stone 

The textile arts of the ancient Mayas can be recovered 
in part from a study of the monuments since the designs 
on many garments are reproduced in delicate relief. 
The designs are mostly all-over geometric patterns, 
but borders reproducing the typical "celestial band," 
a line of astronomical symbols, are also seen. The 
techniques of brocade and lace were understood by the 
ancient weavers. In the minor textile art of basketry 
the products must also have ranked high; a typical 
basket pictured on a lintel is given in Fig. 26. 

Jade and other semi-precious stones were carved by 
the Mayas into beautiful and fantastic shapes. There 
was a considerable use of mosaic veneer on masks and 
other ceremonial objects. Metal was rare and could 
not be used for tools, but the working of gold and copper 
in the manufacture of ornaments was on a high plane. 


Having now passed in brief review the objective side 
of Mayan remains, let us turn our attention to the sub- 

The Serpent in Mayan Art. Mayan art is 
strange and unintelligible at first sight, but after care- 
ful study many wonderful qualities appear in it. In 
the knowledge of foreshortening and composition, the 

Fig. 27. Typical Elaborated Serpents of the Mayas. The 
plumed serpent is from Chichen Itza and the one with a human head 
in its mouth from Yaxchilan. 

Mayas were equal if not superior to the Egyptians 
and Assyrians. They could draw the human body in 
pure profile and in free and graceful attitudes and 
they could compose several figures in a rectangular 
panel so that the result satisfies the eye of a modern 

But, unfortunately for our fuller understanding, the 
human form had only a minor interest because the gods 

Fig. 28. Conventional Serpent of the Mayas used for Decora- 
tive Purposes: a, body; 6, ventral scale; c, dorsal scale; d, 
nose; e, noseplug; /, incisor tooth; g, molar tooth; h, jaw; 
* eve ; J> supraorbital plate; k, earplug; I, ear pendant; ra, 
curled fang; n, tongue; o, lower jaw; p, beard; q, incisor tooth. 


were not in the image of man and the art was essentially 
gious. The gods were at best half human and half 
animal with grotesque elaborations. The high esthetic 
qualities were therefore wasted on subjects that appear 
trivial to many of us. But, as we break away more and 
more from the shackles of our own artistic conventions, 
we shall be able to appreciate more and more the many 
beauties of ancient American sculpture. 

The serpent motive controlled the character of 
Mayan art and was of first importance in all subse- 
quent arts in Central America and Mexico. The ser- 
pent was seldom represented realistically and yet we 
may safely infer that the rattlesnake was the prevailing 
model. Parts of other creatures were added to the 
serpent's body, such as the plumes of the trogon or 
quetzal, the teeth of the jaguar, and the ornaments of 
man. The serpent was idealized and the lines character- 
istic of it entered into the delineation of many subjects 
distinct from the serpent itself. Scrolls and other 
sinuous details were attached to the serpent's body and 
human ornaments such as earplugs, noseplugs, and even 
headdresses were added to its head. Finally, a human 
head was placed in the distended jaws. The Mayas 
may have intended to express the essential human in- 
telligence of the serpent in this fashion. The serpent 
with a human head in its mouth doubtless belongs in the 
same category as the partly humanized gods of Egypt, 
Assyria, and India. It illustrates the partial assump- 
tion of human form by a beast divinity. The features 
combined are so peculiar and unnatural that the in- 
fluence of Mayan art can be traced far and wide through 
Central America and Mexico by comparative study of 
the serpent motive. 

A typical serpent head in profile (with the human 
head omitted) as developed by the Mayas for decora- 


tive purposes is reproduced in Fig. 28 with the parts 
lettered and named. It will be noted that the lines of 
interest in this design are either vertical or horizontal, 
although the parts themselves have sinuous outlines. 
Two features of the typical serpent's body enter widely 

Fig. 29. Upper Part of Serpent Head rhade into a Fret Orna- 
ment: a, Ixkun; 6, Quirigua; c, d, g, Copan; e, Naranjo; /, 

into the enrichment of all kinds of subjects. One of 
these is the double outline which is derived from the 
line paralleling the base of the serpent's body and serv- 
ing to mark off the belly region. The second feature 
is the small circle applied in bead-like rows to represent 
scales. The profile serpent head is also seen in scrolls 
and frets that elaborate many details of dress worn by 
the human beings carved on the monuments. The 
front view of the serpent's head is usually extended to 
fill an oblong panel and is often used to decorate the base 
of a monument or the fagade of a building. There are 
several monsters closely connected with the serpent 
that will be discussed as the description proceeds. 

The Human Figure. The human beings pictured 
on Mayan monuments are captives, rulers, and priests 
or worshippers. The captives are poor groveling crea- 
tures, bound by rope, held by the hair or crushed under 


foot to fill a rectangular space over which the conqueror 
stands. The rulers and priests are hard to distinguish 
from each other, perhaps because the government was 
largely theocratic and the ruler was looked upon as the 
spokesman of divinity. The spear and shield of war 
served to mark off certain human beings from others 
who carry religious objects such as the Ceremonial Bar 
and the Manikin Scepter. 

Elaborate thrones are shown on several monuments 
thrones canopied by the arched body of the Two-headed 
Dragon that bears symbols of the planets. Over all is 
seen the great Serpent Bird with outstretched wings. 
Upon the throne is seated a human being who may 
safely be called a king and a line of footprints on the 
front of the throne may symbolize ascent. On other 
monuments the commanding personage wears the mask 
of a god and wields a club to subdue or scatters grain to 
placate. On the great majority of monuments the 
human beings, richly attired in ceremonial regalia and 
carrying a variety of objects, possibly present the great 
warriors and priests of the day. Many of the early 
sculptures are stiff and formal, but in a number of in- 
stances the quality of actual portraiture is convincing. 

Design Composition and Perspective. It is 

difficult to compare directly the graphic and plastic 
arts of different nations where the subject matter is 
diverse unless we compare them in accordance with 
absolute principles of design, composition, and perspec- 
tive drawing. The Mayas produced one of the few 
really great and coherent expressions of beauty so far 
given to the world and their influence in America was 
historically as important as was that of the Greeks 
in Europe. Set as we are in the matrix of our own 
religious and artistic conventions, we find it difficult to 



approach sympathetically beauty that is overcast with 
an incomprehensible religion. When we can bring our- 
selves to feel the serpent symbolism of the Mayan 
artists as we feel, for instance, the conventional halo 

Fig. 30. Sculpture on Front of Lintel at Yaxchilan showing 
Man holding Two-Headed Serpent with a Grotesque God's Head 
in each of its Mouths. 

Fig. 31. Types of Human Heads on the Lintels of Yaxchilan. 

that crowns the ideal head of Christ, then we shall be 
able to recognize the truly emotional qualities of Mayan 

It is generally recognized that design to be successful 
must contain order of various sorts (in measurements, 
shapes, directions, tones, colors, etc.). In the simpler 
forms of decorative art the restrictions of technical 
process, as in basketry, may impose order, but in free- 
hand sculpture it must come from an educated sense of 
beauty involving selection and the reproduction of the 

Fig. 32. Sculpture on Upper Part of Stela 11, 
Seibal. The man wears a mask of turquoise 
inlay and an elaborate headdress. 



finest qualities. Design at its highest is embodied in 
the Mayan hieroglyphs. Given spaces had to be filled 
with given symbols and the results attained were uni- 
formly excellent. Although the influence of the ser- 
pent led to the great use of tapering flame-like masses 
in nearly all Mayan designs, still dominant vertical 
and horizontal lines of interest were maintained. 

The panel and lintel sculptures show composition 
achieved by simple and subtle methods. The sweeping 
plumes of headdresses were skilfully used to fill in 
corners, while blocks of glyphs were placed in open 
spaces that might otherwise distract the attention. 
Many compositions appear overcrowded to us, but this 
fault decreases with knowledge of the subject matter. 
Also, the Mayas appear to have painted their sculp- 
tures so that the details were emphasized by color 

In perspective as applied to the human figure the A 
Mayas were far ahead of the Egyptians and Assyrians, 
since they could draw the body in front view and pure 
profile without the distortions seen in the Old World. 
They were even able to make graceful approximations of 
a three-quarters view, as may be seen in Plate XVI, 
where the raising of the nearer shoulder has a distinct^/ 
perspective value. 

The Mayan Pantheon. We have seen that during 
the earliest culture of Mexico and Central America 
there were no figurines of individualized gods, simply 
straightforward representations of human beings and 
animals. ^Wfth the Mayan culture, however, we enter 
upon an epoch of rich religious symbolism. The ser- 
pent, highly conventionalized as we have just seen, 
and variously combined with elements taken from 
the quetzal, the jaguar, and even from man himself, 

Plate XVI. Stela 13, Piedras Negras. This shattered monument 
is one of the finest examples of Mayan Sculpture, showing a fine 
sense of composition and a considerable knowledge of perspective. 



appears as a general indication of divinity J The 
Ceremonial Bar, essentially a two-headed ""serpent 
carrying in its mouths the heads of an important god, 

Fig. 33. The Ceremonial Bar. A Two-Headed Serpent held in 
the Arms of Human Beings on Stelae: a, Stela P, Copan; b, Stela 
N, Copan. 

is one of the earliest religious objects. 
The heads that appear in the mouths 
are usually those of a Roman-nosed 
or of a Long-nosed god. Other re- 
presentations of divinities are com- 
bined with the Two-headed Dragon 
that also has reptilian characters; 
still others appear as headdresses and 
masks on human figures. Strange to 
say, the gods are supplementary to the 
human figures on all the early sculp- 
tures. In the codices, however, they 
are represented apart from man, as 
engaged in various activities and con- 
Manikin Scepter, a tests. [Mayan religion was clearly 

Grotesque Figure organized on a dualistic basis. The 

with one Leg modi- , 

fied into a Serpent, powers tor good are in a constant 


struggle with the powers for evil and most of the benev- 
olent divinities have malevolent duplicates. In actual 
form the gods are partly human, but ordinarily the 

, Fig. 35. The Two-Headed Dragon, a Monster that passes 
through many Forms in Mayan Sculpture. Copan. 

determining features are grotesque variations from 
the human face and figure. While beast associations 
are sometimes discernible, they are rarely controlling. 
Sometimes, however, beast gods are represented in 
unmistakable fashion, good examples being the jaguar, 
the bat, and the moan bird. All of these have human 
bodies and animal headsfj 

The head position in the Mayan pantheon may with 
some assurance be given to a god who has been called 
the Roman-nosed god and who is probably to be identi- 
fied with Itzamna. According to Spanish writers 
Itzamna was regarded by the Mayas as the creator and 
father of all, the inventor of writing, the founder of the 
Mayan civilization, and the god of light and life. The 
Zeus of the Mayas is represented in the form of an old 
man with a high forehead, a strongly aquiline nose, and 
a distended mouth that is usually devoid of teeth. On 
the ancient monuments he is frequently seen in the 
mouths of the Ceremonial Bar and also in association 
with the sun, moon, and the planet Venus. In the 
codices he is shown as a protector of the Maize God and 
in other acts beneficial to man. There is, however, a 


malevolent aspect of this god or possibly another being 
who imitates his features but not his qualities. This 
being may be an old woman goddess who wears a ser- 
pent headdress and who is associated with destructive 
floods, the very opposite of life-giving sunshine. 

Of almost equal importance to the Roman-nosed god 
is a god whose face is a more or less humanized serpent. 
/This god has been identified with Kukulcan, the Plumed | 
Serpent, and_ the Mayan equivalent of the Aztecan \ 
QuetzalcoatLj On the early monuments this god is 
shown in connection with the Ceremonial Bar. He also 
appears at a somewhat later date as the Manikin \ 
Scepter, an object in the form of a manikin that is held 
out by a leg modified into a serpent's body. Since a 
celt is usually worn in the forehead of the manikin it has 
been suggested that this curious object represents a 
ceremonial battle-ax. The face of the Long-nosed god 
is frequently worn by high priests and rulers either as a 
headdress or, more rarely, as a mask. It is possible that 
this divinity was regarded as primarily a war god. In 
the codices he is evidently a universal deity of varied 
powers. Especially he is shown in connection ^with 
water and maize and it seems likely that his principal 
function was to cause life-giving rain. A malevolent 
variant of the Long-nosed god has a bare bone for the 
lower jaw, a sun symbol on his forehead, and a head- 
dress consisting of three symbols of uncertain signifi- 
cance. This head is associated with the Two-headed 
Dragon possibly as a god of death-dealing drought. 

Ahpuch, the Lord of Death, was the principal malevo- 
lent god. His body as figuredln the codices is a strange 
compound of skeletal and full-fleshed parts. His head 
is a skull except for the normal ears. His spinal column 
is usually bare and sometimes the ribs as well, but the 
arms and legs are often covered with flesh. As added 



symbols black spots and dotted lines are sometimes 
drawn upon his body and a curious device like a per- 
centage sign upon his cheek. The Death God in com- 
plete form is rarely shown in the earlier sculptures, 
although grinning skulls and interlacing bones occur as 
temple decorations. As has already been pointed out, 
Mayan religion was strongly dualistic and the evil 


Fig. 36. Gods in the Dresden Codex: God B, the Long-Nosed 
God of Rain; God A, the Death God; God G, the Sun God. 

powers are usually to be identified by death symbols 
such as a bare bone for the lower jaw, or the percentage 
symbol noted above on the cheek. Death heads of 
several kinds are frequent in the hieroglyphic inscrip- 

The Maize God, figured so frequently on the ancient 
^tnonuments and in the Mayan codices may be the same 
that in the time of the Conquest was called jfumjCaax, 
Lord of the Harvest. He is represented as aTyouth with 
a leafy headdress that is possibly meant to represent an 
opening ear of maize. The kan sign, a grain of maize, 
is constantly associated with him. He appears to be at 

Plate XVII. (a) The Upper Portion of Stela 1 at Yaxchilan, 
dealing with the Heavens. The Sky God is seen in the center with 
the moon at the left and the sun god -at the right. Below these is 
the Two-Headed Monster bearing planet signs and additional heads 
of the Sky God; (6) Analogous Detail of Stela 4, Yaxchilan. The 
moon is at the right and the sun at the left. The figure in the sun 
is male and that in the moon, female. The faces of the Sky God 
hang from the lower part of the Two-Headed Dragon, being attached 
to it by symbols of the planet Venus. 



the mercy of the evil deities when not protected by the 
good ones. J 

Space considerations forbid a further study of Mayan 
gods. Suffice it to say that several other divinities are 
shown in the sculptures and codices including a some- 
what youthful appearing war god, as well as a more 
mature and grotesque war god called Ek Ahau, the 
Black Captain. There is an old god with a shell 
attached to his body, a god with the face of a monkey 
who is associated with the north star, a god in the form 
of a frog and another in the form of a bat. In the 
Spanish accounts we can also glean scanty information 
concerning Ixchel, Goddess of the Rainbow and mate of 
Itzamna, Ixtubtun patroness of jade carvers, Ixchebel- 
yax, patroness of the art of weaving and decorating 
cloth, etc. 

The Mayan Time Counts. The passage of time, 
seen in finer and finer degree in the course of human 
life, the succession of summer and winter, the waxing 
and waning moons, the alternation of day and night, 
the upward and downward sloping of the sun and the 
swinging dial of the stars, is a phenomenon that no 
human group has failed to notice. Longer periods than 
those included within the memory of the oldest men 
(presenting an imperfect reflection of the memory of 
men still older) are found only in those favored centers 
where a serviceable system of counting had been de- 
veloped. Mythology has a content of history but 
hardly of chronology. Tradition, when organized by 
the priesthood, may be reasonably dependable for per- 
haps two hundred years. 

The year and the month are the basis of all primitive 
time systems, the former depending on the recurring 
seasons, the latter on recurring moons. Both of these 
are expressed in days. Unfortunately, the day is not 


contained evenly in either the month or the year, nor 
do these larger time measures show any simple relation 
to each other as regards length. The history of the 
calendar is one of compromise and correction. 

The Mayan calendars were made possible by: first, 
the knowledge of astronomical time periods ; second, the 
possession of a suitable notation system; third, the dis- 
covery of a permutation system of names and numbers. 

Elements of the Day Count. There is reason to 
believe that the Mayas had first a lunar calendar of 
twelve months of thirty days each, making a year of 
360 days, and that they modified this so that the num- 
ber of days in the "month" became twenty instead of 
thirty to agree with the value of the second digit in 
their notation system and that the number of months 
was increased from twelve to eighteen, still making up a 
total of 360 days which agreed with the value of the 
third digit. With a truer knowledge of the length of 
the year an extra five day month was added to make 
a year of 365 days. Beyond this the "leap year" error 
was calculated but not interpolated. As proof that the 
lunar month of thirty days preceded the notation 
month of twenty days, it need only be pointed out that 
the name for this period, uinal, seems to be connected 
with the name for moon, u, and that the hieroglyph 
for moon has the value, twenty, in the inscriptions 
and ancient books. 

/ Before entering into a fuller discussion of the astro- 
nomical and notational facts let us turn for a moment 
to the third fact, the permutation system. The origin 
of the cycle 1 known by the Nahuan name tonalamatl, 

1 The word cycle is applied in this book to re-entering series, or 
wheels, of days. These all contain the ionalamatl without a remainder. 
The word period is applied to fixed numbers that do not contain the 
tonalamatl. Unfortunately, the word cycle is also applied to the fifth digit 
or position in the notation system and the word period is used as a general 
designation for any digit or position as well as for other fixed values. 



book of the days, has never been satisfactorily 
explained. It is a permutation system with two 

Fig. 37. The Twenty Day Signs of the Mayan Month. The 
first example in each case is taken from the inscriptions and the second 
from the codices. 

factors, 13 and 20. The former is a series of numbers 
(1-13) and the latter a series of twenty names as follows : 

1. Imix 
2. Ik 
3. Akbal 
4. Kan 
5. Chicchan 

6. Cimi 
7. Manik 
8. Lamat 
9. Muluc 
10. Oc 

11. Chuen 
12. Eb 
13. Ben 
14. Ix 
15. Men 

16. Gib 
17. Caban 
18. Eznab 
19. Cauac 
20. Ahau 

These two series revolve upon each other like two wheels, 
one with thirteen and the other with twenty cogs. The 
smaller wheel of numbers makes twenty revolutions 
while the larger wheel of days is making thirteen revolu- 
tions, and after this the number cog and name cog with 
which the experiment began are again in combination. 
Thus, a day with the same number and the same name 
recurs every 13x20 or 260 days. 

This 260 day cycle corresponds to no natural time 
period and is an invention pure and simple. It is the 
most fundamental feature of the Mayan time count and 
of the time counts of other nations in Mexico and 
Central America. We may perhaps assume that the 



twenty names were originally those of the twenty days 
in the modified lunar months. But the thirteen num- 
bers have no recognized prototype. The formal ton- 
alamatl is generally considered to begin with 1 Imix for 
the Mayas and with a corresponding day for the other 
Mexican and Central American nations. But it can 
be made to begin anywhere and proceed to an equiva- 
lent station that is always 260 days removed. 















1 Imix 















2 Ik 















3 Akbal 















4 Kan 















5 Chicchan 


1 9 - 













6 Cimi 















7 Manik 















8 Lamat 















9 Muluc 















10 Oc 















11 Chuen 















12 Eb 















13 Ben 















14 Ix 















15 Men 















16 Gib 















17 Caban 















18 Eznab 















19 Cauac 















20 Ahau 















The Conventional Year. It has been stated that 
the May as arrived at a conventional 365 day year made up 
of eighteen months of twenty days each plus a short peri- 
od of five days that fell after the eighteen regular months 
had been counted. The Mayan month names are as 
follows :- 

1. Pop 

2. Uo 

3. Zip 

4. Zotz 

5. Tzec 

6. Xul 


7. Yaxkin 13. Mac 

8. Mol 14. Kankin 

9. Chen 15. Muan 

10. Yax 16. Pax 

11. Zac 17. Kayab 

12. Ceh 18. Cumhu 
Uayeb (five additional days) 



Since there are twenty days or positions in the month 
and likewise twenty distinct day names in the tonalamatl 
that fall in regular order it follows that each day would 
always occupy the same month position were it not for 



Fig. 38. The Nineteen Month Signs of the Mayan Year. The 
first example in each case is taken from the inscriptions and the 
second from the codices. The last details are signs for zero. 

the offset at the end of each year caused by the short 
Uayeb period. As it is, any day name occupies the same 
position during the course of an entire year and a position 
five days in advance during the course of the following 
year. Since five is contained four times in twenty there 
can be only four shifts : the fifth year showing the same 
arrangement as the first. The following table gives the 
month positions of each day name during the changes of 
four consecutive years as these are recorded in the 
ancient inscriptions. 

Ik, Manik, Eb, Caban 0, 5, 10, 15 

Akbal, Lamat, Ben, Eznab 1, 6, 11, 16 

Kan, Muluc, Ix, Cauac 2, 7, 12, 17 

Chicchan, Oc, Men, Ahau 3, 8, 13, 18 

Imix, Cimi, Chuen, Gib 4, 9, 14, 19 

Thus Ik occupies position the first year, 5, the second 


year, 10 the third, 15 the fourth, and the fifth. While 
Manik that belongs to the same set has position 5 the 
first year, 10 the second, etc. It will be noted that Imix, 
the first day of the formal tonalamatl is never the first 
day of a month. 

The Calendar Round. But this assignment of 
particular day names to particular places in the month does 
not close the problem. Each day name is associated in 
the tonalamatl with a day number. While it is true that 
each day can occupy only four month places of as many 
years, it must be remembered that the day numbers as- 
sociated with these names can run^ the whole gamut of 13 
changes. The result of this permutation is that a par- 
ticular day with a particular number can occupy a par- 
ticular month position once every 13x4 or 52 years. In 
other words, the cycle of variations runs through the least 
common multiple of 260 (the tonalamatl) and 365 (the 
conventional year) or 18,980 days. This cycle is com- 
monly known as the Calendar Round. 

A Mayan day fixed in a month has four parts to its 
name, thus, 11 Ahau 18 Mac. But after all this condi- 
tion of affairs is not very different from our own. We 
say Tuesday, July 4, and we mean, " Tuesday, the 
second day of the week, falls on the fourth day of 
the month of July." Similarly the Mayan date 11 
Ahau 18 Mac may be read, "The day Ahau, bearing 
the index number 11 (or, being the eleventh day in the 
thirteen day week) is found in the 18th position in the 
month Mac. ' ' Were it not for leap year the European 
date given above would recur after seven years: as it is, 
the cycle is somewhat irregular and no actual use is 
made of it. So far we have considered two sorts of 
Mayan dates, first the tonalamatl date, recurring 
every 260 days, second the calendar round date recur- 
ring every 18,980 days. 

t-siSS^ * ' 

Plate XVIII. Scheme of the Mayan Calendar as presented in 
the Codex Tro-Cortesianus. In the center is Itzamna, the God of 
the Sky, and his spouse, under what has been called the celestial tree. 
The band of hieroglyphs that frames in this picture contains the 
twenty day signs of the Mayan month. The figures on the outside 
are arranged in four groups, according to the four directions of the 
compass. At the top or east we again see Itzamna and his mate. In 
the north, or right hand quarter, human sacrifice is shown and the 
Death God sits opposite the God of War. In the east and in the 
south are also shown pairs of divinities. A series of dots running 
from one day sign to another covers the tonalamatl or 260 day cycle 
of names and numbers. 



Mayan Numbers. We will now see how the record 
of the days is written down in actual symbols. Mayan 
numbers are most commonly represented by bars and 
dots, the bars counting five and the dots one. The no- 

125 & d 10 18 

Fig. 39. Bar and Dot Numerals of the Mayas. 

tation is based for the most part upon twenties rather 
than upon tens and each digit, if this term can be applied 
to figures that run from to 19, may consist of several 
bars and dots arranged in a group. Ascending values 
may be expressed by position, one above the other, or by 
so-called period glyphs which stand beside each group of 
bars and dots and represent the multiplier. 

In our decimal system the number 347,981, for in- 
stance, is really: 

3 x 100000 
4x 10000 
7 x 1000 
9x 100 
8x 10 
Ix 1 

When written out in a horizontal line each "position" 
has a value ten times that of the "position" to the right 
of it. It is understood that a digit which stands in a 
"position "is to be multiplied by 1, 10, 100, 1000, etc., as 
the case may be. 

Now in a system of notation based entirely upon twen- 
ties the ascending values are 1, 20, 400, 8000, 160,000, etc. 
Such a system was probably used by the Mayas for ordi- 
nary commercial purposes. But in the counting of days 
a slight change was made, in that the third "position" 


was only eighteen times the preceding one instead of 
twenty times, or 360 instead of 400. The 360 was prob- 
ably adopted because it comes within five days of the 
length of the year. After this change the ascending val- 
ues are 1, 20, 360, 7,200, and 144,000. A Mayan number 
can be written conveniently in imitation of our own 
system by marking dashes between the ' ' positions ' ' or 
periods. The long number that is set down as follows 
9-12-16-7-8, equals: 

9 x 144000 1,296,000 

12 x 7200 86,400 

16 X 360 5,760 

7 x 20 140 

8x 1 8 


days in the decimal system. In speaking of such a num- 
ber, however, names would be applied to the periods, 


Cycle 144000 days 

Katun 7200 days 

Tun 360 days 

Uinal 20 days 

Kin 1 day 

The number given above would be read 9 cycles, 12 
katuns, 16 tuns, 7 uinals, and 8 kins. It is convenient 
to remember that a tun is a little less than a year, a 
katun, a little less than twenty years, and a cycle a little 
less than four hundred years. r 

./The True Year. So far we have been concerned 
primarily with the counting of days the rs^onomical 
time unit determined by the revolution of L r ie earth up- 
on its axis. Now, although the day is not contained 
evenly in the other astronomical time periods (the 
month, the year, and the apparent revolutions of the 
planets) the Mayan scholars made some remarkable 
correlations of the heterogeneous data. 



The year is determined by the revolution of the earth 
around the sun and by the recurring seasons. No agri- 
cultural people could neglect this time period with its 

Fig. 40. Face Numerals found in Mayan Inscriptions. In 
most cases these are the faces of gods. Reading from left to 
right: the values are 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10. 

Fig. 41. The Normal Forms of the Period Glyphs. Reading 
from left to right: cycle, katun, tun, uinal, kin. 

Fig. 42. Face Forms of Period Glyphs. From left to right: 
introducing glyph, cycle, katun, tun, uinal, kin. 

obvious relation to planting and harvest. Reference 
has already been made to the notational 360 day year 
(tun) an 1 to. the conventional 365 day year (haab). The 
statement- TS then made that the Mayas made a cor- 
rection for tL'e excess of the true year over the con- 
ventional 365 day year. The excess amounts to about 
.24 of a day and their correction seems to have been one 
day in four years for ordinary purposes and 25 days in 
104 years over longer stretches of time. This latter 
correction is more accurate than was that of the Julian 

Introducing Glyph- 


Initial Series 

1. 9 cycles < ;//. k*. # 11. 

2. 14 katuns 

3. 13 tuns (written 12 by error) 

4. 4 uinals 

5. 17 kins 

6. 12 Caban (day) 

Supplementary Series 

7. glyph F 

8. (a) glyph D, (b) glyph C 

9. (a) glyph X, (b) glyph B 

10. (a) glyph A (30 day lunar month) 

10. (b) 5 Kayab (month) 

Explanatory Series 

11, 12, 13 and 14a, possibly explain the dates 

Secondary Series 
14b, 3 kins, 13 uinals 
15a, 6 tuns (to be added) 

Period Ending Date 
16. 4 Ahau 13 Yax (9-15-0-0-0) 

Plate XIX. Typical Mayan Inscription. 




calendar and nearly as accurate as that of the present 
Gregorian calendar put into service as late as 1582. 

The true length of the year was probably obtained by 
observations of sunrise or sunset on summer or winter 
solstices. From some fixed point of observation, such 
as the doorway of a temple, the extreme point on the 
horizon reached by the sun in its northward or south- 
ward march could be accurately determined. Over a 
period of years the average solstitial period (tropical 
year) could be readily obtained if only the days were 
recorded and the intervals compared. 

Although we ourselves depend mostly upon the year 
count rather than the day count we must remember 
that the annual calendar was only one of several that 
the Mayas brought into relation to the inviolable count 
of days. The lunar and Venus calendars will be con- 
sidered presently. But if the "leap year" days were 
not interpolated, of course, the named months had 
no fixed positions in the year but swung slowly round the 
circle. According to the table of Landa, compiled 
about 1566, the month Pop, which seems to have been 
regarded as the first of the year in ancient as well as 
modern times, began on July 16 O.S. Outside of the 
Mayan area the retrogression of the months is attested 
by actual statements of early Spanish writers. But the 
conventional 365 day year was, after all, sufficiently 
accurate to serve the needs of agriculturists and since 
retrogression was only about one day in four years, 
associations between the months and the seasons would 
hold true for the average lifetime. 

The Lunar Calendar. The revolution of the moon 
around the earth was used by the Mayas in what may be 
called the lunar calendar. It has already been ex- 
plained that an early lunar period of thirty days seems 



to have been arbitrarily changed to a notational one of 
twenty days. Now the exact duration of a lunar revo- 
lution is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 2.87 seconds. If 
the customary period of 29.5 days is taken for con- 
venience there is an error of about two full days in five 
years. Such an error was too great to pass the Mayan 
calendar makers. On pages 51 to 58 of the Dresden 

Fig. 43. Representations of the Moon: a, sun and moon 
hieroglyphs; b, moon from a "celestial band"; c, moon hiero- 
glyph used for 20 in codices. 

Codex their solution is recorded unmistakably. A suc- 
cession of 405 lunar revolutions, or nearly 33 years is 
calculated by the addition of groups of five and six revo- 
lutions, the former given as 148 days and the latter as 
either 177 or 178 days. This method of calculation 
may have been a device to carry fractions or it may have 
been based upon ecliptic data. The steps of the calcu- 
lations are put down in a sort of double entry, first by 
numbers, second by named days. The numbers add up 
to 11,958 while the total difference between the named 
days is 11,959. The purpose appears to have been to 
approximate 11,960. This last number of days con- 
tains the tonalamatl an even number of times and 
would thus form a re-entering series since it would al- 
ways begin with the same day. Now it is a remarkable 
fact that the total obtained by modern astronomers for 
405 lunar revolutions is 11,959.888 days or only 0.112 of 
a day less than 11,960. Therefore, this re-entering series 
of the Mayan astronomers can be used nine times be- 



fore an error amounting to one whole day has accumu- 
lated. In other words, the lunar calendar was brought 
into a fixed relation with the day count with an error of 
one day in 300 years. 

On the monuments a more or less orderly group of 
hieroglyphs following the Initial Series has been called 
the Supplementary Series. Several of these hiero- 
glyphs contain the symbol for the moon and the last 
one contains this symbol with the numerals 9 or 10 to 
the right or below. It has been suggested that this 

Fig. 44. The Last Glyph of the Supplementary Series: a, moon 
glyph; combined with the numeral 9 or 10 to indicate a 29 or a 30 
day lunar month. 

last glyph stands for a 29 or 30 day month, as the case 
may be, and that the Supplementary Series records 
the position of the Initial Series date in a lunar count. 

The Venus Calendar. The Mayan astronomers 
possessed a remarkable knowledge of the movements of 
the planets. In particular the apparent revolution of 
the planet Venus was used as the basis of what we may 
call the Venus Calendar. The mean synodical year of 
Venus (nearly 584 days) is divided in the Mayan books 
into four parts of 236 days (morning star), 90 days 
(superior conjunction), 250 days (evening star), and 
8 days (inferior conjunction). It is true that these 
divisions do not agree very closely with the actual divi- 
sions of the Venus year but we must remember that the 
observations were made without instruments, that the 
planet cannot be seen by the naked eye when close to 


the sun, and that it appears much smaller, because 
farther from the earth, when near the superior con- 
junction. Moreover, we must expect beliefs as to the 
nature of this planet, personified as a god, to supple- 
ment the knowledge gained from actual observations. 

The agreement in length between 8 solar years of 
365 days each and 5 Venus years of 584 days each was 
recognized and used in ceremonies and calculations. On 
the five pages of the Dresden Codex, numbered 46-50, 
is presented a series of 5 Venus years amounting in all to 
2920 days. On page 24 (see PL XX) of the same codex 
we find this sum taken 13 times to make 37,960 days and 
then this last number taken 4 times to make 151,840 
days. The number 2920 (5 x 584 and 8 x 365) has a 
definite relation to the tonalamatl which results from 
the following coincidence: 260 and 584 have a com- 
mon factor of 4. It therefore follows that when groups 
of 584 days are counted consecutively along with the 
twenty named days in the standard tonalamatl, these 
groups of 584 days can begin on only five different days. 
The sixth period is introduced by the same named day 
as the first but this named day is associated with a 
different number. The same named day combined 
with the same number recurs in 13x2920 or 37,960 days. 
This round of the Venus calendar (65 Venus years of 
584 days and 104 solar years of 365 days) equals exactly 
two rounds of the solar calendar. 

But there is an important correction that has to 
be made to keep the actual solar calendar in accord 
with the actual Venus calendar. The solar year is really 
365.24 days in length and we have seen that this error 
was corrected 'by a marginal addition of 25 days in 104 
years. The mean Venus year is really 583.92 or .08 of a 
day less than 584. The actual position of Venus will 
therefore run ahead of its calendrical position and there 


is reason to believe that a marginal subtraction amount- 
ing to two days in 25 revolutions was made. 

On Stela K at Quirigua (a cast of this monument is 
exhibited in the American Museum) we find what ap- 
pears to be an effort to calculate the errors of the differ- 
ent calendars. The introducing glyph contains the sym- 
bol of Venus and it is not unlikely that the calculations 
deal in part with the movements of this planet. The 
initial series records the end of an even 5 tun period 
(9-18-15-0-0) in the notation system but the number 
(1,431,000 days) equals 3920 years of 365 days each plus 
200 days. On the basis of * ' five to eight ' ' the 3920 solar 
calendar years equal 2950 revolutions of Venus and allow- 
ing an error of .08 of a day per revolution the total error 
amounts to 196 days. This very nearly equals the 200 
days counted in advance of the 3920 solar calendar 
years. The Mayan scholars seem to have observed the 
fact that counting from the original 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu up 
to their own times, the actual position of Venus practi- 
cally coincided with the end of a 5 tun period when it 
should have coincided with the end of 3920 solar calendar 
years. This supposition is made more credible by evi- 
dence that the error in the solar calendar from the same 
beginning day was also calculated here. From the 
Initial Series date, which leads to 3 Ahau 3 Yax, 10 uinals 
and 10 kins (210 days) are subtracted and the day 1 Oc 
18 Kayab is reached. Then follows the Supplementary 
Series which doubtless refers to the lunar count and im- 
mediately after this comes the unusual number uinals 
kins that is, nothing. Next the day 3 Ahau 3 Yax is 
repeated, thus: 

9-18-15- 0-0 3 Ahau 3 Yax 

10-10 backward 

9-18-14- 7-10 1 Oc 18 Kayab 

0- forward 

9-18-15- 0-0 3 Ahau 3 Yax 


Now it appears that some sort of an equation is intend- 
ed by this subtraction of 210 days and the subsequent 
addition of zero days to arrive again at the point of de- 
parture. The error due to the omission of the extra 
"leap year" day would amount to two full years plus 
210 days in the time covered by the Initial Series. The 
two full years could be dropped from the calculation and 
the 210 days would show the apparent displacement of 
the sun from its assumed calendrical position. Of 
course, it is not to be supposed for an instant that the 
Mayas had kept an actual record of the movements of 
the heavenly bodies for 4000 years. They probably 
based their original point of departure the day 4 Ahau 
8 Cumhu upon some calculated correlation which after- 
wards proved to be slightly erroneous. With a clearer 
understanding of the length of the year and of the revo- 
lution of Venus they may have attempted on this monu- 
ment to record the accumulated error on theoretical 
rather than actual grounds^x^ 

Hieroglyphs. Mayan hieroglyphs resemble the 
Egyptian and Chinese hieroglyphs only in being ' ' sacred 
writing" that is not based upon an alphabet. The 
styles and symbols are entirely different. No Rosetta 
Stone has yet been discovered to give us inscriptions in 
more than one system of writing in Central America. 
The great use of hieroglyphic inscriptions on monuments 
was characteristic of the earlier period of Mayan history 
and at a later time the writing was reduced to books. 
Landa obtained what he supposed was a Mayan alphabet, 
btit what he really obtained was a list of word signs con- 
taining among other sounds the particular sounds he 

/ The phonetic use of syllables rather than of simple 
sounds or letters is probably an important feature of 
Mayan writing. Many hieroglyphs are pictographic 


arid consist of abbreviated pictures of the thing intended 
or of some object connected with it. Often a head 
stands for the entire body. The following list practi- 
cally exhausts our knowledge of Mayan hieroglyphs: 

1 . The 20 day signs which occur in variant forms in the 
inscriptions and codices. 

2. The 19 month signs. 

3. The face signs for numbers from zero to 19. 

4. The "period glyphs" which represent 1, 20, 360, 
7,200, and 144,000 days. 

5. The symbols for the four directions and possibly for 
the four colors associated with them. 

6. The hieroglyphs of several gods mostly from the 

7. The symbols of the sun, moon, Venus, North Star, 
and perhaps other heavenly bodies. 

8. A few more or less realistic hieroglyphs representing 
natural objects. 

Of this brief list many signs connected with the cal- 
endar are given by Landa and other signs have been 
worked out by means of the mathematical calculations 
in the codices and inscriptions which are capable of groof . 

We may expect to find in the Mayan inscriptions some 
hieroglyphs that give the names of individuals, cities, 
and political divisions and others that represent feasts, 
sacrifices, tribute, and common objects of trade as well 
as signs referring to birth, death, establishment, conquest, 
destruction, and other fundamentals of individual and 
social existence. These signs taken with directive signs 
and dates would make possible records of considerable 
accuracy. There seems to be no possibility of purely 
literary inscriptions. While progress will necessarily be 
slow there is no reason for despair and without doubt the 
greater portion of Mayan inscriptions will finally be de- 



As an example of the phonetic use of signs in the build- 
ing up of hieroglyphs let us take the common sign kin, 
meaning "sun." This sign appears regularly in the 
glyphs for the world directions east and west, the Mayan 
names being likin and chikin and also in the month sign 


Fig. 45. Hieroglyphs of the Four Directions: East, North, West, 

Fig. 46. Hieroglyphs containing the Phonetic Element kin: 
a-b, kin; c, li-kin; d, chi-kin; e-f, y ax-kin; g, kan-kin. 

yaxkin, and sometimes in that for kankin. It also 
appears as the sign for the lowest period in the time count 
having the value of a single day and called kin. The sun 
sign pure and simple is a circle with four notches on the 
inner side. The beard which is often attached to the 
kin sign may belong to the face of the sun god. This 
face is sometimes used as a substitute for the simple kin 
sign in certain positions. All the words so far considered 
contain the syllable kin. Now this kin sign also appears 
in many undeciphered hieroglyphs and in some of these 
it seems likely that it has a phonetic value. Other signs 
with definite values in several glyphs are yax, tun, zac, 
etc. This general method of writing is seen in more de- 
cipherable form among the Aztecs. The glosses of the 
early priests that have proved so great a help in the case 


of the Aztecan writing are absent from the few Mayan 

Codices. Only three ancient Mayan books or cod- 
ices are known to exist and thes^arelnore or less" incom- 
plete. They have all been reproduced in facsimile and 
are known by the following names : Dresden Codex, Pe- 
resianus Codex, Tro-Cortesianus Codex. 

These illuminated manuscripts are written on both 
sides of long strips of maguey paper, folded like Japanese 
screens. The paper was given a smooth surface by a 
coating of fine lime and the drawings were made in black 
and in various colors. From the early accounts we know 
that books were also written on prepared deerskin and 
upon bark. Concerning their subject matter we are told 
that the Mayas had many books upon civil and religious 
history, and upon rites, magic, and medicine. The three 
books named above have been carefully studied. They 
treat principally of the calendar and of associated relig- 
ious ceremonies. 

A page of the Dresden Codex containing some inter- 
esting calculations is reproduced herewith . The numbers 
with the digits one above the other are transcribed in two 
diagrams. In the upper diagram the bar and dot numer- 
als are simply put over into Arabic numerals and the 
Mayan system of periods or positions is retained. In 
the lower diagram these numbers are reduced entirely to 
the Arabic system. The columns are lettered at the top, 
the hieroglyphs are counted off in sixteen rows at the left 
and the separate groupings of numbers are shown in five 
sections at the right. 

Among the hieroglyphs the Venus sign is especially 
prominent. At the base of B is given a number in five 
periods that, counted from the normal beginning day 4 
Ahau 8 Cumhu, leads to 1 Ahau 18 Kayab. This day is 
actually recorded immediately under the number and 

A 6 C D E F , G 

Plate XX. Page 24 Dresden Codex. 






1 Ahau 


1 Ahau 


1 Ahau 


1 Ahau 




1 Ahau 


1 Ahau 


1 Ahau 



1 Ahau 


6 Ahau 



11 Ahau 


3 Ahau 


8 Ahau 



t3 Ahau 


5 Ahau 


10 Ahau 



2 Ahau 


1 Ahau 
18 Kayab 


1 Ahau 
18 Uo 



4 Ahau 
8 Cumhu 

5 [8] 

7 Ahau 


12 Ahau 


4 Ahau 


9 Ahau 

Diagram showing partial reduction of Mayan numbers into Arabic 
Numbers in the calculation shown on page 24 of the Dresden 
Codex (Plate XX.) 


1 Ahau 

1 Ahau 

1 Ahau 

1 Ahau 


1 Ahau 

1 Ahau 

1 Ahau 

1 Ahau 

6 Ahau 

11 Ahau 

3 Ahau 

8 Ahau 


1 Ahau 
18 Kayab 


1 Ahau 
18 Uo 

13 Ahau 

5 Ahau 

10 Ahau 

2 Ahau 


4 Ahau 
8 Cumhu 

7 Ahau 

12 Ahau 

4 Ahau 

9 Ahau 

Diagram showing complete reduction into Arabic numbers of the 
calculation shown on page 24 of the Dresden Codex (Plate XX). 



possibly refers to some astronomical event or discovery. 
In column C the long number does not lead to the 1 Ahau 
18 Uo that is given under it. This date is reached by 
other calculations, however. At the base of A is a num- 
ber, in three periods which amounts to 2200. Not only 
is this the difference between the long numbers in B and 
C (1,366,560-1,364,360-2200) but, if we proceed for- 
ward 2200 days from the date given in B we arrive at a 
day 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu recorded under the number in A. 
In other words this number of days carries us forward to 
the end of the seventy-second calendar round after the 
original 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu (72x18,980-1,366,560). 

Let us now make a new beginning in the lower left 
hand corner of this page. In G5 we find the number 
2920 which as we have already seen is exactly the number 
of days consumed in eight years of 365 days or five syno- 
dic revolutions of Venus of 584 days. We will now see 
how the Mayan scholars arrived at 13 x 2920 or 37,960, 
the calendar round of Venus. If we proceed towards the 
left in section 5 we find the second number, F5, is 5840 
which equals 2x2920, the third is 8760 or 3x2920, 
and the fourth is 11,680 or 4x2920. The addition is 
continued in sections 4 and 3 till we reach 35,040 or 12 
x 2920. To be sure the scribe made a slight error in one 
place, writing a 5 for an 8 but this is caught up by the 
day signs 9 Ahau, 4 Ahau, 7 Ahau, 12 Ahau, etc., that fall 
at regular intervals of 2920 days. 

From section 3, the calculation jumps to section 1 
where the numbers in the original are partly destroyed. 
They have, however, been restored with perfect assur- 
ance since the days in all instances are 1 Ahau and there- 
fore must be separated by multiples of 260 days. The 
number in Gl has been restored as 5-5-8-0 or 37,960 or 
13x2920. It contains 260 an even number of times 
and therefore every successive period of 37,960 days be- 


gins with the same day, 1 Ahau. It also equals 13x8 
x365 or 104 years and 13x5x584 or sixty-five revo- 
lutions of Venus. 

The three numbers to the left in Fl, El, and Dl are 
respectively 2, 3, and 4 times 37,960. The last number, 
151,840 days is therefore equal to 416 years or exactly 8 
calendar rounds of 18,980 days. 

Fig. 47. Mayan Ceremony as represented in the Dres- 
den Codex. The figure at the left beats a drum while the 
one on the right plays a flageolet. The sound is indicated 
by scrolls. The head on the pyramid is that of the Maize 
God and it rests upon the sign caban, meaning earth. 

The numbers in section 2 are more difficult to explain 
but they possibly have to do with corrections and correla- 
tions of astronomical periods. If we add to 1 Ahau 18 
Kayab which is recorded at the bottom of B we arrive at 
a day 1 Ahau 13 Mac. This day is prominent in more 
detailed calculations elsewhere in the Dresden Codex. 
If we add to the same 1 Ahau 18 Kayab the number in E 
2 we arrive at 1 Ahau 18 Uo recorded at the bottom of C. 
Space permits no further explanation but the reader will 
see from the foregoing the* method of experiment and 
cross checking that must be applied to the decipherment 
of the Mayan manuscripts. Fortunately, the relation- 























God B 



Good Days 

God G 




III 13 

III 13 




God E 




Week of 
13 days 




God B rain and sky 

Goddess with serpent 

God K benevolent 



god of good powers. 

'headdress possibly con- 

sun god. If 

space had 


been larger ' 

inrl f aho 


sign in his hand. 

Holds Kan sign in hand. 

maize god) would prob- 


ably have been drawn 






Plate XXI. (a) Detail of the Dresden Codex showing Tonal- 
amatl used in Divination; (6) Analysis of the above Tonalamatl, 
according to Forstemann. 



ships of numbers are absolute and the coincidences 
between the recorded numbers and astronomical periods 
are too close and frequent to be dismissed as 

In addition to rational calculations dealing with astron- 
omy one sees in the Mayan manuscripts many arrange- 
ments of the tonalamatl supposed to bring to light good 
and bad days and to forecast events. A section of the 
Dresden Codex showing a condensed tonalamatl is pre- 
sented along with a diagram of its parts. At the top and 
right are seventeen hieroglyphs containing the symbols 
of the four directions, and of at least three of the principal 
gods. At the right is a column of five day signs with the 
number 3 at the head of the column. The tonalamatl is 
divided into five parts of fifty-two days each and each 
part is subdivided into four groups of three days each. 
It begins with 3 Akbal the day sign at the top of the col- 
umn and after the four subdivisions of thirteen days each 
have been counted we arrive at the day 3 Men, the second 
day sign in the column. The count is repeated till the 
260 days have been exhausted and we come back again 
to 3 Akbal. In the diagram the red numbers of the codex 
are represented by Roman numerals and the black num- 
bers by Arabic numerals. Since the count in this ex- 
ample begins with 3 and the addition is always 13, or 
exactly one round of numbers the resultant days always 
have the number 3. 

The three pictures of gods give us an inkling into the 
significance of this particular tonalamatl. All of the 
gods carry the kan or maize sign in their hands. The 
first god is the benevolent rain god and the third is 
the benevolent sun god. Between them is seated 
the malevolent goddess of floods with a serpent on her 
head. The maize god is not show r n but his hieroglyph is 
given. The tonalamatl probably deals with agriculture 


and may be an attempt to determine lucky days for 

Bases of Mayan Chronology. Several attempts 
have been made to bring about a concordance of Mayan 
and European chronology with widely varying results. 
Most of these attempts were made by developing a single 
line of evidence and some were based on assumptions 
that can now be disproved. But no single line of evi- 
dence should be deemed sufficient to decide this all im- 
portant question. The general course of Mayan history 
is indicated unmistakably by three principal lines of 
evidence capable of being correlated with each other. 
These are: 

1st, Natural developments of sculpture, architecture, 

2nd, Inscribed dates on monuments. 

3rd, Traditional history in the Bookgjof-OiilaiiJBalam. 

A fourth important line of evidence remains to be de- 
veloped in the future. This relates to astronomical 
time. There is more than a suspicion that the Mayas 
were able to predict eclipses and there is a strong possi- 
bility that planetary conjunctions and other calculable 
phenomena were also recorded. Astronomical checks 
on chronology may possibly appear after a careful study 
of the calculations relating to Venus. 

Natural developments in sculpture, etc., validate the 
contemporaneous and therefore historical character of 
many inscribed dates. In fact, the relative chronology 
of the cities of the first great Mayan period, coming over 
600 years, is now upon a very certain basis. After the 
close of this period the dates were no longer inscribed. 
We are still able to indicate the course of change in the 
arts but we cannot express this in terms of years. Fin- 
ally, in the books of Chilan Balam we have a dependable 
series of traditions affecting a considerable part of the 

Plate XXII. Development in Style of Carving at Copan. Left 
to right; Stela 9; Stela 5; Stela N; Stela H; bottom, Details of archi- 
tecture showing analogous development. 



\ Mayan nation over a stretch of 1400 years previous to 
| the Spanish Conquest. Now it seems certain that the 
traditional record overlaps the inscribed record so far as 
definite dating is concerned while the natural develop- 
ments give aid and comfort to the simplest and most di- 
rect correlation. 

Historical Development of Art. The sequence 
of Mayan monuments can be determined from a study of 
the style of sculpture. Beginning with the human form 
we find at Copan a remarkably homogeneous series of 
stelae on which a royal or priestly personage stands erect 
and in front view. A Ceremonial Bar is held symmetri- 
cally in the two arms and the body is partly covered with 
rich and elaborate ornament. The amount of relief, the 
proportions of the body, the forms of the Ceremonial 
Bar, etc., all pass through a harmonious development. 
The earliest monuments show a crude block-like carving 
of the face, with protruding eyes, while the latest monu- 
ments have fully rounded contours. At Tikal the stelae 
show, for the most part, human figures in profile, but 
unmistakable development can be seen in general quality 
of carving as well as in specific details. 

In making comparisons in art it is always necessary to 
consider similar things. At many other Mayan cities 
than the two named above it is possible to obtain satis- 
factory evidence of sequence in art forms by cutting 
out similar details from different masses. Thus at Nar- 
anjo when we examine all the Ceremonial Bars we find a 
remarkable development of flamboyant detail on the 
later monuments. At Quirigua the faces on the tops of 
the altars may be compared with the same result. At 
Piedras Negras the heads of the Two-headed Dragon 
that occur in exactly similar positions on four monuments 
likewise show a steady modification towards flamboyancy 


Fig. 48. The Front Head of the Two-Headed Dragon on 
Stela? at Piedras Negras showing the Increase in Flamboyant 
Treatment. The interval between (a) and (6) is 125 years, that 
between (6) and (c) is 45 years. 




as may be seen from Fig. 48, where the front heads are 

put side by side. 

Still other lines of evidence on 
historical sequence are to be gained 
from a study of architecture. Not 
only is it possible to determine the 
general developments that hold 
true of the entire Mayan area but 
also in a given city it is sometimes 
possible to arrange the buildings in 
their order of erection according to 
dependable criteria, both decorative 
and structural. 

The earliest temples have 
narrow vaulted rooms, heavy walls, 
and a single doorway. The rooms 
increase in width, the walls de- 
crease in thickness, the doorways 
multiply till the 
spaces between 
them become 
piers and finally 
columns. The 
support for the 
heavy roof comb 

Fig. 49. Grotesque 
Face on the Back of 
Stela B, Copan. 

taxed the structural ingenuity of the 
Mayan architects. The solving of this 
problem is marked by successive ad- 
vances and since mechanical science 
goes forward rather than backward 
the relative order of structures is 
fairly certain. Moreover, many buildings are closely 
associated with dated monuments, tablets, lintels, or 
stelse. Still another evidence of architectural sequence 
is seen in structures that have been enlarged by the ad- 

Fig. 50. Jaguar in 
Dresden Codex with 
a Water Lily at- 
tached to Forehead. 



dition of wings or by the enclosing of the old parts under 

new masonry. 

Dated Monuments. We have seen that many 
monuments carry hieroglyphic inscriptions containing 
dates in the Mayan system of counting time. It is im- 
possible to read the texts that accompany these dates. 
But it is a remarkable fact 
that when we arrange the 
monuments in their artistic 
order we find that the in- 
scribed dates in the great 
majority of cases fall in the 
same order. This leads us 
to conclude that the dates 
are practically contempor- 
aneous with the carving and 
setting up of the monuments. 
Now the above is especially 
true when the inscription 
gives a simple Initial Series 
date. When more than one 
date is given the historic 
one appears in most instan- 
ces to be the latest, but in 
a few instances it appears to 
be a specially emphasized 
intermediate date. In addition, then, to contempor- 
aneous dates there are some that refer to the past and 
others that refer to the future. 

Some writers have assumed that the stelse and other 
inscribed monuments were primarily time markers set 
up at the end of hotun (or five year) periods. This seems 
an unnecessarily narrow view. We can demonstrate 
that some inscriptions deal with astronomical facts cover- 

Fig. 51. Late Sculpture 
from Chichen Itza. The 
headdress resembles that 
worn by the rulers on the 
highlands of Mexico. 


ing long stretches of time. It is also apparent that many 
of the sculptures represent conquests and it is extremely 
likely that portraits of actual rulers are to be seen in cer- 
tain carvings. It would be too much to expect events to 
happen regularly at the end of time periods and as a 
matter of fact we find at different cities repeated dates 
that do not occupy such positions. These repeated 
dates would seem to recall events of special importance 
to the city in question. 

The running co-ordination between the apparent order 
of the artistic styles and inscribed dates permits us to 
measure very accurately the rate of change which was 
rapid, indeed, at certain times. The style of carving, on 
the other hand, enables us to put into definite 52 year 
periods many of the calendar round dates if these are 
to be regarded as contemporaneous. The result is that 
for the First Empire, as it has been called, there is an ex- 
ceedingly accurate chronology. After the fall and aban- 
donment of the great southern cities dates are rare 
and we have to fall back upon remnants of history pre- 
served after the coming of the Spaniards. 

i Books of Chilan Balam. The Books of Chilan 
! Balam are digests of ancient chronicles preserved in the 
, Mayan language but in Spanish script. The events are 
/ recorded as occurring in such and such a katun. Now 
the katun of these chronicles is exactly the same length 
as the katun or fourth position in the ancient Initial Se- 
ries dates (20x360 or 7200 days). All katuns are com- 
pleted on a day Ahau which may have any number from 
1 to 13. In the Kahlay katun ob or " record of the ka- 
tuns, ' ' which gives the actual sequence of the terminal 
Ahaus, the numbers fall as follows: 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 12, 
10, 8, 6, 4, 2, after which there is a repeat. The time 
covered by this wheel is 13 x 7200 or 93,600 days (almost 


260 years). In the ancient long count the katuns also 
ended with these days in the same order, but a month 
name and position were also given while the katun was 
designated by its coefficient. Thus 9-15-0-0-0 is ordin- 
arily called Cycle 9, Katun 15. It ended with the day 
4 Ahau 13 Yax. In the newer and less far-reaching sys- 
tem of the Books of Chilan Balam, this katun would be 
called simply Katun 4 Ahau. 

Correlation with Christian Chronology. The 

record of the Books of Chilan Balam extends back to 
about 160 A. D. and while the early entries are not nu- 
merous and the historical character is somewhat clouded 
with mythology, we are given, nevertheless, material 
upon which to base a correlation with European chrono- 
logy. A single monument bearing an Initial Series date 
exists at Chichen Itza, and if historical it must have 
been carved during the early occupation of this city. 
According to the chronicles, Chichen Itza was abandoned 
soon after 600 A. D. and was not re-established till about 
960 A. D. There is only place in the later katun se- 
quence of the chronicles where the recorded katun of the 
earlier system of the inscriptions can fall. For the In- 
itial Series gives Cycle 10, Katun 2 and we know this 
ended with a day 3 Ahau and must therefore be placed in 
a Katun 3 Ahau. Now only one Katun 3 Ahau passed 
during the first occupation of Chichen Itza. When this 
correlation is made the count of the chronicles is shown 
to begin with 9-0-0-0-0, a very significant "round num 
ber " date that marks the beginning of Mayan greatness. 

The correlation of the Mayan katun count of the Books, 
of Chilan Balam with the European calendar is not as 
definite as might be wished but the possibility^of-error 
seems to be not greater than four or five years. Future 
research will probably make it exact. 


Summary of Mayan History. A brief summary 
of Mayan history is given below: 

Before 160 A.D. 9-0-0-0-0. 

During this period the calendar and hieroglyphic 
systems were being developed. The earliest date 
is the somewhat doubtful one on the Tuxtla Stat- 
uette (113 B. C.). The next earliest date is the 
assured one on the Leiden Plate (47 A. D.). A very 
early monument at a site in northern Guatemala called 
Uaxactun has recently been discovered by Mr. S. G. 
Morley. The date, 8-14-10-13-15 falls within the 
limits set for this period. 

i^-V'-jj.*- > 

160 A.D. to 358 A.D. 9-0-0-0-0 to 9-10-0-0-0. 

During this period the great cities of the south 
had their start. Enormous mounds were erected and 
temples were built upon them. Public squares were 
laid out and in these were set up stelae and altars. The 
earliest dated monument (except for the one referred to 
above) is Stela 3 at Tikal, 214 A. D. Several monuments 
at this city are carved in a still earlier style. Copan fol- 
lows with Stela 15 which has a date thirty-seven years 
later. The carving throughout this period is crude and 
angular. The profile presentation of the human figure 
is better handled by the early artists than is front view 
presentation. The principal conventions of Mayan art 
seem to have been fixed during the protohistoric period 
and the serpent was much used as a motive of decoration 
during the archaic period. It seems likely that the archaic 


pottery art of the arid highlands, discussed in the 
previous chapter, was still being made when Mayan art 
began its remarkable rise. The transitional types are 
doubtless to be assigned to the first three centuries of 
the Christian Era. 

358 A.D. to 455 A.D. 9-10-0-0-0 to 9-15-0-0-0. 

Some of the most beautiful works of art belong to the 
middle period. While archaism did not actually dis- 
appear till the end of this period there is a certain 
purity of style and straightforwardness of presentation 
about many of these early sculptures. Flamboyancy 
is not apparent. At Copan the Great Mound was begun 
during this period and this enormous undertaking doubt- 
less absorbed so much energy that few stela? were set 
up. The best series of monuments from the middle 
period are seen at Naranjo and Piedras Negras. 

455 A.D to 600 A.D. 

A short brilliant period followed in which many cities 
flourished. In addition to the cities already mentioned 
there were Quirigua, Ixkun, Seibal, Holmul, Nakum, 
Cancuen, Yaxchilan, Palenque, etc. The art passes 
through some interesting changes, becoming more com- 
plex in certain features and less complex in others. The 
architecture makes great advances. Rooms become 
wider, walls thinner, and forms more refined and pleasing. 
The calculations in the inscriptions deal more and more 
with complicated astronomical subjects and historical 
Initial Series dates become less and less common and 


finally cease. Many dates of the calendar round and 
period ending types are given. This brilliant epoch 
seems to have come to an end through civil war and 
social decadence. The references in the chronicles to 
this early period are very brief. The settlement of 
Bacalar is stated as well as the discovery of Chichen Itza. 
An Initial Series inscription at the later site gives us one 
of our latest historical dates and permits the correla- 
tion of the ancient dates with European chronology. 

600 A. D. to 960 A. D. 

The early Mayan cities seem to have been abandoned 
about 600 A.D. and a general shift towards the north 
seems to have taken place. Architecture was still kept 
up but pictorial sculpture practically disappeared. 
Certain cities south of Uxmal probably date from this 
decadent period, examples being Hochob and Dsibilno- 
cac. At Xcalumkin there is an Initial Series date 
which may refer to about 910 A.D. The architectural 
styles form the only evidence of artistic sequence availa- 
ble, although if excavations were conducted it is possible 
that pottery would also help. In the chronicles this 
period falls, for the most part, after the first abandon- 
ment of Chichen Itza and while the Mayas were hold- 
ing the land of Chakanputun. This land may be the 
central portion of the Yucatan peninsula. 

960 A. D. to 1195 A. D. 

This period is characterized by a noteworthy re- 
vival of architecture occurring in northern Yucatan. 


According to the chronicles the land of Chakanputun 
was abandoned by the tribe of Mayas known as the 
Itzas and Chichen Itza was re-established. About 
the same time Uxmal and Mayapan were also 
founded and a league between these three principal 
cities was instituted. Many other cities, such as 
Kabah, Labna, Sayil, and Izamal also seem to have 
flourished at this time but we have no traditions of any 
except Izamal. The architectural styles of decoration 
during this period are more formal than those of earlier 
times. The mask panel, a face reduced to a rectangular 
area and built up mosaic-like out of separately carved 
blocks, is the most important motive but there is also 
a great use of geometric figures such as fret meanders, 
banded columns, and imitation diagonal lattice work. 
At Uxmal and Chichen Itza are found highly modified 
and scarcely recognizable examples of profile mask 
panels such as occur in realistic forms in earlier cities. 
Several of the large communal buildings show different 
stages of growth. 

1195 A. D. to 1442 A. D. 

This period lies between the first serious outbreak 
of civil war under the league of the three cities and 
the final destruction of Mayapan about a hundred 
years before the Spaniards settled at Merida. The civil 
war was begun by a warrior called Hunac Ceel and 
Chichen Itza was loser. This chief seems to have called 
for aid upon seven foreigners with Mexican names . These 
foreigners may have later acquired Chichen Itza as the 
spoils of war. There is no definite statement to this 
effect, but the architecture and art of Chichen Itza 


show a great and sudden influx of new ideas that are 
characteristic of the Valley of Mexico. No other city 
of this region has so many of these intrusive features. 
An instance is the Great Ball Court with its connected 
temples. The ball court is found in many Mexican 
cities where it had a strong religious significance but it 
is absent from any of the great Mayan cities with the 
exception of Chichen Itza and Uxmal. Sculptures and 
hieroglyphs in the style of the Mexican highlands also 
occur in quantity at Chichen Itza. No one can state 
definitely the length of this Toltecan supremacy on 
Mayan soil, but it probably was not for long and pos- 
sibly came to an end before the middle of the fourteenth 
century. The cities in the Valley of Mexico to which 
this intrusive culture is to be ascribed are those of the 
Toltecan period, such as Tula, Teotihuacan, and 

1442 to the present day 

After the fall of Mayapan, the Mayas seem to have 
been divided into many w^arring factions. All the great 
cities were abandoned although the temples were still 
regarded as sacred. Of course, stone construction was 
still prevalent as we know from some of the Spanish 
descriptions of towns on the coast. Learning was still 
maintained by the nobles and the priests. But there 
was not the centralized authority necessary for the 
keeping of such luxurious capitals as existed in the old 
days. The Itzas, in part at least, returned to one of 
their ancient seats in the south, founding the island 
town of Tayasal in Lake Peten. Here Mayan culture 
was preserved until 1696. At the present time certain 
ancient ideas still persist as has already been stated in 
connection with the ethnology of the Lacandone Indi- 


ans. Upon the western highlands there are preserved 
traditions which concern the Quiches, Cakchiquels, and 
other Mayan tribes, but the history does not go back for 
more than two hundred years before the Spanish con- 
quest. All in all, there is little to be said in favor of the 
frequent plaint that the coming of the white man 
snuffed out a culture that promised great things. The 
golden days of the Mayan civilization had already 
passed, and, if we may judge by the history of other 
nations, would never have returned. 


THE influence of the Mayan civilization when at its 
height (400 to 600 A. D.) may be traced far beyond 
the limits of the Mayan area. Ideas in art, religion, 
and government that were then spread broadcast 
served to quicken nations of diverse speech and a series 
of divergent cultures resulted. Most of these lesser 
civilizations were at their best long after the great 
Mayan civilization had declined, but one or two were 
possibly contemporary. It will be the aim in the 
present chapter to emphasize the indebtedness of these 
lesser civilizations to the Mayas as well as to com- 
ment upon their individual characters. 

We will first proceed northwest into Mexico and then 
southeast into the Isthmus of Panama. The environ- 
ment under which the Mayas developed their arts of 
life continues in narrowing bands westward along the 
Gulf of Mexico and southward across the Isthmus of 
Tehuantepec. The most westerly Mayan city of im- 
portance seems to have been Comalcalco. But there 
is also a large ruin near San Andres Tuxtla and it may 
be significant that the earliest dated object of the Mayas 
(the Tuxtla Statuette) came from this region. In other 
words, the cradle of Mayan culture may have been in 
this coastal belt where arid and humid conditions exist 
side by side and where the figurines of the archaic type 
are found together with those of the Mayas. Unfortun- 
ately, the archseology of this part of Mexico has been 
little studied and we are compelled to go farther up the 
coast, to the Totonacs or farther inland to the Zapotecs 
before we can find material for study. 






Zapotecan Culture. In the state of Oaxaca the 
Zapotecan Indians attained to a high degree of civiliza- 
tion but a study of their art shows that they were 
greatly indebted to the Mayas for decorative motives. 
Monte Alban, the principal archaeological site in point 
of size seems also to be the most ancient. Stelse are 

Fig. 52. Comparison of Mayan and Zapotecan Serpent 
Heads. The first two examples are from Palenque and the second 
two from Monte Alban. 

found at this city, as well as narrow vaulted chambers. 
The crest of a mountain overlooking the beautiful 
valley of Oaxaca is l^v-eled and terraced and laid out 
in courts surrounded by pyramids. The sides of all 
structures are aligned with the four directions of the 
compass. The temples which once crowned the pyra- 
mids have fallen into ruin and only here and there is it 
possible to discern the outline of simple cell-like rooms 
that probably had flat roofs. 

Unfortunately, no traditions have come down to us 
to help in the restoration of Zapotecan history. Al- 
though the art was pretty clearly derived from the 
Mayas it nevertheless developed some interesting 
characters of its own. Sculptured slabs are found in a 
number of localities besides Monte Alban, but only at 
this ruin are they in situ and of great size. The typical 
Zapotecan pottery is found at Monte Alban but the 
most elaborate forms are found at other and apparently 
later ruins. Zapotecan art in stone flourished in a 
restricted area and only one ruin outside the Valley 



of Oaxaca offers striking similarities to it. This is the 
famous ruin of Xochicalco_jsituated about five hours 
ride from Cuernavaca. 'Whether any historical con- 
nection ever existed between Monte Alban and Xochi- 
calco must be decided by future exploration. 

The hieroglyphs that are found on the stelse of Monte 
Alban often strongly resemble those of the Mayas. 
The same use of bars and dots for numerals is to be 


Fig. 53. Bar and Dot Numerals combined with Hieroglyphs 
on Zapotecan Monuments. 

noted and it even seems possible to transcribe some of 
the signs into the Mayan system. Lintels with lines 
of hieroglyphs on the outer edge have been found at 
Cuilapa and Xoxo. Those of the latter site seem to 
have degenerated into meaningless decorative forms. 

In Zapotecan funerary urns a close connection with 
Mayan art can easily be demonstrated. The urns are 
cylindrical vessels concealed behind elaborate figures 
built up from moulded and modeled pieces. Many of 
these built-up figures clearly represent human beings 
while others represent grotesque divinities or human 
beings wearing the masks of divinities. The purely 
human types have a formal modeling in high relief, the 
head usually being out of proportion to the rest of the 
body. The pose is ordinarily a seated one with the 
hands resting on the knees or folded over the breast. 
Details of dress are very clearly shown including capes, 
girdles, aprons, or skirts and headdresses. Necklaces 
are often worn with a crossbar pendant to which shells 

Pottery, Plate XXV. Zapotecan Incense Burners, and Funerary 



are attached. Headdresses are made of feathers and 
grotesque faces and are often very elaborate. As for 
the divine types the jaguar and a long-nosed reptile are 
the most common. The latter has a human body and 
may possibly be an adaptation of the Mayan Long- 
nosed God. 

The funerary urns are found in burial mounds called 
mogotes which contain cell-like burial chambers. The 
urns are not found within these cells but on the floor in 
front of them, in a niche over the door or even on the 
roof. They are frequently encountered in groups of 
five and seem never to contain offerings. 

Other Zapotecan pottery is mostly made of the same 
bluish clay used in the urns. This clay is finely 
adapted to plastic treatment but never carries painted 
designs. The pottery products include pitchers of 
beautiful and unusual shapes, dishes with tripod legs 
modeled into serpent heads, incense burners, bowls, 
plates, etc. Of the same clay are also made whistles in 
realistic forms, and moulded figurines. Painted pot- 
tery also occurs in forms and designs of rare beauty, 
but it is much less characteristic of the Zapotecan 
province than the unpainted ware. 

Carved jades of splendid workmanship have been 
recovered in the Zapotecan region and there is reason 
to believe that this semi-precious stone was obtained 
here in the natural state. Many of the pieces are 
smoothed only on the front, while the back retains its 
old weathered and stream-worn surface. Beautiful 
examples of gold work have also been found in this 

The ruins of Mitla are described in a later section 
since they came within the sphere of influence of the 
Aztecs. Codices ascribed to southern Mexico will also 

Plate XXVI. (a) Sculpture of Stone of the 
Period showing Rulers seated upon Thrones before 
Tablets pierced for Suspension, found in Zapotec 




be considered at that time. It may not be out of place, 
however, to discuss briefly here the religion and time 
counts of the Zapotecans. 

The high priests of the Zapotecans were called 
"Seers" and the ordinary priests were "Guardians of 
the Gods" and "Sacrificers." There was a sort of 
priestly college where the sonsof^chiefs were trained 
in the service of the gods. [The religious practices 
included incense burning, sacrificing of birds, and ani- 
mals, and letting of one's own blood by piercing the 
tongue and the ear. Human sacrifice was made on 
stated occasions and was attended by rites of great 
solemnity. The Zapotecs never went to the blood 
excesses that stain the annals of the AztecsTJ 

The 260 day cycle of the time count, was subdivided 
into four periods of 65 days and each period was under 
control of a single god and was associated with one of 
the cardinal points. Each period of sixty -five days was 
further divided into five groups of thirteen days for 
a ceremonial reason. Some authorities have con- 
sidered that the general form of the Central American 
calendar originated in the region of the Isthmus of 
Tehuantepec and spread to the north and to the south. 
But dependable history in the Mayan area goes back 
much farther than in the Zapotecan region and renders 
such a guess extremely hazardous. 

Totonacan Culture. In the central part of the 
state of Vera Cruz are found the remains commonly 
referred to the Totonacan Indians. These Indians are 
southern neighbors of the Huastecas who are an outly- 
ing Mayan tribe. The Totonacan language is accord- 
ing to some authorities thrown into the Mayan stock. 
If not truly Mayan it contains many loan words. This 
apparent connection in language is all the more inter- 



esting in view of the character of Totonacan art which 
also shows a strong strain of Mayan feeling and tech- 
nique in certain products but an unmistakable likeness 
to the archaic art of the Mexican highlands in certain 
other products. The pottery faces in the archaic style 
are advanced beyond the average of such work and 
probably represent a late phase. It is possible to bring 
forward examples of every degree of transition from the 

Fig. 54. The Eyes of Totonacan Figurines. 

archaic style to the classical Mayan of Tabasco and 
Chiapas. Curiously enough, it does not seem possible 
to extend these linking likenesses to the Huastecas. 

A series of eyes showing Totonacan modifications of 
the styles prevalent on the archaic pottery heads of the 
Highlands is given in Fig. 54. In some cases we find the 
simple single or double groove eyes and in other cases 
these eyes are made more conspicuous by the use of 
black bituminous paint. The eyeball is developed at 
the end of the series. 

The smiling or laughing faces have a much higher 
technique and are perhaps the finest examples of clay 
modeling from the New World. These heads have 
tubular extensions at the back and were possibly set into 
temple walls. The faces and foreheads are broadened 
in accordance with the esthetic type of a forehead flat- 
tening people. While the faces vary so much in minor 
details as to create the impression that they are por- 
traits of actual persons they are alike in method of 
modeling. Nearly all are laughing or smiling in a very 
contagious fashion. Sometimes the tip of the tongue is 



caught between the teeth, sometimes the corners of the 
mouth are pulled down as if the smile were reluctant, 
and there are other individual variations in the expres- 
sions of lovelv and unrestrained mirth. 

Plate XXVII. Laughing Head of the Totonacs, remarkable 
example of Freehand Modeling in Clay. Heads of this type 
probably served as decorative details on temple fronts. 

Perhaps the most famous objects found in Totonacan 
territory are the so-called "stone collars" or "sacri- 
ficial yokes." In size and shape these resemble horse 
collars, but in contrast to somewhat similar objects from 



Porto Rico they are usually open while the latter are 
closed. Nothing is really known concerning their use 
but there has been no lack of fanciful surmises. The 
most popular explanation is that the yoks were placed 
over the necks of victims about to be sacrificed. It is 
evident that the yokes were intended to be placed in a 
horizontal position because there is a plain lower surface 
and the ends are frequently carved with faces that are 
right side up only when the plain side is down. These 
yokes represent the richest and most elaborate works of 
art in the entire region since they are carved in the most 
finished manner from single blocks of exceedingly hard 

Other peculiarly shaped stones are found in the 
Totonacan area and are carved according to the same 
splendid technique. The "paddle-shaped" stones have 
been found in considerable numbers and their use, like 
that of the stone yokes is absolutely unknown. It is 
evident from the carving that they were intended to be 
stood on end. 

The designs on the sacrificial yokes and paddle stones 
are largely reptilian, but there are examples where the 
turkey, the coyote, as well as the human motive are 
treated somewhat after the manner of the Mayas. In 
fact there can be little doubt that the best period of 
Totonacan art corresponded pretty closely to the best 
period of Mayan art. The most important site is 
Papantla where a remarkably ornate pyramid rising in 
six terraces may be seen, as well as massive sculptures in 
the same style as the works of art described above. The 
front wall of each terrace on all four sides of the pyra- 
mid, except for the space occupied by the stairway is 
divided into a series of niches neatly made of cut stone. 
Formerly each of these niches may have served to 


shelter the statue of some god. Many fine remains of 
Totonacan art have been recovered from the Island of 
Sacrifices in the harbor of Vera Cruz. This island 
retained its ancient sacrificial character in the time of 
the Spanish conquerors. It is apparent, however, that 
the culture had already changed greatly if we may 
judge by the ruins of Cempoalan, the Totonacan capital 
in the sixteenth century. The art of this city is largely 

The ToltCCS. The first peoples to appear in Mexi- 
can history are the Olmecs and Toltecs. Tales o^ 
ancient splendor cluster about them, but there is a woe- 
ful lack of definite information concerning their origin 
and the extent of their dominion xLSome authorities see^. 
in the Olmecs a Mayan tribe that once inhabited the] 
region east and southeast of the Valley of Mexico and 
who were afterwards driven out. But it seems more 
likely that both the Olmecs and the Toltecs were tribes 
of Nahuan rather than Mayan stock and that they were 
merelv the first of the Highlanders to feel the quickening 

t C-* A O 

effect of Mayan contact-J Both terms were probably 
generalized by the later nations far beyond their original 
significance. The Toltecs derived their name from Tula 
or Tollan, which was only one of several cities that 
flourished during the Toltecan period. Whether all 
these cities were ever bonded into a political whole is a 
question that cannot now be answered. 

Owing to the lack of a "long count" the dates in 
Toltecan history are few and uncertain. The Mexican 
document with the longest range of history is the Annals 
of Quauhtitlan in which the count of years goes back in 
a practically unbroken series to 635 A.D. Still earlier 
dates are indicated. For instance, the legendary 
departure from Chiconoztoc, the Seven Caves, is 


placed for the Chichimecas as 364 years (7 x 52) before 
their settlement in 687 at Quauhtitlan. An annotation 
on the manuscript reading: "6 times 4 centuries, plus 
1 century plus 13 years, today the 22nd of May, 1558" 
has been taken to summarize the scope of the original. 
The "centuries" are of course the native "cycles" of 
52 years and the total on this basis amounts to 1313 
years which subtracted from 1558 would carry us back 
to 245 A.D\ 

While this chronicle concerns itself mostly with the 
lowly Chichimecas who did not become important until \ 
after the downfall of Toltecan power, still what pur- 
ports to be a genealogy of the rulers of Tula is also given. 
From other sources, such as the writings of Fernando de 
Alva Ixtlilxochitl, we are able to gain a little additional 
light on some of the Toltecan chiefs. /The person of 
Quetzalcoatl in this history is endowed with super- 
natural qualities and it is not unlikely that he was a 
great religious teacher. Of course, the name is also 
applied to one of the important deities and this fact has 
doubtless led to much of the confusion that existsj 
(Under Huemac, the last of the Toltecan chiefs, witcl> 
craft and human sacrifice appear to have laid the ground 
for oppression and war._^ 


726 Toltecs establish their government in Cuxhuacan. 

752 Mixcoamacatzin is elected chief. 

817 Mixcoamacatzin dies and is succeeded by Huetzin. 

835 Huetzin dies and is succeeded by Ihuitimal. 

843 The miraculous birth of Quetzalcoatl takes place. 

870 Quetzalcoatl arrive's at Tullanzinco and performs rites. 

873 Ihuitimal dies and Quetzalcoatl is made ruler. 

883 Quetzalcoatl, the lesser, dies. Temple building. 

895 Quetzalcoatl dies and is succeeded by Matlaxochitl who moves 

the government to Tula. 

930 Matlaxochitl dies and is followed by Nauhyotzin. 

945 Nauhyotzin is succeeded by Matlacoatzin. 

973 Matlacoatzin is succeeded by Tlilcoahuatzin. 


994 Tlilcoahuatzin dies and the famous Huemac takes the power. The 

wicked magic of his queen. 
1018 The great starvation takes place. 

1058 Many strange things happen in Tula. The demons arrive. 

1059 Two armies attack the population. Despotism begins. First 

sacrifice of nobles. 

1063 War wages. The Otomies attack the skins of slain warriors are 

first worn. 

1064 Tula under Huemac is destroyed because of the wicked magic. 

The people disperse. 

1070 The power of Tula broken completely, Huemac commits suicide in 

Some authorities shift the entire series of dates in this 
summary backward one 52 year period, making the 
first dale 674 A. D. and the last one 1018 A. D. This 
seems unjustifiable in view of the continuous counting 
of every year in this chronicle down to the coming of the 
Spaniards in 1519. 

Of course this summary does not actually cover the 
range of Toltecan history. Such cities as Teotihuacan 
and Xochicalco may well have seen their prime before 
Tula became important while certain other popula- 
tions such as Colhuacan, Atzcapotzalco and Cholula 
doubtless carried the civilization of the Toltecs down 
into times much later than the suicide of Huemac. 
Checking up Mexican dates with the more accurate, 
chronology of the Mayas it may be pointed out that 
the period of Mexican influence in Northern Yucatan 
seems to have begun about 1200 A. D. The Mexican 
mercenaries who enlisted in the aid of Mayapan 
defeated the ruling house at Chichen Itza in the tenth 
year of Katun 8 Ahau, or about 1196 A. D. This date 
is 126 years after the recorded downfall of Tula, yet cer- 
tain structural and decorative details of the buildings 
erected at Chichen Itza by these foreign overlords find 
their closest analogues at Tula. Other details point to 
the somewhat later epoch of Tezcoco. Curiously 
enough, no record of this far-reaching conquest seems 
to have been preserved on the highlands of Mexico. . 


Archaeology tells a more convincing tale as regards 
the Toltecs than does history herself. In the stratified 
remains at Atzcapotzalco the objects made by the 
Toltecs overlie those of the first potters of the Archaic 
Period and are in striking contrast to them. The prin- 
cipal motives seen in Toltecan decorative art owe an 
obvious debt to the earlier and more brilliant work of 
the Mayas. 

The pyramids of the Toltecs exceed in size those of 
the Mayas, but are of inferior construction, adobe bricks 
with concrete facings taking the place of rubble and 
cut stone. The temples that crowned these pyramids 
were also of less solid character and no single example 
is now intact. Vaulted ceilings do not appear to have 
been used, but instead flat, timbered ceilings or high 
pitched roofs of thatch. Sometimes two or more 
columns were placed within the room to support the roof 
beams. The groundplans of buildings other than 
temples, show small rooms arranged in an irregular 
fashion around courts. 

A ceremonial game that resembled basket ball was 
an important feature of Toltecan religion. Two rings 
were set vertically in the walls that flanked a level 
space and the object of the game was to make the rub- 
ber ball pass through one of the rings. This sacred 
game spread far and wide. It was introduced into 
northern Yucatan and the most elaborate ball court of 
all was built at Chichen Itza. / Another special feature 
of Toltecan religion was the worship of the sun disk 
which was passed on to the later civilizations of Mexico, 
and which likewise was carried to Yucatan.] Prayers 
are commonly represented in Toltecan sculptures by the 
device of the "speech scroll" which issues from the 
mouth of the speaker and pictures forth what his 
desires are. 


Xochicalco. Let us now pass over in brief review 
several ruins which belong to the Toltecan period. 
Xochicalco, the House of the Flowers, is a large ruin 
near Cuernavaca. The position seems to have been 
chosen primarily for defense. The rounded ridge that 
drops off into deep valleys on either side is laid out in 
courts, terraces, and pyramids. Only one building 
offers evidence of the sculptural skill of the ancient 
habitants. It is a temple, standing upon a rather low 
platform mound. The sides of the platform mound 
are decorated with great plumed serpents, seated human 
figures, hieroglyphs, etc. Parts of the sculptures also 
remain on the low walls of the temples itself which is 
now roofless. The stone carving at Xochicalco re- 
sembles that of Monte Alban especially as regards the 

San Juan Teotihuacan. The great ruin of 
Teotihuacan is located on the eastern margin of the 
Valley of Mexico. The principal features of Teotihuacan 
are two great pyramids and a straight roadway lined 
with small pyramids. There are also several groups 
of buildings of which the lower walls and the bases of the 
piers are still to be seen as well as some interesting 
fragments of fresco painting. The smaller of the two 
great pyramids is called the Pyramid of the Moon. 
It is located at the end of the roadway which is com- 
monly called the Pathway of the Dead. The Pyramid 
of the Sun is situated on the east side of the roadway. 
This pyramid is about 180 feet in height and rises in 
four sloping terraces. The temple which formerly 
crowned its summit has entirely disappeared. Explo- 
rations conducted by the Mexican government showed 
that this pyramid was enlarged from time to time and 
old stairways buried under new masonry. On the 

Plate XXX. (a) The Temple at Xochicalco after Restoration by 
the Mexican Government; (6) Partial View of the Great Pyramid at 
Cholula which Rises from the Level Plain in Three Broad Terraces. 
A Spanish church has been built upon the top of this pyramid and a 
roadway leads up the badly eroded mound. 




south side of the small stream that flows through the 
ruins is a group of buildings called the Citadel. 

A few large sculptures have been found at Teoti- 
huacan. But the site is chiefly remarkable for pottery 
figurines and heads that are picked up by thousands. 
The heads present such a marked variety of facial 
contour and expression that it would seem as if every 
race under the sun had served as models. It is very 
likely that these heads formed part 
of votive offerings, beings attached 
to bodies made of some perishable 
material. The heads were seldom 
used to adorn pottery vessels, al- 
though many modern and fraudu- 
lent vases are so adorned. Dolls 
with head and torso in one piece 
and with movable arms and legs 
made of separate pieces were 
known. The face of Tlaloc, the 
Rain God, is fairly common in 
Teotihuacan pottery but other 
deities have not surely been identi- 
fied. It is not improbable that the 
God of Fire is personified as an old 
Fig. 55. Jointed man with wrinkled face, and that 

Doll of Clay from San xipe, Lord of the Flayed, is repre- 
Juan Teotihuacan. _ . , ,11 

sented in the faces that look out 

through the three holes of a mask. The jaguar, the 
monkey, the owl, and other animals are also modeled 
with excellent fidelity. The Mayan convention of the 
human face in the open jaws of the serpent is not un- 

A number of beautiful vases painted in soft greens, 
pinks, and yellows have been recovered at Teotihuacan. 


These colors would not stand the kiln and they were 
applied after the vessel had been burned. According 
to one method, the outside of the vessel was covered 
with a fine coating of plaster upon which the design 
was painted exactly as in fresco. According to a second 
method the effect of cloisonne was cleverly achieved. 
This technique is most characteristic of the region 
northwest of the Valley of Mexico and will be described 
later. Incised or engraved designs are commonly met 
with on pottery vessels at Teotihuacan. 

Tula. The ancient city of Tula or Tollan, the 
Place of the Reeds, is situated about fifty miles north of 
Mexico City. Building stone of good quality was avail- 
able at this site and in consequence sculptures are more 
plentiful than at Teotihuacan. Particularly famous are 
the great sculptured columns which represent feathered 
serpents and gigantic human figures. The drums are 
mostly mortised and the columns are crowned by true 
capitals. These architectural features at Tula find their 
closest counterpart at the Mayan city of Chichen Itza 
in northern Yucatan. The tlachtli or ball court occurs 
at Tula and the groundplans of complicated "palaces" 
can also be made out. 

Gholula. The sacred city of Cholula, in the en- 
virons of Puebla, is chiefly famous for its great pyramid. 
This structure is more or less irregular in shape but the 
base averages more than a thousand feet on the side and 
the total height, now somewhat reduced, was probably 
close to two hundred feet above the plain. Compared 
with the Pyramid of Cheops, it covers nearly twice as 
much ground and has a much greater volume, but lacks 
of course, in height. As already noted, the pyramids of 
the New World are simply foundations for temples and 
thus always have flat tops. The great mound of Cholu-. 


Plate XXXI. (a) Pottery Plates from Cholula with Decorations 
in Several Colors. The pottery of Cholula ranks high in design and 
color; (6) A View at La Quemada. Cylindrical columns built up of 
slabs of stone supported the roofs of some of the structures. The 
use of columns was characteristic of late Toltecan times. 



la is a solid mass of adobe bricks of uniform size laid in 
adobe mortar. The pyramid was evidently faced with 
a thick layer of cement of which a few patches still 
remain. Two other large mounds exist at Cholula. One 
of these has been partially destroyed and now stands as 
a vertical mass of adobe bricks while the other is over- 
grown with brush and cactus. 

Unlike the other Toltecan cities Cholula was still in- 
habited and a place of religious importance when Cortez, 
arrived in Mexico. But the figurines and pottery ves- 
sels that are found at this site belong for the most part 
to an epoch earlier than that of the Aztecs. Quetzal- 
coatl was the patron deity of Cholula and in the decor- 
ative art the serpent is finely conventionalized. A pot- 
tery shape frequently met with at Cholula is the flat 
plate bearing polychrome designs. 

The Frontier Cities of the Northwest. An im- 
portant culture area is located upon the northwestern, 
limits of the area of high culture in ancient Mexico. 
The best known and most accessible ruin is La Quema- 
da, "The Burned" which is situated a day's ride from 
the city of Zacatecas. This site was found in a de- 
serted and ruinous condition by the Spaniards in 1535 
and there is little doubt that it had been abandoned 
several centuries previous. La Quemada has been 
popularly associated with Chiconoztoc, "The Seven 
Caves," a place famous in Aztecan mythology, but this 
association rests upon no scientific basis. It is simply 
an unauthoritative attempt to invest a forgotten city 
with a legendary interest. Chiconoztoc, where the 
Aztecs came out of the underworld might be compared 
with our own Garden of Eden and its exact location is 
just as much an eternal riddle. La Quemada is a ter- 
raced hill resembling Monte Alban and Xochicalco. 


The retaining walls of terraces and pyramids as well 
as the walls of buildings are still well preserved. These 
walls consist of slabs of stone set in a mortar of red 
earth. Perhaps the most noteworthy structure is a 
wide hall containing seven columns built of slabs of 
stone in the same manner as the walls. All in all the 
architectural types as well as the observed contacts in 
art point to a late epoch of the Toltecan period. Other 
ruins of the same character as La Quemada occur at 
Chalchihuites on the frontier of Durango and at 
Totoate, etc., in northern Jalisco. 

The most important artistic product from this north- 
western region is a peculiar kind of pottery which might 
be described as cloisonne or encaustic ware. Exam- 
ination shows that this pottery was first burned in the 
usual way so that it acquired a red or orange color. 
Then the surface was covered with a layer of greenish or 
blackish pigment to the depth of perhaps a sixteenth of 
an inch. A large part of this surface layer was then 
carefully cut away with a sharp blade in such a way that 
the remaining portions outlined certain geometric and 
realistic figures. The sunken spaces, from which the 
material had just been removed, were then filled in 
flush with red, yellow, white, and green pigments. The 
designs on this class of pottery are thus mosaics in which 
the different colors are separated by narrow lines of a 
neutral tint. The geometric motives show a marked use 
of the terrace, the fret, and the scroll. The realistic sub- 
jects are presented in a highly conventionalized manner 
and have few stylistic similarities to the figures from the 
Valley of Mexico. Representative collections of this 
ware from Totoate, already referred to, and from Estan- 
suela, a hacienda near Guadalajara are on exhibition. 

Cloisonne pottery of a somewhat different style 
sometimes occurs at Toltecan sites in the Valley of 


Mexico, such as Tula, Teotihuacan, and Atzcapotzalco, 
but fresco pottery which resembles it at first glance is 
more characteristic. It appears that the cloisonne 
process was taken over from the embellishment of 
gourd dishes in connection with which it still exists 
over a large part of Mexico and Central America 
(Michoacan to Guatemala). 

Fig. 56. Vessel with "Cloisonne" Decoration in Heavy 
Pigments. This example comes from a mound at Atzca- 
potzalco and apparently dates from late Toltecan times. 

Another process taken over from gourd decoration 
is that of negative painting. This likewise still exists 
as regards gourd dishes although discontinued as re- 
gards pottery. Negative painting appears to be an 
ancient process of exceedingly wide distribution. It 
is especially common in Jalisco and Michoacan, the 
Valley of Toluca, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and 
Colombia, and sometimes occurs in Yucatan and Peru. 
The process was to paint the design in wax or some 


other soluble or combustible paint, then to cover the 
entire surface with a permanent paint. When the pot 
was burned the design came out in the natural color 
of the clay against a black, or sometimes a red field. 

Fig. 57. The Turtle Motive as developed in Negative Painting 
with Wax at Totoate, Jalisco. 

The design was often made two layers deep by applying 
simple masses of red over the sizing before the imper- 
manent paint of the design proper was put on. In 
the northwestern region of central Mexico now under 
consideration the negative painting technique is asso- 
ciated with conventionalized designs representing tur- 



ties (Fig. 57). Another ware with designs in white is 
concerned with derivatives of the turtle motive. Then 
there are the remarkable copper bells in the form of 
turtles made by coiling, that have been found in 

nearby Michoacan. 

It is difficult to 
place time limits for 
the artistic styles that 
once existed in this 
northwestern region. 
The archaic culture 
seems to have lasted 
longer here than far- 
ther south, next fol- 
lowed the northern 
flow of Toltecan cul- 
ture which later re- 
ceded and finally came 
a rather thin layer of 
Chichimecan or Az- 
tecan culture. We 
may tentatively con- 
clude that the forgotten cities of the Zacatecan sub- 
culture flourished after 1000 A. D. The question 
should be settled because of its connection with the 
dating of Pueblo ruins farther north. 

Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa. The peculiar 
stone sculptures of Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa and a 
number of adjacent sites in southern Guatemala and 
western Salvador have been accredited to the Pipiles, a 
southern Nahuan tribe. This local culture probably 
flourished long after the Mayan cities of the south had 
been abandoned and while the Toltecs in the north were 
at the height of their power. The art shows many f ea- 

Fig. 58. Jaguar Head on Disk- 
Shaped Stone. Salvador. 


Plate XXXII. Stone Slab from an Ancient Sepulcher in the 
State of Guerrero. The face at the top apparently represents a 
monkey, but serpents have been introduced between the eyes and 

the eyebrows. The other highly conventionalized faces are 

probably those of serpents. 



tures similar to that of the Mexican highlands. Human 
sacrifice is prominently figured in the sculptures. 
There are also scrolls which issue from the mouths and 
stand for speech. Divinities are sometimes shown at 
the tops of the sculptured slabs in the mouths of rep- 
tiles and to these divinities the priests standing below 
make offerings. 

A peculiar type of pottery centered in southern Guate- 
mala and western Salvador from which region it was 
distributed far and wide by trade. Although a few 
examples of this ware are found at Copan it is clear from 
the designs that most of the pieces belong to a time 
subsequent to the abandonment of this Mayan city. 
The ware has a semi-glaze which is the result of lead 
in the clay. Because paint could not be applied to this 
ware, esthetic idea of shape was allowed to develop 
itself without hindrance. 

The Chorotegan Culture. Passing south from 
the Mayan area we find in Salvador and Central Honduras 
archaeological objects that can hardly be distinguished 
from the classical products of Copan. Still farther 
south remains are found of a rich and in many ways 
peculiar art consisting almost entirely of pottery and 
minor stone carvings that centers about the southern 
end of Lake Nicaragua and the Gulf of Nicoya. It 
may be ascribed principally to tribes speaking the 
Chiapanecan language and it may be fittingly called 
Chorotegan after one of the principal tribes. 

Close analysis shows that many of the decorative 
motives in Chorotegan art were developed from those 
of the Mayas. The serpent and the monkey furnish 
the majority of the designs that are surely Mayan but 
each of these is carried so far away from the original 
that only an expert can see the connections. The arms 



and legs of the monkeys are lengthened and given an 
extra number of joints while the heads degenerate into 
circles. The tongues of the serpents are elongated and 

1 ,,,.; i,, \ { 


: HI 

Fig. 59. Front View and Profile View Serpent Heads in Chorote- 
gan Art. Although derived from Mayan models they have under- 
gone great changes and have become highly conventionalized. 

bent downward at the end. All the open spaces are 
treated with scallops or fringes of short lines. 

There is also in Chorotegan art a crocodilian motive 
that may be peculiar to the Isthmian region although 
it has Mayan affinities. The jaguar is also important 
in this ancient art. Among the most interesting vases 
are those that have a modeled head projecting from one 
side (jaguar, monkey, or bird) and two of the three 
legs of the vessel modified into animal legs. On these 
elaborate vessels there are bands of painted decoration 
most concerned with the crocodile. 



The extremely elaborate metates (stones upon which 
maize was ground) from southern Nicaragua and north- 
ern Costa Rica probably were made by the producers of 
the peculiar pottery art already described. These were 

Fig. 60. Jkguar design associated with Figurines that still retain 
Archaic Characters. Costa Rica. 

Fig. 61. Crocodiles from painted Nicoyan Vases. 

carved out of solid blocks of lava with stone tools. 
It is not unlikely that these elaborate metates were used 
as ceremonial seats since few of them show signs of use. 
The jaguar is perhaps the most common motive used 
in the decoration of these metates. The back is broad 



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a -^ S/S 

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0-73 S3 

O +j * 3 


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g o 5 o ^ 

g Pi 8.1 





and slightly dished, the head projects from the center 
of one end and the tail swings in a curve from the other 
end to one of the feet. 

At Mercedes remarkable stone slabs were found dur- 
ing the excavations conducted by Mr. Minor C. Keith. 
These are now on exhibition in the American Museum 
of Natural History. The sculptures in relief on these 
slabs are by all odds the finest from the Isthmian area. 
Human beings, crocodiles, monkeys and birds are all 

Fig. 62. Highly Conventionalized Crocodile Motive. The prin- 
cipal features of the head as well as the outline of the leg survive in 
highly modified form. From the southern end of Lake Nicaragua. 

used to decorate these carefully and laboriously made 
pieces whose use is entirely unknown. Statues in the 
full round have also been unearthed in quantity at Mer- 
cedes which gives every evidence of having been a large 
city with a long career. 

We may be reasonably sure that the stone slabs date 
from a fairly late epoch because an undoubted "Chac- 
mool" exhibiting the same style of carving has been dis- 
covered here. The "Chacmool," a half reclining figure 
with the knees drawn up, the body supported in part 
upon the elbows and a bowl for incense or other offer- 



ings in the pit of the stomach, gets its fanciful name 
from Le Plongeon who discovered the original at Chi- 
chen Itza. But the unmistakable sculptures of this 

Fig. 63. Simple Crocodile Figures in Red Lines on Dishes from 
Mercedes, Costa Rica. 

Fig. 64. Panels containing Crocodiles painted in White Lines on 
Large Tripod Bowls from Mercedes, Costa Rica. 

Fig. 65. Simplified Crocodile Heads in the Yellow Line Ware of 
Mercedes, Costa Rica. 

type were apparently developed by the highland tribes 
and the cult was introduced into northern Yucatan dur- 
ing the period of Mexican influence. In addition to 
Chichen Itza examples have been found at Cempoalan, 



the historic Totonacan capital near Vera Cruz, at 
Tezcoco, in the Valley of Mexico, at Jhuatzio in the 
Tarascan region, as well as at Ahuachapan far to the 
southeast in Salvador. All of these occurrences indicate 
a late Toltecan horizon for its distribution. 

Fig. 66. Conventional Crocodiles from Costa Rica and Panama. 

Isthmian Gold Work. The " wire technique " of 
the gold art of the Isthmian region, reflects, as we have 
seen, the pottery technique of the Archaic Horizon. In 
addition to plain and hollow casting, two kinds of gold 
plating were carried to perfection by the ancient metal 
workers : one a heavy plating over copper and the other 
a thin gilding. The manner in which this plating was 
done is still uncertain. It has been suggested that the 
molds were lined with leaf gold or sprinkled with gold 
dust before the baser copper was poured in. Many 

Plate XXXIV. (a) The Gold Work of the Ancient Mexicans 
excited the Wonder of the Spanish Conquerors. Comparatively 
few examples, however, have come down to us; (6) Many Ornaments 
of Gold are found in the Graves of Costa Rica and Panama. The 
Keith Collection contains a very fine series of these pieces illustrating 
all the forms as well as the technical processes. 



ornaments are of pure beaten gold and have designs in 

' The gold objects are found in stone box graves along 
with pottery and stone carvings. Gold is taken from 
only a small percentage of the graves, probably those of 
chiefs. A systematic rifling of the ancient cemeteries 
has been going on since the arrival of the Spaniards, but 
the finds have mostly been thrown into the melting pot. 
The burial places are sometimes marked by low plat- 
forms built over a group of graves. An iron rod giving 
forth a hollow sound when the stone cysts are struck is 
used by the searchers. Human bones are found in these 
graves, but seldom in a state of good preservation. 

Mr. Minor C. Keith's collection of gold work from 
Costa Rica and Panama is unexcelled and illustrates 
the range of technical processes as well as of ornamental 
forms. Human forms are represented with peculiar 
headdresses and with various objects carried in the 
hands and often they are joined in pairs. Many of the 
most beautiful amulets are frogs arranged either singly 
or in groups of two or three. These figures are all pro- 
vided with a ring on the under side for suspension. 
Lizards, turtles, and crocodiles are frequently modeled 
as well as clam shells, crabs, and monkeys. But per- 
haps the most frequent amulets are those that picture 
birds with outspread wings among which may be 
recognized vultures, harpy eagles, gulls, man-of-war 
birds, and parrots. The larger and more elaborate 
pieces of gold work cast considerable light on the ancient 
religion of the natives since beast gods are figured in 
half human form. Bells of copper and gold were much 
used in gala dress and were doubtless an object of trade 
with the tribes farther north. 

In this consideration of the lesser civilizations that 


are mostly to be attributed to the stimulus furnished by 
the Mayas we have been carried forward in time until 
arrived at a point where tradition and ethnology begin 
to relieve the burden of proof that has hitherto been 
placed on archaeology. We will now devote most of 
our attention to belief and ceremony as given first hand 
rather than to assumptions from art. 


THE Aztecs were the dominant nation on the high- 
lands of Mexico when Cortez marched with his 
small army to conquer New Spain. The horrible sacri- 
fices that they made to their gods and the wealth and 
barbaric splendor of their rulers have often been de- 
scribed. But their history in point of .time covered 
short space and their art and religion was based in a 
large measure on achievements of the nations that had 
preceded them. 

Mayas and Aztecs compared to Greeks and 
Romans. A remarkably close analogy may be 
drawn between the Mayas and Aztecs in the New 
World and the Greeks and Romans in the Old, as 
regards character, achievements, and relations one to 
the other. / The Mayas, like the Greeks, were an 
artistic and Intellectual people who developed sculp- 
ture, painting, architecture, astronomy, and other 
arts and sciences to a high plane. Politically, both 
were divided into communities or states that 
bickered and quarreled. There were temporary leagues 
between certain cities, but real unity only against a 
common enemy. Culturally, both were one people, in 
spite of dialectic differences, for the warring factions 
were bound together by a common religion and a 
common thought// To be sure the religion of the 
Mayas was muchmore barbaric than that of the Greeks 
but in each case the subject matter was idealized and 
beautified in art. 

The Aztecs, like the Romans, were a brusque and war- 
like people who built upon the ruins of an earlier civili- 


Plate XXXV. A Page from the Tribute Roll of Moctezuma, show- 
ing the Annual Tribute of the Eleven Towns pictured at the Bottom and 
Left. The tribute consisted of: (a) Two strings of jade beads; (6) 
Twenty gourd dishes of gold dust; (c) A royal headdress; (d) Eight 
hundred bunches of feathers; (e) Forty bags of cochineal dye; (f-g) 
Warriors' costumes; (h) Four hundred and two blankets of this pattern; 
(i) Four hundred blankets; (j) Four hundred and four blankets; (k) 
Four hundred blankets. The towns are: (1) Coaxalahuacan; (2) 
Texopan; (3) Tamozolapan; (4) Yancuitlan; (5) Tezuzcululan; (6) 
Nochistlan; (7) Xaltepec; (8) Tamazolan; (9) Mictlan (Mitla); (10) 
Coaxomulcu; (11) Cuicatlan, in the State of Oaxaca. 



zation that fell before the force of their arms and who 
made their most notable contributions to organization 
and government. The Toltecs stand just beyond the 
foreline of Aztecan history and may fitly be compared 
to the Etruscans. They were the possessors of a culture 
derived in part from their brilliant contemporaries that 
was magnified to true greatness by their ruder suc- 

The Chichimecas. The term Chichimecas was ap- 
plied by the more civilized tribes of the Mexican high- 
lands to those nomads outside the pale who dressed in 
skins and hunted with the bow and arrow. Some of 
these wandering groups spoke Nahuan dialects, but the 
term was also applied to the Otomis who spoke a dis- 
tinct language. Possibly through having been reduced 
in war certain of these wandering groups were drawn 
into civilization and when the Toltecan cities began to 
decline, they advanced to considerable power and pres- 
tige. In fact, the Aztecs may be considered as originally 
Chichimecan, although several other tribes got an 
earlier start. In later times, these city -broken nomads 
looked back with considerable pride on their lowly 

The Chichimecan histories contain numerous genea- 
logical lists of the ruling houses in different towns and 
settlements. The most valuable document is the 
Annals of Quauhtitlan that has already received some 
attention for its references to Toltecan rulers. Quauh- 
titlan itself was confessedly one of the seats of the 
Chichimecas and its recorded history goes back to 
Chicontonatiuh who began his rule in 687 A.D. and died 
in 751. After the death of this chief there was an inter- 
regnum till Tactli formed a government in 804. He 
also had a long reign and the chronicle naively states : 

Plate XXXVI. Page from the Codex Telleriano Remensis show- 
ing a Native Manuscript with Explication by the Spaniards. The 
death of Chamalpopoca and the election of his successor, Itzcoatl, 
is recorded, as well as the capture of Atzcapotzalco. 



"In this same year (10 House, 865) died Tactli who 
was the king of Quauhtitlan where he reigned 62 years : 
he was a king unacquainted with the sowing of grain for 
food neither did he know how to make shelters for his 
subjects. He wore only a simple garb. The people ate 
only birds, serpents, rabbits and deer: as yet they had 
no houses and came and went in all directions." The 
early life in the open is pictured interestingly in several 
other documents including the Map of Tlotzin and the 
Map of Quinatzin. 

We have already seen how the splendid culture of the 
Toltecan cities broke down under the weight of decad- 
ence and civil war during the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries A.D. To be sure, Cholula appears to have 
kept alive the flame of Toltecan religion and art up to 
the advent of the Spaniards. Perhaps Atzcapotzalco 
and other towns near the lakes that had been established 
during the Toltecan period were able to hold their own 
for a time against the newer order. But the sturdy 
Chichimecas made rapid progress. Tezcoco became 
their most prominent city only to be eclipsed by Tenoch- 
titlan, the island capital of the Aztecs. 

Aztecan History. The history of the Aztecs has a 
mythological preamble in common with other nations of 
Mexico. The Chiconoztoc or Seven Caves must not be 
considered historical but simply man's place of emer- 
gence from the underworld. The general conception of 
an existence within the earth that preceded the exist-! 
ence upon the earth is found very widely among North (1 
American Indians. It is likewise impossible to locate 
the Island of Aztlan, that served, according to several 
codices, as the starting place of the Mexican migration. 
The northern origin for the Aztecan tribe to which so 
much attention has been paid need not have been far 


from the Valley of Mexico, since in their entire recorded 
peregrination they hardly traveled eighty miles. 

Owing to the ineffectiveness of the Mexican time 
count ; Aztecan chronology is far from fixed. The year 
was known by the day with which it began and as this 
day ran the permutation of four names and thirteen 
numbers the cycle was fifty-two years in length. No 
method of keeping the cycles in their proper order seems 
to have been devised except the laborious one of put- 
ting down every year in sequence whether or not an 
event occurred in it. Unfortunately, not even the 
latter method was used in any far-reaching chronicle 
except the Annals of Quauhtitlan. According to 
different authorities the year 1 Stone which marks the 
historical account in the Aubin Codex was 648, 1064, 
or 1168 in the European calendar, each date differing 
from the others by multiples of fifty-two years. 

The wandering tribes, among which may be men- 
tioned the Chalca, Xochimilca, Tlahnica, Huexotzinca, 
Tepaneca, and Azteca, pushed their way into the region 
of the lakes and made settlements in less desirable loca- 
tions. Meanwhile, they served as vassals to the estab- 
lished tribes. The "peregrinations" relate the suc- 
cession of stops and the length of each stop. The 
Aztecs themselves made twenty or more stops lasting 
from two to twenty years. Finally they took refuge on 
two islands in Lake Tezcoco and lived a miserable exist- 
ence among the reeds. They joined with the Tepane- 
cas and by yeoman service gained their aid and friend- 

The date for the foundation of Tenochtitlan (Mexico 
City) is usually given as 1325. About 1350 water 
rights were gained at the spring of Chapultepec. This 
was an important gain because the brackish waters of the 



lake were not fit to drink. A double water main of terra 
cotta was laid from the springs to the town. New land 
was made, probably after the manner still to be seen in 
the famous floating gardens of Xochi- 
milco by throwing the soil from the 
bed of the shallow lake into enclosed 
areas of wattle work. Gradually a 
Venice-like city, traversed by canals 
and admirably protected from attack, 
rose from the lake. At the coming 
of the Spaniards there were three 
causeways leading to the shores of 
the lake and each of these was pro- 
tected by drawbridges. There was a 
city wall upon which were lighthouses 
for the guidance of homecoming fish- 
ermen. There were palaces and mar- 
ket places and a great central plaza 
called the Tecpan, where were situ- 

the Grasshopper." ated the principal temples. ^^ 
Aubin Codex. 

The Aztecs count their history as 
a great people from their first war chief Acamapichtli 
who commenced his rule in 1376 (Codex Aubin). The 
names and the order of the succeeding war chiefs is 
the same in several records, but the dates are found 
to vary slightly. 

Fig. 67. Picto- 
graphic Record of 
the Conquest of the 
Springs o f Cha- 
pultepec, "Hill of 





Moctezuma I 




Moctezuma II 















After throwing off the yoke of their early overlords, 
theTepanecas,by the subjection of Atzcapotzalco at the 
beginning of the brilliant reign of Itzcouatl, the Aztecs 
of Tenochtitlan entered into a three-cornered league 
with Tezcoco and Tlacopan (Tacuba). This was an 
offensive and defensive alliance with an equal division 
of the spoils of war. Soon the united power of these 
three cities dominated the Valley of Mexico and began 
to be felt across the mountains on every side. Tenoc- 
titlan gradually assumed the commanding position in 
the league, and although Tezcoco continued to be an im- 
portant center the third member was apparently much 
reduced. The great votive stone of Tizoc records some 
of the earlier conquests of the Aztecs. At the arrival of 
Cortez only a few important cities such as Tlascala 
retained their independence. But the crest of power 
had then been passed and it seems pretty certain that 
the remarkable city in the lake would in time have 
suffered the fate of other self-constituted capitals both 
in the Old World and the New. 

Social Organization. Spanish historians often 
liken Tenochtitlan to the seat of an empire and speak of 
the ruler as one who had the power of an absolute mon- 
arch while other and more recent writers have declared 
that the tribal organization oLthe Azteca was essenti- 
ally democratic. The truth doubtless lies between 
these extremes. The people were warlike by nature and 
all men, except a few of the priesthood, were soldiers. 
Honors depended largely upon success in war and war- 
riors were arranged in ranks according to their deeds. 
The common warriors formed one rank and next came 
those who had distinguished themselves by definite 
achievements which gave the right to wear certain arti- 
cles of dress or to bear certain titles. The chiefs were 


elected for an indefinite term of office from the most 
distinguished fighters and could be removed for cause. 

But while the offices of state were elective there was, 
nevertheless, a tendency to choose from certain power- 
ful families and at least the foundation of an aristo-J 
cratic policy. A chief was succeeded by his son or 
brother except when these candidates were manifestly 
unfit. In the actual succession of the great war chiefs 
of Tenochtitlan, a peculiar system seems to have been 
followed in that the candidates from the older genera- 
tion were ordinarily exhausted before the next lower 
generation became eligible. Thus Huizilihuitl, Chimal- 
popoca, and Jtzcoatl were all sons of Acamapichtli, and 
the last and greatest was born of a slave mother. Then 
followed Moctezuma Ilhuicamina I the son of Huitzili- 
huitl. This chief had no male heirs but the children of 
his daughter ruled in order: Axayacatl, Tizoc, and 
Ahuitzotl. Moctezuma II was the son of the first of 
these as was Cuitlahua, while Cuauhtemoc, the last 
Aztec ruler, was the son of Ahuitzotl. This peculiar 
succession was not in vogue in Tezcoco, where son suc- 
ceeded father and the lawful wife was chosen from the 
royalty of Tenochtitlan. In the various annals, the 
genealogies are often indicated and the evidence that 
aristocracies existed is too strong to be overthrown. 
There are even cases of queens who succeeded to the 
chief power after the death of the royal husband. 

It is extremely doubtful whether the Aztecs ever had 
what might be called clans. We have seen that there 
were originally eight closely related tribes constituting 
the Mexicani or Mexican nation. The Aztecs them- 
selves are said to have been divided into seven groups 
that were first reduced to four or five and then increased 
to about twenty. It is not clear that these were 


exogamic kinship groups. They were probably mili- 
tary societies taking into their membership all the men 
of the tribe. The name Calpolli, or "great house", 
which was applied to them seems to have referred to a 
sort of barracks or general meeting place in each ward 
or division of the city where arms and trophies were kept 
and the youth educated in the art of war. The title in 
land was held by the calpolli and the right of use distrib- 
uted among the heads of families who held possession 
only so long as the land was worked. Each calpolli 
seems to have had a certain autonomy in governmental 
matters as well as a local religious organization. It is 
curious to find in Salvador, far to the south, the word 
calpolli applied to the platform mounds that surround 
courts in the ancient ruins. This use of the word may 
indicate that the "great houses" of the different soci- 
eties were ordinarily the principal buildings of the city 
and that they were used for civil, military, and religious 

In forming judgment on the fundamentals of social 
organization among the Aztecs we must remember that 
no clear case of kinship clans has been reported south of 
the area of the United States. Among the Cakchiquels, 
a Mayan tribe of the Guatemalan highlands, two royal 
houses are reported from which the ruling chief was al- 
ternately drawn. The Zotzils have been explained as a 
bat clan because their name is associated with the word 
for bat and because a bat god appears to have been their 
patron deity. The Mazatecas and Mixtecas, Deer 
people and Cloud people, also have clanlike names but 
in all cases these are designations of entire tribes, not of 
subdivisions of tribes. 

Tenochtitlan was divided into four quarters and each 
quarter subdivided into a number of wards. An under 

//~ "/./ / 

chief was elected from each of the subdivisions which are 
doubtless to be identified with the calpolli, and an over 
chief from each of the four quarters. Above these stood 
the war chief of the entire tribe who was likewise 
elected, but within the limits of a fixed aristocracy. _A 
second great chief, who seems to have been a peace officer 
with some important relation to the priesthood, was 
nominally equal to the war chief, but practically much 
less powerful. The real center of the home government 
was a council made up of all the chiefs. In time of war 
the war chief was in supreme command and could either 
delegate his rights or act in person. Just how much the 
priesthood intervened in governmental affairs cannot be 
definitely put in words, but their power was doubtless 
great. Certain lands were cultivated in common for the 
officers of church and state and much of the tribute 
from conquered provinces was devoted to their needs. 

The Tecpan or Temple Enclosure. The cere- 
monial center of Tenochtitlan has been transformed 
into the civic center of Mexico City. The Cathedral, the 
National Palace, and the Zocolo, or Plaza Major, mark 
the site where once stood the famous Tecpan or temple 
enclosure. Within the serpent walls, according to 
Sahagun, there were twenty-five temple pyramids, five 
oratories, sundry fasting houses, four bowl-shaped 
stones, one disk-shaped stone, a great stepped altar, a 
"star column," seven skull racks, two ball courts, two 
enclosed areas, a well, three bathing places, two cellar- 
like rooms, a dancing place, nine priest houses, a prison 
for the gods of conquered nations, arsenals, work 
places, etc. A native plan of the Tecpan, much sim- 
plified, occurs in the Sahagun manuscript. The great 
pyramid rose in several terraces and was surmounted 
by two temples each three stories in height, one dedi- 

Plate XXXVII. Sahagun's Plan of the Tecpan in Mexico 
City. After Seler. Among the details shown are: (a) The two 
great temples; (6) the Quauhxicalli or eagle bowl; (c) One of the 
Callimecatl, or priest houses; (e) An eagle house or warriors' 
shrine; (/) The Teotlachtli or ball court of the gods; (g) Tzom- 
pantli or skull rack; (h) The temple of Xipi; (i) The Temalacatl 
or Gladiator Stone; (/c) The Colhuacan Teocalli or temple of 
Colhuacan; (l-m) The gods 5 Lizard and 5 House respectively; 
(ri) Dance courts; (o) Coatenanuitl or Serpent Wall, so called 
because it was decorated with heads of serpents. 



cated to Huitzilopochtli and the other to Tlaloc. 
Each temple contained an image of the god to which 
it was dedicated and a sacrificial altar. The walls were 
encrusted with blood of human victims whose hearts 
still beating had been torn out for divine food and whose 
bodies had been rolled down the steep flight of temple 
stairs. The foundations for the great pyramids were 
laid in 1447 by Moctezuma I, the pyramids were com- 
pleted in 1485 while Tizoc was war chief and the final 
dedication ceremonies were held in 1487. 

Several very interesting large sculptures and many 
minor objects have been unearthed on the site of 
Tecpan. In 1790 and 1791 were found three famous 
monoliths, the Calendar Stone, the Stone of Tizoc 
(Sacrificial Stone), and the Statue of Coatlicue. 
Since 1897 many fine pieces of pottery and several 
sculptures have been excavated near the Cathedral 
and placed in the Museo Nacional. 

The Calendar Stone. The great sculptured monu- 
ment known as the Calendar Stone or Stone of the Sun, 
is the most valuable object that has come down intact 
from the time of the Aztecs. It is a single piece of 
porphyry, irregular except for the sculptured face. It 
now weighs over twenty tons and it is estimated that 
the original weight was over twice as much. The 
sculptured disk is about twelve feet in diameter. This 
great stone was transported by men over many miles 
of marshy lake bottom before it could be placed in 
position in front of the Temple of the Sun in the temple 
enclosure that has just been described. It is believed 
to have been set up horizontally and to have served as 
a sort of altar upon which human victims were sacri- 
ficed. The stone was doubtless thrown down from its 

Plate XXXVIII. The Calendar Stone of the Aztecs. This 
great stone represents the disk of the sun and the history of the 
world. It may be analyzed as follows, reading outward from the 

A Central or cosmogftnic portion: The day sign 4 Olin with 
details in the arms representing four epochs of the world; with the 
face of the sun god in the center and minor hieroglyphs that may 
represent the four directions just outside the Olin symbol. 

B Band of day signs beginning at the top and reading towards the 

C Bands of conventional rays of the sun and other details such as 
the embellishment of the sun with turquoise and eagle feathers. 

D The outer circle of two great reptiles that may indicate the 

E invisible edge of the disk bears representations of Itzpapalotl, 
the obsidian butterfly which is symbolical of the heavens. 



original position by the soldiers of Cortez and may 
have been lost to sight. We know, however, that it 
was exposed to view about 1560 and was then buried 
by order of the archbishop of Mexico City lest its 
presence should cause the Indians to revert to their 
original pagan beliefs. It was rediscovered in 1790 
and was afterwards built into the fagade of the 
Cathedral where it remained until 1885, when it was 
removed to the nearby museum. 

The Calendar Stone is not only a symbol of the sun's 
face marked with the divisions of the year but it is a 
record of the cosmogonic myth of the Aztecs and the 
creations and destructions of the world. In the center 
is the face of the sun god, Tonatiuh, enclosed in the 
middle of the symbol called Olin. Tonatiuh is often 
represented by a much simpler sign of a circle with 
four or more subdivisions resembling those of a compass 
which are intended to represent the rays of the sun. 
Olin is one of the day signs and means movement, or 
perhaps earthquake. It has also been explained as a 
graphic representation of the apparent course of the 
sun during the year. The history of the world, accord- 
ing to the Aztecan myth, is divided into five suns or 
ages, four of which refer to the past and one to the 
present. The present sun is called Olin Tonatiuh 
because it is destined to be destroyed by an earthquake. 
The day signs of the four previous suns are represented 
in the rectangular projections of the central Olin symbol 
beginning at the upper right hand corner and proceeding 
to the left. They are 4 Ocelotl (jaguar); 4 Ehecatl 
(wind); 4 Quauhtli (rain); 4 Atl (water), and they 
refer to destruction, first, by jaguars, second, by a hurri- 
cane, third, by a volcanic rain of fire, fourth, by a 
flood. It is claimed by some that the year 13 Acatl 
(reed) recorded at the top of the monument between 


the reptile tails refers to the first year of the present sun, 
but according to others this is the year 1479 in which 
the sculpture was set up. Unfortunately, we have no 
record of this event. The fifth sun will end with the 
day 4 Olin, that is expressed in the central symbol 
already described. For this reason a fast was held 
on each recurrence of this day. Outside of the Olin 
symbol but between its arms are four hieroglyphs of 
uncertain meaning. Next to this area dealing with 
the great ages of the world comes a band of the twenty 
day signs of the Aztecan month. Outside of this band 
are several others which probably represent in a con- 
ventionalized manner the rays of the sun and the 
turquoise and eagle feathers with which the sun disk 
was believed to be decorated. Finally, outside of all, 
are two plumed monsters meeting face to face at the 
bottom of the disk. In each reptile face is seen a 
human face in profile. These reptiles are probably to 
be identified as the Xuihcoatl or Fire Serpents. 

$tone of Tizoc. The Sacrificial Stone or Stone of 
Tizoc is believed to have been carved by order of Tizoc, 
the war chief who ruled from 1482-1486, as a memorial 
offering to Mexican arms on the completion of the great 
temple to the Mexican God of War. The stone was a 
quauhxicalli, or "eagle bowl." This name was given 
to large bowls which were used to hold the blood and 
the heart of human victims sacrificed to the gods. The 
same name was extended to the large . drum-shaped 
stone, under consideration, which has a pit in the center 
and a sort of canal running from the center to one side 
which may have been intended to drain off the blood. 
Human sacrifice actually took place on this stone but 
it is pretty certain that it was not one of the temalacatl 
or "gladiator stones" on which were staged mortal 

03 03 


O o3 .3 

3 e 

X^ 3 


o3-O oj 2 





combats between captives. According to description the 
gladiator stones were pierced by a hole in the center so 
that one or more captives could be bound fast by a rope. 

On the top of the 
Stone of Tizoc is a 
representation of the 
Tonatiuh, or sun's disk, 
much less complex than 
that which we have 
seen on the Calendar 
Stone but with many 
similar parts. On the 
sides of the stone are 
fifteen groups of fig- 
ures, each group rep- 
resenting a conqueror 
and his captive. The 
victorious soldier ap- 
pears each time in the 
guise of the war god, 
Huitzilopochtli, or his 
wizard brother Tezcatlipoca. The left foot of the 
figure ends in two scroll-like objects that may represent 
the humming bird feathers that formed the left foot of 
Huitzilopochtli. But Tezcatlipoca also had a de- 
formed foot. Moreover, on the side of the head- 
dress is a disk with a flame-shaped object coming 
out of it. This may represent the smoking mirror 
of Tezcatlipoca. The captive wears costumes that 
change slightly from one figure to the next. Over the 
head of the captive in each instance is the hieroglyph 
of a captured town or district. 

Nearly all the place name hieroglyphs have been 
deciphered. The list is interesting historically because 
it gives the principal conquests up to the reign of Tizoc. 

Fig. 68. Details from the 
Stone of Tizoc: a, Huitzilo- 
pochtli, Aztec War God; 6, 
figures representing a captured 
town; c, name of the captured 
town (Tuxpan, place of the rab- 

Plate XL. This Monstrous Sculpture represents Coatlicue, the 
Serpent-Skirted Goddess, who was regarded as the Mother of the 




Starting at the side directly across the stone from the 
groove or drain we see that the figure of the victor has 
behind his head a hieroglyph that represents a leg. 
This is the hieroglyph of Tizoc and the victim in this 
case represents the district of Matlatzinco in the Val- 
ley of Toluca. This district was brought under sub- 
jection by Tizoc himself. Among the other conquered 
cities are such well-known ones as Chalco, Xochimilco, 
and Colhuacan in the vicinity of Lake Tezcoco and 
Ahuilizapan (Orizaba) and Tuxpan that are more dis- 

Fig. 69. Detail showing the Construction of the Face of Cbat- 
licue from Two Serpent Heads meeting End to End. 

Coatlicue. The famous statue of the Earth God- 
dess, Coatlicue, "the goddess with the serpent skirt" 
is one of the most striking examples of barbaric imagi- 
nation. The name Teoyamiqui is often given to this 
uncouth figure, but the identification is faulty. Like 
the other great sculptures we have just examined, it 
doubtless occupied an important place in the great 
ceremonial center of Tenochtitlan, but no ancient 
reference to it is extant. This goddess is reported to 
have been the mother of the gods. 

The statue may be described as follows: The feet 
are furnished with claws. The skirt is a writhing mass 


of braided rattlesnakes. The arms are doubled up and 
the hands are snake heads on a level with the shoulders. 
Around the neck and hanging down over the breast 
is a necklace of alternating hands and hearts with a 
death's head pendant. The head of this monstrous 
woman is the same on front and back and is formed of 
two serpent heads that meet face to face. The forked 
tongue and the four downward pointing fangs belong 
half and half to each of the two profile faces. 

Mexican Writing. The means of record employed 
in Mexican codices are in part pictographic and in 
part hieroglyphic. The sequence of the historical 


Fig. 70. Hieroglyphs of Precious Materials: left to right, gold; 
turquoise; mosaic of precious stones; chalchihuitl, or jade; mirror of 

events in these native manuscripts is often indicated 
by a line of footprints leading from one place or scene 
of action to another. Historical records of this type 
resemble old-fashioned maps and some are in fact 
known by this name. The places of towns in these 
documents are represented by true hieroglyphs and 
often the character of the country is indicated by pic- 
tures of typical vegetation, such as maguey plants for 
the highlands and palms for the lowlands. The day 
or the year in which took place the foundation of the 
town or whatever event is intended to be recorded is 
usually placed in conjunction with the hieroglyph or 
picture. Conquest is often indicated by a place name 
hieroglyph with a spear thrust into it. 



A few examples of Nahuan hieroglyphs will now be 
given to illustrate this interesting method of writing. 
It must be remembered that there is nothing in the 
nature of a connected narrative. The hieroglyphs or 
word pictures are limited to geographical and personal 

from tlantli, teeth 

cat from calli, house 

mizfrom miztli, cloud 




Pan tepee 


Itztlan Petlatlan 

Fig. 71. Aztecan Place Names. 


names, including the names of gods, to months, days, 
numbers, units of measure, and objects of commerce. 
Some of the signs are in no degree realistic and have a 
definite meaning by common consent alone, such as the 
symbol for gold (Fig. 70). Others are abbreviated and 
conventionalized pictures of objects. Thus the head of 
a god or of an animal frequently appears as the sign of 
the whole. But the most important and interesting 



word signs are rebuses in which separate syllables or 
groups of syllables are represented by more or less 
conventionalized pictures. The whole word picture 
is made up of a combination of syllable pictures which 

Fig. 72. Aztecan Day Signs. 





















indicate phonetically the word as a whole. Very often 
advantage is taken of puns on whole or partial words, 
while color and position are also employed to indicate 
sounds and syllables. 

In Fig. 71 are given a few of the more common 
syllable pictures. The name of the object represented 



is cut down by the elimination of tl, te, etc., that form 
the nominal endings. Thus, the picture of water, all, 
becomes the sign for the sound a, that of stone tetl is 





73. Variant Forms of Aztecan Day Signs: a, acatl, arrow; 6, 
mazatl, deer foot; c, malinalli, jaw bone; d, itzcuintli, dog's ear; e, 
ozomatli, monkey's ear; /, ocelotl, jaguar's ear. 

Fig. 74. Aztecan Numbers and Objects of Commerce: a, 1; 
6, 20; c, 400; d, 8,000; e, ten faces carved from precious stone;. 
/, twenty bags of cochineal dye; g, one hundred bales of cocoa; 
h, four hundred bales of cotton; ?:, four hundred jars of honey of 
' tuna; ;', eight thousand leaf bundles of copal gum; k, twenty 
baskets each containing sixteen hundred ground cacao nibs; (I) 
four hundred and two blankets. 

cut down to the syllable te. Several of these syllable 
pictures are combined to represent a whole word. 



The hieroglyphs of the twenty days of the month are 
frequently represented, but those of the eighteen months 
are not nearly so well known. As for the gods, the faces 
are usually pictured, especially when these are gro- 
tesque, but sometimes 
detail of dress or an ob- 
ject connected with a 
special ceremony is suffi- 
cient to recall the divin- 
ity. The Mexican system 
of numbers was based on 
twenties. The units were 
figured by dots, the twen- 
ties by flags, the four 
hundreds by a device like 
a tree that represented 
hair, and the eight thou- 
sands by the ceremonial 
pouches in which copal 
incense was carried. 
k 'Aztecan Religion. 
The religion of the Aztecs,] 
like that of the Mayas, 
was a polytheism in which 
special divinities control- 
led the powers of nature 
and the activities of men. 

Fig. 75. Analysis of Mexican 
Record. 1, the year Two Reed, 
1507; 2, eclipse of the sun; 3, 
earthquake at place pictured at 
4; 5, the town of Huixachtitlan. 
In the temple (6) was held (7) 
the new-fire ceremony at the 

beginning of a 52-year period. 
In this year were also drowned 

in the River Tuzac (8) two 
thousand warriors (10) which 
the vultures devoured (9). 

The gods were perhaps 
further advanced to wards 
human form and attri- 
butes than were those of the earlier culture to the south, 
but definite characterization was still accomplished by 
grotesque features and certain animal connections were 
still evident. The situation is confused beyond the point 
of analysis. The mythologies often ascribe different 



Plate XLI. Page from the Tonalamatl Section of the Codex 
Borbonicus. The thirteen days run along the bottom of the page 
and up the left side of the large division. The period covered is 
one-twentieth of the Tonalamatl of 260 days. At the left of each 
day is seen one of the nine Lords of the Night, so-called, in orderly 
succession. In the divisions above or to the left of the days are 
the thirteen gods of the Hours of the Day in connection with the 
Thirteen Birds. The patron goddess of this division of the Tonala- 
matl is Itzpapalotl, the obsidian butterfly. The other pictures 
relate mostly to mythological instances and the details of ceremonies. 
For instance, the broken tree represents Tamoanchan, a legendary 
site, and the sacrifice ot twenty birds is indicated by the flag at- 
tached to the bleeding head of a decapitated bird. 



origins to the same deity. One god is addressed by 
many names, descriptive or figurative, that are intended 
to bring out the various aspects of his power. Over- 
lapping functions make it impossible to assign each 
god to his special province. There are universal gods, 
there are special gods, and there are patron gods of 
trade guilds. Moreover, there are foreign gods, some 
recent, some ancient. 

_ of .. central Mexico had its objective, 

ritualistic side, which appealed directly to the under- 
standing of the masses, and its more subtle theological 
or philosophical side seen, for instance, in the poems 
written by priests and rulers. It was a mixture of 
spiritualism and the grossest idolatry. The ceremonial 
calendar, with a description of the feasts and sacrifices 
that occurred at different times of the year, has been 
preserved in a number of documents. Pageants, in- 
cense-burning, and human sacrifice gave a strong 
dramatic quality to the religious rites. 

* The conception of a supreme deity is seen in Om&- 
teuctli, the Lord of Duality, a vague god head and 
creator who is sometimes addressed in some of the 
religious poems as the "Cause of All." In the back- 
ground of the popular religion was the belief in the 
Earth Mother and the Sky Father and in the divinity 
of the Sun, the Moon, the Jaguar, the Serpent, and 
whatever else was beautiful, powerful, and inexplicable. 
Tezcatlipoca, by reason of his magic and his omnis- 
cience, was placed at the head of the pantheon of active 
gods, Huitzilopochtli was, however, the favorite god of 
the Aztecs through his relation to war. Tlaloc, the 
god of rain, was naturally of great importance to 
agriculturists living in a rather arid region. Tonatiuh, 
the Sun God, was a more or less abstract deity who 



Plate XLII. (a) Pictures of Tlaloc, the God oi Rain, and of 
Ehecatl, the God of Winds, in the Codex Magliabecchiano; (6) 
Mexican Genealogical Table on Maguey Paper. The names of 
most of the individuals are given by hieroglyphs attached to the head 
or the seat. 




acted in part through other gods. But the list is too 
long to be repeated here. 

The special gods of the four principal Mexican cities 
were as follows: 




Of gods with a foreign origin perhaps the most 
important were Quetzalcoatl and Xipe. The former 

was introduced long before / 
the Aztecs raised their / 
banner of war and may/ 
have been an adaptation 
of the Long-nosed God of 
the Mayas. The worship 
of Xipe is said to have 
originated in a Zapotecan 
town but it had certainly 
taken a strong hold on 
the Aztecs of Mexico City 
and was likewise known to 
Nahuan tribes as far south 
as Salvador. 

Conceptions of the^ 
Universe. Cosmogonic 
myths, the world over, are 
unscientific attempts to 
explain the creation of the universe, to outline the 
powers of the gods and to trace the development of 
nature. The cosmogonic myths of Mexico and Central 
America are characterized by multiple creations. The 
Aztecan belief in five suns each standing for a world 
epoch is paralleled in fragments of Mayan mythology. 
is^naLeniphasizejd so much as destruction.. The 

Fig. 76. Chalchuihtlicue, 
Aztecan Goddess of Water. 


sequence of the suns is figured on the Calendar Stone, 
and in one of the codices, besides being explained in 
some of the early writings of Spanish priests and edu- 
cated natives. The first sun was devoured by a jaguar 
and in the resulting darkness the inhabitants of the 
earth were devoured by jaguars. The second sun 
was destroyed by a hurricane, the third by a rain of fire, 
and the fourth by a flood. One human pair escaped 
each cataclysm and lived to repopulate the world. 
The fifth or present sun will be destroyed by an earth- 

ions of the shape and character of the universe 
are pretty well defined in Aztecan lore. The wide- 
spread belief that the universe consists of three super- 
imposed worlds, the upper or sky world, the middle 
world of living men and the under world of the dead, is 
found in a developed form. The upper world is divided 
into thirteen levels. The uppermost four levels are 
called Teteocan, the abode of the gods, and are con- 
sidered to be invisible. The creator of all, Ometeuctli, 
Lord of Duality, dwells with his spouse in the highest 
heaven and under him in order are the Place of the 
Red God of Fire, the Place of the Yellow Sun God and 
the Place of the White Evening Star God. The inferior 
heavens, called Ihuicatl, are given over to the visible 
celestial activities. There is one heaven for the storms, 
another for the blue sky of the day, the dark sky of the 
night, the comets, the evening star, the sun, the stars, 

The under world is Mictlan, the Place of the Dead. 
More divisions are commonly given and in the lower- 
most of these lives Mictlanteuctli, the Lord of Death, 
and his mate. The idea of future blessing or punish- 
ment is not entirely absent from the minds of the 


Aztecs. Warriors killed in battle go to the House of the 
Sun, in one of the upper worlds, as do women who die 
in childbirth. Tlalocan, the lowermost heaven, is a 
sort of terrestrial paradise for others. Mictlan is, 
however, the common abode of the dead, and the 
wretched soul can reach it only after a journey set with 

The cult of the quarters is intimately associated with 
the concept of the universe. With the four cardinal 
points a number of others are sometimes taken includ- 
ing the zenith, the nadir, and the middle. The sacred 
numbers 4, 5, 6, and 7 may thus conceivably be derived x 
from the points of space, but it would be very unsafe \ 
to assume that they are necessarily so derived, ^hp I 
general concept of a universe divided into quarters, / 
fifths, or sixths is a powerful conventionalizing factor 
in mythology, religion, and artT[ Prayers, songs, and 
important acts are repeated in identical or in system- 
atically varied form for each point of space, fin 
Mayan and Aztecan codices the symbolism of the 
four directions is often manifest./ 

^ Ceremonies. Ceremonialism was intensely devel- 
oped in Mexico and the dramatic quality of many 
Aztecan rites of human sacrifice has probably never 
been equaled. We are apt to think only of the grue- 
some features oLJjuman sacrifice and to overlook the 
spiritual ones. A^he victim was often regarded as a 
personification oF"a god and as such he was feted, 
clothed in fine garments, and given every honor. 
Efforts were made to cause the victim to go willingly to 
his death uplifted by a truly religious ecstasy. It was 
considered unlucky that he should grieve or falteip 
^ihe religious calendar was given over to fixed and 
movable feasts. The fixed feasts were eighteen in 


number and each came on the last day of a twenty- day 
period and gave its name to that period. These eight- 
een periods correspond roughly with the Mayan uinals 
or months, but since dates were rarely given in relation 
to them, they do not have the same calendrical im- 
portance. The five days that rounded out the 365-day 
year were considered unlucky. 

^ Each of the eighteen feasts of the year was under the 
patronage of a special divinity and each had a set of 
ceremonies all its own. In some cases the ceremonies 
were really culminations of long periods of preparation. 
Thus, on the last day of the month, Toxcatl, there was 
sacrificed a young man, chosen from captured chief- 
tains for his beauty and accomplishments, who for an 
entire year had been fitting himself for his one turn 
on the stage of blood and death. This intended vic- 
im, gayly attired and accompanied by a retinue of 
pages, was granted the freedom of the city. When the 
month of Toxcatl entered he was given brides, whose 
names were those of goddesses, and in his honor were 
held a succession of brilliant festivals. On the last day 
there was a parade of canoes across Lake Tezcoco and 
when a certain piece of desert land was reached, the 
brides and courtiers bade farewell to the victim. His 
pages accompanied him by a little-used trail to the base 
of an apparently ruined temple. Here he was stripped 
of his splendid garments and of the jewels that were 
symbols of divinity. With only a necklace of flutes 
he mounted the steps of the pyramid. At each step he 
broke one of the flutes and he arrived at the summit, 
where the priests waited, knife in hand, a naked man 
whose heart was to be offered to the very god he had 
impersonated. This ceremony is given only as an ex- 
ample, but it illustrates two characteristics that are 




seen in several other sacrifices, namely, the paying of 
homage and honor to the intended sacrificial victim, 
and, secondly, the necessity of keeping the victim in 
a happy frame of mind. 

The eleventh feast of the year was called Ochpaniztli, 
"the feast of the broom" and was celebrated in honor 
of the goddess known as Toci, or Teteoinnan. The 
first of these names means "our female ancestor" and 
the second one means "the mother of the gods." She 
was a goddess of the earth and her symbol was the grass 
broom with which- the earth was swept. She also 
exerted an influence over the arts of the hearth, such as 
weaving. Her pictures in the codices show her with a 
broom in one hand and a shield in the other while about 
her head is a band of unspun cotton into which are 
stuck spindles wrapped with thread. 

During this month the roads were repaired, the houses 
and plazas swept, and the temples and idols refurbished. 
According to the text in the Codex Magliabecchiano 
there were human sacrifices in the temples which 
fronted on the roads and there were great dances and 
carousals. Those sacrificed were afterwards flayed 
as in the feast of Xipe and their skins worn by dancers. 
The picture that accompanies this revolting admission 
is itself devoid of any morbid symbols. It shows a 
kneeling woman holding out the broom and shield. 
She wears a white dress and a necklace of jade beads 
with golden bells for pendants. Below her are two 
standing men who bear in their hands offerings of ripe 

Sahagun gives details of a terrible drama that was 
enacted during this twenty-day month. For the first 
eight days there was dancing without song and without 
the drum. After this prologue a woman was chosen to 


impersonate the patron goddess and to wear her charac- 
teristic dress and ornaments. With her was a retinue of 
women skilled in medicine and midwifery. For four 
days these persons divided in opposing ranks and 
pelted each other with leaves and flowers. While this 
harmless ceremony and others like it were being acted 
out, the greatest care was taken that the woman who 
played the role of the goddess and who was marked for 
death should not suspect her fate. It was considered 
unlucky, indeed, if this victim wept or was sad. When 
her time to die had come she was clothed in rich gar- 
ments and given to understand that she should be that 
night the bride of a rich lord. And under such a be- 
guiling belief she was led silently to the temple of 
sacrifice. There without warning an attendant lifted 
her upon himself, back to back, and her head was 
instantly struck off. Without delay the skin was 
stripped from her warm body and a youth, wearing it 
as a garment, was conducted in the midst of captives 
to the temple of the War God, Huitzilopochtli. Here 
in the presence of this mighty god the youth himself 
tore out the hearts of four victims and then abandoned 
the rest to the knife of the head priest. Thus closed 
the terrible drama which began with an innocent battle 
of flowers and ended in an orgy of blood. 

The twelfth month passed under two names. It was 
called Pachtli after a plant with which the temples were 
decorated and Teotleco which signifies "the arrival of 
the gods." The principal feast was held, as usual, on 
the twentieth day when the great company of gods was 
supposed to return from a far land. One god, very 
youthful and robust, arrived on the eighteenth day, 
being able to outwalk the others, while a few very old 
and infirm divinities were late in getting to the feast. 


The one who arrived first was called Telpochtli or 
Titlacauan but in reality he was the great Tezcatlipoca 
in disguise. 

In anticipation of this return, the temples, shrines, 
and household idols were decorated with branches. 
The youths who did this work were repaid in corn, the 
amount varying from a full basket to a few ears. A 
novel manner of attesting the earliest presence of divin- 
ity is related. Some cornmeal was spread in a circular 
mass upon the ground. During the night the high 
priests kept vigil and visited from time to time this 
circle of cornmeal. When he saw a footprint in the 
center he cried out, "Our master has come." Then 
there was a burst of music and everyone ran to the great 
feast in the temple. Much native wine was drunk, for 
this was considered equivalent to washing the tired feet 
of the travel- worn gods. As a final act of the celebra- 
tion there was a dance in costume around a great fire 
and several unfortunates were tossed alive into the 

Space will not permit a further examination of the 
eighteen fixed feasts. The movable feasts were mostly 
in definite relation to the tonalamatl and were thus 
subject to repetition every 260 days. The tonalamatl 
as represented in Mexican codices is in much more detail 
than in Mayan codices since every day is covered. 
The entire cycle is divided into twenty groups of thir- 
teen days each and each group is presided over by a 
special divinity. There are other repeating series of 

fods, sacred birds, etc., that preside over the individual 
ays in these groups. It seems likely that many of the^j 
ceremonies connected with the tonalamatl were of I 
special rather than general significance like the celebra- 4 
iion of Catholic saints days. 


Other feasts were held in relation to longer time 
periods. There were important festivals held in con- 
nection with the planet Venus with especially elaborate 
ones falling at intervals of eight years. Still another 
ceremony was held at the completion of a fifty-two 
year period, when the set of years were figuratively 
bundled up and laid away and a new sacred fire lighted. 

Poetry and Music. The languages of Central 
America were capable of considerable literary develop- 
ment. This is seen especially in the songs that were 
used in different religious ceremonies of the Aztecs, as 
well as in the reflective poems written by educated 
natives. Several very fine pieces have been preserved, 
and while there is no rhyme, there is much rhythm. 
When recited by a person speaking fluently the native 
tongue these poems are very impressive. Of course, 
translation is always hazardous, and fundamental 
differences in language, such as exist between English 
and Aztecan, make it almost impossible. The most 
famous poet whose name has come down to us was 
Nezahualcoyotl, or Famishing Coyote, who was a ruler 
of Tezcoco and died at the advanced age of eighty 
years in 1472. A few verses from one of his poems on 
the mutability of life and the certainty of death have 
been translated as follows: 

All the earth is a grave, and naught escapes it; nothing is so perfect 
that it does not fall and disappear. The rivers, brooks, fountains and 
waters flow on, and never return to their joyous beginnings; they hasten 
on to the vast realms of Tlaloc, and the wider they spread between their 
marges the more rapidly do they mould then* own sepulchral urns. That 
which was yesterday is not today; and let not that which is today trust 
to live tomorrow. 

The caverns of earth are filled with pestilential dust which once was 
the bones, the flesh, the bodies of great ones who sate upon thrones, 
deciding causes, ruling assemblies, governing armies, conquering prov- 
inces, possessing treasures, tearing down temples, flattering themselves 
with pride, majesty, fortune, praise and dominion. These glories have 
passed like the dark smoke thrown out by the fires of Popocatepetl, 
leaving no monuments but the rude skins on which they are written. 



Another example will serve to emphasize the strain of 
sadness and the vision of death that characterize so 
many Aztecan poems. 

Sad and strange it is to see and reflect on the prosperity and power of 
the old and dying king Tezozomoc; watered with ambition and avarice, 
he grew like a willow tree rising above the grass and flowers of spring, 
rejoicing for a long time, until at length withered and decayed, the 
storm wind of death tore him from his roots and dashed him in fragments 
to the ground. The same fate befell the ancient King Colzatzli, so that 
no memory was left of him, nor of his lineage. 

Fig. 77. A Mexican Orchestra: 1, log drum; 2, kettle drum; 
3-4, flageolets; 5, gourd rattle; 6, turtle shell. Manuscrit du Cacique. 

The Aztecs held concerts in the open air where poems 
were sung to the accompaniment of the drum and other 
simple instruments. Songs were also sung at banquets 
and in the stress of love and war. The common musi- 
cal instruments of the Aztecs vary but little from those 


in use elsewhere in Mexico and Central America. There 
were two kinds of drums. One was a horizontal hol- 
lowed-out log with an H-shaped cutting made longi- 
tudinally on its upper surface so as to form two vibrat- 
ing strips which were struck with wooden drumsticks 
having tips of rubber. The second sort of drum was 
an upright log also hollowed out and covered with a 
drumhead of deerskin. Conches were used for trum- 
pets. Resonator whistles with or without finger holes 
were made of clay in fanciful shapes. Flageolets were 
constructed of clay, bone, or wood and flutes were made 
of reed. Resounding metal disks and tortoise shells 
were beaten in time. Many sorts of gourd and earth- 
enware rattles were employed as well as notched bones 
which were rasped with a scraping stick. Copper bells 
of the sleigh bell type were exceedingly common. The 
marimba, however, that is such a favorite musical in- 
strument today in Central America is doubtless of 
African origin and fairly recent introduction. No 
stringed instruments were known to the ancient Mexi- 
cans nor does the pan-pipe appear to have been used in 
this area although common in South America. 

Minor Aztecan Arts. Some of the great sculptures 
of Tenochtitlan have already been described and refer- 
ences have been made to the native books painted in 
brilliant colors on paper and deerskin. Objects of minor 
art comprise pottery vessels, ornaments of gold, silver, 
copper, jade, and other precious materials, textiles, 
pieces of feather work, etc. 

The best known ceramic products are made of orange 
colored clay and carry designs in black that sometimes 
are realistic, but more often not. The tripod dishes 
with the bottoms roughed by cross scoring were used 
to grind chili. Heavy bowls with loop handles on the 


sides and a channel across the bottom were seemingly 
made to be strung on ropes. They may have held pitch 
and been used for street lights. The pottery figurines 
of the Aztecan period are nearly all moulded and lack 
the sharp detail of the earlier examples. They often 
represent deities wearing characteristic dress and carry- 
ing ceremonial objects. 

Comparatively few specimens of ancient gold work 
in Mexico escaped the cupidity of the Spanish con- 
querors, but these attest a remarkable proficiency in' 
casting. The moulds were made of clay mixed with 
ground charcoal and the melting of gold was accom- 
plished by means of a blow pipe. The technique seen in 
Costa Rican gold work according to which details 
falsely appear to be added by soldered wire, was fol- 
lowed in Mexico. Modern Mexican filigree bears little 
relation to the ancient Indian work, but is probably of 
Moorish origin. The examples of Aztecan gold work in- 
clude finger rings, earrings, noserings, labrets, and 

Among the precious and semi-precious stones known 
to the Aztecs, the most valuable in their eyes was tur- 
quoise. This was probably obtained by trade from the 
Pueblo Indians. It was mostly cut into thin plates and 
used in the manufacture of mosaic objects. Red jasper, 
green jade, jet, gold, and shell of various colors was also 
used in these mosaics. Jade was highly prized and was 
known as chalchihuitl. Ornaments of obsidian, a 
black volcanic glass, and of crystal quartz, are fairly 
common and others of opal and amethyst have been 

The textile decorations in vogue at the coming of the 
Spaniards can be restored from the pictures in codices. 
Mantles were often demanded as tribute and the de- 



signs are given on the conventional bundles in the 
tribute lists. Garments with certain designs served as 
insignia of office for several of the priesthoods. Feather 
mosaic was highly prized and was made according to 

several methods. Capes 
as well as shields and 
other objects were cov- 
ered with brilliant feath- 
ers so arranged as to 
bring out designs in the 
natural colors. 

Fig. 78. Mexican Blanket 
with the Design representing 
Sand and Water. 

The Tarascans^The 

Aztecs while by far the 
most important tribe in 
the fifteenth century did 
hot dominate all the sur- 
rounding peoples. For instance, most of the State 
of Michoacan was controlled by the Tarascans who 
defeated every expedition sent against them. The 
list of Tarascan towns is a long one but Tzintzunt- 
zan which means the "Place of the Humming Birds" 
was the capital and principal stronghold. The ancient 
history of the Tarascans is little known. Although the 
archaic art was once credited to these people they do not 
appear to have been ever especially proficient in it. 
Mounds of peculiar T shape called yatacas are found in 
the Tarascan area. They rise in terraces and are faced 
with slabs of stone laid without mortar. Sculptures of 
fine quality are rare in connection with these remains 
and indicate a period of florescence during late Toltecan 
times, but the reclining god of the type made famous by 
the "Chacmool" of Chichen Itza has been noted. 
Many fine copper celts have been unearthed in this 
highly mineralized mountain region. 


In the old days the Tarascans were skilled in weaving 
and were particularly famous for feather mosaics and 
feather pictures made largely of the brilliant plumage of 
humming birds. The use of the atlatl or spear- thrower 
survives among the present-day Tarascan Indians. 
These natives also make gourd vessels covered with 
colored clays in pleasing geometric and floral designs. 

Southern Mexico. Somewhere about the middle of 
the fifteenth century Moctezuma I planted an Aztecan 
colony at Uaxyacac on the edge of the Zapotecan terri- 
tory to protect the trade route to Tabasco. This name 
gave rise to the modern Oaxaca. From this point 
expeditions were sent out which harrassed the Zapote- 
can towns to the south. In the Tribute Roll of Mocte- 
zuma II more than twenty Zapotecan towns are listed 
as paying tribute that consisted of gold disks and gold 
dust, jadeite beads, quetzal feathers, cochineal dye, fine 
textiles, etc. Very little is preserved concerning the 
traditional history of Southern Mexico, but it is pre- 
sumed that the Zapotecan culture before the Aztecan 
influence took place was a development of that im- 
planted under the Mayan horizon and which we have 
already examined. 

Some of the finest pre-Cortesian codices that have 
come down to us are probably of Zapotecan and Mix- 
tecan origin although reflecting to some extent the 
religion of the Aztecs. Several of these have been inter- 
preted by Doctor Seler in terms of Aztecan religion and 
art. Among the documents from southern Mexico that 
seemingly belong to the Aztecan period are : 

Codex Borgia Codex Fejervary-Mayer 

Codex Vaticanus 3773 Codex Vindobonensis 

Codex Bologna Codex Nuttall 

Several lienzos or documents written on cloth are also 
from this region. The Lienzo of Amoltepec which is a 



fine example of this class is conserved in the American 
Museum of Natural History. The documents from 
southern Mexico are distinguished by details of geomet- 
ric ornament that resemble the panels of geometric 
design on the temples of Mitla. They record historical 


Fig. 79. A Year Symbol from Southern Mexico. It is combined 
with the four year bearers, House, Rabbit, Reed, and Stone. In 
the second detail the day 6 Serpent in the year 12 Rabbit is recorded. 


Fig. 80. Year Bearers in the Codex Porfirio Diaz ascribed to the 
Cuicatecan tribe: Wind, Deer, Herb, and Movement. 

events, give astronomical information and present much 
pictographic evidence on various ceremonies and 
religious usages^ In giving a date a somewhat different 
method is used than we have seen in the historical 
records from the Valley of Mexico. There is a definite 
year sign (Fig. 79) and with it is the year bearer, or 
initial day of the year, and often the particular day of 
the event. Unfortunately, this is not entirely satis- 



Plate XLIII. (a) A Page from the Codex Nuttall, recording the 
Conquest of a Town situated on an Island of the Sea. The con- 
querors come in boats and the conquest is indicated by a spear 
thrust into the place name hieroglyph. The crocodile, flying fish, 
and the sea serpent are represented in the water; (b) Zapotecan 
Cruciform Tomb near Mitla. 



factory because no month signs are recorded and a day 
with a certain name and number frequently occurs 
twice in one year. The year bearers are the same as 
among the Aztecs for most of the documents, namely, 
Knife, House, Rabbit, and Reed, but in a manuscript 
ascribed to a tribe in southern Mexico called the 
Cuicatecs, the year bearers are Wind, Deer, Herb, and 
Movement (Fig. 80). Conquest of a town is shown by 
a spear thrust into the place name. Individuals are 
often named after the day on which they were born. 
Thus 8 Deer is a warrior hero in the Codex Nuttall and 
3 Knife is a woman who also plays a prominent part. 
In some of the manuscripts from southern Mexico we 
see details that are very close to those in the codices of 
the Mayas. 

- Mitla. The famous temples of Mitla are the best- 
preserved examples of architecture on the highlands of 
Mexico. They are peculiar in form and decoration. 
"he word Mitla is a corruption of the Aztecan word 
Mictlan, place of the dead. This site was the burial 
ground of Zapotecan kings and may have been a place 
of pilgrimage. It seems to have been conquered by the 
Aztecs in the last decade of the fifteenth century. 
While the architecture belongs in a class by itself the 
frescoes have the distinct character of the Aztecan 

At this site we miss the lofty pyramids of Monte 
Alban. There is one fairly large mound at Mitla but it 
has no surviving superstructure. The temples are 
placed on low platforms which usually contain cruciform 
tombs. The buildings are carefully oriented and are 
assembled in groups of four which almost enclose square 
paved courts. The heavy walls have surfaces of cut 
stone and a filling of concrete or rubble and are orna- 



Plate XLIV. (a) Detail of Wall Construction at Mitla, showing the 
separately Carved Stones; (6, c) The God Macuilxochitl, Five Flower, 
as shown in a Mexican Codex and in pottery from Southern Mexico. 



mented with longitudinal panels of geometric designs 
arranged according to a carefully worked out plan. The 
geometric patterns are entirely formal and are mosaics 
of separately carved stones which fit neatly together. 
The chambers are long and narrow and formerly had 
flat roofs which have completely vanished. The door- 
ways are wide and low, usually with two piers. The 
lintels are blocks of carefully trimmed stone of great 
length and weight. All the outer surfaces of the Mitla 
temples seem to have been sized with plaster and 
painted red. The frescoes, traces of which can still be 
seen in several buildings, are in red and black upon a 
white base. Various gods and ceremonies are repre- 

Fig. 81. Wall Paintings of Mitla, resembling in Style the Picto- 
graphic Art of the Codices. 

sented, but only the upper portion of the bands, which 
show the heavens can be made out completely. 

Cruciform tombs are found under several of the 
temples at Mitla as well as at a number of neighboring 
sites such as Xaaga and Guiaroo. In these tombs the 
designs in panels appear on the inside and are carved 
directly on large blocks of stone. Pottery remains are 
rare in the cruciform tombs of the Mitla type but a few 
examples of gold work have been discovered in them. 

Within a short distance of Mitla is a fortified hill with 
several heavy walls that still stand to the height of per- 
haps twenty feet. In the flat valley between this hill 


and the ruins a considerable number of potsherds are 
plowed up in the field. 

Aztecan Influence in Central America. The 

influence from the late Mexican cultures can be traced 
far to the south. In Salvador the cults of Tlaloc, Xipe 
Totec, and other Aztecan gods were fully developed. 
The occurrence of the "Chacmool" in Salvador has al- 
ready been pointed out and it may be added that the 
Mexican ball game, tlachtli, seems also to have been 
known here. 

Decorative motives that show affiliations to those of 
the Aztecs and their immediate predecessors are found 
as far south as Costa Rica but the strain is thin and not 
to be compared with the evidences of culture connec- 
tion over wide territories that are found on earlier 


This survey of ancient history in Mexico and Central 
America makes clear a fact that doubtless will be found 
to hold true of archaeology in other parts of the world. 
The earliest culture was by far the most homogeneous 
and widespread which probably means that it lasted for 
a long time and modified slowly. At the same time it 
must be remembered that owing to the connection of 
this archaic art with agriculture, the initial spread may 
have been rapid. The Mayan culture that followed was 
specialized to a humid lowland environment and while 
the influence that it exerted over the life of other nat- 
tions was very great the exact characters of the Mayan 
civilization were not reproduced elsewhere. The cycle 
of -this civilization was comparatively short and that of 
the civilizations that followed were even shorter. 


The debt which the world owes to these ancient 
civilizations of Mexico and Central America becomes 
apparent when we list even the more important of the 
agricultural plants and technical processes, fibers, gums, 
dyes, etc., which were taken over by Europeans from 
the American Indians. Special notice should be 'given 
to the following: 

Food Plants Cultivated by American Indians 

Maize Pineapples Cashew nut 

Potatoes Nispero Pacay 

Sweet potatoes Barbados cherry Jocote 

Tomatoes Strawberries Star apples 

Pumpkins Persimmons Paraguay tea 

Squashes Papaws Alligator pear 

Lima beans Guava Sour sop 

Kidney beans Arracacha Sweet sop 

Peppers > Peanuts Custard apple 

Cacao Oca Cassava 

Important Economic Contributions of American 


Tobacco Cotton 

Cinchona (Quinine) Henequen 

Cascara Sagrada 


Alpaca Rubber 

Llama Copal 

Guinea pig Peruvian Balsam 


Muscovy duck 






A brief list of books on Mexico and Central America is appended. 
These books may be consulted in the Museum Library as well as others 
referred to in the more complete bibliographies that will be found in the 
works cited. 

BANCROFT, H. H. The Native Races of the Pacific States. 5 vols. New 
York and London, 1875-1876. 

BANDELIER, ADOLPH F. On the Distribution and Tenure of Lands and 
the Customs with Respect to Inheritance, among the Ancient Mexicans 
(Eleventh Annual Report, Peabody Museum of American Archaeo- 
logy and Ethnology, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 384-448, Cambridge, 1878.) 

Social Organization and Mode of Government 

of the Ancient Mexicans (Twelfth Annual Report, Peabody Museum 
of American Archeology and Ethnology, vol. 2, no. 3, Cambridge, 

1879.) ^ 

BOWDITCH, C. P. The Numeration, Calendar Systems and Astronomical 
Knowledge of the May as. Cambridge, 1910. 

BRANSFORD, J. F. Archaeological Researches in Nicaragua (Smithsonian 
Contributions to Knowledge, XXV, Art 2, pp. 1-96, 1881.) 

BRINTON, D. G. The Maya Chronicles. Philadelphia, 1882. (No. i of 
Brinton's Library of Aboriginal American Literature.) 

The Annals of the Cakchiquds. The original text with 
a translation, notes and introduction. Philadelphia, 1885. (No. 6 
of Brinton's Library of Aboriginal American Literature.) 

Essays of an Americanist. Philadelphia, 1890. 

BULLETIN 28. Mexican and Central American Antiquities, Calendar 
Systems and History. Twenty-four papers by Eduard Seler, E. Fors- 
temann, Paul Schellhas, Carl Sapper and E. P. Dieseldorff. Trans- 
lated from the German under the supervision of Charles P. Bowditch 
(Bulletin 28, Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1904.) 

CHARNAY, D. The Ancient Cities of the New World. Trans, by J. 
Gonino and H. S. Conant. London, 1887. 

DIAS DEL CASTILLO, BERNAL. The True History of the Conquest of 
Mexico, 1568. 3 vols. (Translated by A. P. Maudslay. Hakluyt 
Society, London, 1908.) 

FORSTEMANN, E. Commentary of the Maya Manuscript in the Royal 
Public Library of Dresden (Papers, Peabody Museum, IV, No. 2, 
pp. 48-266, 1906.) 



GANN, T. Mounds in Northern Honduras (Nineteenth Annual Report, 
Bureau of American Ethnology, part 2, pp. 661-692, Washington, 

HARTMANN, C. V. Archceological Researches in Costa Rica (The Royal 
Ethnographical Museum in Stockholm, Stockholm, 1901.) 

Archaeological Researches on the Pacific Coast of Costa 
Rica (Memoirs, Carnegie Institute, vol. 3, pp. 1-95, 1907.) 

HOLMES, W. H. Ancient Art of the Province of Chiriqui (Sixth Annual 
Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, pp. 3-187, Washington, 

Archceological Studies among the Ancient Cities in 
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Acropolis, artificial, 68, 69. 

Adobe, 56; houses. Mexican, 15. 

Agriculture, connection with archaic 
art, 223; distribution of, 59, 60; 
influence on Mayan culture, 65; 
invention of, 46-49; spread and 
development of, 56, 59. 

Ahpuch, Lord of Death, 93^-94. 

Alligator ware, 62. 

Alphabet, of Landa, 112. 

Altars, Mayan, 77; Quirigua, 124. 

Amulets, gold, 174. 

Animals, domestication of, 52-53, 

Annals of Quauhtitlan, 150, 179, 182. 

Arch, in Mayan architecture, 72, 73. 

Archaic, art, 52-53, 216; art, on 
borders of Mayan area, 67; art, 
local developments of, 59-63; art, 
wide distribution of, 223; culture, 
164; culture, distribution of, 58; 
culture, frontier cities of the 
Northwest, 164; figurines, 48-51; 
horizon, 43-64; horizon, exten- 
sions of, 56-59; pottery, 53-54; 
stone sculptures, 54-56. 

Architecture, brilliant period of the 
Mayas, 131; historical sequence 
determined by r 126; Mayan, 67- 
76; Mitla, 220; period of League 
of Mayapan, 132-133; Transition 
Period, Mayan, 132; types, La 
Quemada, 161. 

Aristocracies, among the Aztecs, 185. 

Art, archaic, 43, 52-53, 67, 216; ar- 
chaic, characterization of, 49; 
archaic, distribution of, 223; ar- 
chaic, local developments of, 59- 

63; Chorotegan, 166-167; deco- 
rative Isthmian region, 61; high 
development of Mayan, 65; mas- 
sive sculptural, 76-77; Mayan, 
130, 131, 132, 133, 134; Mayan, 
historical development of, 124- 
127; Mayan, serpent in, 82-85; 
Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa, 164; 
sequence in, 124; Tarascan, 43; 
Toltecan, influenced by Mayan, 
153; Totonacan, close corres- 
pondence to Mayan, 146, 149; 
Zapotecan, influenced by Mayan, 

Arts, minor, Aztecan, 214-216. 

Astronomy, Mayan knowledge of, 
65, 97, 122. 

Atlatl, 52, 217. 

Atzcapotzalco, 181, 184; stratifica- 
tion at, 44-45, 153. 

Aztecan history, 181-184. 

Aztecs, 177-224; and Mayas, com- 
pared to Greeks and Romans, 

Bar and dot numerals, 103, 115, 141. 
Basketry, Mayan, 81. 
Bats, represented in ancient art, 20. 
Bells, Aztecan, 214; copper, 164; 

copper and gold, 174. 
Ben, Mayan day sign, 79. 
Blankets, Mexican, 37. 
Brilliant Period, Mayan civilization, 

67, 131 
Buildings, Mayan, 69. 

Caban, Mayan day sign, 79. 
Cakchiquels, 135, 186. 




Calendar, annual, Mayan, 107; Cen- 
tral American, 145; ceremonial, 
Aztecan, 203; lunar, Mayan, 97, 
107-109; Mayan, scheme as pre- 
sented in Codex Tro-Cortesianus, 
102; religious, Aztecan, 207-208; 
Venus, Mayan, 109-112. 

Calendar round, Mayan, 101-103. 

Calendar Stone, 189-192, 194, 206. 

Calpolli, Aztecan, 186, 187. 

Cannibalism, 41. 

Captives, as represented in Mayan 
art, 85-86. 

Caribs, 39, 41. 

Caricature, in archaic figurines, 48, 

Carving, development in style at 
Copan, 123; on Mayan monu- 
ments, 124; stone, at Xochimilco, 

Celts, copper, Tarascan, 216; stone, 

Cempoalan, 24, 150, 171. 

Cenote, 18; sacred, at Chichen Itza, 

Cephalic index, Mexico and Central 
America, 42. 

Ceremonial Bar, Mayan, 86, 91, 92, 
93, 124. 

Ceremonies, Aztecan, 207-212; 
Mexican, 36. 

Chacmool, 170-172, 216, 223. 

Chalchuihtlicue, 205. 

Chichen Itza, 127, 129, 133-134, 
152, 153, 158, 171. 

Chichimecas, 151, 179-181. 

Chiconoztoc, 150, 160, 181. 

Chiefs, Aztecan, 185, 187; Toltecan, 
151; war, Aztecan, 183. 

Chilan Balam, Books of, 122, 128- 

Chimayo blankets, 37. 

Cholula, 158-160, 181. 
Chorotegan culture, 166-172. 
Chronology, Aztecan, 182; bases of 
Mayan, 122-124; Mayan, 122, 
127,128; Mayan, correlation with 
Christian, 67, 129; Mayan, cor- 
relation with Mexican dates, 152; 
Mayan, established by dated 
monuments and style of sculpture, 

Civilization, Mayan, 65-135, 223. 

Civilizations, lesser, in Mexico and 
Central America, 137-175. 

Clans, kinship, 186. 

Climate, Mexico and Central Am- 
erica, 13-14. 

Cloisonne pottery, 158, 161-162; San 
Juan Teotihuacan, 158. 

Coatlicue, 189, 195, 196-197. 

Codex Aubin, 183. 
Magliabecchiano, 209. 
Nuttall, 219, 220. 
Telleriano Remensis, 180. 

Codices, Mayan, 115-122, 220; 
Mayan gods in, 91, 93; Mexican, 
197; southern Mexico, 143, 217- 

Colhuacan, stratification at, 44-45. 

Collectors, specimens in Mexican 
Hall, 6. 

Colonization, Central America, by 
Spaniards, 22. 

Columns, sculptured at Tula, 158. 

Comalcalco, 137. 

Commerce, Aztecan objects of, 200. 

Composition in design, Mayan, 86- 

Conquest, history of Spanish, 21-31 ; 
of Mexico, 22-29. 

Conquest, symbol for, 220. 

Construction of walls, 69, 72-76, 



Copan, 19, 66, 67, 68, 69, 76, 124, 

Cora, 35. 

Correlations, dates with style of 
carving in Mayan monuments, 

Crocodile motive, in Chorotegan 
art, 167, 168, 170, 171, 172. 

Crops, indigenous and introduced, 
Mexico and Central America, 21 ; 
principal, Mayan region, 65, 67. 

Cross-section, typical, Mayan tem- 
ple, 73, 74. 

Cult, of the quarters, Aztecan, 207. 

Cults, Aztecan gods, 223. 

Culture, Carib, 39, 41; Chorotegan, 
166-172; Huichol, 36; Lacandone 
Indians, 39; Mayan, 65-135; 
Mosquito Indians, 41; southern 
Mexico, 217-220; Tarascans, 216- 
217; Toltecs, 150-154, 179; Tot- 
onacan, 145-150; Zapotecan, 

Cycle, defined, 97. 

Dances, hunting, Huichol, 36. 

Dated monuments, 127-128. 

Dates, 101, 127, 132; early Mayan, 
130, 137; Toltecan, 150. 

Day count, Mayan, elements of the, 

Day signs, Aztecan, 191, 199, 200; 
hieroglyphs used on Mayan pot- 
tery, 79; Mayan, 98. 

Death God, 93, 94, 102. 

Decoration, Mayan buildings, 76; 
Mayan pottery, 79; pottery, ar- 
chaic period, 53-54. 

Decorative motives, Chorotegan 
art, 166; distribution of, 223. 

Design, composition and perspect- 
ive, Mayan, 86-89; on Mexican 

blanket, 216; motives, Costa Rica, 
168, 170, 171, 172. 

Designs, on blankets, 37; developed 
in negative painting, 163-164; 
geometric, at Mitla, 222; on 
Mayan pottery, 78, 80, 81; poly- 
chrome pottery, 79; realistic, 
Mayan pottery, 78, 79; textile, 
Mayan, 81; Totonacan sacrificial 
yokes and paddle stones, 149; 
woven, Huichol, 35, 36. 

Donors, collections in Mexican Hall, 

Dresden Codex, 94, 108, 110, 115, 
116, 121, 126. , 

Dress, shown in archaic figurines, 
51; Mexico and Central America, 
39; modern Mexican, 37. 

Drums, Aztecan, 214. 

Dyes, 224. 

Early Period, in Mayan history, 130. 

Earrings, archaic figurines, 51-52. 

Economic contributions, of Ameri- 
can Indians, 224. 

Ehecatl, God of Winds, 53, 204. 

Ek Ahau, war god, Mayan, 96. 

Elevations, Mayan buildings, 74r-76. 

Environment, Mayan, 137; Mexico 
and Central America, 13-21. 

Ethnology, 34-41, 51-52. 

European contact, history of, 21-31. 

Exploration, of Central America, by 
Spaniards, 21-22. 

Eyes, color and Mongoloid tilt, 42; 
types of, on archaic figurines, 51 ; 
on Totonacan figurines, 146. 

Face numerals, Mayan inscriptions, 

Fauna, Mexico and Central Am- 
erica, 19-20. 


Feast, in connection with planet 
Venus, 212; of the twelfth month, 

Feasts, Aztecan, 208, 211. 

Feather mosaics, Aztecan, 216; Tar- 
ascan, 217. 

Fibers, 224. 

Figurines, archaic, 48, 49-51; ar- 
chaic, Isthmian region, 56, 60; 
archaic, from Salvador, 50; clay, 
transition period, 67; female, dis- 
tribution of, 53, 57, 61-62; pot- 
tery, Aztecan, 215; pottery, San 
Juan Teotihuacan, 157. 

Filigree, modern Mexican work, 215. 

Flageolets,. Aztecan, 214. 

Flora, Mexico and Central America, 

Flores, 28. 

Flying fagade, on Mayan buildings, 

Food plants, most widely dis- 
tributed in the New World, 47; 
cultivated by American Indians, 

Frescoes, Mitla, 222. 

Frontier cities, of the northwest, 

Funerary urns, Zapotecan, 141-143; 
also frontispiece. 

Games, ceremonial, Toltecan, 153. 

Genealogical table, Mexican, 204. 

Genealogies, Aztecan, 185. 

Geography, Mexico and Central 
America, 13-21. 

Geology, Mexico and Central Am- 
erica, 19. 

Gladiator stones, 194. 

Glaze, on modern Mexican pottery, 

Glyphs, period, Mayan, 105. 

God houses, Huichol, 36. 

God of War, Mayan, 102. 

God's eyes, Huichol, 36. 

Gods, Aztecan, 201, 203, 205, 209; 
beast, Mayan representation of, 
92; in Dresden Codex, 94; Mayan, 
79, 82, 84, 91, 92-96, 121; Mexi- 
can, 53, 205; represented in pot- 
tery from San Juan Teotihuacan, 

Gold work, ancient, Isthmian re- 
gion, 63; Aztecan, 215; in cruci- 
form tombs, 222; Isthmian, 172- 
175; Mayan, 81; Zapotecan, 143. 

Gourd vessels, Tarascan, 217. 

Government, Aztecan, 187; theo- 
cratic, of the Mayas, 86. 

Graves, Isthmian, gold objects 
found in, 174. 

Great Ball Court, Chichen Itza, 
134, 153. 

Great Mound, Copan, 131. 

Great Period, Mayan history, 131. 

Grooving, in archaic figurines, 50. 

Groundplans, Toltecan buildings, 
153; Yaxchilan temples, 72. 

Guatuso, 41. 

Gums, 224. 

Haab, 105. 

Hair, Indians of Mexico and Central 
America, 42. 

Headdresses, shown in archaic figu- 
rines, 51. 

Hieroglyphs, Aztecan, of precious 
stones, 197; containing phonetic 
element kin, 114; decorative use 
on pottery, Mayan, 79; of the 
Four Directions, 114; Mayan, 89, 
112-115; Nahuan, 198; on stelae 
at Monte Alban, 141; on the 
Stone of Tizoc, 194, 195; at 
Xochicalco, 155. 



Hikule worship, Huichol and Tara- 
humare, 36. 

History, Aztecan, 181-184; Chichi- 
mecan, 179, 181; of European 
contact, Mexico and Central Am- 
erica, 21-31; Mayan, summary 
of, 130-135; summary in relation 
to archaeological evidences, on 
the archaic horizon, 63-64; Tol- 
tecan, 150-152; traditional, south- 
ern Mexico, 217. 

Hochob, 70. 

Horse, introduction of, 59. 

Hotun periods, 127. 

Houses, adobe, Mexican, 15; ar- 
chaic period, 54-56; Mayan, 69. 

Huastecas, 145, 146. 

Huichol, 35, 36. 

Huijnli, decorated, 38, 39. 

Huitzilopochtli, 189, 194, 203, 210. 

Human, form, carved in stone, ar- 
chaic period, 54; form, in Mayan 
art, 82, 85-86, 124; heads, types 
of, at Yaxchilan, 87. 

Hunting implements, 39, 41. 

Ihuicatl, 206. 

Imix, day sign, Mayan, 79; first day 
of the formal tonalamatl, 101. 

Incised designs on pottery, 81. 

Influence, Aztecan, in Central Am- 
erica, 223; Mayas, on other civi- 
lizations, 137; Mexican in north- 
ern Yucatan, 152. 

Initial Series date, Chichen Itza, 
129; Great Period, 132; impor- 
tance in determination of cor- 
relations, 127; Transition Period, 

Initial Series dates, 109, 111, 127, 

Inscriptions, hieroglyphic, 94; hiero- 
glyphic, on Mayan monuments, 
112, 127; Mayan, 113; Mayan, 
face numerals on, 105; Mayan, 
Great Period, 131; on Mayan 
monuments, 127-128; typical 
Mayan, 106. 

Invention^ of agriculture, in the 
New World, 46, 49. 

Irrigation, in the New World. 47, 56. 

Itzamna, 92, 96, 102. 

Ixchel, Goddess of the Rainbow, 96. 

Ixchelbelyax, Mayan god, 96. 

Ixtubtun, Mayan god, 96. 

Jade, carving of, Mayan, 81; Zapo- 
tecan, 143, 144; work in, Aztec, 

Jaguar design, 167, 168. 

Kan, day sign ; Mayan, 79; maize 

sign, 121. 
Katun, 128, 129. 
Kukulcan, 93. 

Lacandone Indians, 39, 135. 

Lakes, Mexico and Central America, 
17, 18-19. 

Land laws, Aztecan, 186. 

Language, Totonacan, 45. 

Languages, Central America, 212; 
Mexico and Central America, 31- 

La Quemada, 159, 160-161. 

League, Aztecan, 184; of Mayapan, 

Leiden Plate, 130. 

Lienzo of Amoltepec, 217-218. 

Linguistic stocks, Mexico and Cen- 
tral America, 31-34. 

Long-nosed God, Mayan, 91, 93, 
143, 205. 



Lunar, calendar, Mayan, 97, 107- 
109; period, in Mayan calendar, 
107, 108. 

Macuilxochitl, God Five Flower, 


Manikin Scepter, 86, 91, 93. 
Maize God, Mayan, 92, 94-96, 119, 

Maize, distribution of use, 47; most 

important food of the New World, 

46-47; staple, in Mayan region, 

65, 67. 
Manioc, cultivation of, 47; use and 

preparation by Carib, 37, 39, 41. 
Marimba, 214. 
Mask panels, on Mayan structures, 

76-77, 133. 

Mayan, civilization, 65-135; lin- 
guistic stock, distribution of, 33- 

Mayas, and Aztecs, compared to 

Greeks and Romans, 177-179. 
Mazatecas, 186. 
Medicines, 224. 
Metal, ornaments made of, Mayas, 

81; Zapotecan, 143. 
Metates, elaborately sculptured, 

Mexican Hall, American Museum, 

Mexican influence, period of, in 

Mayan history, 133-134. 
Mictlan, 206 r 207, 220. 
Mictlanteuctli, 206. 
Middle Period, in Mayan history, 


Migrations, Aztecan, 181-182. 
Mitla, 19, 143, 220-223. 
Mixtecas, 186. 

Modeling, archaic figurines, 50; clay, 
San Juan Teotihuacan, 157. 

Modern Period, Mayan history, 


Moyotes, Zapotecan burial mounds, 

Monkey, in Chorotegan art, 166- 

Monte Alban, 138, 139, 141. 

Month, Mayan, twenty day signs 
of, 98; signs, of Mayan Year, 100. 

Months, Aztecan, 201; Mayan, 
length of, 97; Mayan, names of, 

Monument, earliest dated, 130. 

Monuments, Mayan, dated, 127- 
128; sequence of Mayan deter- 
mined by style of sculpture, 124. 

Moon, representations of the, 108. 

Mosaic, feather, Aztecan, 216; fea- 
ther, Tarascan, 217; masks and 
ceremonial objects, 81. 

Mosquito Indians, 41. 

Mound, artificial, at Gopan, 69; 
pyramidal developed at end of 
archaic period, 54, 56. 

Mounds, at Atzcapotzalco, 44; 
foundation for temples, 69; Tar- 
ascan, 216. 

Mountains, Mexico and Central 
America, 14-16. 

Music, Aztecan, 212-214. 

Musical instruments, Aztecan, 213- 

Mythology, Aztecan, 181, 191, 201, 
203; Mayan and Aztecan, 205. 

Myths, cosmogonic, 205. 

Nahuan, linguistic stock, distribu- 
tion of, 32-33; tribes, led in de- 
velopment of archaic art, 43. 



Naranjo, 67, 124, 131. 

Negative painting, 162-164. 

Nezahualcoyotl, 212. 

Nose, Indians of Mexico and Cen- 
tral America, 52. 

Noserings, on archaic figurines, 51- 

Notation system, Mayan, 97, 103- 

Numbers, Aztecan, 200; Mayan, 
103-104; Mexican system of, 201. 

Numerals, Zapotecan system of, 

Ochpaniztli, eleventh feast of the 

year, 209. 

Old Man God, Mayan, 79. 
Olin, Aztecan day sign, 191, 192. 
Olmecs, 150. 
Ometeuctli, 203, 206. 
Organization, political, Mayan, 177; 

social, Aztecan, 184. 
Ornaments, of semi-precious stones, 

Aztecan, 215; shown on archaic 

figurines, 51-52. 
Otomis, 179. 

Pachtli, twelfth month, Aztecan, 

Paddle-shaped stones, Totonacan, 

Painting, archaic figurines, 50, 61- 
62; body, shown in archaic figu- 
rines, 52; on Mayan pottery, 61; 
on pottery, 167; Zapotecan pot- 
tery, 143. 

Palaces, structure of Mayan, 69. 

Palenque, 67, 76. 

Palmate stone, 148. 

Pantheon, Mayan, 89-96. 

Papantla, 149. 

Peregrinations, Aztecan, 182. 

Peresianus Codex, 115. 

Period, denned, in Mayan time 
count, 97; glyphs, Mayan, 103, 

Permutation system, Mayan, 97- 

Perspective, in Mayan design, 86- 

Peyote worship, Huichol and Tara- 
humare, 36. 

Phonetic use of signs, Mayan hiero- 
glyphs, 112, 114. 

Physical types, 40, 41-42. 

Pictographic hieroglyphs, Mayan, 

Piedras Negras, 67, 90, 124, 125, 131. 

Pima, 34. 

Pipiles, 164. 

Place Names, Aztecan, 198. 

Plants, food, cultivation of, in the 
New World, 47, 224. 

Poetry, Aztecan, 212-214. 

Polychrome pottery, Cholula, 160; 
Mayan, 79. 

Portraiture, in archaic art, 48; in 
Mayan art, 86, 128. 

Post Archaic Horizon, 64. 

Potato, cultivated in Peru, 47. 

Pottery, archaic, 53-54, 131, 146. 

Pottery, archaic, 53, 54, 131, 146; 
Aztecan, 214-215; at Atzcapotz- 
alco, 44; from Cholula, 159, 160; 
Chorotegan, 167; cloisonne, San 
Juan Teotihuacan, 158; distribu- 
tion of, 56, 59; Isthmian, 61, 62; 
Mayan, 77-81; Mitla, 222; mod- 
ern Mexican, 37; northwestern 
region of Mexico, 161-162; poly- 
chrome, Mayan, 79; San Juan 
Teotihuacan, 157; with semi- 
glaze, 166; Zapotecan, 139, 143. 

Pouches, Valiente Indians, 38. 



Prayers, representation of in Tol- 
tecan sculptures, 153. 

Priests, Zapotecan, 145. 

Pre- Archaic Horizon, 63. 

Protohistoric Period, Mayan his- 
tory, 130. 

Pueblo Vie jo, 23. 

Pulque, 36. 

Pyramid, Cholula, 156, 158-160; 
Mayan, 69; Monte Alban, 220; 
San Juan Teotihuacan, 155; Tol- 
tecan, 153. 

Quetzalcoatl, 93, 151, 205. 
Quiches, 135. 
Quinatzin, map, 181. 
Quirigua, 15, 67, 124. 

Rank, among the Aztecs, 184. 

Rattles, Aztecan, 214. 

Religion, Aztecan, 201-205; as evi- 
denced by archaic art, 52; Isth- 
mian region, 174; Lacandone 
Indians, 39; Mayan, 91-96, 177; 
Toltecan, 153; Zapotecan, 145. 

River systems, Mexico and Central 
America, 17-18. 

Roman-nosed God, Mayan, 91, 92, 

Roof comb, on Mayan buildings, 76, 

Roofs, on Mayan buildings, 72. 

Rooms, Mayan buildings, 72, 73. 

Ruins, Usumacinta Valley, 17-18. 

Sacrifices, Aztecan, to the gods, 177, 
human, 189, 192, 208; human, 
Aztecan, 207, 210, 211; human, 
shown on sculptures, 166; human, 
Toltecan, 151; Zapotecan, 145. 

Sacrificial yokes, Totonacan, 147- 

Saltillo blankets, 37. 

San Andres Tuxtla, 137. 

San Bias Indians, 41. 

San Juan Teotihuacan, 155-158. 

San Miguel blankets, 37. 

Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa, 164- 

Sculptural art, massive, 76-77. 

Sculptures, archaic, 54-56; common 
material for, 19; developments in, 
as a check to chronology, 122; 
Isthmian region, 61, 63, 169, 170; 
Mayan, Middle Period, 131; San 
Juan Teotihuacan, 157; Santa 
Lucia Cozumalhualpa, 164-166; 
sequence in style, 124; style, cor- 
related with dates, 127; Teno- 
chtitlan, 214; at Tula, 158; wall, 
at Copan, 76; Zapotecan, 144. 

Seibal, 67, 88. 

Seri, 34 

Serpent, archaic pottery, 53-54; in 
Chorotegan art, 166-167; con- 
ventional, of the Mayas, 83, 84- 
85; heads, comparison of Mayan 
and Zapotecan, 139; heads, on 
Mayan buildings, 76, 77; influence 
on Mayan art, 89; motive, im- 
portance in Mayan art, 82-85; in 
religion of the Mayas, 89, 91. 

Shield stone, Cuernavaca, 193. 

Slabs, sculptured stone, from Costa 
Rica, 160, 169; Zapotecan, 139. 

Smiling faces, Totonacan, 146-147. 

Social organization, Aztecan, 184- 

Songs, Aztecan, 212, 213. 

Southern Mexico, culture of, 217- 

Spear-thrower, Tarascan, 217. 

Speech scroll, 153, 166. 

Stability, Mayan buildings, 74. 

Stamps, for pottery designs, 81. 



Stature, Indians of Mexico and Cen- 
tral America, 41, 42. 

Stelae, Mayan, 77; Zapotecan, 139. 

Stocks, language, distribution of, 

Stone, collars, Totonacan, 147-149; 
great development of building in, 
Copan and Mitla, 19; sculpture, 
in, 54; yokes, 149; Zapotecan art 
in, 139-141. 

Stratification, archaeological, at Atz- 
capotzalco, 42^3, 153; of re- 
mains, Mexican sites, 44-45; of 
remains, in Peru, 56, 59. 

Structure, two-roomed, Mayan, 73- 

Sun God, Aztecan, 191. 

Suns, sequence of, in Aztecan myth- 
ology, 206. 

Superstructures, on Mayan build- 
ings, 76. 

Supplementary series, 109, 111. 

Syllables, phonetic use of, Mayan, 

Symbolism, religious, Mayan, 89, 

Tarahumare, 34, 36. 

Tarascan culture, 216-217. 

Tecpan, 183, 187-189.' 

Temple, of the Cross, section of, 75; 

enclosure, Tenochtitlan, 187-189; 

structure of Mayan, 69, 74; of the 

Sun, Aztecan, 189. 
Temples, Mayan, 73-74, 126; Mitla, 

220-221; Tenochtitlan, 187-189; 

Toltecan, 153; Zapotecan, 139. 
Tenochtitlan, 11, 44, 181, 182, 184, 

186, 214. 
Teocentli, 46-47. 
Teonanacatl, 36. 
Teotihuacan, 152. 

Teotleco, twelfth month, Aztecan 


Tepanecas, 182, 184. 
Tepehuane, 34. 
Teswin, 36. 
Teteocan, 206. 
Teteoinnan, 209. 
Textile, art, Cora and Huichol, 35- 

36; art, Mayan, 81; decoration, 

Aztec, 215-216. 
Tezcatlipoca, 194, 203, 211. 
Tezcoco, 152, 172, 181, 184, 212. 
Tikal, 67, 74, 76, 124, 130. 
Time, count, Aztecan, 182; Mayan, 

96-97, 99; Toltecan, 150-151; 

Zapotecan, 145. 

Tizoc, stone of, 184, 189, 192-196. 
Tlachtli, 158, 223. 
Tlacopan, 184. 
Tlaloc, God of Rain, 53, 157, 189, 

203, 204. 
Tlalocan, 207. 
Tlotzin, map of, 181. 
Toltecs, 150-154, 179. 
Tomb, cruciform near Mitla, 219. 
Tombs, cruciform, 222. 
Tonalamatl, Aztecan, 211; in Dres- 
den Codex, 120, 121-122; origin 

of, 97-99; table, 99. 
Tonatiuh, the Sun god, 191, 194, 

203, 204. 
Topography, Mexico and Central 

America, 14-19. 
Totonacan culture, 145-150. 
Totonacs, 137. 

Toxcatl, Aztecan month, 208. 
Traditions, Mayan, 122. 
Transition Period, Mayan history, 

Tribes, Indian, Mexico and Central 

America, 34, 35. 



Tribute, lists, Aztecan, 216; roll, War God, Aztecan, 194, 210; Mayan, 

178, 217. 


Tripod vessels, archaic period, 53. War, importance in Aztecan organi- 

Tro-Cortesianus Codex, 115. zation, 184. 

Tula, 150, 151, 152, 158. 

Tun, 105. 

Turquoise, Aztec work in, 215. 

Tuxtla Statuette, 130, 137. 

Two-Headed Dragon, 86, 91, 92, 93, 

124, 125. 
Tzintzuntzan, 216. 

Weapons, shown in archaic figur- 
ines, 52. 

Weaving, shown in archaic figur- 
ines, 52; Tarascan, 217. 

Writing, hieroglyphic, Mayan, 65; 
Mayan and Aztecan, 114-115; 

Mexican, 187-201. 
Uaxactun, 130. 

Uinal, lunar month, 97. xipe> 157> 2 Q5, 209. 

Universe, Aztecan conceptions of xkichmook 77. 

the 205-207. Xochicalco, 141, 152, 154, 156. 

Urns, Zapotecan funerary, 141-143. 
Uxmal, House of the Governor at, Xochimilco > 45 > 183 - 

Yatacas, Tarascan mounds, 216. . 

Vault, Mayan buildings, 72-73. Yaxchilan, 67, 76, 95, 87. 

Venus, Aztecan festivals in con- Year, bearers, Cuicatecan, 218, 220; 
nection with, 212; calendar, conventional, 99-101; symbol, 
Mayan, 109-112. southern Mexico, 218; length o, 

Volcanoes, Mexico and Central Am- Mayan, 97; Mayan, the truef 
erica, 16, 19. 104-107. 

Yum Kaax, 94. 

Wall construction, La Quemada, 

161; Mayan, 70-72; Mitla, 220- Zapotecs, culture of, 137, 139-149. 
222. Zotzils, 186. 



This publication is due on the LAST DATE 
and HOUR stamped below. 

JUN 16 1978 

19 197ft 



HOI/ 2 9 70 -7 


MAR 2 5 1981 
DEC 8 1Sc, 

MAX 6 197 

DEC 10 1JJ 



General Library 

University of California