The Hopi School

PO Box 56
Hotevilla, Arizona 86030


Scholar’s Library

  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language

Download this book: [ ASCII ]


Title: Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America - Third and Revised Edition
Author: Spinden, Herbert Joseph
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America - Third and Revised Edition" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Transcriber’s note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

    [Illustration: Funerary Urn from a Zapotecan Tomb

    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. Height, 15½ inches.]

American Museum of Natural History


[Illustration: Series logo]



Formerly Assistant Curator, Department of Anthropology

Handbook Series No. 3

Third and Revised Edition

New York

of the
Anthropological Handbook Fund


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.
Archæology, 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 hieroglyphic 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 of Loubat, William Mack, Henry Marquand,
Doctor William Pepper, A. D. Straus, I. McI. 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 information at the disposal
of the scientific staff. The principal collectors have been: George
Byron Gordon, Aleš Hrdlička, Carl Lumholtz, Francis C. Nicholas,
Marshall H. Saville, Eduard Seler, Herbert J. Spinden, and John L.


  Preface                                                              5
  Introduction                                                        13
      Geography and Natural Environment. History of European
          Contact. Languages. Ethnology. Physical Types.

                                CHAPTER I
  The Archaic Horizon                                                 45
      Stratification of Remains. The Cemetery under the Lava.
          Invention of Agriculture. Archaic Figurines. Ancient
          Customs. Archaic Pottery. Stone Sculptures of the Archaic
          Period. Extensions of the Archaic Horizon.

                                CHAPTER II
  The Mayan Civilization                                              73
      Architecture. Massive Sculptural Art. Minor Arts. The Serpent
          in Mayan Art. The Human Figure. Design. Composition, and
          Perspective. The Mayan Pantheon. How Mayan History has
          been Recovered. Sequences in Art. Books of Chilam Balam.
          The Mayan Time Counts. Elements of the Day Count. The
          Conventional Year. The Calendar Round. Mayan Numbers. The
          Long Count. Dates of Dedication. Hieroglyphs. Codices.
          Correlation with Christian Chronology. The Mayan Eras.
          Astronomical Checks on the Correlation. Astronomical
          Observatories. The True Year. The Lunar Calendar. Venus
          Calendar. Summary of Mayan History.

                               CHAPTER III
  The Middle Civilizations                                           153
      The Olmeca or Rubber People. Zapotecan Culture. Mitla.
          Totonacan Culture. The Toltecs. Quetzalcoatl and the
          Toltec Era. San Juan Teotihuacan. Xochicalco. Tula.
          Cholula. The Frontier Cities of the Northwest. Santa Lucia
          Cozumalhualpa. The Chorotegan Culture. Isthmian Gold Work.

                                CHAPTER IV
  The Aztecs                                                         201
      Mayas and Aztecs compared to Greeks and Romans. The
          Chichimecas. Aztecan History. Social Organization. The
          Tecpan or Temple Enclosure. The Calendar Stone. Stone of
          Tizoc. Contlicue. Mexican Writing. Aztecan Religion.
          Conceptions of the Universe. Ceremonies. Poetry and Music.
          Minor Aztecan Arts. The Tarascans. Southern Mexico.
          Aztecan Influence in Central America.
  A Cross-Section of New World History                               249
  Bibliography                                                       255
  Index                                                              259

                         MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS

  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_    45
  Diagram of American Chronology                          _Facing_   253


  I. _a_, Village Scene in Arid Mexico; _b_, In the Humid Lowlands    15
  II. _a_, Site of Pueblo Viejo, the First Capital of Guatemala;
          _b_, A Spanish Church at the Village of Camotan on the
          Road to Copan                                               23
  III. _a_, View of the Island Town of Flores in Lake Peten; _b_,
          The Sacred _Cenote_ at Chichen Itza                         28
  IV. _a_, A Guatemalan _huipili_; _b_, Pouches of the Valiente
          Indians                                                     40
  V. _a_, Zapotecan Girl from the State of Oaxaca; _b_, Lacondone
          Man from Southern Mexico                                    42
  VI. _a_, Cuicuilco. A view showing cobblestone facing of mound and
          lava in contact with apron or causeway; _b_, Archaic Site
          under Lava Flow near Mexico City                            50
  VII. Large Archaic Figures found in Graves and offering Evidence
          of Ancient Customs and Arts and also showing a Quality of
          Caricature or possibly Portraiture                          54
  VIII. Two Stages in the Stone Sculptures of Costa Rica              60
  IX. _a_, Stone Sculptures of the Archaic Period; _b_, Typical Site
          of the Archaic Period                                       62
  X. Widely Distributed Female Figurines                              65
  XI. Distribution of the Archaic Culture                             69
  XII. Distribution of Agriculture in the New World                   70
  XIII. A General View of the Ceremonial Center of Copan              72
  XIV. _a_, View of the Plaza at Copan from the Northwestern Corner;
          _b_, View Across the Artificial Acropolis at Copan          74
  XV. _a_, Model of the Temple of the Cross, Palenque, designed to
          show the Construction; _b_, Detail of Frieze on the Temple
          of the Cross                                                76
  XVI. A Temple of Hochob showing Elaborate Facade Decorations in
          Stucco                                                      80
  XVII. A Sealed Portal Vault in the House of the Governor at Uxmal   82
  XVIII. _a_, Realistic Designs on Vases from Chamá, Guatemala; _b_,
          The Quetzal as represented on a Painted Cylindrical Vase
          from Copan                                                  85
  XIX. Stela 13, Piedras Negras                                       96
  XX. _a_, Top of Stela 1 at Yaxchilan; _b_, Analogous Detail of
          Stela 4, Yaxchilan                                         102
  XXI. Development in Style of Carving at Copan                      107
  XXII. Scheme of the Mayan Calendar as presented in the Codex
          Tro-Cortesianus                                            116
  XXIII. Typical Mayan Inscription                                   122
  XXIV. Page 24 Dresden Codex                                        130
  XXV. _a_, Detail of the Dresden Codex showing _Tzolkin_ used in
          Divination; _b_, Analysis of the above _Tzolkin_,
          according to Förstemann                                    134
  XXVI. General View of Monte Alban from the North                   152
  XXVII. Detail of Monte Alban showing Wall Foundations and Small
          Cell-like Rooms                                            155
  XXVIII. Zapotecan Art: Incense Burners, Funerary Vases of Portrait
          Type, Cruciform Tomb with Geometric Decoration             158
  XXIX. _a_, Sculpture of Stone of the Early Zapotecan Period; _b_,
          Jade Tablets pierced for Suspension                        162
  XXX. Laughing Head of the Totonacs                                 166
  XXXI. _a_, An Elaborately Carved Stone Collar; _b_, A Palmate
          Stone from the State of Vera Cruz                          168
  XXXII. The Temple of Xochicalco before Restoration                 174
  XXXIII. Two Views of the Principal Pyramid in the Citadel at
          Teotihuacan                                                176
  XXXIV. _a_, Partial View of the Great Pyramid at Cholula; _b_, A
          View at La Quemada                                         181
  XXXV. Stone Slab from an Ancient Sepulcher in the State of
          Guerrero                                                   186
  XXXVI. _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          192
  XXXVII. _a_, The Gold Work of the Ancient Mexicans; _b_, Ornament
          of Gold from Costa Rica                                    196
  XXXVIII. A Page from the Tribute Roll of Moctezuma                 200
  XXXIX. A Page from the Codex Telleriano Remensis                   202
  XL. Serpent Head at Bottom of Balustrade, Great Pyramid, Mexico
          City                                                       206
  XLI. Sahagun’s Plan of the Tecpan in Mexico City                   212
  XLII. The Calendar Stone of the Aztecs                             214
  XLIII. The Shield Stone at Cuernavaca                              216
  XLIV. The Newly Discovered “National Stone” of Mexico              220
  XLV. Sculpture representing Coatlicue, the Serpent-Skirted Goddess 222
  XLVI. Page from the _Tonalamatl_ Section of the Codex Borbonicus   228
  XLVII. _a_, Picture of Tlaloc, the God of Rain, and of Ehecatl,
          the God of Winds, in the Codex Magliabecchiano; _b_,
          Mexican Genealogical Table on Amatl Paper                  230

                               TEXT FIGURES

  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 Demigod          20
  5. Spanish Ship in the Aubin Codex                                  22
  6. Cortez arrives with Sword and Cross and Moctezuma brings him
          Gold                                                        25
  7. Aztecan Canoe. Lienzo de Tlaxcala                                26
  8. Design on Modern Huichol Ribbon                                  37
  9. Woven Pouch of the Huichol Indians                               37
  10. Atzcapotzalco Destroyed                                         47
  11. Diagram of Culture Strata at Atzcapotzalco                      48
  12. _Teocentli_ or Mexican Fodder Grass                             51
  13. Archaic Figurines from Central Mexico                           55
  14. Archaic Figurines—Zapotlan, Jalisco; Tampico, Vera Cruz; and
          Cuesta Blanca, Salvador                                     55
  15. Archaic Figurine from Salvador                                  56
  16. Types of Eyes of Archaic Figurines                              57
  17. Textile Designs painted on Archaic Effigies                     58
  18. Typical Tripod Vessels of the Archaic Period, from Morelos,
          Mexico                                                      59
  19. Series showing the Modification of a Celt into a Stone Amulet   61
  20. Groundplans of Yaxchilan Temples                                77
  21. Cross-section of Typical Mayan Temple in Northern Yucatan       78
  22. Mask Panel over Doorway at Xkichmook, Yucatan                   84
  23. Design on Engraved Pot representing a Tiger seated in a Wreath
          of Water Lilies. Northern Yucatan                           86
  24. Painted Design on Cylindrical Bowl showing Serpent issuing
          from a Shell Salvador                                       86
  25. Mayan Basket represented in Stone Sculpture                     88
  26. Typical Elaborated Serpents of the Mayas                        90
  27. Conventional Serpent of the Mayas used for Decorative Purposes  91
  28. Upper Part of Serpent Head made into a Fret Ornament            92
  29. Sculpture on Front of Lintel at Yaxchilan                       93
  30. Types of Human Heads on the Lintels of Yaxchilan                94
  31. Sculpture on Upper Part of Stela 11, Seibal                     95
  32. The Ceremonial Bar                                              98
  33. The Manikin Scepter                                             99
  34. The Two-Headed Dragon                                          100
  35. Gods in the Dresden Codex                                      101
  36. The Front Head of the Two-Headed Dragon on Stelæ at Piedras
          Negras showing the Increase in Flamboyant Treatment        105
  37. Grotesque Face on the Back of Stela B, Copan                   108
  38. Jaguar in Dresden Codex with a Water Lily attached to Forehead 108
  39. Late Sculpture from Chichen Itza                               109
  40. The Twenty Day Signs                                           112
  41. The Nineteen Month Signs of the Mayan Year                     115
  42. Bar and Dot Numerals of the Mayas                              119
  43. Face Numerals found in Mayan Inscriptions                      121
  44. The Normal Forms of the Period Glyphs                          121
  45. Face Forms of Period Glyphs                                    121
  46. Hieroglyphs of the Four Directions                             127
  47. Hieroglyphs containing the Phonetic Element _kin_              127
  48. Mayan Ceremony as represented in the Dresden Codex             132
  49. Diagram of the Astronomical Base Line at Copan giving Readings
          at April 9 and September 2                                 138
  50. Representations of the Moon                                    142
  51. The Last Glyph of the Supplementary Series                     142
  52. Comparison of Mayan and Zapotecan Serpent Heads                156
  53. Bar and Dot Numerals combined with Hieroglyphs on Zapotecan
          Monuments                                                  157
  54. Detail of Wall Construction at Mitla                           161
  55. Wall Paintings of Mitla                                        163
  56. The Eyes of Totonacan Figurines                                165
  57. Jointed Doll of Clay from San Juan Teotihuacan                 178
  58. Pottery Plates from Cholula with Decorations in Several Colors 180
  59. Vessel with “Cloisonné” Decoration in Heavy Pigments           184
  60. The Turtle Motive as developed in Negative Painting with Wax
          at Totoate, Jalisco                                        185
  61. Jaguar Head on Disk-Shaped Stone, Salvador                     187
  62. Front View and Profile View Serpent Heads in Chorotegan Art    190
  63. Jaguar Design associated with Figurines that still retain
          Archaic Characters, Costa Rica                             191
  64. Jaguars from painted Nicoyan Vases                             191
  65. Highly Conventionalized Jaguar Motive                          193
  66. Simple Crocodile Figures in Red Lines on Dishes from Mercedes,
          Costa Rica                                                 194
  67. Panels containing Crocodiles painted in White Lines on Large
          Tripod Bowls from Mercedes, Costa Rica                     194
  68. Simplified Crocodile Heads in the Yellow Line Ware of
          Mercedes, Costa Rica                                       194
  69. Conventional Crocodiles from Costa Rica and Panama             197
  70. Pictographic Record of the Fighting near the Springs of
          Chapultepec                                                207
  71. Details from the Stone of Tizoc                                219
  72. Detail showing the Construction of the Face of Coatlicue       223
  73. Hieroglyphs of Precious Materials                              224
  74. Phonetic Elements derived from Pictures and used in Mexican
          Place Name Hieroglyphs                                     224
  75. Aztecan Place Names                                            225
  76. Aztecan Day Signs                                              226
  77. Variant Forms of Aztecan Day Signs                             226
  78. Aztecan Numbers and Objects of Commerce                        227
  79. Analysis of Mexican Record                                     231
  80. Chalchuihtlicue, Aztecan Goddess of Water                      232
  81. A Mexican Orchestra                                            241
  82. Mexican Blanket with the Design that represents interlacing
          Sand and Water called “Spider Water”                       243
  83. The Year Symbol of Southern Mexico                             245
  84. Year Bearers in the Codex Porfirio Diaz ascribed to the
          Cuicatecan Tribe                                           246
  85. A Page from the Codex Nuttall, recording the Conquest of a
          Town situated on an Island of the Sea                      247
  86. The God Macuilxochitl, Five Flower, as shown in a Mexican
          Codex and in Pottery from Southern Mexico                  248


                   Geography and Natural Environment.

Unfortunately 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.
Positions south of Mexico will often be referred to the areas of the
modern political units although these have no immediate relation to
pre-Spanish conditions. These political units are: Guatemala, British
Honduras, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

    [Illustration: Fig. 1. The Great Snowstorm of 1447 shown in the
    Pictographic Record of the Aztecs called Codex Telleriano Remensis.]

Although lying within the tropics, the territory extending 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), _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 eastern 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 Iztaccihuatl, both names being pure Aztecan.
The first means Smoking Mountain and the second White Woman. These
volcanic crests rise into the snowy zone from the table-land which is
itself about 8,000 feet above the sea.

                                Plate I.

    [Illustration: (_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.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) 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.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 2. The Smoke reaches the Stars, a Mexican
    Picture of a Volcanic Eruption in the Codex Telleriano Remensis.]

In southern Mexico the plateau area enclosed between the principal
sierras narrows perceptibly, because the shore line of the Pacific and
the mountain range that parallels it swing more and more towards the
east. At the Isthmus of Tehuantepec 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 Tacaná 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 Ciudad Vieja and Antigua Guatemala, the old
Spanish capitals 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 systems. 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.

The lowland strip on the Pacific side of our area is a narrow fringe.
Like the central plateau it is for the most part arid, but irrigation
makes it productive. The lowlands of the Atlantic side are generally wet
and heavily forested. 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 elevation.

The river systems 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 valley, 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, Texcoco, Xochimilco, and Chalco. The last two contain fresh
water, since they drain into Lake Texcoco, but the rest are more or less
brackish. Lake Texcoco is by far the largest, although its area has been
greatly reduced by natural and artificial causes since the coming of the

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 likewise
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, Papaloapan, Grijalva, and Usumacinta. The last is by far the
greatest 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 limestone. 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 wells.

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 Texcoco,
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 water 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 Nicaragua and Managua
are well known on account of their connection with the much-discussed
canal projects. The Island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua bears an active

In regard to the geology it is only necessary to point out a few of the
more important characters. The highlands 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, building in stone
received its greatest development. The soft greenish stone of Copan
seems to be a solidified mud flow 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

    [Illustration: Fig. 3. Yucatan Deer caught in a Snare. From the
    Mayan Codex, Tro-Cortesianus.]

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 lowlands but neither seems to have been of great significance to the
natives. Bats are frequently represented in the ancient art and a bat
demon appears in several myths.

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

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, domesticated 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 Guatemala. This
beautiful bird occurs only in the cloud cap forest zone on the high
mountains of southern Mexico and Guatemala. Blue macaws, parrots,
paroquets, and humming birds contributed their gay plumage to adorn
headdresses 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 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), campeche, 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 mentioned the aguacate,
or alligator pear, the mamey, the anona, or custard apple, the
guanabina, jocote, and nance.

                      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, landed on the northern coast of Honduras and rounded the
stormy cape called Gracias à Dios. 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 themselves firmly in this
golden land. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who emerged from the bickering mob
as the strongest 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 forward rapidly. In 1519 the
old city of Panama, now in ruins, was founded. The rich region around
the Nicaraguan lakes was discovered by Gil Gonzalez Davila and the city
of Granada was founded in 1524. The exploration from the southern base
came in contact with that from the north in Salvador shortly after this

    [Illustration: Fig. 5. Spanish Ship in the Aubin Codex.]

                               Plate II.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Site of Pueblo Viejo, the First Capital of

    [Illustration: (_b_) A Spanish Church at the Village of Camotan on
    the Road to Copan.]

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
proper location. In 1511 or 1512 a ship from Darien was wrecked and some
of the sailors were cast upon the coast of Yucatan. Most of them were
killed and sacrificed, but two survived. One of these survivors was
Geronimo 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
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
Geronimo 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 engagement 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 Quetzalcoatl, 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 Tlaxcala. This city, after a
skirmish, likewise enlisted in the Spanish cause, a course that came
easy because Tlaxcala was a traditional 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 6. Cortez arrives with Sword and Cross and
    Moctezuma 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 the lake. Accepting the inevitable, Moctezuma and
his nobles met the Spaniards and conducted them to the Palace of
Axayacatl, which was prepared for their habitation. 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 7. Aztecan Canoe. Lienzo de Tlaxcala.]

Meanwhile Velasquez, convinced of the unfaithfulness of Cortez,
dispatched Narvaez to capture the rebellious agent. But Narvaez was
himself captured and his soldiers went to augment the army of the

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 quartered. 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 invaders 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 narrow causeway loading 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

A year was spent in recuperation, in building boats for an attack from
the lake, and in putting down the Aztecan outposts. In the meantime the
natives were suffering from a dreadful visitation of smallpox,
introduced by the Spaniards, and Cuitlahuac, the successor of Moctezuma,
had died of this disease after a rule of eighty days. Finally
Tenochtitlan was besieged again. The buildings were leveled to the
ground as the Spaniards advanced.

                               Plate III.

    [Illustration: (_a_) View of the Island Town of Flores in Lake Peten
    where the Last Capital of the Itzas was located.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) The Sacred _Cenote_ at Chichen Itza into which
    Human Beings were thrown as Sacrifices, along with Objects of Jade
    and Gold.]

The brave defense of Cuauhtemoc availed for naught against cannon and
steel armor. On the 13th of August, 1521, the conquest 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 Guatemala and had invaded
Salvador. Cortez himself undertook 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 impassable 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 Montejo, who began the conquest of this low-lying territory in
1527. The first campaigns were disastrous and heartbreaking. Several
short-lived Salamancas were founded, one of them at Chichen Itza. But
the odds were too great and by 1535 all the Spaniards had been killed or
expelled. The son of Montejo renewed the struggle. In 1540 Campeche was
founded and early in 1542 the city of Mérida was established upon the
site of an earlier Mayan town.

Progress was also rapid in the north. Nuño de Guzman departed in 1529 on
a mission to conquer Michoacan 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
English settlement was made in North America the power of Spain was
firmly established, not only throughout Central America and Mexico, but
also in the southwestern 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 administration.

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 Guatemala. The dominion was subdivided into
five departments corresponding to the modern republics of Guatemala
(which then included the Mexican state of Chiapas), 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 waning 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 abdicated 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 Juarez 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. Several are now, however, on the
high road to stability.

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.


The twenty distinct stocks of related languages formerly recognized in
Mexico and Central America have now been greatly reduced. Of those that
remain, some occupied small areas and had little in the way of dialectic
variation, while others stretched over wide territories and were divided
into many mutually unintelligible tongues, which, in turn, were
subdivided into well-defined dialects. Several stocks are now
approaching extinction through the substitution of Spanish. A number of
languages, however, are still spoken by hundreds of thousands of

The language having the greatest geographical extension within the area
under consideration is the Mexican, or Nahuan, now consolidated with the
Piman, Shoshonean, etc., in a great stock called the Uto-Aztecan. In its
extent this stock may be compared to the Indo-Iranian of the Old World
which comprises most of the modern and ancient languages of Europe as
well as those of a large part of Asia. Within the United States are the
numerous Shoshonean tribes found as far north as Idaho, reaching into
California on the one hand and into Texas on the other. In southern
Arizona and northwestern Mexico come the Piman group. East of the Sierra
Madre are the Tarahumare and the Tepehuane. These languages are mutually
unintelligible, although morphologically related, and all are subdivided
into dialects. The relationship is proved 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 cognate tongues. Farther to the south are still other divisions of
the 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
Mexican City. They first appear on the page of history as the Mexitin,
along with the closely related Chalca, Xochimilca, etc. The people of
Central Mexico called their language Nahuatl, meaning “clear speech” and
nicknamed their relatives to the south, Pipil, or “boys” because they
spoke awkwardly. Mexican colonies were widespread before the coming of
the Spaniards and during the Conquest the distribution of this nation
was made still greater. The Mexicans, and especially the natives of
Tlaxcala, accompanied the Spaniards on military expeditions against
other tribes and as a consequence many place names in southern Mexico
and Guatemala were translated into their language. There were, however,
large groups of Indians of Mexican stock already located 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 Uto-Aztecan languages 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 can be used as a basis of
classification over a much greater stretch of time than can other social
habits summed up as “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 distribution of the Uto-Aztecan languages
may indicate a general southward movement of the stock.

The second most important linguistic stock 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 Tzental, Quiché, Cakchiquel, Chol, and Chorti are other
prominent languages.

In the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are the Zapotecan and
Mixtecan stocks, which differ widely in sound and structure from the
Mayan and Nahuan tongues that hem them in. West and east of the Valley
of Mexico are, respectively, the Tarascan 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 languages 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. It is now believed that the Otomi
group, as well as a number of minor languages, including the Mazatecan,
belong in a single stock with the Chiapanecan. If this supposed
connection should prove true a northern movement of the stock would be
pretty surely indicated. Several members of the Subtiaban stock show the
same south to north movement and here there is evidence that the
migration took place some three centuries before the coming of the
Spaniards. Parts of the Isthmian region were held by tribes having
linguistic affiliation with South America and 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 linguistic connections.

The great Hokan stock has now been extended from California across
northern Mexico to Texas, taking in the Seri and numerous other tribes
of low culture. For the most part these tribes are extinct or at least
have lost the ancient speech.


To a less extent than the native languages 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 Indian tribes that preserve in a large measure their
ancient arts and ideas. But the study of these remnant peoples has not
been very thorough.

    [Illustration: Fig. 8. Design on Modern Huichol Ribbon.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 9. Woven Pouch of the Huichol Indians showing
    Two-Headed Austrian Eagle.]

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 have
been maintained by them as well as many religious ceremonies. Farther
south among the Cora and Huichol there also are surviving arts. 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 most 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. Elaborate ceremonies are associated with the eating and
gathering of this plant. 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 ceremonial use of it under the name _teonanacatl_. An
intoxicating drink called _teswin_ is commonly made in northern 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 interest
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 civilized peoples to the south. In these and other
respects the Huichol culture is about midway between the culture of the
Southwestern Pueblo tribes and that which formerly existed in central

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 Mexicans.

In dress there are noteworthy survivals. The _serape_ made either on the
narrow hand loom or on a crude form of the Spanish tread loom is a
picturesque element in the national dress that is 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 manufacture
and sale of blankets were the cities of Saltillo and San Miguel. The
Saltillo pattern shows a medallion 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 valleys of New Mexico.

                               Plate IV.

    [Illustration: (_a_) A Guatemalan _huipili_ decorated with Highly
    Conventionalized Animals in Embroidery.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) 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. Sometimes 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

An interesting ceremony which survives in some parts of Mexico and
Guatemala has as its principal feature a lofty pole with a swivel
arrangement at the top to which long ropes are attached. These ropes are
wound round the swivel and performers, who may be dressed like birds,
attach themselves to the rope ends. During the process of unwinding the
performers whirl dizzily around the pole descending lower and lower and
swing in a wider and wider circle till they reach the ground.

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.

                                Plate V.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Zapotecan Girl from the State of Oaxaca,
    wearing a Turban-Like Headdress made of Yarn.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Lacandone Man from Southern Mexico. Wavy hair
    is sometimes seen among the few members of this Mayan tribe.]

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 basketry tube as do their kindred in the Orinoco Valley. 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 coming of the Spaniards.

The Mosquito Indians of the east coast of Nicaragua and Honduras have a
very considerable negro admixture. They are fishermen of low culture.
Farther inland are found the Sumo who flatten the heads of their
children and who hold strange feasts in honor of the dead in which the
dancers are masked so that none may be recognized. A string is stretched
over the tree tops from the grave to the feasting place and over this
string the ghost of the dead person is supposed to walk. When everyone
has fallen in a drunken stupor from _mishla_ the ghost of the dead man
departs for the land of the dead. These Sumo Indians build large houses
with open sides and are very skilful at fishing with bow and arrow and
steering their canoes through white rapids. They practise polygamous
marriages, weave cotton, and make interesting beadwork ornaments.

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 Blas 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 Mazatecs, the average being about
5 feet 1 inch, while among the Tarascans, Tlaxcalas, 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 wide 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.

 [Illustration: Map of Mexico and Central America showing the Principal
   Archæological Sites with a Detail Insert of the Valley of Mexico.
                          High-resolution Map]

                               Chapter I
                          THE ARCHAIC HORIZON

In 1910 an actual stratification of human products was found in the
environs of Mexico City in which three principal culture horizons could
be readily discerned. A collection made at the time, illustrating the
objects characteristic of the three strata, is on exhibition in the
American Museum of Natural History. In parts 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 and many authentic specimens from the three layers
have been brought together.

The stratigraphic series concerns sedentary life after the invention of
agriculture. Presumably a nomadic horizon preceded that of the first
farmers, but few traces of this have so far been reported from southern
Mexico and Central America. The earliest known specimens of the lowest
level are not rudimentary but are well stylized, and opinions vary as to
the length of time necessary for a theoretical formative stage. It seems
necessary to consider this old civilization as a stratigraphic unit
admitting the probability that true beginnings await the archæologist’s

The culture of the lowest stratum is here called archaic, a word meaning
old, but not necessarily primitive. The word “horizon” carries an
implication of chronological succession, but it would not be wise to
insist that archaic remains everywhere represent a dead chronological
level. Archaic art is oldest in its place of origin, the highlands of
Mexico and Central America, and in or near this general region, it was
first succeeded by higher types. On the margin of its distribution
archaic art, or at least the most striking traits of archaic art, lasted
into much more recent times, and in some places may even have survived
till the coming of the Spaniards. Even when every allowance is made for
independent expressions which may find nearly the same form, it seems
that remarkable homogeneity and continuity can be demonstrated for
products of the archaic civilization of the New World.

Most of the evidence of the old civilization consists of ceramic
objects, but there is also some stonework including implements,
ornaments, and crude statues. Common household pottery shows local
variations, but as a rule the archaic wares can be recognized as such by
qualities of paste, shape, and decoration. The motives are simply
geometric or realistic and there is a lack of formalized designs. One
process of decoration has wide distribution and seems to have been
invented well along in the archaic period. This is the process of
negative painting in which the lines of the decorative pattern,
originally applied in wax or pitch, stand out in the natural surface
color of the pot against an over-painted background. This “batik”
pottery extends from central Mexico to northern Peru.

The most interesting and important objects of archaic art in clay are
human figurines executed in peculiar styles. These not only reflect
details of dress, etc., but also seem to stand for a set of religious
ideas. Especially a type of figurine representing a nude female appears
to be an agricultural fetish, symbolizing the fecundity of Mother-Earth.

                       Stratification of Remains.

Atzcapotzalco was once an important center of the Tepanecan tribe
situated on the shores of lake Texcoco. 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
brick-making, 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 late Toltecan period, while on the surface of the ground
are encountered fragments of the typical Aztecan pottery in use when the
Spaniards arrived.

    [Illustration: Fig. 10. Atzcapotzalco Destroyed. The temple burns at
    the Place of the Ant.]

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 layers 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 Texcoco near
this point. In some places it is fifteen or eighteen feet in thickness.
Scattered throughout the gravel are heavy, waterworn fragments of pots
as well as more or less complete figurines of the archaic type.

    [Illustration: Fig. 11. Diagram of Culture Strata at Atzcapotzalco.]

  Temple mounds of Toltecan period.
  Surface finds of Aztecan period.
  Remains of Toltecan period.
  Deep stratum of water-bearing gravels containing remains of archaic
  Bed rock of hard clay.

At other sites, such as Colhuacan, the Toltecan layer 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 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.

A stratification of archæological remains has recently been determined
in Salvador.

                      The Cemetery under the Lava.

An ancient cemetery lying under lava has recently been explored in
Copilco, a suburb of Mexico City. The lava swept down from Mount Ajusco
in some cataclysm perhaps 3000 years ago, covering many square miles of
territory to the depth of thirty or forty feet, and burying such
villages as chanced to lie in its path. (See Pl. VI_b_). The discovery
of human remains was made several hundred feet back from the original
front of the lava flow in a quarry where lava rock was being removed to
build roads. Tales of clay figurines found under the lava in this quarry
had been current for years, but no serious investigation was made until
human burials were met with in the earth under the great lava cap. Then
a series of tunnels was dug and a considerable number of ancient burials
were uncovered, but not moved from their original position. One now
enters an electric-lighted graveyard and sees human bodies lying exactly
as they have lain for untold centuries, with the funeral offerings
beside them. This enormously important find gives us an historical level
in mid-Archaic.

Another site, at Cuicuilco, on the opposite side of the lava flow, has
received attention from archæologists. Here a great round mound rises in
terraces faced with cobblestones. It is surrounded by the lava flow and
some persons have assumed that the mound was already abandoned and in
decay when the lava flow took place. Perhaps, however, the mound was
built on a piece of land that the lava flow had spared. There are no
contacts between the lava and the mound except at the ends of two
projecting aprons or causeways. The pottery at this site is sufficiently
different from that found at Copilco.

                               Plate VI.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Cuicuilco. A view showing cobblestone facing of
    mound and lava in contact with apron or causeway.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Archaic Site under Lava Flow near Mexico City.
    A local museum has been established at this site in electric-lighted

                       Invention of Agriculture.

Before examining in greater detail the art of the Archaic Horizon let us
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 probably brought over by the earliest
immigrants, but there is abundant evidence that pottery-making, weaving,
and agriculture were independently invented long after the original
settlement. The cultivated 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, upon the only open line of communication, where
agriculture and the higher arts have never been practised.

    [Illustration: Fig. 12. _Teocentli_ or Mexican Fodder Grass.]

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 inclined 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 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 fifteen thousand feet in tropical regions. The
Mexican highlands occupy the central position in the area of its
distribution and archæological 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 cultivated in more
restricted areas and may have had different 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

Irrigation would have been necessary before agriculture 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. In these regions are
also seen the earliest developments 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.

If this theory is true we must admit that below the Archaic Horizon we
should find traces of a horizon of non-agricultural peoples, living a
nomadic life without pottery. 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 invention of agriculture in the New World.
The thick deposits left by the sedentary peoples argue great age and the
wide area of homogeneous products argues slow change. In the most
favored regions archaic art may have been succeeded by higher forms
shortly before the time of Christ, and perhaps 5000 years is not too
long a time to allow for the diversities of the domesticated plants of

                           Archaic Figurines.

                               Plate VII.

    [Illustration: Large Archaic Figures found in Graves and offering
    Evidence of Ancient Customs and Arts and also showing a Quality of
    Caricature or possibly Portraiture. These are probably late products
    since they come from Tepic and Jalisco, where archaic art maintained
    itself long after its disappearance from central Mexico.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 13. Archaic Figurines from Central Mexico. The
    first three specimens are from under the lava at Copilco.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 14. Archaic Figurines—Zapotlan, Jalisco;
    Tampico, Vera Cruz; and Cuesta Blanca, Salvador.]

Archaic art is characterized by figures of men and women modeled in clay
and sometimes painted. The forms are peculiar and the technique 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 incisings 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 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. Groovings 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, textile patterns, etc.

    [Illustration: Fig. 15. Archaic Figurine from Salvador.]

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

    [Illustration: Fig. 16. Types of Eyes of Archaic Figurines.]

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 first five types 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. Headdresses may consist of fillets,
turbans, and objects perched on one side of the head. Noserings and
earrings 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 _atlatl_, 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 they were intended to be portraits of the dead. Many
have a startling quality of caricature.

    [Illustration: Fig. 17. Textile Designs painted on Archaic

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. We
miss entirely the characteristic Mexican gods such as Tlaloc and
Ehecatl. Dogs are frequently modeled in clay and were apparently
developed into a rather special domestic breed. Snakes are sometimes
found as a plastic decoration on pottery but there are few signs of
serpent worship. We can find no evidence that human sacrifice was
practiced. The presence of human figurines in graves has already been
mentioned and the suggestion made that some of them may have been
intended as portraits of the dead. Nude female figurines in sitting or
standing position have an unbroken distribution from Mexico into South
America and it is not unlikely that the primitive agriculturists
associated them with fertility and used them as amulets to secure good
crops. The male figurines may have been votive offerings for success at

                            Archaic Pottery.

The ordinary pottery of the Archaic Period from Mexico and Central
America is 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,
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 modeled faces enabling us to make a direct
connection with the figures in clay already described.

    [Illustration: Fig. 18. Typical Tripod Vessels of the Archaic
    Period, from Morelos, Mexico.]

        Plate VIII. Two Stages in the Stone Sculptures of Costa
  Rica. Note that in the first series (_a_) the human body is adapted
    to the surface of a boulder with the arms, legs, and face in low
   relief and with eyes, nose, and mouth all protruding, while in the
    second series (_b_) the limbs are rounded and partly freed from
   the body. Both are of archaic type but probably not of great age.

    [Illustration: (_a_)]

    [Illustration: (_b_)]

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 winding serpents in relief, this motive is not seen
on the pottery of the Archaic Period.

    [Illustration: Fig. 19. Series showing the Modification of a Celt
    into a Stone Amulet. State of Guerrero, Mexico, probably late

                Stone Sculptures of the Archaic Period.

The earliest stone sculptures are recognized first by resemblance to the
ceramic art just described and second by a quality which they possess of
being archaic in an absolute sense. The greater difficulty of working
stone as compared with clay and the longer 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 semblance 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
modified into figures by grooves, and faces are frequently represented
on roughly conical or disk-shaped stones.

                               Plate IX.

    [Illustration: (_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.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Typical Site of the Archaic Period. The use of
    pyramids may have begun towards the end of this period.]

We know very little from actual excavations concerning 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
for the temple may have been 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 débris of higher civilizations in the Valley of Mexico can be
traced far and wide. They are encountered, for the most part, in arid
and open country, and since we have every reason to believe that the
earliest agriculture was developed under irrigation, it is but natural
to find the use of agriculture spreading first into other arid regions.
And if there was an association between the fertility of Mother-Earth
and little fetishes representing women then these fetishes would spread
as part of the agricultural complex.

It now seems possible that the cult of the female figurine reached our
Southwestern states on the earliest level of agricultural life. In sites
belonging to Basket-Maker III—the archæological level of the first
Pueblo pottery—little female fetishes are found and, indeed, are
symptomatic of this early culture. They are cruder than anything as yet
found in Mexico, but not necessarily older. With them occurs a primitive
maize doubtless introduced from the south.

In the Isthmian region, on the other side of the Mexican and Central
American cradle of New World agricultural civilization, there are small
figurines quite similar to the archaic figurines of Mexico and Salvador
as regards pose and bodily proportions. These are mostly on the level of
the first Mayan civilization even in cases where the coffee-grain eye is
used. Around the Nicaraguan lakes the figurines of nude females were
cast in moulds, a device entirely unknown on the Archaic Horizon in
Mexico. In the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica the figurines are
skilfully modeled with painted designs in black on a dark brilliant red,
which may represent tattooing. In the Chiriqui Province of Panama the
figurines belong in a ceramic group characterized by the use of highly
conventionalized alligators or crocodiles. It has already been stated
that designs of the Archaic Horizon in Mexico are either geometric or
naïvely realistic. There is another matter that deserves attention: some
of these southern types of the female fetish occur in distinctly humid
lands and this, by itself, is a strong argument against great antiquity.

The Isthmian female fetish must have been implanted on the Archaic
Horizon even though the present examples are mostly from post-archaic
times. Perhaps future archæological investigation will reveal early
stations of a purely archaic type in desert parts of Costa Rica and
Panama. Till then a controlling fact is that Mayan religious art avoids
all references to sex and cannot, therefore, possibly be held
responsible for the culture trait of the female fetish. But this fetish
does agree with a pre-Mayan concept, as we have seen.

             Plate X. Widely Distributed Female Figurines:

    [Illustration: (_a_) Nicaragua.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Panama.]

    [Illustration: (_c_) Venezuela.]

    [Illustration: (_d_) Island of Marajo, Brazil.]

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 subjects 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 generalized form so the
patterns for gold castings were made by adding details in rolled wax or
resin to a simple underlying form of the same material.

In Colombia and Venezuela archaic art is common in arid and mountainous
territory. Local developments confuse the issue of time. Various
cultural successions took place here, the Quimbaya, Sinu, and Tairona
Indians having developed civilizations with possible Mayan affiliations
in some features. The archaic figurines of Colombia are decorated with
designs made by the process of negative painting through the medium of
wax. This process is pretty generally distributed from central Mexico to
northern Peru. The indications are that it was invented long before the
rise of the Mayas, and once invented remained popular.

As regards Venezuela the figurines of men and women from the Eastern
Andes are often strikingly similar to those of Mexico, especially in
such matters as eyes made by double gougings. As a rule, these figurines
are painted. Around Lake Valencia they are made without paint, but in
combination with pottery designs showing the beginnings of
conventionalization. Here there is added the circumstance that wild
Carib tribes, coming down the Orinoco, drove the earlier inhabitants out
over the West Indies. This flight must have taken place centuries before
the coming of the Spaniards.

The archæology of the lower Amazon is best known from the remains found
on the Island of Marajo where female figurines exhibit close similarity
in pose to specimens from Venezuela and Mexico. This culture of Marajo
seems to have been disrupted before the coming of Europeans. But it may
be significant that crude fetishes representing women are used at the
present time by tribes on the margins of the old Amazonian culture area.
The earliest level at Ancon, Peru, yields ware recalling northern
products. Nude females, apparently of somewhat later time, however, are
in standing rather than sitting pose. It seems, then, that the trail of
dissemination of agriculture and the ancillary arts can be followed
across the northern part of South America and southward along the Andes
to Peru. The greatest similarities must be sought in the oldest objects
and some leeway granted in the case of marginal survivals.

It is proper to speak of agriculture, pottery-making, and weaving as the
great civilizing complex. Few inventions could break down the ordinary
boundaries of language and environment, as these had done. Yet, after
the discovery of America, the horse, introduced by the Spaniards, spread
rapidly through native tribes, modifying their lives greatly. It is
capable of demonstration that with the horse went two types of
saddle—the pack saddle and the riding saddle. Similarly in the first
rapid spread of agriculture went pots and woven garments.

Two maps of the New World are given herewith: the first showing the
extent of the Archaic Horizon and the second the final distribution of
pottery among the American Indians and the final distribution of
agriculture. 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.


In concluding this section let us sum up the general facts of ancient
American history as these appear in relation to the archæological
evidences of the Archaic 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 agriculture, together with
  pottery-making and loom-weaving. Homogeneous culture with undeveloped
  religion and unsymbolic art adjusted to arid tropics.

III. Post-Archaic Horizon

  Specialized cultures in North, Central, and South America dependent
  upon agriculture. Strong local developments in esthetic arts,
  religious ideas, and social institutions. Agriculture extended to
  humid tropical and temperate regions.

                               Plate XI.

    [Illustration: 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

                               Plate XII.

    [Illustration: 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.]

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

                              Plate XIII.

    [Illustration: A General View of the Ceremonial Center of Copan.
    After a model and drawing by Maudslay. The artificial acropolis with
    temples on pyramids and with sunken courts is in the foreground and
    beyond is seen the Great Plaza in which monuments are set up. The
    Copan River has cut into the side of the acropolis and made a
    natural cross-section.]

                               Chapter II
                         THE MAYAN CIVILIZATION

The wonderful culture of the Mayan Indians to 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 products 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 anything seen elsewhere in the
New World.

The Mayan culture was made possible by the agricultural conquest of the
rich lowlands where the exuberance 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 vegetation 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.

          Plate XIV. Photographs by Peabody Museum Expedition.

    [Illustration: (_a_) View of the Plaza at Copan from the
    Northwestern Corner. This view shows the monuments in position and
    the steps which may have served as seats.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) View Across the Artificial Acropolis at Copan.
    A sunken court is shown and the bases of two temple structures of
    the Sixth Century.]

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 way 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 calendarial system already in working order the Mayas appear
on the threshold of history 600 years before the Christian Era,
according to a correlation with European chronology that will be
explained later. The first great cities were Tikal in northern Guatemala
and Copan 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 Menché, 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.

                               Plate XV.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Model of the Temple of the Cross, Palenque,
    designed to show the Construction. The building has three entrances
    separated by piers. The middle partition is thickened to support the
    weight of the roof comb which is a trellis for stucco decoration.
    The sanctuary is a miniature temple in the inner chamber. The walls
    are built of slabs of limestone set in lime cement.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Detail of Frieze on the Temple of the Cross.
    The upper band is the sky with stars and planets. A reptilian
    monster occupies the main panel with human figures as supplementary
    decorations upon his legs. The Temple of the Cross represents the
    highest achievement of the First Empire architects, Fifth Century
    after Christ.]

               Fig. 20. Groundplans of Yaxchilan Temples:

    [Illustration: (_a_) Structure 42.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Structure 23.]


The idea of a civic center is admirably illustrated in Mayan cities,
particularly those of the first brilliant period. The principal
structures 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 perhaps 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.

    [Illustration: 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; _f_, exterior
    doorway; _g_, interior doorway; _h_, offset at spring of vault; _i_,
    cap stone.]

Mayan buildings are of two principal kinds. One is a temple pure and
simple and the other has been called a palace. The temple is a
rectangular structure crowning 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 same region.

The typical Mayan construction is a faced concrete. The limestone, which
abounds in nearly all parts of the 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 monolithic. The rooms of
Mayan buildings are characteristically 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 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 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.

                               Plate XVI.

    [Illustration: A Temple at Hochob showing Elaborate Façade
    Decorations in Stucco. Probably ninth century. The design over the
    door represents a grotesque front view face of which the eyes can
    still be plainly made out. At either side of the door the design
    represents a serpent head in profile. Photograph by Maler.]

The first variation from the temple with one rectangular room was the
two-roomed structure with one chamber 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 other one and as a result was
modified into a sanctuary, or holy of holies, enhanced by sculptures 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 adjustment.

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 overhang of half
the vault. In the earlier temples the upper zone of the façade often
slopes backward so that the balance is not so perfect.

                              Plate XVII.

    [Illustration: A Sealed Portal Vault in the House of the Governor at
    Uxmal, a Building of the Second Empire, probably Thirteenth Century.
    The veneer character of the cut stone comes out clearly. Peabody
    Museum photograph.]

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 pyramidal 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 terraced or pyramidal profile. One
building at Tikal is five stories in height, in three receding planes,
the three 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 façade. The highest temples in the
Mayan Area are those of Tikal that attain a total height of about 175
feet, counting pyramid and superstructure.

                        Massive Sculptural Art.

The decoration of Mayan buildings may be considered under three heads:
first, interior decoration; second, façade 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 sculptures 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 of mural paintings, sculptured door
jambs, decorated interior steps, etc.

The façade decorations of the earlier Mayan structures 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 interesting developments. Angular
representations of serpent heads in profile are sometimes used at the
sides of doorways.

    [Illustration: Fig. 22. Mask Panel over Doorway at Xkichmook.

The supplementary monuments are stelæ and altars. These are monolithic
sculptures that are often set up in definite relation to a building
either on the terraces or at the foot of the stairway. The stelæ 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 small stones usually placed in front of the stelæ. Many stelæ
and altars are set up in plazas and have no definite architectural

                              Plate XVIII.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Realistic Designs on Vases from Chamá,
    Guatemala, representing the Best Mayan Period in Pottery.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) The Quetzal as represented on a Painted
    Cylindrical Vase from Copan. Bands of hieroglyphs are commonly found
    on Mayan Pottery.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 23. Design on Engraved Pot representing a Tiger
    seated in a Wreath of Water Lilies. Northern Yucatan.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 24. Painted Design on Cylindrical Bowl showing
    Serpent issuing from a Shell. Salvador.]

                              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 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 XVIII
reproduces the design units on two vases from Chamá, 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. This god has the face of an old man and his body
is attached to a spiral shell. This divinity was probably associated
with the end of the year.

    [Illustration: Fig. 25. Mayan Basket represented in Stone

In the next illustration an engraved design on a bowl from northern
Yucatan is given. A jaguar attired in the dress of man is seated in a
wreath of water lilies. After the vessel had been formed, but before it
had been fired, this design was made by cutting away the background 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.

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. 25.

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 unknown during
the first centuries of Mayan florescence, later it 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 subjective.

                       The Serpent in Mayan Art.

Mayan art is strange and unintelligible at first sight, but after
careful study many wonderful qualities appear in it. In the knowledge of
foreshortening and composition, the Mayas were 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 were not in the image of man and the
art was essentially religious. 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 the many beauties of ancient
American sculpture.

    [Illustration: Fig. 26. Typical Elaborated Serpents of the Mayas.
    The serpent with a human head in its mouth is from Yaxchilan. In
    this example the writhing movements of the serpent’s tail are
    probably intended by the added scrolls. The plumed serpent is from
    Chichen Itza.]

The serpent motive controlled the character of Mayan art and was of
first importance in all subsequent arts in Central America and Mexico.
The serpent 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 characteristic 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 intelligence 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 assumption of human form by a beast divinity. The features
combined are so peculiar and unnatural that the influence of Mayan art
can be traced far and wide through Central America and Mexico by
comparative study of the serpent motive.

    [Illustration: Fig. 27. Conventional Serpent of the Mayas used for
    Decorative Purposes: _a_, body; _b_, ventral scale; _c_, dorsal
    scale; _d_, nose; _e_, noseplug; _f_, incisor tooth; _g_, molar
    tooth; _h_, jaw; _i_, eye; _j_, supraorbital plate; _k_, earplug;
    _l_, ear pendant; _m_, curled fang; _n_, tongue; _o_, lower jaw;
    _p_, beard; _q_, incisor tooth.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 28. Upper Part of Serpent Head made into a Fret
    Ornament: _a_, Ixkun; _b_, Quirigua; _c_, _d_, _g_, Copan; _e_,
    Naranjo; _f_, Seibal.]

A typical serpent head in profile (with the human head omitted) as
developed by the Mayas for decorative purposes is reproduced in Fig. 27
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 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 serving 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 façade 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 creatures, 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 29. Sculpture on Front of Lintel at Yaxchilan
    showing Man holding Two-Headed Serpent with a Grotesque God’s Head
    in each of its Mouths.]

Elaborate thrones on several monuments are canopied over 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 instances the quality of actual
portraiture is convincing.

    [Illustration: Fig. 30. Types of Human Heads on the Lintels of

                 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
perspective 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 ourselves to feel the serpent symbolism of the Mayan artists as we
feel, for instance, the conventional halo that crowns the ideal head of
Christ, then we shall be able to recognize the truly emotional qualities
of Mayan sculptures.

    [Illustration: Fig. 31. Sculpture on Upper Part of Stela 11, Seibal.
    The man wears an inlaid mask, an elaborate headdress, and a collar
    of shell and jade.]

                               Plate XIX.

    [Illustration: 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. Dated
    March 27, 511 A. D.]

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 freehand
sculpture it must come from an educated sense of beauty involving
selection and the reproduction of the 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 uniformly
excellent. Although the influence of the serpent 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 sculptures
so that the details were emphasized by color contrast.

In perspective as applied to the human figure the 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 XIX, where the raising of the nearer
shoulder has a distinct perspective value.

    [Illustration: Fig. 32. The Ceremonial Bar. A Two-Headed Serpent
    held in the Arms of Human Beings on Stelæ: _a_, Stela P, Copan; _b_,
    Stela N, Copan.]

                          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. With the
Mayan culture, however, we enter upon an epoch of rich religious
symbolism. The serpent, highly conventionalized as we have just seen,
and variously combined with elements taken from the quetzal, the jaguar,
and even from man himself, appears as a general indication of divinity.
The Ceremonial Bar, essentially a two-headed serpent carrying in its
mouths the heads of an important god, 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 representations of divinities
are combined 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 sculptures. In the codices, however, they are
represented apart from man, as engaged in various activities and
contests. Mayan religion was clearly organized on a dualistic basis. The
powers for good are in a constant struggle with the powers for evil and
most of the benevolent divinities have malevolent duplicates. In actual
form the gods are partly human, but ordinarily the 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 heads.

    [Illustration: Fig. 33. The Manikin Scepter, a Grotesque Figure with
    one Leg modified into a Serpent.]

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 identified 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. This 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,
toothless, or with a single enlarged tooth in front. 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 serpent 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. His proper name is Ah Bolon Dzacab.

    [Illustration: Fig. 34. The Two-Headed Dragon, a Monster that passes
    through many Forms in Mayan Sculpture. It apparently symbolizes
    calamities at inferior conjunction of Venus and the Sun. Copan.]

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 but 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 headdress
consisting of three other symbols. This head is associated with the
Two-headed Dragon, a monster which brings calamity at times of the
inferior conjunction of Venus and the Sun.

    [Illustration: Fig. 35. Gods in the Dresden Codex: God B, the
    Long-Nosed God of Rain; God A, the Death God; God G, the Sun God.]

Ah Puch, the Lord of Death, was the principal malevolent god. His body
as figured in 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 percentage sign upon his cheek. The Death God in complete 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 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 inscriptions.

                               Plate XX.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Top 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 at the right. Below these is the Two-Headed Dragon
    bearing planet signs and additional heads of the Sky God.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) 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 Maize God, figured so frequently on the ancient monuments and in the
Mayan codices may be the same that in the time of the Conquest was
called Yum Kaax, Lord of the Harvest. He is represented as a youth 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 the mercy of the evil deities when not
protected by the good ones.

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 somewhat 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;
Ixchebelyax, patroness of the art of weaving and decorating cloth, etc.

                 How Mayan History has been Recovered.

The arrangement of Mayan remains on a time scale is now an accomplished
fact thanks to a correlation which permits us to read the dates on
ancient monuments in terms of the Gregorian calendar and the Christian
era. Early attempts to achieve this result met 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 evidence should be deemed sufficient to decide
this all important question.

The general course of Mayan history is indicated unmistakably by four
principal lines of evidence capable of being correlated with each other.
These are:—

1. Stratigraphic sequences in pottery, stylistic sequences in sculpture,
structural sequences in architecture, etc.

2. Traditional history preserved in the Books of Chilam Balam and
representing a knowledge of past events at the time of the Spanish

3. Dates inscribed on a great number of monuments in terms of the
ancient Mayan time counts.

4. Astronomical checks on these inscribed dates.

The artistic position of a monument may be used to validate the
contemporaneous character of an inscribed date, otherwise interpretable
as referring to the past or future, or it may serve to fix a repeating
date in a single historical setting. The events in the traditional
history of the Books of Chilam Balam, meager enough when taken alone,
have the valuable quality of reaching back into the time of the First
Empire when the use of dates on temples and monuments was much in vogue.
They permit a richly documented past to be tied in, as it were, to a
poorly documented terminal period.

    [Illustration: Fig. 36. The Front Head of the Two-Headed Dragon on
    Stelæ at Piedras Negras showing the Increase in Flamboyant
    Treatment. The interval between (_a_) and (_b_) is 125 years, that
    between (_b_) and (_c_) is 45 years.]

Before the matter of the ancient inscribed dates can be understood,
however, the somewhat complicated mechanism of the Mayan calendar must
be explained, as well as the system of hieroglyphs and the notation of
numbers. Then there is the problem of correlation which necessitates
delicate adjudications of evidence. Finally we must take up the proofs
which demonstrate the astronomical achievements of the Mayas which, in
reverse, provide checks upon the correctness of the day for day
correlation itself. We must proceed slowly and carefully, without much
following of by-ways, however attractive they may appear. We will begin
with stratigraphy and stylistic sequence.

                           Sequences in Art.

The study of Mayan ceramics reveals developments as regard shapes,
fabrics, and designs. Specimens recovered from sealed cysts under stelæ
at Copan establish true associations with the higher forms of art and
can be used far and wide in comparison with pottery finds in Salvador,
Guatemala, etc. Vaillant has found stratigraphic sequences in a
collection of funerary vessels obtained at Holmul, where graves occurred
under the floors and within the filled-in chambers of a buried temple.

As regards sculpture we find at Copan a remarkably homogeneous series of
stelæ on which a royal or priestly personage stands erect and in front
view. A Ceremonial Bar is held symmetrically 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 monuments have fully rounded contours. At Tikal the stelæ
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.

          Plate XXI. Development in Style of Carving at Copan.

    [Illustration: Stela 9 (, 383 A. D.).]

    [Illustration: Stela 5 (, 447 A. D.).]

    [Illustration: Stela N (, 502 A. D.).]

    [Illustration: Stela H (, 523 A. D.).]

    [Illustration: Details of architecture showing analogous

    [Illustration: Fig. 37. Grotesque Face on the Back of Stela B,

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 satisfactory evidence of sequence in art forms by
cutting out similar details from different masses. Thus at Naranjo, 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 as may be seen from Fig. 36, where the front heads are put
side by side.

    [Illustration: Fig. 38. Jaguar in Dresden Codex with a Water Lily
    attached to Forehead.]

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

    [Illustration: Fig. 39. Late Sculpture from Chichen Itza. The
    headdress resembles that worn by the rulers on the highlands of

The earliest temples have narrow vaulted rooms, heavy walls, and a
single doorway. The rooms increase in width, the walls decrease in
thickness, the doorways multiply till the spaces between them become
piers and finally columns. The support for the heavy roof comb taxed the
structural ingenuity of the Mayan architects. The solving of this
problem is marked by successive advances 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 stelæ. Still another evidence of
architectural sequence is seen in structures that have been enlarged by
the addition of wings or by the enclosing of the old parts under new

                         Books of Chilam Balam.

We now turn to a very different kind of history, the digests of ancient
chronicles in the Mayan language but in Spanish script which managed to
survive in the so-called Books of Chilam Balam along with other texts,
ceremonial and medical. There are five chronicles, the two longest
covering 68 katuns before the coming of the Spaniards in 1517. We now
know that these katuns were time units consisting of 7200 days, or
nearly 20 years, and that they were designated by their final day which
was always a day called Ahau associated with a number, 1 and 13, in a
peculiar sequence. A katun with the same designation returns in 13 ×
7200 days or about 256 years. Such a completion, counted especially from
a Katun 8 Ahau, was called the “doubling back of the katuns” or, as we
would say, the completion of a cycle. The count of the katuns used in
the chronicles was really part and parcel of a fuller count just as a
year ’22 implies a position in one of the centuries of our Christian

The chronicles unfortunately give few names of chieftains and cities and
few outstanding events. Chichen Itza is the city most fully concerned
and an early occupation is recorded, then an abandonment for some two
and a half centuries. After its re-establishment the Toltecs enter
Yucatan and capture this capital. The first part of the chronicles has
the atmosphere of myth rather than history, but a calendarial adjustment
of some kind is mentioned in one place. This was an event which took
place in 503 A. D. as we shall see in another place.

The first rough correlation between the time count on the ancient
monuments and the time count in the chronicles was made on the theory
that a dated lintel at Chichen Itza had to be placed in the first
occupation of the city: when this was done the beginning of the
chronicles was found to proceed from an important round number in the
old day count while the abandonment of Chichen Itza coincided with the
abandonment of all the cities of the Mayan First Empire. We must now
turn attention to the famous calendar.

                         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, are phenomena 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 has been developed.
Mythology has a content of history but hardly of chronology. Tradition,
when organized by the priesthood, may be reasonably dependable for
perhaps 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 discovery of a permutation system of names and

                       Elements of the Day Count.

There is reason to believe that the Mayas had first a lunar-solar
calendar of twelve months of thirty days each, making a year of 360
days, and that they reduced the number of days in the formal month to 20
and raised the number of months in the year from 12 to 18. These changes
permitted a close adjustment of the units of time with their vigesimal
system of counting. 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 formal 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 40. The Twenty Day Signs. The first example in
    each case is taken from the inscriptions and the second from the

Before entering into a fuller discussion of the astronomical 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 Mayan name
_tzolkin_ and the Aztecan name _tonalamatl_, book of the days, has never
been satisfactorily explained. It is a permutation system with two
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. Cib
  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 revolutions, 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 13 × 20 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 numbers have no recognized prototype. The formal book of
days generally was 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
equivalent station that is always 260 days removed.

                           PERMUTATION TABLE

                  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13   1
    1  Imix       1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1
    2  Ik         2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2
    3  Akbal      3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3
    4  Kan        4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4
    5  Chicchan   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5
    6  Cimi       6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6
    7  Manik      7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7
    8  Lamat      8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8
    9  Muluc      9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9
   10  Oc        10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10
   11  Chuen     11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11
   12  Eb        12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12
   13  Ben       13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13
   14  Ix         1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1
   15  Men        2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2
   16  Cib        3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3
   17  Caban      4  11   5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4
   18  Eznab      5  12   6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5
   19  Cauac      6  13   7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6
   20  Ahau       7   1   8   2   9   3  10   4  11   5  12   6  13   7

                         The Conventional Year.

It has been stated that the Mayas arrived at a conventional 365 day year
made up of eighteen months of twenty days each plus a short period 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
  8. Mol
  9. Chen
  10. Yax
  11. Zac
  12. Ceh
  13. Mac
  14. Kankin
  15. Muan
  16. Pax
  17. Kayab
  18. Cumhu
  19. Uayeb (five additional days)

    [Illustration: Fig. 41. 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.]

Since there are twenty days or positions in the month and likewise
twenty distinct day names in the _tzolkin_, falling in regular order, it
follows that each day would always occupy the same month position were
it not for the offset at the end of each year caused by the short Uayeb
period. As it is, any day name occupies the same month 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.

                              Plate XXII.

    [Illustration: 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 _tzolkin_ or 260 day cycle of
    names and numbers.]

  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      Cib          4    9   14   19

Thus Ik occupies 0 position the first year, 5, the second year, 10 the
third, 15 the fourth, and 0 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 permutation of the
_tzolkin_ 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
_tzolkin_, or permutation, with a day number. While it is true that each
day can occupy only four month positions in as many years, it must be
remembered that the day numbers associated with these names can run the
whole gamut of 13 changes. Thus, although Ik must always occupy the
fifth position in the months during a certain year, nevertheless it will
have numbers which fall in the sequence 1, 8, 2, 9, 3, 10, 4, 11, 5, 12,
6, 13, 1, etc. The complete cycle of variations must run through the
least common multiple of 260 (the permutation) and 365 (the conventional
year) or 18,980 days. This cycle is commonly known as the Calendar
Round. A Mayan day fixed in a month, or let us say a calendar round
date, has four parts to its name, thus, 11 Ahau 18 Mac. We describe a
day as Tuesday, July 4, meaning “Tuesday the third day of the seven day
week occupies the fourth position in the month of July.” Similarly the
Mayan date 11 Ahau 18 Mac may be read “the day named Ahau as eleventh
day in a thirteen day week occupies the eighteenth position in the month
Mac.” Owing to leap year corrections the European date given above does
not recur at regular intervals, but a Mayan day recurs infallibly in 52
calendar years, never sooner, never later.

So far we have considered two kinds of Mayan dates, first the _tzolkin_
date, recurring every 260 days, secondly the calendar round date
recurring every 18,980 days. Before we can understand a third and much
more important kind of date, namely a date which states, in addition to
the calendar round designation, the total number of days since a
beginning day called 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu, located far in the past, we must
direct our attention to the matter of numbers and notation.

                             Mayan Numbers.

The three most common numerical systems in use in the world are all
derived from man’s anatomy. The quinary system is based on counting the
fingers of one hand, the decimal system on counting those of both hands
and the vigesimal system, which prevailed in Central America, is based
on counting all the fingers and all the toes. The vigesimal system is
seen in imperfect form in our count of scores, where seventy years are
three score and ten.

The Mayan name for one was _hun_: they had simple names to 9 and
composite ones from 10 to 19, much as in English, and twenty was _hun
kal_, one score. The ascending values in the vigesimal scale were as

         Mayan Numbers          Arabic Equivalents

                    hun                           1
  20 hun        = 1 kal                          20
  20 kal        = 1 bak                         400
  20 bak        = 1 pic                       8,000
  20 pic        = 1 cabal                   160,000
  20 cabal      = 1 kinchil               3,200,000
  20 kinchil    = 1 alau                 64,000,000
  20 alau       = 1 hablat            1,280,000,000

They invented signs for zero and discovered the principle of “local
value” in the writing down of numbers centuries before these ideas
(which are fundamental to higher mathematics) were known in the Old
World. The notation of numbers had its simpler and more complicated
phase. In the simpler phase 1 was represented by a dot, 2 by two dots, 5
by a bar, 6 by a bar and dot, 15 by three bars, etc. The commonest sign
for zero was a shell while a picture of the moon stood for twenty. In
the more elaborate notation a series of twenty faces of gods represented
the numerals from 0 to 19.

    [Illustration: Fig. 42. Bar and Dot Numerals of the Mayas.]

The straight vigesimal system was doubtless used by the Mayas in
ordinary counting, but in counting time a very important change was
introduced in the third position. Also the names were modified: _hun_
was called _kin_ which means sun or day. In the second position _kal_
was called _uinal_ which means month and 18 of these were taken to form
a _tun_, stone, which was the third unit. The _tun_ then had a value of
18 × 20 = 360 days, making a conventional year about five and a quarter
days less than a true year. Twenty _tuns_ made a _kaltun_ or _katun_ and
above this period the numeral system proceeded as before and in the
ascending values the names already given were merely combined with
_tun_, if Gates is right in his clever suggestion. For years it has been
customary to speak of the fifth period as cycle for want of a native
term: this will now be called _baktun_. One _hablatun_, the highest
period with a name, has the astonishing value of 460,800,000,000 days.
However, the highest numbers fall considerably short of this potential

In our decimal system the number 347,981, for instance, is really:—

     3 × 100000
     4 ×  10000
     7 ×   1000
     9 ×    100
     8 ×     10
     1 ×      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. The Mayas, using the principle of
position, ordinarily write their bar and dot numerals in columns. But we
can partially transcribe a Mayan number in imitation of our own system
by putting dots or dashes between the positions or periods. The number
in five positions given below is transcribed as

    [Illustration: Mayan numerals]

              9 ×  144000       1,296,000
             12 ×    7200          86,400
             16 ×     360           5,760
              7 ×      20             140
              8 ×       1               8

We read this date: 9 baktuns, 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 20 years and a baktun a little less than 400
years. But the count is really of days, not years.

    [Illustration: Fig. 43. 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.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 44. The Normal Forms of the Period Glyphs.
    Reading from left to right: baktun, katun, tun, uinal, kin.]

Although the numerical values are expressed by position alone in some
cases, in other cases use is made of Period Glyphs to make assurance
doubly sure. These Period Glyphs represent the basic value of the
positions which are to be multiplied by the accompanying numerals. For
examples, see Figs. 44 and 45.

    [Illustration: Fig. 45. Face Forms of Period Glyphs. From left to
    right: introducing glyph, baktun, katun, tun, uinal, kin.]

                              Plate XXIII.

    [Illustration: Typical Mayan Inscription.]

  Introducing Glyph
  Initial Series
    1. 9 baktuns (cycles).
    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 (

                            The Long Count.

Many early monuments of the Mayas have inscriptions with an enlarged
Introducing Glyph containing a variable element indicating the title or
principal subject matter of the inscription. Next follows the number of
elapsed days from the epoch of a Mundane Era. This starting point is
uniformly the day 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu and the complete Initial Series date
not only states the number of elapsed days, but also the name and number
of the day reached and its position in a Mayan month.

The Initial Series is normally followed by a Supplementary Series which
concerns the lunar calendar, and often there are numbers of days to be
added to or subtracted from the Initial Series date: these are called
Secondary Series. Also Period Ending dates are used, these being merely
abbreviated dates which correspond to indicated round numbers in the day

The Initial Series analyzed in Plate XXIII actually records the number
1,401,217. This number does not, however, reach the day 12 Caban
declared immediately after it or the month position 5 Kayab recorded in
glyph 10b. When 13 tuns are corrected to 12 tuns on the theory that the
sculptor did not follow copy, we do reach 12 Caban 5 Kayab. Another
check comes when we add the Secondary Series of 2423 days and reach 4
Ahau 13 Yax ending an even katun.

                          Dates of Dedication.

Initial Series dates are especially common on stelæ at cities of the
First Empire, mostly located in the southern part of the Mayan Area.
While it is impossible to read much of the texts which accompany these
dates nevertheless it is a remarkable fact that when we arrange the
monuments in their artistic order we find that the inscribed dates in
the great majority of cases fall in the same order. This leads us to
conclude that the dates are practically contemporaneous 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 instances to be the
latest, but in a few instances it appears to be a specially emphasized
intermediate date. In addition, then, to contemporaneous dates there are
some that refer to the past and others that refer to the future.

Some writers have assumed that the stelæ 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 covering 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 certain 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 in art 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 exceedingly accurate chronology. After
the fall and abandonment of the great southern cities dates are rare and
we have to fall back upon remnants of history preserved after the coming
of the Spaniards.


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. Bishop Landa obtained what he
supposed was a Mayan alphabet, but what he really obtained was a list of
signs representing among other sounds the particular sounds he had asked

The phonetic use of syllables rather than of simple sounds or letters is
probably an important feature of Mayan writing. Many hieroglyphs are
pictographic and 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 practically exhausts our knowledge of Mayan

  1. The signs for the twenty named days of the calendar.

  2. The signs for the nineteen months of the Mayan year.

  3. The face signs for numbers from zero to nineteen inclusive.

  4. Period glyphs in two styles for place values in the numerical

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

  6. The hieroglyphs of several gods and ceremonies.

  7. The symbols of Heaven and Earth, the Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars,
  Jupiter, and a few astronomical phenomena such as conjunctions.

  8. Hieroglyphs for special times of the year such as solstices and

  9. Signs meaning era, or base from which a numerical count is made,
  completion, etc.

Some of these have recently been solved, thanks to mathematical and
astronomical calculations, others rest on the calendarial forms given by
Landa. There are some phonetic elements in Mayan writing and some
ideographic elements. It seems likely that the gist of the Mayan
inscriptions which deal with history will be solved in somewhat the same
fashion as those that deal with astronomy. The matter is, however, most
perplexing. So far not a single place name or personal name has been
definitely recognized and translated. In spite of the hundreds of glyphs
recovered at the sites called Copan and Palenque, for instance, we do
not know the real names of these cities or even their symbols. We may
expect to find signs referring to tribute and common objects of trade
and others referring to birth, death, establishment, conquest,
destruction, and other fundamentals of individual and social existence.
These signs, taken with directives, connectives, and dates, would make
possible the recovery of the main facts of history. There seems no
possibility of purely literary inscriptions. While progress necessarily
will be slow there is no reason for despair and without doubt the
greater portion of Mayan inscriptions will finally be deciphered.

    [Illustration: Fig. 46. Hieroglyphs of the Four Directions: East,
    North, West, South.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 47. Hieroglyphs containing the Phonetic Element
    _kin_: _a-b_, _kin_; _c_, _li-kin_; _d_, _chi-kin_; _e-f_,
    _yax-kin_; _g_, _kan-kin_.]

As an example of the phonetic use of signs in the building 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
_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_ (Fig. 47). 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 decipherable 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 documents.


Only three ancient Mayan books or codices are known to exist and these
are more or less incomplete. They have all been reproduced in facsimile
and are known by the following names: Dresden Codex, Peresianus Codex,
Tro-Cortesianus Codex.

These illuminated manuscripts are written on both sides of long strips
of amatl 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 religious ceremonies.

A page of the Dresden Codex containing some interesting 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
numerals 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

Among the hieroglyphs the Venus sign is especially prominent. At the
base of column B is given a number in five periods that, counted from
the normal beginning day 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu leads again to this day which is
recorded at the bottom of column A. The long number in column C,
similarly counted from 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu, leads to 1 Ahau 18 Kayab,
recorded at the bottom of B. The day 1 Ahau 18 Uo is reached by another
calculation which will be explained later. At the base of A is a number
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
it is also the number of days by which 1 Ahau 18 Kayab precedes 4 Ahau 8
Cumhu. In other words we deal in this passage with the end of the
seventy-second calendar round after the original 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu and with
a new point of departure 2200 days earlier, which is some way involved
with the calendar of Venus.

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
synodic revolutions of Venus of 584 days. We will now see how the Mayan
scholars arrived at 13 × 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 2 × 2920, the third is 8760 or 3 × 2920, and the
fourth is 11,680 or 4 × 2920. The addition is continued in sections 4
and 3 till we reach 35,040 or 12 × 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.

                              Plate XXIV.

    [Illustration: Page 24 Dresden Codex.]

    [Illustration: Diagram showing partial reduction of Mayan numbers
    into Arabic numbers in the calculation shown on page 24 of the
    Dresden Codex (Plate XXIV).]

         A        B        C        D        E        F        G

    1        Hieroglyphs            1                                 1
                                    1        15       10       5
    2                               1        16       10       5
    3                               14       6        16       8
                                    0        0        0        0
    4                             1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau
    5                               1                                 2
    6                               5        9        4        1
    7                               14       11       12       5
                                    4        7        8        5
    8                               0        0        0        0
    9                             1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau
   10                               4        4        4        3      3
                                    17       9        1        13
   11                               6        4        2        0
   12                               0        0        0        0
   13                             6 Ahau  11 Ahau   3 Ahau   8 Ahau
   14                               3        2        2        2      4
                  9        9        4        16       8        0
   15             9        9        16       14       12       10
                  16       9        0        0        0        0
   16                            13 Ahau   5 Ahau  10 Ahau   2 Ahau
         6        0        16       1        1                        5
         2        0        0        12       4        16       8
         0                        5 [8]      6        4        2
       4 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau     0        0        0        0
      8 Cumhu  18 Kayab  18 Uo    7 Ahau  12 Ahau   4 Ahau   9 Ahau

    [Illustration: Diagram showing complete reduction into Arabic
    numbers of the calculation shown on page 24 of the Dresden Codex
    (Plate XXIV).]

     A         B         C        D        E        F        G

          Hieroglyphs          151,840  113,880   75,920   37,960   1
                                1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau
                               185,120   68,900   33,280   9,100    2
                                1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau   1 Ahau
                                35,040   32,120   29,200   26,280   3
                                6 Ahau  11 Ahau   3 Ahau   8 Ahau
                                23,360   20,440   17,520   14,600   4
     2,200 1,366,560 1,364,360 13 Ahau   5 Ahau  10 Ahau   2 Ahau
    4 Ahau  1 Ahau    1 Ahau    11,680   8,760    5,840    2,920    5
   8 Cumhu 18 Kayab    18 Uo    7 Ahau  12 Ahau   4 Ahau   9 Ahau

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 assurance since the days in all instances are 1 Ahau and
therefore must be separated by multiples of 260 days. The number in G1
has been restored as 5-5-8-0 or 37,960 or 13 × 2920. It contains 260 an
even number of times and therefore every successive period of 37,960
days begins with the same day, 1 Ahau. It also equals 13 × 8 × 365 days
or 104 years and 13 × 5 × 584 days or sixty-five revolutions of Venus.

    [Illustration: Fig. 48. Mayan Ceremony as represented in the Dresden
    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 three numbers to the left in F1, E1, and D1 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.

The numbers in section 2 are more difficult to explain but they possibly
have to do with corrections and correlations of astronomical periods. If
we add to 1 Ahau 18 Kayab the number of days in E2, (68900), 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 D2 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 relationships of numbers are absolute and the
coincidences between the recorded numbers and astronomical periods are
too close and frequent to be dismissed as accidental.

In addition to rational calculations dealing with astronomy one sees in
the Mayan manuscripts many arrangements of the _tzolkin_ supposed to
bring to light good and bad days and to forecast events. A section of
the Dresden Codex showing a condensed _tzolkin_ is presented 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 permutation is divided into five
parts of fifty-two days each and each part is subdivided into four
groups of thirteen days each. It begins with 3 Akbal, the day sign at
the top of the column, 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
numbers by Arabic numerals. Since the count in this example begins with
3 and the addition is always 13, or exactly one round of numbers, the
resultant days always have the number 3.

                               Plate XXV.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Detail of the Dresden Codex showing _Tzolkin_
    used in Divination.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Analysis of the above _Tzolkin_, according to

      III    1        2        5        6        9        10       13
            East      *      North      *       West      *      South
             3        4        7        8        11       12       14
           God B      †      Woman     Good    God G      ‡        *
             13      III       13      III       13      III       15
        1                                                        God E
    Akbal                                                          16
        2     (Image 1)         (Image 2)         (Image 3)     Week of
                                                                13 days
      Men                                                          17
    Cauac                                                          13

  Image 1: God B—rain and sky god of good powers. Holds Kan (maize) sign
          in his hand.
  Image 2: Goddess with serpent headdress possibly connected with
          floods. Holds Kan sign in hand.
  Image 3: God K—benevolent sun god.
  If space had been larger God E (the maize god) would probably have
          been drawn next.

The three pictures of gods give us an inkling into the significance of
this particular table of chances. 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 shown but his hieroglyph is given. This _tzolkin_ probably deals
with agriculture and may be an attempt to determine lucky days for

                 Correlation with Christian Chronology.

The day for day correlation rests broadly on the placing of the date on
the Lintel of the Initial Series at Chichen Itza in the first occupation
of that city according to the chronicles. More specifically it rests
upon statements in Mayan and Spanish documents relating to the
completion of tuns and katuns in the never-languishing day count. Also
consideration must be given the so-called Year-Bearers, these being the
first days of current years which furnish the designations for such
years. Bishop Landa has a specimen Mayan year with its equivalent days
in the Spanish calendar; this is the year 12 Kan corresponding to
1553-1554 A. D. and the day 12 Kan is found in the Long Count position, 12 Kan 2 Pop, July 26, 1553, Gregorian Calendar.

                            The Mayan Eras.

The zero of the Mayan day count, reached by subtracting or
1,799,104 days from the position declared above, is shown to be October
14, 3373 B. C. in the backward projection of the Gregorian calendar. The
Gregorian readings are preferable to the Julian because they preserve
the actual times in the tropical year, but it is sometimes useful to use
the days of the Julian Period which can always be found by adding 489384
to the Mayan number.

Now Mayan history does not reach back to the zero date which must be
regarded as a theoretical beginning or Mundane Era. The earliest object
with a contemporary date is the Tuxtla Statuette with May 16, 98 B. C.
It appears, however, that the really historic beginning of the day count
was, 10 Ahau 18 Zac, August 6, 613 B. C. The calendar of
months was probably inaugurated in 580 B. C. when 0 Pop, New Year’s day,
coincided with the winter solstice. A third era,, 8 Ahau 13
Ceh, February 10, 176 A. D., is the one used in the Mayan chronicles.

                Astronomical Checks on the Correlation.

The first astronomical checks which develop from the correlation
explained above are dates which reach the equinoxes, solstices, etc.,
further marked by special hieroglyphs which are to be explained as
ideographs of these stations in the natural year. For instance the most
emphatic date in the three famous temples of the Sun, the Cross, and the
Foliated Cross at Palenque is one written, 2 Cib 14 Mol,
September 23, 430 A. D., which coincides with the autumnal equinox. In
connection with this repeated date we find two glyphs both of which are
admirable ideographs of the equinox. One is Ahau, a face explained as
that of the Lord of Day, but here half covered with starry eyes, and the
other is the Kin or sun symbol, half darkened with cross-hatching. At
Comitan a round number date exactly coinciding with the equinox has a
variant of this second ideograph.

Other strong proofs concern Venus and the Moon. Hieroglyphs of these
heavenly bodies are found in combination with dates and these later
actually reach significant phases of the planets in question. For Venus
the phase chosen is commonly the first appearance as Morningstar four
days after inferior conjunction, or what is known as the heliacal
rising. Records of the Moon are prominent when a new or full phase
coincides with a round number in the day count.

                      Astronomical Observatories.

One of the most interesting pieces of evidence in support of the
correlation explained above has to do with a giant sun dial at Copan.
Two stelæ stand on opposite sides of the valley establishing a line
which runs about 9 degrees north of west. When observation is made from
the eastern marker the sun sets behind the western stone two times
during the course of a year, once shortly after the vernal equinox and
once shortly before the autumnal equinox. Now the Mayan chronicles state
that the calendarial New Year was “counted in order” during a certain
Katun 13 Ahau which extended from 491 A. D. to 511 A. D. Altar U at
Copan was observed to record two New Year’s dates equaling April 9 in
conjunction with another date, equaling September 2, 503 A. D., and
falling in the required interval covered by Katun 13 Ahau. These dates
were such as might be reached by just such a base line as exists at
Copan and it was first believed that they were exactly reached by it.
Careful reconsideration of the evidence in the inscriptions and a
re-survey of the line of sight led to the interesting conclusion that
the sun dial of Copan was originally set up in 392 A. D. to give sunset
coincidences on April 5 and September 6. About 490 A. D. the stones were
re-adjusted to give the April 9 and September 2 which are recorded on
Altar U and still later a third and present arrangement was effected
giving April 12 and August 30. Each pair of dates is “reciprocal” in the
sense that one member marks the same interval after the Spring equinox
that the other does before the Fall equinox. The shifting seems to have
been decided upon by astronomical congresses, and the purpose was to fix
propitious times of planting the crops.

    [Illustration: Fig. 49. Diagram of the Astronomical Base Line at
    Copan giving readings at April 9 and September 2. Slight shifts were
    made in this line: at an early time it was arranged to read April 5
    and September 6 and at a later time April 12 and August 30.]

Other Mayan observatories at Uaxactun and Chichen Itza have lines of
sight which mark exactly the positions of the sun (the summer solstice,
etc.), and all in all the evidence deduced from these observatories is
in complete agreement with the correlation of the Mayan and Christian
time counts originally effected on the evidence in sixteenth century

                             The True Year.

The base line at Copan yielded accurate data on the exact length of the
tropical year, a period varying by a difficult fraction from 365 full
days. The tropical year is the time measured by the revolution of the
earth around the sun and by the recurring seasons. No agricultural
people could neglect this natural time period with its obvious relation
to planting and harvest.

Reference has already been made to the notational 360 day year (tun) of
the Mayas and to their formal calendar year (haab) of exactly 365 days.
The calendar year kept running ahead of the true year by the
accumulating amount of the days which we intercalate on leap years but
the Mayas wisely made no such intercalations since to have done so would
have thrown their day count out of gear with the moon and other planets
and the somewhat defective calendar based upon these minor heavenly
bodies. Therefore the months of the Mayan year like those of the ancient
Egyptian year slowly moved through the seasons. But the Mayas calculated
an almost exact correction for the excess of the true year over the
vague 365 day year. This excess amounts to about .24 of a day and their
correction seems to have been one day in four years for short periods
while for long periods they made 29 calendar rounds (1508 calendar years
or 550,420 days) equal 1507 tropical years. This is a remarkably
accurate adjustment, much closer, in fact, than that of our present
Gregorian calendar. This great cycle is comparable to the 1460 year
Sothic cycle of the Egyptians in so far as that relates to the flooding
of the Nile, but the Egyptian arrangement has an error of about twelve
days for the cycle while the Mayan arrangement is accurate to a very
small fraction of a day.

In the calendars of various Guatemalan and Mexican tribes the slow
shifting of the months is attested by actual statements of early Spanish
writers. But the conventional 365 day year was, after all, sufficiently
accurate for most purposes since associations between the months and the
seasons would hold reasonably true for the average lifetime.

                          The Lunar Calendar.

The apparent revolution of the moon around the earth was taken by the
Mayas as the basis of a lunar calendar distinct from the civil calendar,
but used in combination with it for various ceremonial purposes. Now the
average duration of a lunar revolution is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes,
2.87 seconds. Twelve lunations amount to a little more than 354 days and
are therefore far short of a true year. Primitive peoples whose
principal interest is to keep the moon in adjustment with the seasons
have an occasional thirteenth month in their luni-solar calendars.

The Metonic cycle of the Greeks, an equation of 19 tropical years, 235
lunations and 6940 days, has been regarded as a remarkable achievement
in observation. The Mayas discovered the same equation and with their
system of designating days were able to use it with much greater ease
than the Greeks since one katun minus one tzolkin gives exactly the
required number of days:—

        1. 0. 0. 0 =  7200 days
             13. 0 =   260 days
          19. 5. 0 =  6940 days

This interval is used prominently in several calculations at Copan and

On pages 51 to 58 of the Dresden Codex is found a remarkable lunar
calendar covering 405 lunations or nearly 33 years. The lunar
revolutions are arranged in groups of five or six, the former calculated
at 148 days and the latter at 177 or 178 days. These are the necessary
intervals between eclipses. The total amounts to 11,960 days which
exactly contains the tzolkin and therefore forms a cycle. It is a
remarkable fact that 405 lunar revolutions amount, according to modern
calculations, to 11,959.888 or only O.112 of a day less than the Mayan
lunar calendar. Therefore this re-entering series can be used nine
times, or nearly 300 years, before an error amounting to one whole day
has accumulated. There is also evidence that the Mayas used the great
cycle of 29 × 52 calendar years, or 1507 tropical years, in connection
with the moon and here the error for 18,639 lunations is about .64 of a

The Supplementary Series in Long Count dates is probably to be
interpreted as the statement of the day reached by the Initial Series in
a lunar calendar with an accumulated error; that is, the Mayas had an
uncorrected lunar count as well as an uncorrected calendar year. Glyph C
records a number of complete lunations which is never in excess of six;
Glyph D gives the number of days in the current lunation when these are
19 or less and Glyph E, which has the basic value of 20, finishes the
count of a current lunation. There is some evidence that the Mayan lunar
calendar in the fifth century A. D. had receded about four days from the
true positions of the moon, the count being made from the new or
conjunctional phase. When, however, a new or full phase actually
coincided with an important round number in the day count special record
of the fact was made.

    [Illustration: Fig. 50. Representations of the Moon: _a_, sun and
    moon hieroglyphs; _b_, moon from a “celestial band”; _c_, moon
    hieroglyph used for 20 in codices.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 51. 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.]

The lunar table in the Dresden Codex does not apply precisely to records
of the First Empire but possibly may be adjusted to the times of the
Second Empire. The indications are, however, too complicated to be
examined in detail.

                            Venus Calendar.

Mayan astronomers reached a remarkable knowledge of the movements of the
planet Venus and evolved a Venus calendar based essentially on the
correspondence between 8 calendar years of 365 days each and 5 apparent
or synodical revolutions of Venus of 584 days each. Venus whirling on an
inside orbit actually makes thirteen revolutions around the sun in very
nearly the same time that the earth makes eight revolutions and
therefore passes between the earth and the sun five times (the
difference between 13 and 8) during the course of this astronomical
period of 2920 days. Just before inferior conjunction the planet
disappears as evening star and a few days later emerges as morning star.
The mean length of the synodical revolution of Venus is 583.92 days and
the actual length may vary about four days from this mean. While the
Mayas standardized the Earth year at 365 days and the Venus year at 584
days, they were fully aware of the amount of error in each case, and
made proper correction for it without resorting to the devices of
intercalation or excision.

We have seen that the Mayas manipulated the year and the lunation in
combination with the tzolkin or permutation of 20 days and 13 numbers.
They also found a round of these elements in combination with the phases
of Venus. Since the period of 2920 days is divisible by 20 but not by 13
it had to be taken 13 times before the round of the Venus calendar was

In the Dresden Codex five pages are devoted to this round of the Venus
calendar. Each Venus year of 584 days is divided into four parts of 236
days for the phase of morning star, 90 days (superior conjunction), 250
days (evening star) and 8 days (inferior conjunction). These divisions
agree closely enough with actual appearance. But we must remember that
the observations were made without instruments and that the planet
cannot be seen by the naked eye when close to the sun. Moreover we must
expect beliefs as to the nature of this planet, personified as a god, to
supplement the knowledge gained from actual observations. The
obscuration of Venus at inferior conjunction seems to have been greatly
dreaded especially when a round number in the day count fell within the
eight days of its duration. A grotesque two-headed monster apparently
ruled this fatal period: on the front head is seen the symbol of Venus
and on the rear head the symbol of the sun, both associated with
elements of death.

The Venus calendar seems to have taken form in the sixth century B. C.
on the basis of heliacal risings of the planet as morning star in sets
of five making an eight year cycle. The dates in the Mayan calendar
especially emphasized in connection with Venus are 19 Xul, 18 Kayab, 12
Yax, 6 Zip, and 5 Kankin standing exactly 584 days apart, while the
corresponding dates in the Gregorian calendar are April 12, November 17,
June 24, January 29, and September 5. When these sets of dates, one in a
fixed and the other in a vague calendar are carried back to a common
focus they are found to correspond very closely with the proper
astronomical phase of Venus. The maximum difference of the true
positions of Venus from the positions in the Venus calendar is then only
two days, plus or minus.

The coincidences of the 8 day period of obscuration of Venus at inferior
conjunction with the following round numbers in the day count was
memorialized by important monuments:—,   6 Ahau 13 Muan,    Feb. 4, 452 A. D.   Venus rises as
                                                       morning star,   13 Ahau 18 Cumhu,  Mar. 27, 511 A. D.  Venus invisible
                                                       during conjunction,   7 Ahau 18 Zip,     May 17, 570 A. D.   Venus invisible
                                                       during conjunction,   1 Ahau 3 Yaxkin,   July 6, 629 A. D.   Venus about to set
                                                       as evening star

The Venus table in the Dresden Codex, the introductory page of which has
been explained in an earlier section (see Plate XXIV) emphasizes the
same Mayan and Gregorian positions of Venus as the ancient monuments but
this table was evidently intended to be used between the Tenth and
Thirteenth centuries A. D. The point of departure for the table is, 1 Ahau 18 Kayab, April 12, 363 A. D., which does not
coincide with an heliacal rising of the planet, although April 12 and 18
Kayab occur in other connections at the time of the inauguration of the
Venus calendar in the Sixth century B. C. But in the Lunar table we find, 4 Ahau 18 Kayab, November 20, 950, which does reach an
heliacal rising of Venus as morning star.

                       Summary of Mayan History.

A brief summary of Mayan history is given below:—

                          Protohistoric Period

  613 B. C. to 176 A. D. to

The counting of days apparently began on August 6, 613 B. C. and the
civil calendar in perfected form was inaugurated about 580 B. C. when 0
Pop coincided with the winter solstice, while the Venus calendar emerged
half a century later. The calendarial inventions, the numerical notation
and the hieroglyphic system may, perhaps, be credited to the genius of
one man afterwards deified as Itzamna. The earliest contemporary Mayan
date occurs on a jade statuette from San Andres Tuxtla, and is May 16,
98 B. C. The next earliest one is on the jade tablet known as the Leyden
Plate and is November 17, 60 A. D., having reference to the Venus
calendar. This is followed almost immediately by several contemporary
dates on monuments at Uaxactun which also are of astronomical import.
The design on the Leyden Plate shows that the characteristic details of
Mayan drawing had already been developed and we may surmise that during
the protohistoric period the early carvings were on wood instead of
stone and that the peculiar religion of the Mayas was even then
beginning to crystallize around the serpent, the jaguar, etc.

                              Early Period

  176 A. D. to 373 A. D. to

During these ten katuns the great cities of the south make rapid strides
towards grandeur. Pyramidal mounds are erected and temples built upon
them. Public squares are laid out and in these are set up stelæ and
altars. The leading early cities are Palenque, Tikal, and Copan, where
the dated monuments and temples mark rapid progress in the arts of
sculpture and architecture while the subject matter of inscriptions
reveals growing ability in astronomy and mathematics. Low angular relief
characterizes stone sculptures and the profile presentation of the human
figure is now handled more skilfully than front view.

                             Middle Period

  373 A. D. to 471 A. D. to

Some of the most beautiful monuments of the Mayas belong to this middle
period. While archaism does not entirely disappear there is freshness,
purity of style, and straightforwardness of presentation about the
sculpture of this age. Flamboyancy is not apparent. At Copan the Great
Mound was practically carried to completion during this period, an
enormous undertaking which absorbed so much energy that few stelæ were
set up. The best series of monuments from the middle period are seen at
Naranjo and Piedras Negras.

                              Great Period

  471 A. D. to 629 A. D. to

Many cities flourished in the culminating years of Mayan civilization.
In addition to those already mentioned Quirigua, Ixkun, Seibal, Nakum,
Cancuen, Yaxchilan, Toniná, and Kobá were important centers while a
complete list of the sites with dated monuments would show many more
names. The territorial extension reaches from northern Yucatan to the
Guatemalan highlands and from southern Vera Cruz to central Honduras.
Art passes through interesting changes with tendencies towards
flamboyancy. Architecture makes great advances: rooms become wider,
walls thinner and forms more refined and pleasing. The calculations deal
more and more with complicated astronomical subjects and dates belong
less and less in the category of contemporary history. The first age of
Mayan civilization, called the First Empire, comes to an end with Katun
3 of Cycle 10, a date registered at Uaxactun which, strangely enough,
also boasts the earliest stela with a contemporary date. It is indicated
that Uaxactun was occupied for 561 years while the range of dates at
Tikal is 394 years. Abandonment of all the sites of the First Empire
took place within something like fifty years. What caused this collapse?
Civil war? Social decadence? Failure of food supply? Or perhaps some
overwhelming epidemic? There is good reason for believing that the
sudden appearance of yellow fever may have had a part in the
catastrophe. References in the Chronicles to the First Empire are very
brief and do not help us find the answer to this mystery.

                           Transition Period

  629 A. D. to 964 A. D. to

Most of the Mayas surviving the collapse of the First Empire seem to
have found a second home in western Yucatan, especially in the region
called Chakunputun in the Chronicles. Here the rainfall is much less and
the forest environment not nearly so luxuriant. Certain cities, which
probably date from this transitional period, such as Hochob,
Dzibilnocac, Rio Bec, etc., have very beautiful architecture showing
advances over that of the First Empire in some features. Dated documents
are so rare as practically to be non-existent. It seems probable that
Mayan learning had been reduced to books for there is ample evidence
from the succeeding period that astronomical and calendarial knowledge
had been conserved from ancient times. At the end of these lean
centuries, the Mayas made their way still farther north. Chichen Itza
which had been a provincial city of the First Empire was reoccupied and
the Mayan renaissance known as the Second Empire began.

                    Period of the League of Mayapan

  964 A. D. to 1191 A. D. to

The first phase of the Mayan renaissance was pretty clearly centered in
Chichen Itza although the earliest date which may be contemporary is
probably that of the Temple of the Initial Series at Holactun. The
inscription shows a survival of the ancient method of counting time and
is now believed to treat of the interval between March 9, 1012 A. D. and
November 14, 1016 A. D. Other cities rising to splendor during the
Second Empire are Kabah, Labna, Sayil, and Izamal. The time of
foundation for Uxmal is rather difficult to determine. According to
tradition it was the capital of Toltec immigrants into Yucatan, but when
or how they arrived cannot be answered definitely. The League of Mayapan
was organized as an alliance between Chichen Itza and Uxmal in the
second half of the twelfth century, and Mayapan was built as a
neutralized capital of church and state under the inspiration of a
Toltec noble named Quetzalcoatl. Finally, Izamal and Chichen Itza
rebelled and Inetzalcoatl conquered the latter city in 1191 and made it
the capital of a Maya-Toltec state.

                      Period of Mexican Influence

  1191 A. D. to 1437 A. D. to

The helpers of Hunac Ceel bore Mexican names and belonged to the Toltec
nation. Hunac Ceel is identified in one place with Kukulcan, the name
meaning “plumed serpent” in the Mayan language, and in another place
with Quetzalcoatl which has the same significance in the Mexican
language. In Chichen Itza sculptural art and architecture have many
clear analogies to works in the Valley of Mexico. The building called
the Castillo seems to have been built by Quetzalcoatl, being the first
structure in which serpent columns and other structural ideas of this
ruler were given expression. The Temple of the High Priest’s Grave is a
developed example of the new style bearing the date December 31, 1339 A.
D. The elaborate Group of the Columns with the famous Temple of the
Warriors, may be still later.

In the first half of the fifteenth century civil war and epidemic
disease brought about a second depopulation of the stone-built cities
including Chichen Itza, Mayapan, Uxmal, and probably also numerous other
sites in the region of Uxmal. The last monument at Mayapan may declare
the date September 28, 1437.

                             Modern Period

  1437 A. D. to the present day.

After the second general abandonment of urban life the Mayas seem to
have been divided into many warring factions. Temples were still
regarded as sacred and some constructions in stone and mortar were still
made, as we know from the first Spanish descriptions of towns on the
east coast of Yucatan. Tulum probably represented this last phase and
this site on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean is probably the city
compared to Seville by the coasting expedition of Grijalva in 1518. A
monument at Tulum is believed to record the last setting up of a katun
stone by the Mayas on, 2 Ahau 3 Pop, August 5, 1516, almost
exactly 2129 years after the Mayas began to count every day in order.

At the present time certain ancient ideas still persist among the
Lacandone Indians of the lowlands and among the Quiché, Cakchiquels, and
several other tribes of the highlands. But the old glory of the Mayan
civilizations has passed away never to return. A prophetic vision of
this end is found in one of the Mayan Books of Chilam Balam which
relates to events immediately after the founding of Merida.

“It was then that the teaching of Christianity began, that shall be
universal over our land. Then began the construction of the church here
in the center of the town of Tihoo: great labor was the destiny of the
katun. Then began the execution by hanging, and the fire at the ends of
our hands. Then also came ropes and cords into the world. Then the
children of the younger brothers (the Indians) passed under the hardship
of legal summons and tribute. Tribute was introduced on a large scale
and Christianity was introduced on a large scale. Then the seven
sacraments of the word of God were established. Let us receive our
guests heartily: our elder brothers (the white men) come!”

                              Plate XXVI.

    [Illustration: General View of Monte Alban from the North. The
    mounds are arranged around courts in an orderly manner.]

                              Chapter III
                        THE MIDDLE CIVILIZATIONS

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 comment upon their individual characters.

We will first proceed northwest into Mexico and then southeast into the
Isthmus of Panama. The environment 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 importance 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. Unfortunately, the
archæology of this part of Mexico has been little studied.

                      The Olmeca or Rubber People.

The Olmeca may be placed in the humid region of southern Vera Cruz and
western Tabasco which the Aztecs of later times called Nonoalco. This
region is frequently mentioned in the most ancient of the Mexican
traditions, doubtless symbolizing in a general way the civilizing
contacts with the Mayas. Rubber is called _olli_ in the Mexican language
and while the earliest known specimens of rubber are those found in the
Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza, the ceremonial and practical uses of the
material are mostly mentioned in connection with the Olmeca and Totonac
peoples. Rubber was used for incense, for water-proofing purposes, to
tip drumsticks, etc. A large rubber ball was also used in a sacred game
which may be compared to basket ball since the goals were rings set high
up in the parallel walls of a specially constructed court.

According to Ixtlilxochitl’s history the Olmeca came before the Toltecs
and were the first to extend their civilizing rule over parts of the
Mexican highlands. Some authorities think the Olmeca were a Mayan tribe
but it is quite possible that they spoke Mexican. They may have fled
south at the breakdown of the Toltec empire for we find in Nicaragua at
the time of the Conquest a group of this name with traditions pointing
to the far north. The ruins found in 1927 by the writer at Cerro de las
Mesas, west of Alvarado Lagoon, may possibly be ascribed to this people.
The site contains seventeen monuments, several of which are dedicated to
Quetzalcoatl and must be referred to the thirteenth century. Bars and
dots are used in connection with day signs to record dates which may
belong to the calendarial system appearing on Zapotecan monuments.

                              Plate XXVII.

    [Illustration: Detail of Monte Alban showing Wall Foundations and
    Small Cell-like Rooms.]

                           Zapotecan Culture.

In the State of Oaxaca the Zapotecan Indians attained to a high degree
of civilization, but a study of their culture shows they were profoundly
indebted to the Mayas for many ideas. Monte Alban, the White Mountain,
overlooking the modern City of Oaxaca is the principal archæological
site in point of size and may have been the ancient capital. It was
abandoned before the coming of the Spaniards, however, and Mitla appears
to have taken its place.

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

Unfortunately no extensive traditions have come down to us to help in
the restoration of Zapotecan history, or in that of the neighboring
Mixtecs. Although the art, hieroglyphic writing, and calendar system
were pretty clearly derived from the Mayas, nevertheless there was time
and opportunity for these to develop interesting characters of their
own. It is impossible to tell from the record whether the Zapotecs ever
embarked on a career of empire: the area in which the full complex of
the characteristic products occurs is practically limited to the area at
present occupied by the tribe. It is quite possible that the Zapotecs
were conquered by the Toltecs in the twelfth century and that such
similarities as exist between the forms of Zapotecan sculptural art and
those of the Toltec cities of Xochicalco and Teotihuacan in central
Mexico, on the one hand, and those of Pipil and Chorotegan sites in
Guatemala and Salvador, on the other hand, are to be explained by
intercommunications under the Toltec régime.

    [Illustration: Fig. 53. Bar and Dot Numerals combined with
    Hieroglyphs on Zapotecan Monuments.]

Monte Alban and Mitla stand in strong contrast to each other, the first
crowning a mountain ridge, the second occupying a valley site. Monte
Alban has no buildings intact, but shows a vast assemblage of enormous
pyramids and platforms. Mitla has only one small pyramid, but boasts a
series of finely preserved temples on low platform bases. In Monte Alban
we find monolithic monuments comparable to the stelæ of the Mayas, and
carrying hieroglyphic inscriptions: also pottery figurines and jade
amulets in a style which follows rather closely the models developed in
the early cities of the humid lowlands. At Mitla there are none of these
things: instead, the architectural decoration shows a most interesting
use of textile designs treated in a mosaic of cut stones. It is apparent
then that a long record of high culture is to be found in the Zapotecan

                      Plate XXVIII. Zapotecan Art:

    [Illustration: Incense Burners.]

    [Illustration: Funerary Vases of Portrait Type.]

    [Illustration: Cruciform Tomb with Geometric Decoration.]

At Monte Alban there are one or two narrow vaulted chambers in mounds,
but on the tops of the mounds the few excavations have disclosed only
simple cell-like rooms which probably had flat roofs. Some hints of
ancient architectural decoration can be picked up here and there.
Figures similar to those modeled in bold relief on the fronts of the
cylindrical funeral urns (see frontispiece) seem to have been used over
doorways, somewhat after the fashion of the Mayan mask panels.

The hieroglyphs that are found on the stelæ of Monte Alban and on stone
slabs from other sites, resemble the Mayan hieroglyphs in the use of bar
and dot numerals, but the day and month signs have never been identified
with either the Mayan or Aztecan system, although almost certainly
dealing with the same type of calendar. Lintels with lines of
hieroglyphs on the outer edge have been found in burial chambers at
Cuilapa and Xoxo. The forms at the former site are clearly and
beautifully drawn, while at the latter site they are degenerate and
probably merely decorative.

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 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
pottery 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 found in this
region must be given a late date.

Splendid manuscripts were obtained by the Spaniards in the Zapotecan
region, but the pictures of the gods as well as the hieroglyphs show
strong Aztecan influences. These will be discussed briefly in a later
section. Some accounts have been preserved of the special features of
Zapotecan religion which mark them off rather sharply from the Aztecs,

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 sons of chiefs were trained in the service
of the gods. The religious practices included incense burning,
sacrificing of birds, and animals, 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 Aztecs.

    [Illustration: Fig. 54. Detail of Wall Construction at Mitla,
    showing the separately Carved Stones.]

                              Plate XXIX.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Stone Sculpture of the Early Zapotecan Period
    showing Rulers seated upon Thrones before an Altar.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Jade Tablets pierced for Suspension, found in
    Zapotecan Tomb.]

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 considered 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.


The famous temples of Mitla are the best-preserved examples of
architecture on the highlands of Mexico and are peculiar in form and
decoration. The 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 was
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 period.

    [Illustration: Fig. 55. Wall Paintings of Mitla, resembling in style
    the Pictographic Art of the Codices from Southern Mexico.]

The remains at this site have already been contrasted with those at
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 ornamented with longitudinal panels of
geometric designs arranged according to a carefully worked out plan. The
geometric patterns are based on textile art and the mosaics of
separately carved stones which fit neatly together preserve for us the
ancient designs on belts and mantles. The chambers are long and narrow
and formerly had flat roofs which have completely vanished. The wide
doorways usually have two piers which help to support the lintel blocks.
These are carefully trimmed stones of great length and weight. All the
outer surfaces of the Mitla temples were sized with plaster and painted
red and 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 represented in these frescoes, but only the upper portion
of the bands can be made out in detail.

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 perhaps twenty feet. In the flat
valley between this hill and the ruins a considerable number of
potsherds are plowed up in the field.

                           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 outlying Mayan tribe. The
Totonacan language is according 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 interesting in view of
the character of Totonacan art which also shows a strong strain of Mayan
feeling and technique 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 56. The Eyes of Totonacan Figurines.]

A series of eyes showing Totonacan modifications of the styles prevalent
on the archaic pottery heads of the Highlands is given in Fig. 56. 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.

                               Plate XXX.

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

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 flattening people. While the faces vary
so much in minor details as to create the impression that they are
portraits 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 expressions of lively and
unrestrained mirth.

Perhaps the most famous objects found in Totonacan territory are the
so-called “stone collars” or “sacrificial 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
yokes 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 stone.

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.

                              Plate XXXI.

    [Illustration: (_a_) An Elaborately Carved Stone Collar, an Example
    of the Best Sculpture of the Totonacan Indians.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) A Palmate Stone from the State of Vera Cruz.
    Two grotesque figures are holding snakes in their mouths.]

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.
Plumed serpents, monkeys, centipedes, and crocodiles are interestingly
drawn on pottery. An 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 pyramid, 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 Aztecan.

                              The Toltecs.

Mexican history is greatly concerned with the Toltecs, the name meaning
People of Tula, or Tollan, “place of the reeds.” Evidence is
accumulating that this Tula was not the comparatively insignificant ruin
on the northern edge of the Valley of Mexico, but instead was the great
city of San Juan Teotihuacan. The lesser Tula may have been founded
about 1200 A. D., just before the collapse of Toltec power.

Archæology tells a more detailed and convincing story of the Toltecs
than does recorded history. In the stratified remains at Atzcapotzalco,
the objects accredited to the Toltecs overlie those of the first potters
of the Archaic Period and are in striking contrast to them. The
principal motives of Toltec decorative art are obviously related to the
earlier 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 facing taking the place of rubble and cut
stone. The temples that crowned these pyramids were also of less solid
construction and no single example is now intact. Vaulted ceilings were
replaced by flat timbered ceilings or high pitched roofs of thatch.
Sometimes in wide rooms columns were used as additional support for roof
beams. The groundplans of buildings other than temples show small rooms
arranged in an irregular fashion round courts.

The ceremonial game of _tlachtli_ resembling basket ball was an
important feature of Toltec religion. It may have been obtained from the
Olmeca, but at any rate spread far and wide under the Toltec régime.
Another feature of Toltec religion was the worship of the sun’s disk
which is reflected in various sculptures. Also this people are supposed
to have invented _pulque_, made from the fermented sap of the agave. The
reclining type of sculpture known as Chacmool, after the famous example
found at Chichen Itza in northern Yucatan, may be a relic of a peculiar
Toltec cult in which drunkenness figured. Human sacrifice was another
feature of the religion of the Mexican highlands in contrast to that of
the lowland Mayas. On the economic side Toltec culture rested on the
earlier Archaic civilization, but on the artistic and ceremonial side it
was largely inspired by the Mayas through the mediation of the Zapotecs,
Olmecs, and Totonacs, but with new emphasis on certain aspects and
several important innovations. The language of the Toltecs seems to have
been essentially the same as that of the Aztecs who succeeded them.

The Toltecs made a radical departure in social policy in that they took
to war and expropriation as a means of building up national wealth,
thereby paralleling, somewhat ineffectively to be sure, the political
methods of Europe and Western Asia. There had been war before their time
in Central America, but not apparently for aggrandizement. The Mayas,
and most other Mexican and Central American nations, developed excess
food supply which released many persons for the pursuit of art and
science. Perhaps it was pressure of population upon food supply in an
arid land that directed the Toltecs towards tribute taking. At least the
fact is reasonably clear that this people did embark upon a short-lived
career of conquest and that they levied tribute of precious stones and
precious metals and secured by the same means an augmented food supply.

There is confusion and reduplication in the lists of Toltec rulers and
only three great names in succession can be regarded as certain. These
are Huetzin, Ihuitimal, and Quetzalcoatl, although it seems probable
that there was a still earlier chieftain named Mixcoatl or Mixcoamazatl
and that two successors of Quetzalcoatl were Matlaxochitl and Nauyotl,
the last-named also figuring as the first lord of Colhuacan. Then follow
various dynastic lists for several Mexican tribes which flourished
between the downfall of the Toltecs and the coming of the Spaniards.

                    Quetzalcoatl and the Toltec Era.

The chronology of the Toltecs and their successors is greatly dilated in
several historical compilations made after the Spanish conquest by
intelligent natives who interpreted fragments of ancient pictographic
year counts then surviving in Mexico. Thanks to a modern survey of
materials much more extensive than those which Chimalpahin,
Ixtlilxochitl, etc., had at their disposal, we are now able to avoid the
errors of these writers.

In the original pre-Spanish chronicles important events are recorded in
connection with fifty-two year signs falling in regular order and then
repeating. In the well-intentioned attempts to restore Mexican history
entire cycles are interpolated in several places and the rulers are
given lives of impossible length. In the case of Ixtlilxochitl we
possess, fortunately, the principal documents which this descendant of
the Texcocan kings attempted to interpret. Also in the case of the
Annals of Quauhtitlan, an early compilation made by a nameless student
of ancient history, we are in position to adjudicate wide errors in
chronology. There is an annotation on this manuscript reading “6 times 4
centuries, plus 1 century, plus 13 years, today the 22nd of May 1558.”
The “centuries” are the native cycles of fifty-two years and the total
on this basis would amount to 1313 years. Subtracted from 1558 the
beginning would be found in 245 A. D., while the years set down by the
compiler in an unbroken series reach back to 635 A. D. But there is no
pre-Spanish support for written history, outside the Mayan area, of
anything like this antiquity.

The Toltec Era was established by Quetzalcoatl, after a simplified model
of the Mayan calendar, on August 6, 1168 A. D., this date corresponding
to a day 1 Tecpatl (1 Flint) in the first position of a month Toxcatl.
This day gave its name to the entire year and its hieroglyph was one of
a series of fifty-two used to designate years in the pictographic
records. Most of the Mexican year counts begin with the particular sign
1 Tecpatl which corresponds to 1168-69 A. D. In others there is
reference to a day 7 Acatl 1 Panquetzaliztli in a year 2 Acatl (February
16, 1195 A. D.) upon which a new fire ceremony, established by
Quetzalcoatl in accordance with Mayan usage, was celebrated at intervals
of fifty-two years.

The conclusions are supported by evidence in Guatemalan chronicles and
also in records of the Mayas for we have already seen that Quetzalcoatl
conquered Chichen Itza in 1191 A. D. The three great Toltec emperors,
Huetzin, Ihuitimal, and Quetzalcoatl, swept over an area extending from
Durango to Nicaragua, the three seats of their government being
Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, Chichen Itza in Yucatan, and
Iximché in Guatemala.

Quetzalcoatl probably spent his youth in Yucatan, returning to his
highland home with strange religious and social ideas. His opposition to
the Toltec idea of human sacrifice was followed by a war of cults.
Quetzalcoatl began the construction at Tula with serpent columns like
those of his lofty temple in Chichen Itza. Also he appears to have
founded Cholula as a special center for his humane religion. His death
occurred in connection with a prognostication in the Venus calendar of
the Mayas, for the year 1 Acatl, 1207-08 A. D.

Quetzalcoatl, perhaps the most remarkable figure in ancient American
history, was emperor, artist, scientist, and humanist philosopher. He
established orders of knighthood as well as the coronation ceremony used
by the later Mexican kings. He developed the various industrial arts and
built up a wide trade in cotton, cacao, and other products. As a patron
of the peripatetic merchant he appears under the name Nacxitl, which
means Four-way Foot. Apotheosis being an idea strongly fixed among the
Toltecs, Quetzalcoatl was deified as Ehecatl, God of Winds, on account
of his support of the Mayan god of rainstorms, and for his astronomical
work he was further deified as God of the Planet Venus.

                              Plate XXXII.

    [Illustration: The Temple at Xochicalco before Restoration. The
    lower part of the picture shows the sculptured base of the temple
    pyramid. The walls of the temple itself are seen above.]

                         San Juan Teotihuacan.

This name Teotihuacan means Where the Gods (i.e., the deified dead)
Dwell. This enormous ruin 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 commonly
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. Explorations conducted by the
Mexican government showed that this pyramid was enlarged from time to
time and old stairways buried under new masonry. On the south side of
the small stream that flows through the ruins is a group of buildings
called the Citadel.

   Plate XXXIII. Two Views of the Principal Pyramid in the Citadel at

    [Illustration: (_a_) General view of the original mass of the
    pyramid at the back with the reconstructed addition in front.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) View of stairway and various walls covered up
    and preserved by the addition.]

In 1921 the Mexican Government undertook a restoration of the Citadel,
following the discovery of remarkable sculptures on the principal
pyramid. It appears that in ancient times this pyramid was enlarged by
an addition to one side and the richly ornamented terraces and stairway
buried (Plate XXXIII). The sculptured stones from the other three sides
of the temple were allowed to fall into neglect by the Toltecs or were
carried away and put to other uses, but the portion buried was kept in
its original state. The colors are still bright in many places and the
great heads of plumed serpents and obsidian butterflies sometimes retain
their inset eyes of obsidian. The decoration is a repeated motive. The
head of the feathered serpent projects outward from the terrace walls
and from the balustrade of the stairway, while the body is in low
relief. The tail of the serpent has a rattle, and the body is covered
with feathers. Shells are seen below the serpent where the body arches
and just in front of the tail is a massive head with two rings on the
frontal. This doubtless represents the Obsidian Butterfly, a divinity of
great importance among the Toltecs, which is represented unmistakably in
frescoes at Teotihuacan as well as on pottery. The Citadel well deserves
its name, since it is a great enclosure, much like a fort, with
buildings upon its bulwarks, and with steep outer walls, which could
easily be defended.

A few large sculptures have been found at Teotihuacan. 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, being attached to bodies made of some perishable material.
The heads were seldom used to adorn pottery vessels, although many
modern and fraudulent 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 identified. It is not
improbable that the God of Fire is personified as an old man with
wrinkled face, but somewhat less likely that Xipe is represented 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 unknown.

    [Illustration: Fig. 57. Jointed Doll of Clay from San Juan

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 _cloisonné_ 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. No
inscriptions have been found at this ruin, in spite of the many years of


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 temple itself which is now roofless. The stone carving
at Xochicalco resembles that of Monte Alban especially as regards the
hieroglyphs and is probably of somewhat later date than Teotihuacan. All
in all the conclusion seems safe that writing was unknown outside the
Mayan area before Quetzalcoatl devised ways and means.


Building stone of good quality was available at this site and in
consequence sculptures are plentiful. 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.


The sacred city of Cholula, in the environs at 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 Cholula 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 overgrown with brush
and cactus.

    [Illustration: Fig. 58. Pottery Plates from Cholula with Decorations
    in Several Colors. The pottery of Cholula ranks high in design and

                              Plate XXXIV.

    [Illustration: (_a_) 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.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) 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.]

Unlike the other Toltecan cities Cholula was still inhabited and a place
of religions importance when Cortez arrived in Mexico. But the figurines
and pottery vessels that are found at this site belong for the most part
to an epoch earlier than that of the Aztecs. Quetzalcoatl was the patron
deity of Cholula and in the decorative art the serpent is finely
conventionalized. A pottery shape frequently met with at Cholula is the
flat plate bearing polychrome designs.

                 The Frontier Cities of the Northwest.

An important 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 Quemada, “The Burned” which is situated a day’s
ride from the city of Zacatecas. This site was found in a deserted 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 Chicomoztoc, “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. Chicomoztoc, 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 terraced 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 northwestern region is a
peculiar kind of pottery which might be described as cloisonné or
encaustic ware. Examination 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 subjects 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 Estanzuela, a hacienda near Guadalajara, are on
exhibition in the American Museum of Natural History.

Cloisonné 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 cloisonné 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 59. Vessel with “Cloisonné” Decoration in Heavy
    Pigments. This example comes from a mound at Atzcapotzalco and dates
    from late Toltecan times. Trade pieces of this ware have been found
    at Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico and Chichen Itza in Yucatan.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 60. The Turtle Motive as developed in Negative
    Painting with Wax at Totoate, Jalisco.]

Another common method of ceramic decoration taken over was that of
negative painting similar to the process used with cloth in making batik
designs. This process still exists in Central America as regards gourd
dishes although discontinued on 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 design was painted in wax or some other soluble or combustible
paint, then the entire surface was covered 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. The design was often made two
layers deep by applying simple masses of red over the sizing before the
impermanent paint of the design proper was put on. In the northwestern
region of central Mexico now under consideration the negative painting
technique is associated with conventionalized designs representing
turtles (Fig. 60). 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.

                              Plate XXXV.

    [Illustration: 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.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 61. Jaguar Head on Disk-Shaped Stone. Salvador.]

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 farther south; next followed the northern flow
of Toltecan culture which later receded and finally came a rather thin
layer of Chichimecan or Aztecan culture. We may tentatively conclude
that the forgotten cities of the Zacatecan subculture 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 zonal distribution of rain forests in southern Mexico and Central
America is especially important, as has been pointed out, in connection
with the spread of Mayan-type civilizations. The Olmeca and Totonacs who
were among the first to feel the cultural effects of the Mayan
ascendency occupied lands of heavy precipitation. The Zapotecan and
Mixtecan areas were partly wet and partly dry. The Toltecs seem
originally to have been desert dwellers but they extended their
conquests over tribes living in the humid tropics and made much of
cacao, rubber, copal, etc., obtained by trade and tribute from such
subject peoples.

Along the Pacific coast below the Isthmus of Tehuantepec lies a rain
belt containing ruined cities which flourished between 1000 to 1300 A.
D., or on the historical level of the Toltec expansion. The sculptural
art at these sites resembles the works attributed to the Olmecs in
Tabasco and Vera Cruz on the one hand and to the works of the Chorotega
of lower Central America on the other. One such ruin is Quiengola near
the modern city of Tehuantepec, another occupies a ridge above Tonalá
and there is a cluster of sites in the environs of Santa Lucia
Cozumalhualpa in southern Guatemala, extending into western Salvador.

Whether or not the sculptures of Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa are to be
credited to the Pipil, a Mexican tribe, is far from certain, but human
sacrifice and other Toltec religious ideas are plainly presented. We
find here elaborate speech scrolls comparable to those of Xochicalco and
the Toltec work at Chichen Itza. Also there is evidence of the
ceremonial importance of cacao in this region, the god of this economic
plant being pictured in the form of a jaguar.

A peculiar type of pottery centered in southern Guatemala 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, the esthetic idea of shape was allowed to develop itself without
hindrance. This pottery is now referred to as plumbate ware.

                        The Chorotegan Culture.

Passing south and east from the Mayan area we find remains of a rich and
in many ways peculiar art, consisting mostly of pottery and stone
carvings, to which the name Chorotegan is applied. This name means
Driven-out People. It was first used in connection with several tribes
of the Chiapanec-Otomi stock dispossessed of a fertile area about Lake
Nicaragua by the intrusive Mexican-speaking Nicarao. The Chorotega were
not, however, totally dispossessed since they continued to hold the
Peninsula of Nicoya in Costa Rica as well as other pieces of territory.
In an archæological sense the name Chorotegan fittingly can be extended
to eastern parts of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras, since the
inhabitants of this stretch of land were also dispossessed some time
before the coming of the Spaniards. Or perhaps they voluntarily migrated
northward towards the end of the Toltec rule and are to be identified
with the Otomi, Tlappaneca, and Mazateca of southern and central Mexico.
The Tlappaneca and Otomi are definitely associated with introduction
into Mexico of the peculiar cult of Xipe, God of the Flayed. This cult
was clearly of southern origin and indeed still survived at Nicaragua at
the time of the Spanish Conquest. The Mazateca were found in transit by
Cortez, in the southern part of the Peninsula of Yucatan, living in
palisaded villages. Similar palisaded villages once flourished in
Honduras. The wild South American tribes who replaced the eastern
Chorotega exhibit a cultural non-conformity with the archæological
remains of the region they now occupy.

    [Illustration: Fig. 62. Front View and Profile View Serpent Heads in
    Chorotegan Art. Although derived from Mayan models they have
    undergone great changes and have become highly conventionalized.]

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

    [Illustration: Fig. 63. Jaguar Design with Mayan Affinities
    associated with Figurines that still retain Archaic Characters.
    Costa Rica.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 64. Jaguars from painted Nicoyan Vases.]

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 mostly concerned with the crocodile.

                              Plate XXXVI.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Finely Carved Ceremonial Slab found at
    Mercedes, Costa Rica. The three large figures on the end as well as
    the smaller ones on the bottom represent crocodiles. Keith

    [Illustration: (_b_) Stone Figure from Costa Rica. This sculpture in
    lava rock is one of the finest pieces ever discovered in this
    region. The lines on the body probably represent tattoo marks.]

    [Illustration: (_c_) Ceremonial Slab decorated with Monkeys.
    Mercedes, Costa Rica. These ceremonial slabs may be developments of
    metates or corn grinders. Keith Collection.]

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

    [Illustration: Fig. 65. Highly Conventionalized Jaguar Motive. The
    principal features of the head as well as the outline of the leg
    survive in highly modified form. From the southern end of Lake

At Mercedes remarkable stone slabs were found during 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 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 Mercedes which
gives every evidence of having been a large city with a long career.

    [Illustration: Fig. 66. Simple Crocodile Figures in Red Lines on
    Dishes from Mercedes, Costa Rica.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 67. Panels containing Crocodiles painted in
    White Lines on Large Tripod Bowls from Mercedes, Costa Rica.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 68. Simplified Crocodile Heads in the Yellow
    Line Ware of Mercedes, Costa Rica.]

We may be reasonably sure that the stone slabs date from a fairly late
epoch because an undoubted “Chacmool” exhibiting the same style of
carving has been discovered 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 offerings in the pit of the
stomach, gets its fanciful name from Le Plongeon who discovered the
original at Chichen Itza. But the unmistakable sculptures of this type
were apparently developed by the highland tribes and the cult was
introduced into northern Yucatan during the period of Mexican influence.
In addition to Chichen Itza examples have been found at Cempoalan, the
historic Totonacan capital near Vera Cruz, at Texcoco, in the Valley of
Mexico, at Jhuatzio in the Tarascan region, as well as at Chalchuapa far
to the southeast in Salvador. All of these occurrences indicate a late
Toltecan horizon for its distribution.

                          Isthmian Gold Work.

Metal-working was unknown to the Mayas of the First Empire, but is
abundantly illustrated in cities of the Second Empire, especially
Chichen Itza where the pieces are predominantly of Costa Rican and
Colombian manufacture evidently secured in trade. We are therefore
justified in concluding that the splendid Isthmian gold work came into
being after 630 A. D. and was typically developed by 1200 A. D. The
“wire technique,” essentially a cast rather than a soldered filigree,
characterized metal working as far south as southern Colombia and is
also the dominant mode in Mexico. 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.
Also acids are said to have been used to dissolve out copper from the
surfaces. Many ornaments are of pure beaten gold and have designs in

                             Plate XXXVII.

    [Illustration: (_a_) The Gold Work of the Ancient Mexicans excited
    the Wonder of the Spanish Conquerors. Comparatively few examples,
    however, have come down to us.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) 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.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 69. Conventional Crocodiles from Costa Rica and

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 platforms 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 provided 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 perhaps 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.

                             Plate XXXVIII.

    [Illustration: A Page from the Tribute Roll of Moctezuma, showing
    the Annual Tribute of the Eleven Towns pictured at the Bottom and
    Right. The tribute consisted of: (_a_) Two strings of jade beads;
    (_b_) Twenty gourd dishes of gold dust; (_c_) A royal headdress;
    (_d_) Eight hundred bunches of feathers; (_e_) Forty bags of
    cochineal dye; (_f-g_) Warrior’s 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.]

                               Chapter IV
                               THE AZTECS

The Aztecs were the dominant nation on the highlands of Mexico when
Cortez marched with his small army to conquer New Spain. The horrible
sacrifices that they made to their gods and the wealth and barbaric
splendor of their rulers have often been described. 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

            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
sculpture, 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 much more barbaric than that of
the Greeks but in each case the subject matter was idealized and
beautified in art.

                              Plate XXXIX.

    [Illustration: Page from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis showing a
    Native Manuscript with Explication by the Spaniards. The death of
    Chimalpopoca and the election of his successor, Itzcouatl, is
    recorded, as well as the capture of Atzcapotzalco.]

The Aztecs, like the Romans, were a brusque and warlike people who built
upon the ruins of an earlier civilization 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

                            The Chichimecas.

The term Chichimecas was applied by the more civilized tribes of the
Mexican highlands 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
distinct 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 prestige. In fact, the Aztecs may be considered as originally
Chichimecan, along with the people of Texcoco. In later times, these
city-broken nomads looked back with considerable pride on their lowly
origin. The early life in the open is pictured interestingly in several
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 civil war about 1220 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. Atzcapotzalco, Colhuacan, 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.

Xolotl, founder of the dynasty of Texcoco, makes his first appearance in
the Valley of Mexico in 1225, five years after the dispersion of the
Toltecs, according to the Codex Xolotl. He viewed the abandoned cities
but neither he nor his immediate successors chose to lead a sedentary
life. The first date appears too early because it seems unlikely that
the reigns of Xolotl and his son actually covered ninety years. The
foundation of Texcoco took place in the reign of Techotlala and
Ixtlilxochitl, his son, fell a victim to the murderous policy of
Tezozomoc, the famous tyrant of Atzcapotzalco. Nezahualcoyotl, who
regained the throne in 1431 was a great poet, philosopher, and law
maker. The rulers of Texcoco were as follows:—

                         THE DYNASTY OF TEXCOCO

                             Nomadic Chieftains

                     Xolotl                1225-1284
                     Nopalli               1284-1315
                     Tlotzin               1315-1324
                     Quinatzin             1324-1357

                            Sedentary Chieftains

                     Techotlala            1357-1409
                     Ixtlilxochitl         1409-1418
                     (Interregnum)         1418-1431
                     Nezahualcoyotl        1431-1472
                     Nezahualpilli         1472-1515
                     Cacama                1515-1520

                            Aztecan History.

The history of the Aztecs has a mythological preamble in common with
other nations of Mexico. The Chicomoztoc or Seven Caves must not be
considered historical but simply man’s place of emergence from the
underworld. The general conception of an existence within the earth that
preceded the existence upon the earth is found very widely among North
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 a 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 putting down every year in sequence whether or not an
event occurred in it. According to different authorities the year 1
Stone which begins 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 last base, 1168, is correct;
this being the epoch of the Toltec Era established by Quetzalcoatl.

                               Plate XL.

    [Illustration: Serpent Head at Bottom of Balustrade, Great Pyramid,
    Mexico City. The same excavations showed that the Great Pyramid was
    enlarged several times and this sculpture seems to have been buried
    under the walls long before the coming of the Spaniards. Compare
    Serpent Balustrade at Chichen Itza.]

The wandering tribes, among which may be mentioned the Chalca,
Xochimilca, Tlahuica, Huexotzinca, Tepaneca, and Azteca, pushed their
way into the region of the lakes and were allowed to live in less
desirable locations as vassals to the established tribes. The
“peregrinations” relate the succession of stops and the length of each
stop. The Aztecs themselves made twenty or more stops lasting from two
to twenty years. Finally, about 1325, they reached Chapultepec and for a
number of years lived in comparative peace and quiet. Their bad manners
and growing power excited the enmity of several nearby towns and in 1351
the Aztecs, under their chieftain Huitzilihuitl, were worsted in a
fierce battle. Remnants of the tribe, including Huitzilihuitl and his
daughter, sought the protection of Cozcoztli, king of Colhuacan. They
soon were able to repay his support in a war with Xochimilco. The first
actual settlement on the site of the future Tenochtitlan was made in
1364 and in 1376 Acamapictli, a noble allied to the royal house of
Colhuacan, was elected to be the first war chief of the new city.

    [Illustration: Fig. 70. Pictographic Record of fighting near the
    Springs of Chapultepec, “Hill of the Grasshopper.” Aubin Codex.]

One of the first improvements undertaken by the new city was in the
matter of water supply. Rights were secured to the famous spring of
Chapultepec, 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 Xochimilco 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 protected by drawbridges. There was a city
wall upon which were lighthouses for the guidance of homecoming
fishermen. There were palaces and market places and a great central
plaza called the Tecpan, where were situated the principal temples.

The Spaniards destroyed the ancient city, blocking up the canals with
the débris of temples, and building the new City of Mexico over the
leveled ruins. Ancient relics are brought to light wherever excavations
are made. In 1900 many sculptures and ceremonial objects were uncovered
in Escalerillas street near the Cathedral. Recently a building near the
National Museum was torn down for replacement and in digging for new
foundations part of the base of the great pyramid was found. This had
been enlarged several times, as could be seen by the stairways
successively buried under new walls. At the bottom of the balustrade of
one stairway a great serpent head of stone was found in its original
position (Plate XL).

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 are the same in several
records, but the dates are found to vary slightly.

                     Acamapichtli          1376-1396
                     Huitzilihuitl         1396-1417
                     Chimalpopoca          1417-1427
                     Itzcouatl             1427-1440
                     Moctezuma I           1440-1469
                     Axayacatl             1469-1482
                     Tizoc                 1482-1486
                     Ahuitzotl             1486-1502
                     Moctezuma II          1502-1520
                     Cuitlahua             1520
                     Cuauhtemoc            1520-1521

After throwing off the yoke of their early overlords, the Tepanecas, 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 Texcoco 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. Tenochtitlan
gradually assumed the commanding position in the league, and although
Texcoco continued to be an important 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 Tlaxcala 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 monarch while
other and more recent writers have declared that the tribal organization
of the Aztecs was essentially 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 warriors 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 articles 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 powerful families and at least the
foundation of an aristocratic 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
generation were ordinarily exhausted before the next lower generation
became eligible. Thus Huitzilihuitl, Chimalpopoca, and Itzcouatl were
all sons of Acamapichtli, and the last and greatest was born of a slave
mother. Then followed Moctezuma Ilhuicamina I, the son of Huitzilihuitl.
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
Texcoco, where son succeeded 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 Mexica or Mexici nation. The Aztecs
themselves 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
military 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 distributed 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 societies were ordinarily the
principal buildings of the city and that they were used for civil,
military, and religious purposes.

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 alternately 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.

                               Plate XLI.

    [Illustration: Sahagun’s Plan of the Tecpan in Mexico City. After
    Seler. Among the details shown are: (_a_) The two great temples;
    (_b_) The _Quauhxicalli_ or eagle bowl; (_c_) One of the
    _Callimecatl_, or priest houses; (_e_) An eagle house or warriors’
    shrine; (_f_) The _Teotlachtli_ or ball court of the gods; (_g_)
    _Tzompantli_ or skull rack; (_h_) The temple of Xipi; (_i_) The
    _Temalacatl_ or Gladiator Stone; (_k_) The _Colhuacan Teocalli_ or
    temple of Colhuacan; (_l-m_) The gods 5 Lizard and 5 House
    respectively; (_n_) Dance courts; (_o_) _Coatenamitl_ or Serpent
    Wall, so called because it was decorated with heads of serpents.]

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.

                              Plate XLII.

    [Illustration: 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 center.

    Central or cosmogonic 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.

    Band of day signs beginning at the top and reading towards the left.

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

    The outer circle of two great reptiles that may indicate the

    Invisible edge of the disk bears representations of Itzpapalotl, the
    obsidian butterfly which is symbolical of the heavens.]

The ceremonial 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
simplified, occurs in the Sahagun manuscript. The great pyramid rose in
several terraces and was surmounted by two temples each three stories in
height, one dedicated 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 completed 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 the 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.

                              Plate XLIII.

    [Illustration: The Shield Stone at Cuernavaca. This Aztecan
    sculpture carved upon a boulder in the City of Cuernavaca shows a
    shield, a bundle of war arrows, and a war banner. The sculpture
    records the conquest of Cuernavaca or more properly Quauhnahuac,
    capital of the Tlahuican nation.]

                          The Calendar Stone.

The great sculptured monument 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. The stone was doubtless thrown
down from its 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
façade 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, according 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 hurricane, 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. 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
conventionalized 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 Xiuhcoatl
or Fire Serpents.

The newly discovered National Stone pictures the Calendar Stone in
vertical position on a mound and at the head of a flight of steps. The
dates on the side of the stairway are 1 Tochtli and 2 Acatl, 1506 and
1507, indicating that the Calendar Stone was dedicated in connection
with the New Fire Ceremony. The design on the back of this new-found
monument pictures the eagle on the cactus, symbolic of the founding of
Tenochtitlan. Other sculptures adorn the sides, the top, and the bottom
of the stone.

                            Stone 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 combats as ceremonies. 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 71. Details from the Stone of Tizoc: _a_,
    Huitzilopochtli, Aztec War God; _b_, Figures representing a captured
    town; _c_, Name of the captured town (Tuxpan, place of the rabbit).]

                              Plate XLIV.

    [Illustration: The newly discovered “National Stone” of Mexico. The
    front view shows the Calendar Stone in position and the year signs 1
    Rabbit and 2 Reed (1506 and 1507 A. D.). The sculpture on the back
    is an eagle on a cactus, recording the foundation of Mexico City
    (Tenochtitlan). On all the other surfaces priests and religious
    symbols are drawn.]

On the top of the Stone of Tizoc is a representation of Tonatiuh, or the
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 figures, each group representing a conqueror and
his captive. The victorious soldier appears 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 deformed foot. Moreover, on
the side of the headdress 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. 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 Valley of Toluca. This district was brought under subjection by
Tizoc himself. Among the other conquered cities are such well-known ones
as Chalco, Xochimilco, and Colhuacan in the vicinity of Lake Texcoco and
Ahuilizapan (Orizaba) and Tuxpan that are more distant.


                               Plate XLV.

    [Illustration: Monstrous Sculpture representing Coatlicue, the
    Serpent-Skirted Goddess, who was regarded as the Mother of the

The famous statue of the Earth Goddess, Coatlicue, “the goddess with the
serpent skirt,” is one of the most striking examples of barbaric
imagination. 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 72. Detail showing the Construction of the Face
    of Coatlicue from Two Serpent Heads meeting End to End.]

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 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 actually called maps. The
names of towns in these documents are represented by true hieroglyphs
and often the character of the country is indicated by pictures 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
indicated by a place name hieroglyph with a spear thrust into it or by a
temple on fire, while warfare is a shield and bundle of lances encircled
by footprints.

    [Illustration: Fig. 73. Hieroglyphs of Precious Materials: left to
    right, gold; turquoise; mosaic of precious stones; _chalchihuitl_,
    or jade; mirror of obsidian.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 74. Phonetic Elements derived from Pictures and
    used in Mexican Place Name Hieroglyphs.]

  _tlan_ from _tlantli_, teeth
  _cal_ from _calli_, house
  _mix_ from _mixtla_, cloud

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 names, including the
names of gods, to months, days, numbers, objects of commerce and a few
objects or ideas of ceremonial import. 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. 73). 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 a combination of
syllable pictures which 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 75. Aztecan Place Names.]


In Fig. 74 are given a few of the more common syllable pictures. The
name of the object represented is cut down by the elimination of _tl_,
_li_, etc., that form the nominal endings. Thus, the picture of water,
_atl_, becomes the sign for the sound _a_, that of stone _tetl_ is cut
down to the syllable _te_. Several of these syllable pictures are
combined to represent a whole word.

    [Illustration: Fig. 76. Aztecan Day Signs.]

 _Cipactli_       _Ehecatl_     _Calli_       _Cuezpallin_  _Coatl_
 Crocodile        Wind          House         Lizard        Snake
 _Miquiztli_      _Mazatl_      _Tochtli_     _Atl_         _Itzcuintli_
 Death            Deer          Rabbit        Water         Dog
 _Ozomatli_       _Malinalli_   _Acatl_       _Ocelotl_     _Quauhtli_
 Monkey           Herb          Reed          Jaguar        Eagle
 _Cozcaquauhtli_  _Olin_        _Tecpatl_     _Quiahiutl_   _Xochitl_
 Vulture          Movement      Stone         Rain          Flower

    [Illustration: Fig. 77. Variant Forms of Aztecan Day Signs: _a,
    acatl_, arrow; _b, mazatl_, deer foot; _c, malinalli_, jaw bone; _d,
    itzcuintli_, dog’s ear; _e, ozomatli_, monkey’s ear; _f, ocelotl_,
    jaguar’s ear.]

    [Illustration: Fig. 78. Aztecan Numbers and Objects of Commerce:
    _a_, 1; _b_, 20; _c_, 400; _d_, 8,000; _e_, ten faces carved from
    precious stone; _f_, twenty bags of cochineal dye; _g_, one hundred
    bales of cocoa; _h_, four hundred bales of cotton; _i_, four hundred
    jars of honey of tuna; _j_, eight thousand leaf bundles of copal
    gum; _k_, twenty baskets each containing sixteen hundred ground
    cacao nibs; _l_, four hundred and two blankets.]

The hieroglyphs of the twenty days of the month (see Fig. 76) 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 grotesque, but sometimes details of dress or
an object connected with a special ceremony is sufficient to recall the
divinity. The Mexican system of numbers was based on twenties. The units
were figured by dots, the twenties by flags, the four hundreds by a
device like a tree that represented hair, and the eight thousands by the
ceremonial pouches in which copal incense was carried.

                              Plate XLVI.

    [Illustration: Page from the _Tonalamatl_ Section of the Codex
    Borbonicus. The thirteen days run along the bottom of the page and
    up the right 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
    _Tonalamatl_ 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 of twenty birds is indicated by
    the flag attached to the bleeding head of a decapitated bird.]

                           Aztecan Religion.

The religion of the Aztecs, like that of the Mayas, was a polytheism in
which special divinities controlled the powers of nature and the
activities of men. The gods were perhaps further advanced towards human
form and attributes 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 matter
is confused beyond the point of analysis. The mythologies often ascribe
different 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. Overlapping 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.

The religion of central Mexico had its objective, ritualistic side,
which appealed directly to the understanding 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 spirituality
and the grossest idolatry. The ceremonial calendar, with a description
of the feasts and sacrifices occurring at different times of the year,
has been preserved in a number of documents. Pageants, incense-burning,
and human sacrifice gave a strong dramatic quality to the religious

                              Plate XLVII.

    [Illustration: (_a_) Pictures of Tlaloc, the God of Rain, and of
    Ehecatl, the God of Winds, in the Codex Magliabecchiano.]

    [Illustration: (_b_) Mexican Genealogical Table on Bark Paper. The
    names of most of the individuals are given by hieroglyphs attached
    to the head or the seat. Original in the American Museum.]

The conception of a supreme deity is seen in _Ometeuctli_, 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 background 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 omniscience, 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 acted in part through other gods. But the list is too long to be
repeated here.

    [Illustration: Fig. 79. 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 special gods of principal Mexican cities were as follows:—

  Tenochtitlan          Huitzilopochtli
  Texcoco               Tezcatlipoca
  Tlaxcala              Camaxtli
  Cholula               Quetzalcoatl
  Cuauhnahuac           Xochiquetzalli

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 was the Long-nosed God of the Mayas,
introduced under the patronage of Quetzalcoatl, the powerful emperor of
the Toltecs. The worship of Xipe is said to have originated in a town in
southern Mexico. It had certainly taken a strong hold on the Aztecs of
Mexico City and was likewise known as far south as Salvador. It has
recently been demonstrated that the people of Yopico, specially given to
the worship of Xipe, originated in Nicaragua.

    [Illustration: Fig. 80. Chalchuihtlicue, Aztecan Goddess of Water.]

                      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. Creation is not emphasized so much as
destruction. The 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 educated 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 earthquake.

Notions of the shape and character of the universe are pretty well
defined in Aztecan lore. The widespread belief that the universe
consists of three superimposed 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 considered 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 _Ilhuicatl_, 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, etc.

The under world is _Mictlan_, the Place of the Dead. Nine divisions are
commonly given and in the lowermost of these lives _Mictlanteuctli_, the
Lord of Death, and his mate. The idea of future blessing or punishment
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 horrors.

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 including the zenith, the nadir, and the middle. The
sacred numbers 4, 5, 6, and 7 may thus conceivably be derived from the
points of space, but it would be very unsafe to assume that they are
necessarily so derived. The general concept of a universe divided into
quarters, fifths, or sixths is a powerful conventionalizing factor in
mythology, religion, and art. Prayers, songs, and important acts are
repeated in identical or in systematically varied form for each point of
space. In Mayan and Aztecan codices the symbolism of the four directions
is often manifest.


Ceremonialism was intensely developed 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 gruesome features of human
sacrifice and to overlook the spiritual ones. The victim was often
regarded as a personification of a god and as such he was fêted, 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 falter.

The 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 eighteen
periods correspond with the Mayan uinals or months, but since dates were
rarely given in relation to them, they do not have the same calendrical
importance. 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 chieftains 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 victim,
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 was held a
succession of brilliant festivals. On the last day there was a parade of
canoes across Lake Texcoco 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 example, 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
neckless of jade beads with golden bells for pendants. Below her are two
standing men who bear in their hands offerings of ripe fruit.

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 characteristic 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 rôle 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 garments and given to understand that she should be that
night the bride of a rich lord. And under such a beguiling 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 divinity is related.
Some cornmeal was spread in a circular mass upon the ground. During the
night the high priests kept vigil and from time to time visited 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 celebration 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
permutation of twenty day names and thirteen numbers is pictured in
Mexican codices in two or more stereotyped forms, but these are very
complete. In the commonest form the entire cycle is divided into twenty
groups of thirteen days each and each group is presided over by a
special divinity. There are other repeating series of gods, sacred
birds, etc., that preside over the individual days in these groups. The
_tonalamatl_ was much used in Mexico in connection with foretelling
events. The days were lucky, indifferent, or unlucky, and the future
life of a child was believed to be locked up in the horoscope of his

Other feasts were held in relation to longer time periods. There were
important festivals held in connection 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
development. 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 Texcoco 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 their 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 sat upon thrones,
  deciding causes, ruling assemblies, governing armies, conquering
  provinces, 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 dashing
  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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 81. 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 musical
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 hollowed-out log with an H-shaped cutting made longitudinally
on its upper surface so as to form two vibrating 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 trumpets. 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 earthenware 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 instrument today in Central America is of
African origin and fairly recent introduction. No stringed instruments
were known to the ancient Mexicans nor does the pan-pipe appear to have
been used in this area although common in Peru.

                          Minor Aztecan Arts.

Some of the great sculptures of Tenochtitlan have already been described
and references 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 carrying ceremonial objects.

Comparatively few specimens of ancient gold work in Mexico escaped the
cupidity of the Spanish conquerors, but these attest a remarkable
proficiency in casting. The moulds were made of clay mixed with ground
charcoal and the melting of gold was accomplished 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 followed 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 include finger rings, earrings, nose and lip ornaments,
necklaces, and pendants.

Among the precious and semi-precious stones known to the Aztecs, the
most valuable in their eyes was turquoise. 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 found. Pearls and
emeralds were secured in trade from the south.

    [Illustration: Fig. 82. Mexican Blanket with the Design that
    represents interlacing Sand and Water called “Spider Water.”]

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 designs 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 covered with brilliant feathers so arranged as to
bring out designs in the natural colors.

                             The Tarascans.

The Aztecs while by far the most important tribe in the fifteenth
century did not dominate all the surrounding peoples. For instance, most
of the State of Michoacan was controlled by the Tarascan tribe who
defeated every expedition sent against them. The list of Tarascan towns
is a long one but Tzintzuntzan which means the “Place of the Humming
Birds” was the capital and principal stronghold. The ancient history of
the Tarascans is little known. Large and striking specimens of archaic
art were formerly accredited to this people, but without good reason. It
is likely that archaic characters in art were maintained in Michoacan
after they had passed away in central Mexico, but we cannot be sure that
the Tarascans were the ancient inhabitants. There is some evidence,
however, of culture which can be associated with them. The peculiar
T-shaped mounds called _yatacas_, which rise in terraces and are faced
with stone slabs laid without mortar, may have been built by this tribe.
Sculptures of rather fine quality are occasionally found, an example
being a reclining god of the type made famous by the “Chacmool” of
Chichen Itza. Many fine copper celts have been unearthed in this highly
mineralized mountain region. When the Spaniards came 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
Indians who also make gourd vessels covered with colored clays in
pleasing geometric and floral designs.

The Otomis are a tribe of central Mexico even less cultured than the
Tarascans and there is some evidence that they entered this region from
the south only a few centuries before the Spaniards. Their relatives,
the Matlatzincas of the Valley of Toluca, had more interesting arts.

    [Illustration: Fig. 83. The Year Symbol of 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

                            Southern Mexico.

Somewhere about the middle of the fifteenth century Moctezuma I planted
an Aztecan colony at Uaxyacac on the edge of the Zapotecan territory 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
Zapotecs to the south and the Mixtecs to the west. In the Tribute Roll
of Moctezuma 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 presumed that the Zapotecan culture before the Aztecan ascendency was
a development of that implanted many centuries before when Monte Alban
flourished and which we have already examined. As for the Mixtecs we
only know that they produced pottery of great beauty somewhat similar to
that of Cholula.

    [Illustration: Fig. 84. Year Bearers in the Codex Porfirio Diaz
    ascribed to the Cuicatecan tribe: Wind, Deer, Herb, and Movement.]

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

  Codex Borgia
  Codex Vaticanus 3773
  Codex Bologna
  Codex Féjervary-Mayer
  Codex Vindobonensis
  Codex Nuttall or Zouche

    [Illustration: Fig. 85. A Page from the Codex Nuttall, recording the
    Conquest of a Town situated on an Island of the Sea. The conquerors
    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.]

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 geometric ornament that
resemble the panels of geometric design on the temples of Mitla. They
record historical 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. 83) and with it is combined the year bearer, or initial
day of the year, and often the particular day of the event.
Unfortunately, this is not entirely satisfactory 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. 84). 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.

    [Illustration: Fig. 86. The God Macuilxochitl, Five Flower, as shown
    in a Mexican Codex and in Pottery from southern Mexico.]

    [Illustration: ... and in Pottery.]

                 Aztecan Influence in Central America.

The influence from the late Mexican cultures can be traced far to the
south. 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 connection over wide territories that are found on earlier
horizons. There was clearly a brisk trade in gold in Aztecan times
between the Isthmus of Panama and Mexico.

After the breakdown of the civilization of the humid lands of Central
America, following the Mayan cataclysm, the abandoned regions appear to
have been repopulated by a stream of tribes from South America who swept
up the coast of the Caribbean Sea and across the peninsula of Yucatan,
as far as Tehuantepec. There was also a strong northern movement of
tribes along the Pacific Coast seen most clearly in the distribution of
languages belonging to the Chiapanecan or Chorotegan stock. The early
historic records show the Mazateca in transit from their old home in
Costa Rica to their new one in northern Oaxaca. Cortez in 1526 found
these Indians in Yucatan.

                  A Cross-Section of New World History

This survey of ancient history in Mexico and Central America discloses a
condition which doubtless holds true of the archæological record in
other parts of the world. The earliest sedentary culture was by far the
most homogeneous and widespread. This means it modified slowly and
lasted for ages. At the same time, owing to the connection of the
archaic complex with agriculture, the initial spread may have been
rapid. The plants domesticated by the American Indians were developed
far beyond the wild types, much farther indeed, than the domestic plants
of the Old World. This development must have extended over many
centuries. The first horizon of agriculture was based on plants of an
arid highland environment. The second horizon of agriculture was based
on these same plants after they had been slowly modified to fit a humid
lowland environment, as well as on certain new plants of humid lowland

The Maya civilization was specialized to the wet lowlands of the tropic
zone and while the influence exerted by this dominant culture of the New
World was felt over a great area, the exact characters were not
reproduced elsewhere. Trade relations can be traced from Yucatan to
Colombia on the one hand and on the other to New Mexico. The cycle of
the Mayan civilization was comparatively short and the cycles of the
resultant civilizations were even shorter. All New World history must be
referred ultimately to the horizons of culture described above, with the
standard chronology of the Mayas as the only definite scale.

In the cross-section of New World history presented herewith the
horizontal measures represent space and the vertical measures represent
time. The line A-B-C-D begins at Victoria Island and ends at Cape Horn,
cutting across the culture areas named on the diagram. Over a large part
of this cross-section the “horizon of recorded history” is in fact the
time of the first European exploration, but in Colombia and Peru, there
are well-defined traditions giving lists of kings, while in Central
America there is exact chronology going back 2000 years before the
coming of the white man. Below this and within it there are
archæological records of culture sequence which in some regions, such as
the Pueblo Area, have been nicely classified. On the basis of trade
relations and diffused ideas in material and esthetic arts the marginal
chronology can be tied in with that of the central standard section of
history. Of course, all dates earlier than the first recorded ones are
theoretical. The beginning of agriculture in America is put at 4000 B.
C.—it may be earlier, but can hardly be much later.

In the Pueblo or Southwest Area a single type of flint corn, doubtless
introduced from the south, appears on the first agricultural level.
Contacts with Mexico and Central America are inferable during Basket
Maker II and III, the latter stratum having female fetishes roughly
comparable with those of the Archaic Horizon of Mexico. Later Southwest
evolution is autochthonous until the end of Pueblo III when the concepts
of the Plumed Serpent, the Eagle Man, Four-direction symbolism, etc.,
come from Mexico with Toltec trade. Culture sequence in the Southwest is
about as follows:—

  Pueblo V              Modern                1692 to present time
  Pueblo IVb            Early Historic        1538 to 1692
  Pueblo IVa            Protohistoric         1200 to 1538
  Pueblo IIIb           Toltec Trade          1000 to 1200
  Pueblo IIIa           Urban Developments
  Pueblo II             Small House
  Pueblo I              Proto-Pueblo
  Basket Maker III      First Pottery
  Basket Maker II       First Agriculture
  Basket Maker I        Nomadic

In Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru culture successions are now being worked
out. The best criterion of age is found in metals which enter Central
America from South America after the fall of the First Mayan Empire,
i.e., after 630 A. D. The technology of metal working is continuous from
southern Colombia to central Mexico. Negative painting with wax has a
wider and perhaps earlier distribution, reaching Ecuador and Peru in
association with tripod pottery which is otherwise rare in the Andean
region. Various motives of design link the two continents, especially on
the Toltec-Chorotegan level. Between 1000 and 1200 A. D. civilization
seems to have been generally stabilized, but this halcyon age was
followed by disorganization and far-reaching migrations. The pre-Spanish
horizons of southern Peru are tentatively arranged as follows by A. L.
Kroeber, the apparently earlier material of Ancon being omitted for lack
of the cross-ties.

                  III.  Inca
                  IIc.  Late Ica
                  IIb.  Middle Ica
                  IIa.  Epigonal
                   Ib.  Late Nasca
                   Ia.  Early Nasca

The early Nasca civilization was far from primitive being characterized
by pyramids, fine textiles, and some metal. Mayan strains have been
recognized in Chavin and Recuay in Peru and various sites in Ecuador.

The dynamic forces in the history of man in the New World have a
tremendous bearing upon the present and future state of the world. The
debt which we owe to the ancient civilizations of Mexico and Central
America becomes apparent when we list the more important agricultural
plants, fibers, gums, dyes, etc., which were taken over by Europeans
from the American Indians.

               Food Plants Cultivated by American Indians

  Sweet potatoes
  Lima beans
  Kidney beans
  Barbados cherry
  Cashew nut
  Star apples
  Paraguay tea
  Alligator pear
  Sour sop
  Sweet sop
  Custard apple

          Important Economic Contributions of American Indians

    Cinchona (Quinine)
    Cascara Sagrada
  Domesticated Animals
    Guinea pig
    Dog (perhaps Old World)
    Muscovy duck
    Peruvian Balsam
    Añil (Indigo)

                     Diagram of American Chronology

    [Illustration: ... showing regions and eras.]

  Showing regions:
    Horizon of Recorded History
    Second Horizon of Agriculture (Humid)
    First Horizon of Agriculture (Arid)
    Nomadic Non-Agricultural Horizon
    Primary Invasion from Asia via Alaska on upper Paleolithic or lower
          Neolithic, without agriculture, pottery or loom weaving.
          15000-10000 BC.


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

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 Archæology 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 Archæology and
Ethnology, vol. 2, no. 3, Cambridge, 1879.)

Bowditch, C. P. _The Numeration, Calendar Systems and Astronomical
Knowledge of the Mayas._ Cambridge, 1910.

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

Brinton, D. G. _The Maya Chronicles._ Philadelphia, 1882. (No. 1 of
Brinton’s Library of Aboriginal American Literature.)

_The Annals of the Cakchiquels._ 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. Förstemann, Paul
Schellhas, Carl Sapper and E. P. Dieseldorff. Translated 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,

Förstemann, E. _Commentary of the Maya Manuscript in the Royal Public
Library of Dresden._ (Papers, Peabody Museum, IV, No. 2, pp. 48-266,

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

Hartmann, C. V. _Archæological Researches in Costa Rica._ (The Royal
Ethnographical Museum in Stockholm, Stockholm, 1901.)

_Archæological 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, 1888.)

_Archæological Studies among the Ancient Cities in Mexico._
(Publications, Field Columbian Museum, Chicago, 1895-1897.)

Joyce, T. A. _Mexican Archæology._ An Introduction to the Archæology of
the Mexican and Maya Civilizations of pre-Spanish America. New York and
London, 1914.

_Central American and West Indies Archæology._ Being an Introduction to
the Archæology of the States of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the
West Indies. New York, 1916.

_Maya and Mexican Art._ London, 1927.

Kingsborough, Lord. _Antiquities of Mexico._ 9 vols., folio. London,

Lehmann, W. _Methods and Results in Mexican Research._ Trans. by Seymour
de Ricci. Paris, 1909.

_Ergebnisse einer Forschungsreise in Mittelamerika und Mexico
1907-1909._ (Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, Band 42, pp. 687-749, 1910.)

_Zentral Amerika. Die Sprachen Zentral-Amerikas in ihren Beziehungen
zueinander sowie zu Süd-Amerika und Mexiko._ In zwei Banden. Band 1.
Berlin, 1920.

Lothrop, S. K. _Pottery of Costa Rica and Nicaragua._ (Contributions,
Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, vol. VIII, 1926.)

Lumholtz, C. _Unknown Mexico._ 2 vols. New York, 1902.

_Symbolism of the Huichol Indians._ (Memoirs, American Museum of Natural
History, vol. 3, part 1, 1900.)

_Decorative Art of the Huichol Indians._ (Memoirs, American Museum of
Natural History, vol. 3, part 4, 1904.)

MacCurdy, G. G. _A Study of Chiriquian Antiquities._ (Memoirs,
Connecticut Academy of Sciences, vol. 3, 1911.)

Maudslay, A. P. _Biologia Centrali-Americana, or Contributions to the
Knowledge of the Flora and Fauna of Mexico and Central America._
_Archæology_, 4 vols. of text and plates. London, 1889-1902.

Memoirs of the Peabody Museum, vols. 1-5. Reports on excavations and
exploration by Gordon, Maler, Thompson, and Tozzer.

Morley, S. G. _An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs._
(Bulletin 57, Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1915.)

_The Inscriptions at Copan._ (Publication 219, Carnegie Institution of
Washington, Washington, 1920.)

Peñafiel, A. _Monumentos del arte Mexicano antiguo._ 3 vols. Berlin,

_Nomenclatura geografica de Mexico._ Mexico, 1897.

Sahagun, Bernardino de. _Histoire générale des Choses de la
Nouvelle-Espagne._ (Edited and translated by D. Jourdanet and Rémi
Siméon.) 1880.

_Historia de las cosas de Nueva España._ (Portfolio of illustrations
from two Sahagun manuscripts copied under direction of F. del Paso y
Troncoso and issued by the Mexican Government. Florence, 1922.)

Saville, Marshall H. _Turquois Mosaic Art in Ancient Mexico._
(Contributions, Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, vol. VI,

_The Wood-Carver’s Art in Ancient Mexico._ (Contributions, Museum of the
American Indian, Heye Foundation, vol. IX, 1925.)

Schellhas, P. _Representation of Deities of the Maya Manuscripts._ 2nd
edition revised. (Translated by Miss Selma Wesselhoeft and Miss A. M.
Parker, Papers, Peabody Museum, vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 7-47, 1904.)

Seler, E. _Die alten Ansiedelungen von Chaculá im Districkte Nenton des
Departments Huehuetenango der Republic Guatemala._ Berlin, 1901.

_Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur amerikanischen Sprach- und
Alterthumskunde._ 5 vols. Berlin, 1908-1923.

_Codex Vaticanus No. 3773 (Codex Vaticanus B). An Old Mexican Pictorial
Manuscript in the Vatican Library._ (Translated by A. H. Keane.) Berlin
and London, 1902-1903.

Spinden, H. J. _A Study of Maya Art._ (Memoirs, Peabody Museum, vol. 6,

_The Reduction of Maya Dates._ (Papers, Peabody Museum of American
Archæology and Ethnology, Harvard University, vol. 6, no. 4, Cambridge,

Squier, E. G. _The States of Central America: their Geography,
Topography, Climate, Population,_ etc. New York, 1858.

Stephens, J. L. _Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan._ 2 vols. New
York, 1841.

_Incidents of Travel in Yucatan._ 2 vols. New York, 1843.

Thomas, C. _A Study of the Manuscript Troano._ (U. S. Geographical and
Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, Contributions to
American Ethnology, V, pp. 1-224, 1882.)

Thomas, C., and Swanton, John R. _Indian Languages of Mexico and Central
America._ (Bulletin 44, Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1911.)

Tozzer, A. M. _A Comparative Study of the Mayas and Lacandones._ New
York, 1907.

_A Maya Grammar, with Bibliography and Appraisement of the Works Noted._
(Papers, Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology, Harvard
University, vol. 9, Cambridge, 1921.)


[1]The word _cycle_ is applied in this book to re-entering series, or
    wheels, of days. These all contain the _tzolkin_ or _tonalamatl_
    without a remainder. The word _period_ is applied to fixed numbers
    that do not contain the _tonalamatl_.


  Acropolis, artificial, 72, 74, 77.
  Adobe, 63;
      houses, Mexican, 15.
  Agriculture, connection with archaic art, 249;
      distribution of, 68, 70, 71;
      distribution in the New  World, 67, 68, 70;
      influence on Mayan culture, 73;
      invention of, 45, 51-53, 67, 251;
      spread and development of, 63, 70, 250.
  Ah Puch, Lord of Death, 101.
  Alphabet, of Landa, 125.
  Altars, Mayan, 84;
      Quirigua, 108.
  Amulets, archaic figurines as, 61;
      gold, 198.
  Animals, domestication of, 20, 59, 253.
  Annals of Quauhtitlan, 171, 172.
  Arch, in Mayan architecture, 79.
  Archaic, art, 45-46, 53-57, 58, 75, 244;
      art, on borders of Mayan area, 75;
      art, local developments of, 63-68;
      culture, 187, 249;
      culture, distribution of, 63-66, 69;
      culture, figures, 60, 61, 62;
      figurines, 53-57;
      horizon, 45-71;
      horizon, extensions of, 63-68;
      pottery, 46, 59-61;
      sites, 50;
      stone sculptures, 61-63.
  Architecture, early period of the Mayas, 146;
      great period of the Mayas, 147;
      historical sequence determined by, 108-109;
      Mayan, 77-83;
      Mitla, 157, 163-164;
      Monte Alban, 159;
      period of the League of Mayapan, 149;
      transition period, Mayan, 148;
      types of, La Quemada, 182-183;
      Zapotecan, 159.
  Art, archaic, 45-46, 53-57, 75, 244;
      archaic, characterization of, 53;
      archaic, Colombia, and Venezuela, 66-67;
      archaic, local developments of, 63-68;
      bat, represented in, 20;
      Chorotegan, 190-195;
      decorative, Isthmian region, 64, 66;
      high development of Mayan, 73;
      massive sculptural, 83-84;
      Mayan, 89, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150;
      Mayan, human figure in, 93-94;
      Mayan, sequences in, 106-109;
      Mayan, serpent in, 89-93;
      motives, Huichol, 37-38;
      Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa, 188;
      Tarascan, 244-245;
      Toltecan, influenced by Mayan, 169, 170;
      Totonacan, close correspondence to Mayan, 165, 166, 167;
      Zapotecan, influenced by Mayan, 159.
  Arts, minor, Aztecan, 242-244;
      Mayan, 87-89.
  Astronomical, base line, Copan, 138;
      checks, on correlation with Christian chronology, 136-137;
      observatories, Mayan, 137-139.
  Astronomy, Mayan knowledge of, 73, 111, 133.
  _Atlatl_, 58, 244.
  Atzcapotzalco, 203, 204, 209;
      stratification at, 47-48, 169.
  Aztecan history, 204-209.
  Aztecs, 34, 201-249;
      and Mayas, compared to Greeks and Romans, 201-203.

  _Baktun_, defined, 120.
  Bar and dot numerals, 119, 120, 128, 154, 157, 159.
  Basketry, Mayan, 88.
  Bats, represented in ancient art, 20.
  Bells, Aztecan, 241-242;
      copper, 187;
      copper and gold, 198.
  Ben, Mayan day sign, 87.
  Birds, Mexico and Central America, 20-21.
  Blankets, Mexican, 39, 243.
  Brilliant period, Mayan civilizations, 75, 77, 147-148.
  Buildings, Mayan, 78;
      Mitla, 164.

  Caban, Mayan day sign, 88.
  Cakchiquels, 151, 211.
  Calendar, annual, Mayan, 110, 111;
      Central American, 163;
      ceremonial, Aztecan, 229;
      lunar, Mayan, 140-142;
      lunar-solar, Mayan, 112;
      Mayan, scheme as presented in Codex Tro-Cortesianus, 116;
      religious, Aztecan, 235-236;
      system, Zapotecan, 156;
      Venus, Mayan, 143-145.
  Calendar round, Mayan, 117-118.
  Calendar Stone, 214, 215-219, 233.
  _Calpolli_, Aztecan, 211, 213.
  Cannibalism, 43.
  Captives, as represented in Mayan art, 93.
  Caribs, characterization of culture, 43.
  Caricature, in archaic figurines, 54, 58.
  Carving, development in style at Copan, 107;
      on Mayan monuments, 108;
      stone, at Xochicalco, 179.
  Celts, copper, Tarascan, 244;
      stone, 63.
  Cemetery, at Copilco, 49-51.
  Cempoalan, 25, 169, 195.
  _Cenote_, 18;
      sacred, at Chichen Itza, 28, 154.
  Cephalic index, Mexico and Central America, 44.
  Ceremonial, bar, Mayan, 93, 98, 99, 108;
      regalia, depicted in Mayan art, 94.
  Ceremonies, Aztecan, 234-239;
      Mexican, 41.
  Chacmool, 170, 194-195, 244.
  Chalchuihtlicue, Aztecan Goddess of Water, 232.
  Chapultepec, 207.
  Chiapanecan languages, 35-36.
  Chichen Itza, 28, 110, 139, 149, 150, 170, 173, 179, 188, 244.
  Chichimecas, 203-204.
  Chicomoztoc, 182, 204.
  Chiefs, Aztecan, 210, 213;
      Texcoco, 204;
      Toltecan, 171;
      war, Aztecan, 208-209;
      Zapotecan, 161.
  Chilam, Balam, Books of, 109-111, 234.
  Chimayo blankets, 39.
  Cholula, 25, 180-182, 203.
  Chorotegan culture, 157, 189-195.
  Chronology, archaic horizon, 45-46;
      Aztecan, 205;
      bases of Mayan, 103-106;
      diagram of New World, opposite 253;
      Mayan, 250;
      Mayan, correlation with Christian, 75, 110-111, 135-136;
      Mayan, established by dated monuments and style of sculpture,
          104, 106, 107;
      Peruvian, 252;
      Southwestern, 251;
      Toltecan, 173.
  Cities, Mayan, 75.
  Civilization, Mayan, 73-151, 250.
  Civilizations, middle, in Mexico and Central America, 153-198.
  Clans, kinship, 210-211.
  Climate, Mexico and Central America, 13-14.
  _Cloisonné_ pottery, 178, 183-184;
      San Juan Teotihuacan, 178.
  Coatlicue, 215, 221-223.
  Codex, Aubin, 205, 206, 208;
      Borbonicus, 228;
      Magliabecchiano, 230, 236;
      Nuttall, 246, 247;
      Telleriano-Remensis, 202;
      Tro-Cortesianus, 116;
      Xolotl, 204.
  Codices, Mayan, 128-135, 248;
      Mayan gods in, 99, 100, 103;
      Mexican, 223;
      southern Mexico, 163, 246-247.
  Colhuacan, 203, 207;
      stratification at, 48-49.
  Collectors, specimens in Mexican Hall, 6.
  Colonization, Central America, by Spaniards, 22;
      Mexico, 29.
  Columns, sculptured, at Tula, 179.
  Comalcalco, 153.
  Commerce, Aztecan objects of, 227.
  Composition in design, Mayan, 94-97.
  Conquest, history of Spanish, 22-32;
      of Mexico, 22-31;
      symbol for, 247, 248.
  Construction of walls, La Quemada, 182-183;
      Mayan, 78, 79, 81, 83;
      Mitla, 157-158, 164.
  Copan, 19, 72, 74, 77, 83, 85, 138, 139, 141, 146, 147, 188.
  Copilco 49, 50.
  Cora, 33, 37.
  Coronado, 30.
  Correlations, dates with style of carving in Mayan monuments, 104,
          106, 107, 110, 111, 124-125;
      Mayan and Christian chronology, 135, 136-137.
  Cortez, Hernando, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 209, 217, 249.
  Crocodile motive, in Chorotegan art, 191, 193;
      Isthmian region, 194, 197.
  Crops, indigenous and introduced, Mexico and Central America, 21;
      principal, Mayan region, 73, 75.
  Cross-section, typical, Mayan temple, 76, 78.
  Cuauhtemoc, 29.
  Cuicuilco, 49, 50, 51.
  Cuitlahuac, 27.
  Cult, of the quarters, Aztecan, 234;
      of Xipe, 189.
  Culture, Carib, 43;
      Chorotegan, 189-195;
      horizons, stratification of, 45-46;
      Huichol, 38;
      Lacandone Indians, 41;
      Mayan, 73-151;
      Mosquito Indians, 43;
      peoples speaking Uto-Aztecan languages, 34-35;
      sequences of, 250-252;
      southern Mexico, 245-248;
      strata, Atzcapotzalco, 48;
      Sumo Indians, 43;
      Tarascans, 244-245;
      Toltecs, 169-171, 203;
      Totonacan, 165-169;
      Zapotecan, 156-163.
  Cycle, defined, 113.

  Dances, hunting, Huichol, 38;
      Mosquito Indians, 43.
  Dates, of dedication, Mayan, 123-125;
      early Mayan, 146, 153;
      Mayan, 96, 107, 117-118, 122,
      on National Stone, 218;
      Olmeca, 154, 156;
      Toltecan, 172-173.
  Day, count, Mayan, elements of the, 112-114;
      signs, Aztecan, 218, 225-226;
      signs, hieroglyphs used on Mayan pottery, 87-88;
      signs, Mayan, 112, 125;
      signs, Zapotecan, 159.
  Death God, Mayan, 101, 116.
  Decoration, Mayan buildings, 83;
      Mayan pottery, 85, 87-88;
      pottery, archaic period, 59, 61.
  Decorative motives, Chorotegan art, 190-193;
      distribution of, 252.
  Dedication, dates of, Mayan, 123-125.
  Design, composition and perspective, Mayan, 94-98;
      on Leyden plate, 146;
      on Mexican blanket, 243;
      motives, archaic pottery, 46, 61;
      motives, Costa Rica, 191, 192, 193, 194, 196, 197.
  Designs, archaic horizon, 64;
      on blankets, 39;
      developed in negative painting, 184-185;
      geometric, at Mitla, 164, 246;
      Mayan pottery, 85-88;
      polychrome pottery, 87;
      realistic, Mayan pottery, 85, 87;
      textile, archaic, 58;
      textile, Aztecan, 243;
      textile, Mayan, 88;
      Totonacan sacrificial yokes and paddle stones, 167;
      woven, Huichol, 37, 38.
  Dogs, domestication of, 58-59.
  Donors, collections in Mexican Hall, 6.
  Dresden Codex, 101, 128, 130, 134, 141, 142, 143, 145.
  Dress, shown in archaic figurines, 57;
      Mexico and Central America, 39-41;
      modern Mexican, 39.
  Drums, Aztecan, 240-241.
  Dyes, 253.

  Early Period, in Mayan history, 146-147.
  Earrings, archaic figurines, 57.
  Economic contributions, of American Indians, 253.
  Ehecatl, God of Winds, 58, 226, 230.
  Ek Ahau, war god, Mayan, 103.
  Elevations, Mayan buildings, 81-83.
  Environment, Mayan, 153;
      Mexico and Central America, 13-21.
  Ethnology, 36-44, 57-59.
  European contact, history of, 22-32.
  Exploration, of Central America, by Spaniards, 22;
      Mexico, 22, 29.
  Eyes, archaic sculptures, 63;
      color and Mongoloid tilt, 44;
      Totonacan figurines, 165;
      types of, on archaic figurines, 56-57, 64.

  Façade decoration, Mayan, 83-84.
  Face numerals, Mayan inscriptions, 121, 126.
  Fauna, Mexico and Central America, 20-21.
  Feast, in connection with planet Venus, 239;
      of the twelfth month, 237-238.
  Feasts, Aztecan, 235-239;
      Sumo, 43.
  Feather mosaics, Aztecan, 243-244;
      Tarascan, 244.
  Fertility, female figurines associated with, 46, 59, 63.
  Fetishes, female, Southwestern Pueblo, 251.
  Figurines, archaic, 46, 53-57;
      archaic, at Atzcapotzalco, 47;
      archaic, Colombia and Venezuela, 66-67;
      archaic, Isthmian region, 64, 65;
      archaic, Nicaragua, 64;
      archaic, Salvador, 56, 64;
      clay, transition period, 75;
      female, Basket-Maker III, 63-64;
      female, distribution of, 59, 63-64;
      female, Island of Marajo, 67;
      pottery, Aztecan, 242;
      pottery, San Juan Teotihuacan, 177-178.
  Filigree, modern Mexican work, 243.
  First Empire, Mayan, 111, 123, 142, 148, 195, 251.
  Flageolets, Aztecan, 241.
  Flora, Mexico and Central America, 21.
  Flores, 28.
  Flying façade, Mayan buildings, 83.
  Food plants, cultivated by American Indians, 253;
      most widely distributed in the New World, 52.
  Frescoes, Mitla, 163-164.
  Frontier cities, of the northwest, 183-187.
  Fruits, native, 21.
  Funerary urns, Zapotecan, 159, 160; also frontispiece.

  Games, ceremonial Toltecan, 170;
      sacred, Olmeca, 154.
  Genealogical table, Mexican, 230.
  Genealogies, Aztecan, 210.
  Geography, Mexico and Central America, 13-21.
  Geology, Mexico and Central America, 19-20.
  Gladiator stones, 219.
  Glaze, on modern Mexican pottery, 39.
  Glyphs, introducing, 122, 123;
      period, Mayan, 121, 123, 126;
      supplementary series, 123, 141, 142.
  God houses, Huichol, 38.
  God of War, Mayan, 103.
  God’s eyes, Huichol, 38.
  Gods, Aztecan, 225, 229, 231;
      beast, Mayan representation of, 99;
      in Dresden Codex, 101;
      Mayan, 89, 98-103, 135;
      Mexican, 58, 229, 230-232;
      represented in pottery from San Juan Teotihuacan, 178.
  Gold work, ancient, Isthmian region, 66;
      Aztecan, 242-243;
      in cruciform tombs, 164;
      Isthmian, 195-198;
      Mayan, 89;
      Zapotecan, 160.
  Gourd vessels, Tarascan, 245.
  Government, Aztecan, 209, 213;
      theocratic of the Mayas, 93.
  Graves, Isthmian, gold objects found in, 198.
  Great Mound, Copan, 147.
  Great Period, Mayan history, 147-148.
  Great Pyramid, Mexico City, 206, 208.
  Grooving, archaic figurines, 56.
  Groundplans, Toltecan buildings, 170;
      Yaxchilan temples, 77.
  Guatuso, 44.
  Gums, 253.

  _Haab_, defined, 139.
  _Hablatun_, defined, 120.
  Hair form, Indians of Mexico and Central America, 44;
      Lacandone, 42.
  Headdresses, archaic figurines, 55, 57;
      Zapotecan funerary urns, 159-160;
      Zapotecan, 42.
  Head form, Indians of Mexico and Central America, 44.
  Hieroglyphs, Aztecan, of precious stones, 224;
      containing phonetic element _kin_, 127;
      decorative use on pottery, Mayan, 87-88;
      of the Four Directions, 126, 127;
      Mayan, 73, 97, 125-128;
      Mayan, Venus and the Moon, 137;
      Nahuan, 224;
      on stelæ at Monte Alban, 159;
      on the Stone of Tizoc, 221;
      at Xochicalco, 179;
      Zapotecan, 160-161.
  History, Aztecan, 204-209;
      Chichimecan, 203-204;
      cross-section of New World, 249-253;
      of European contact, Mexico and Central America, 22-32;
      Mayan, 136;
      Mayan, recovery of, 103-106;
      Mayan, summary of, 145-151;
      summary in relation to archaeological evidences, on the
          archaic horizon, 68, 71;
      Toltecan, 171-175;
      traditional, southern Mexico, 245-246.
  Hochob, 80, 148.
  Hokan linguistic stock, distribution of, 36.
  Horse, introduction of, 67-68.
  Hotun periods, 124.
  Houses, adobe, Mexican, 15, 39;
      archaic period, 63;
      Mayan, 79.
  Huastecas, 35, 165.
  Huichol, 33, 37.
  _Huipili_, decorated, 40, 41.
  Huitzilihuitl, 207, 210.
  Huitzilopochtli, 215, 221, 231, 237.
  Human, form, carved in stone, archaic period, 61, 63;
      form, in Mayan art, 89, 93-94, 106-108.
  Hunac Ceel, identification of, 150.
  Hunting implements, Lacandone, 41.

  Ilhuicatl, inferior heavens, 233.
  Imix, day sign, Mayan, 87;
      first day of formal permutation, 114.
  Incense burners, Lacandone, 41.
  Incised designs on pottery, 88.
  Influence, Aztecan, in Central America, 248-249;
      Mayas, on other civilizations, 170;
      Mexican, in northern Yucatan, 150.
  Initial Series dates, 123, 124, 135, 141, 149.
  Inscriptions, hieroglyphic, 103;
      hieroglyphic, on Mayan monuments, 123-125;
      Mayan, face numerals on, 121;
      Mayan, Great Period, 141-148;
      Mayan, typical, 122.
  Invention of agriculture, in the New World, 45, 51-53, 67, 251.
  Irrigation, in the New World, 17, 52-53, 63.
  Itzamna, 99, 103, 116.
  Ixchel, Goddess of the Rainbow, 103.
  Ixtapalapan, 26.
  Ixtubtun, Mayan goddess, 103.

  Jade, carving of, Mayan, 89;
      Zapotecan, 160;
      work in, Aztec, 243.
  Jaguar design, Chorotegan art, 191, 193.

  Kan, day sign, Mayan, 88;
      maize sign, 135.
  Katun, defined, 110, 120.
  Kukulcan, 150.

  Lacandone Indians, 35, 41, 151.
  Lakes, Mexico and Central America, 17, 18-19.
  Land laws, Aztecan, 211.
  Language, Toltecan, 170;
      Totonacan, 165.
  Languages, Central America, 239;
      Mexico and Central America, 32-36.
  La Quemada, 182, 183.
  League, Aztecan, 209;
      of Mayapan, 145, 149.
  Leyden Plate, 146.
  Lienzo of Amoltepec, 246.
  Linguistic stocks, Mexico and Central America, 32-36.
  Lintels, Mayan sculptured, 83, 97;
      Zapotecan, with hieroglyphs, 159.
  Long count, Mayan, 123, 141.
  Long-nosed God, Mayan, 98, 100, 101, 160, 232.
  Lunar, calendar, Mayan, 112, 140-142.
  Lunar-solar calendar, Mayan, 112.

  Macuilxochitl, God Five Flower, 248.
  Maize God, Mayan, 99, 100, 103.
  Maize, distribution of use, 52;
      most important food of the New World, 52;
      staple, in Mayan region, 75.
  Manikin Scepter, 93, 99, 100.
  Manioc, cultivation of, 52;
      use and preparation by Carib, 43.
  Marimba, origin of, 242.
  Mask panels, on Mayan structures, 84, 159.
  Matlatzincas, 245.
  Mayan civilization, 73-151;
      linguistic stock, distribution of, 35-36.
  Mayas, and Aztecs, compared to Greeks and Romans, 201-203.
  Mazatecas, 189.
  Medicines, 253.
  Metal, ornaments made of, Mayan, 89;
      working, technology of, 251-252;
      Zapotecan, 145.
  Metates, elaborately sculptured, 193.
  Metonic cycle, Greeks, 140.
  Mexican, Hall, American Museum, 5-6;
      influence, period of, in Mayan history, 149-150.
  Mexitin, 34.
  Mictlan, 163, 233, 234.
  Mictlanteuctli, Lord of Death, 233-234.
  Middle Period, in Mayan history, 147.
  Migrations, Aztecan, 205-207;
      indicated by distribution of linguistic stocks, 35-36.
  Mitla, 19, 156-157, 163-165, 246.
  Mixtecan stock, 35.
  Mixtecas, 156, 246.
  Moctezuma, 25, 26, 27, 215, 245.
  Modeling, archaic figurines, 53, 55-57;
      archaic sculptures, 63;
      clay, San Juan Teotihuacan, 178.
  Modern Period, Mayan history, 150.
  _Mogotes_, Zapotecan burial mounds, 160.
  Monkey, in Chorotegan art, 190-191.
  Monte Alban, 152, 155, 156, 246.
  Month, Mayan, twenty day signs of, 113;
      signs, of Mayan year, 115;
      signs, Zapotecan, 159.
  Months, Aztecan, 227;
      Mayan, length of, 115;
      Mayan, names of, 115.
  Monuments, Mayan, dated, 123-125;
      sequence of Mayan determined by style of sculpture, 106-109.
  Moon, representations of the, 142.
  Mosaic, feather, Aztecan, 242;
      feather, Tarascan, 244;
      masks and ceremonial objects, 89.
  Mosquito Indians, 43.
  Mound, artificial, at Copan, 77, 147;
      at Cholula, 80;
      at Cuicuilco, 49, 51.
  Mounds, at Atzcapotzalco, 47;
      foundation for temples, 77;
      Mayan, 146;
      at Monte Alban, 152, 157;
      Tarascan, 244;
      Zapotecan, 160.
  Mountains, Mexico and Central America, 14-16.
  Music, Aztecan, 240-242.
  Musical instruments, Aztecan, 240-241.
  Mythology, Aztecan, 204, 217, 229, 232-233;
      Mayan and Aztecan, 229.
  Myths, cosmogonic, 232-233.

  Nahuan linguistic stock, distribution of, 33, 203.
  Naranjo, 75, 108, 147.
  Nasca, 252.
  National Stone, Aztecan, 218, 220.
  Negative painting, 46, 66, 184-185, 187, 252.
  New Fire Ceremony, Aztecan, 218;
      Toltecan, 173.
  Nezahualcoyotl, 204, 239.
  Niquiras, 34.
  Nose form, Indians of Mexico and Central America, 44.
  Noserings, on archaic figurines, 57.
  Notation system, Mayan, 111, 118-121.
  Numbers, Aztecan, 227, 234;
      Mayan, 118-121;
      Mexican system of, 227-229;
      Zapotecan system of, 157.

  Observatories, astronomical, Mayan, 137-139.
  Obsidian, Aztecan ornaments of, 243.
  Ochpaniztli, eleventh feast of the year, 236.
  Olin, Aztecan day sign, 214, 217, 218.
  Olmeca, 154-156, 187.
  Ometeuctli, Lord of Duality, 231, 233.
  Organization, political, Mayan, 201;
      social Aztecan, 209-213.
  Ornaments, precious and semi-precious stones, Aztecan, 243;
      shown on archaic figurines, 57.
  Otomi, 36, 189, 203, 245.

  Pachtli, twelfth month, Aztecan, 237-238.
  Paddle-shaped stones, Totonacan, 167.
  Painting, archaic figurines, 57, 64;
      archaic pottery, 61;
      body, shown on archaic figurines, 58;
      on Mayan pottery, 87;
      negative, on pottery, 46, 66, 184-185, 187, 252;
      Zapotecan pottery, 160.
  Palaces, structure of Mayan, 78-79.
  Palenque, 75, 76, 83, 146, 156.
  Palmate stone, 168.
  Pantheon, Mayan, 98-103.
  Papantla, pyramid at, 167, 169.
  Peregrinations, Aztecan, 205-207.
  Peresianus Codex, 128.
  Period, defined, in Mayan time count, 113;
      glyphs, Mayan, 121, 126.
  Permutation system, Aztecan, 238;
      Mayan, 111, 113-114.
  Perspective, in Mayan design, 94, 97.
  _Peyote_ worship, Huichol and Tarahumare, 38.
  Phonetic use of signs, Mayan hieroglyphs, 125, 127.
  Physical types, 42, 44.
  Pictographic hieroglyphs, Mayan, 125.
  Piedras Negras, 75, 96, 105, 108, 147.
  Pima, 36.
  Pipiles, 34, 157, 188.
  Place names, Aztecan, 225.
  Plants, food, cultivation of, in the New World, 51, 249-250.
  Poetry, Aztecan, 239-240.
  Polychrome pottery, Cholula, 180, 182;
      Mayan, 87.
  Portraiture, in archaic art, 54, 58;
      in Mayan art, 94, 124;
      Totonacan art, 166.
  Post-Archaic Horizon, 68-71.
  Potato, cultivated in Peru, 52.
  Pottery, archaic, 46, 59, 61, 165;
      Atzcapotzalco, 47;
      Aztecan, 215, 242;
      from Cholula, 180, 182, 246;
      Chorotegan, 191-193;
      cloisonné, San Juan Teotihuacan, 178;
      at Cuicuilco, 51;
      distribution of, 63-64, 69, 70;
      Lacandone, 41;
      Mayan, 85, 86, 87-88;
      Mitla, 164-165;
      modern Mexican, 39;
      northwestern region of Mexico, 183-184;
      polychrome, Cholula, 180, 182;
      polychrome, Mayan, 87-88;
      San Juan Teotihuacan, 178;
      with semi-glaze, 188-189;
      Zapotecan, 160.
  Pouches, Valiente Indians, 40.
  Pre-Archaic Horizon, 68.
  Priests, in Mayan art, 93;
      Zapotecan, 161.
  Protohistoric Period, Mayan history, 145-146.
  Pueblo Viejo, 23.
  _Pulque_, 38, 170.
  Pyramid, Cholula, 180-181;
      Mayan, 78-79;
      Monte Alban, 157;
      San Juan Teotihuacan, 175-176;
      Toltecan, 169, 170.

  Quetzalcoatl, 25, 149, 171, 205, 232;
      and the Toltec era, 171-175.
  Quichés, 151.
  Quinatzin, map, 203.
  Quirigua, 15, 75, 108, 141.

  Rank, among the Aztecs, 209-210.
  Rattles, Aztecan, 241.
  Religion, Aztecan, 229-232;
      as evidenced by archaic art, 58;
      Isthmian region, 198;
      Lacandone Indians, 41;
      Mayan, 99-103, 146, 201;
      Toltecan, 170;
      Zapotecan, 146.
  River systems, Mexico and Central America, 17-18.
  Roman-nosed God, Mayan, 98, 99, 100.
  Roof comb, on Mayan buildings, 76, 83, 109.
  Roofs, Mayan buildings, 81.
  Rooms, Mayan buildings, 79, 81, 109.
  Rubber, uses of, 154.
  Ruins, Usumacinta Valley, 18.
  Rulers, Toltec, 171.

  Sacrifices, Aztecan, to the gods, 201;
      human, 215, 219, 229;
      human, archaic horizon, 59;
      human, Aztecan, 229, 234, 235;
      human, in sacred cenote, 28;
      human, shown on sculptures, 188;
      human, Toltecan, 179;
      human, Zapotecan, 161.
  Sacrificial yokes, Totonacan, 167, 168.
  Saltillo blankets, 39.
  San Andres Tuxtla, 146, 153.
  San Blas Indians, 44.
  San Juan Teotihuacan, 169, 175-179.
  San Miguel blankets, 39.
  Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa, 187-189.
  Sculptural art, massive, 83-84.
  Sculptures, archaic, 61-63;
      common material for, 19;
      developments in, as a check to chronology, 104;
      Mayan, Early Period, 146;
      Mayan, Middle Period, 147;
      San Juan Teotihuacan, 177;
      Santa Lucia Cozumalhualpa, 188;
      sequence in style, 106-108;
      style, correlated with dates, 124-125;
      Tenochtitlan, 242;
      at Tula, 179;
      wall, at Copan, 83;
      Zapotecan, 162.
  Second Empire, Mayan, 149, 195.
  Seibal, 75, 95.
  Seri, 36.
  Serpent, archaic pottery, 59, 61;
      in Chorotegan art, 190-191;
      conventional, of the Mayas, 91, 92-93;
      heads, comparison of Mayan and Zapotecan, 156;
      heads, on Mayan buildings, 84;
      motive, importance in Mayan art, 89-93;
      in religion of the Mayas, 98.
  Shield stone, Cuernavaca, 216.
  Sky God, 102.
  Slabs, sculptured stone, from Costa Rica, 192, 193, 194;
      Zapotecan, 162.
  Smiling faces, Totonacan, 165-167.
  Social organization, Aztecan, 209-213.
  Songs, Aztecan, 239, 240.
  Southern Mexico, culture of, 245-248.
  Spear-thrower, Tarascan, 244.
  Speech scroll, 188.
  Stability, Mayan buildings, 81.
  Stature, Indians of Mexico and Central America, 44.
  Stelæ, Mayan, 84, 106;
      Zapotecan, 157.
  Stocks, language, distribution of, 32-36.
  Stone, collars, Totonacan, 167-168;
      great development of building in, Copan and Mitla, 19;
      sculpture in, 60-63;
      yokes, 167;
      Zapotecan art in, 160.
  Stratification, archaeological, at Atzcapotzalco, 47-48, 169;
      Mexican sites, 45-46, 47-49;
      in Salvador, 49.
  Structure, two-roomed, Mayan, 79-81.
  Subtiaban stock, 36.
  Sumo Indians, culture of, 43.
  Sun God, Aztecan, 217, 231.
  Suns, sequence of, in Aztecan mythology, 233.
  Superstructures, on Mayan buildings, 83.
  Supplementary series, 123, 141, 142.
  Syllables, phonetic use of Mayan, 125, 127.
  Symbolism, religious, Mayan, 95, 98, 234.

  Talamanca, 44.
  Tarahumare, 33, 36.
  Tarascan, culture, 244-245;
      stock, 35.
  Tarascans, 44.
  Tattooing, shown on archaic figurines, 56, 58.
  Tecpan, 208, 209, 212, 213, 215.
  Temple, of the Cross, model of, 76;
      enclosure, Tenochtitlan, 212, 213, 215;
      structure of Mayan, 78, 79, 81, 83;
      of the Sun, Aztecan, 217;
      at Xochicalco, 179.
  Temples, Mayan, 78-83, 109, 146, 150;
      Mitla, 163-164;
      Tenochtitlan, 212, 213, 215;
      Toltecan, 170;
      Zapotecan, 157.
  Tenochtitlan, 25, 26, 27, 29, 34, 47, 209, 210, 213, 219, 242.
  _Teocentli_, sacred maize, 51, 52.
  _Teonanacatl_, peyote, use of, 38.
  Teotihuacan, 157.
  Teotleco, twelfth month, Aztecan, 237-238.
  Tepanecas, 47, 205, 209.
  Tepehuane, 33, 36.
  _Teswin_, 38.
  Teteocan, 233.
  Teteoinnan, 236.
  Texcoco, 172, 195, 203, 204, 209, 239.
  Textile, art, Cora and Huichol, 37;
      art, Mayan, 88;
      decoration, Aztec, 243;
      designs, on archaic effigies, 58.
  Tezcatlipoca, feast of, 26.
  Tikal, 75, 83, 146, 148.
  Time, count, Aztecan, 205;
      Mayan, 111;
      Toltecan, 172;
      Zapotecan, 161, 163.
  Time-relations, in New World culture, 249-252.
  Tizoc, stone of, 209, 215, 219-221.
  _Tlachtli_, Mexican ball game, 170, 179.
  Tlacopan, 209.
  Tlaloc, God of Rain, 58, 178, 215, 230, 231.
  Tlalocan, 234.
  Tlappaneca, 189.
  Tlaxcala, 25, 27, 34, 44, 209.
  Tlotzin, map of, 203.
  Toltec, era, and Quetzalcoatl, 171-175.
  Toltecs, 110, 149, 154, 156, 169-171, 203, 232.
  Tomb, cruciform, near Mitla, 158, 164.
  _Tonalamatl_, Aztecan, 113, 228, 238-239.
  Tonatiuh, the Sun god, 217, 221, 231.
  Topography, Mexico and Central America, 14-19.
  Totonacan, culture, 165-169;
      stock, 35.
  Totonacs, 187.
  Toxcatl, Aztecan month, 235.
  Traditions, Colombia and Peru, 250;
      Mayan, 104.
  Transition Period, Mayan history, 148-149.
  Trees, Mexico and Central America, 21.
  Tribes, Indian, Mexico and Central America, 33, 34, 35, 36.
  Tribute, lists, Aztecan, 243;
      roll, 200, 245;
      taken by Toltecs, 171.
  Tripod vessels, archaic period, 59.
  Tro-Cortesianus Codex, 128.
  Tropical year, 139.
  Tula, 169, 173, 179.
  Tulum, 150, 151.
  Tun, defined, 139.
  Tuxtla Statuette, 146, 153.
  Turquoise, Aztec work in, 243.
  Two-Headed Dragon, 93, 100, 101, 102, 105, 108.
  Tzendals, 44.
  Tzintzuntzan, Tarascan capital, 244.
  Tzolkin, defined, 113, 115, 117, 118;
      in Dresden Codex, 133-135;
      origin of, 113;
      permutation table, 114.

  Uayeb period, Mayan, 115.
  Uaxactun, 139, 146, 148.
  _Uinal_, lunar month, 112.
  Universe, Aztecan conceptions of the, 232-234.
  Urns, Zapotecan funerary, 159-160.
  Uto-Aztecan languages, distribution of, 33-35.
  Uxmal, 149, 150;
      House of the Governor at, 82.

  Vault, Mayan buildings, 79.
  Venus, Aztecan festivals in connection with, 239;
      calendar, Mayan, 143-145, 146.
  Viceroys, Spanish, in Mexico, 31.
  Vigesimal system of counting, Mayan, 118, 119.
  Volcanoes, Mexico and Central America, 16, 19.

  Wall construction, La Quemada, 182-183;
      Mayan, 76, 79, 81-83;
      Mitla, 161, 164.
  War God, Aztecan, 219, 237;
      Mayan, 103.
  War, importance in Aztecan organization, 209-210;
      Toltecan, 170-171.
  Weapons, shown in archaic figurines, 58.
  Weaving, shown in archaic figurines, 57-58;
      Cora and Huichol, 37;
      Lacandone, 41;
      Mayan, 88;
      Tarascan, 244.
  Whistles, Aztecan, 241.
  Writing, hieroglyphic, Mayan, 73;
      Mayan and Aztecan, 125-128;
      Mexican, 223-229.

  Xcalumkin, 134.
  Xipe, 178, 189, 232, 236.
  Xkichmook, 84.
  Xochicalco, 157, 179.
  Xochimilco, 48, 207.
  Xolotl, 204.

  _Yatacas_, Tarascan mounds, 244.
  Yaqui, 44.
  Yaxchilan, 75, 83, 94, 102.
  Year, bearers, Cuicatecan, 246, 247;
      conventional, Mayan, 114-117;
      length of Mayan, 112;
      Mayan, the true, 139-140;
      symbol, southern Mexico, 245.
  Yellow fever, presence in Central America, 148.
  Yokes, sacrificial, 167;
      designs on, 167, 168.
  Yum Kaax, Lord of the Harvest, 103.

  Zapotecan stock, 35.
  Zapotecs, culture of, 44, 156-163.
  Zero, invention of sign for, Mayas, 119.
  Zotzils, 211.


The following may be secured from the American Museum of Natural History
in New York City. If ordered by mail, add ten cents to list price of
Handbooks and three cents to list price of Guide Leaflets for postage.


North American Indians of the Plains. By Clark Wissler. _Third Edition_,
172 pages, maps and illustrations. _Cloth, $1.00._

Indians of the Southwest. By Pliny Earle Goddard. _Fourth Edition_, 205
pages, maps and illustrations. _Cloth, $1.00._

Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America. By Herbert J.
Spinden. _Third Edition_, 270 pages, map and illustrations. _Cloth,

Indians of the Northwest Coast. By Pliny Earle Goddard. _Second
Edition_, 176 pages, map and illustrations.

Peoples of the Philippines. By A. L. Kroeber. _Second Edition_, 244
pages, maps and illustrations. _Cloth, $1.00._

Old Civilizations of Inca Land. By Charles W. Mead. 117 pages, map and
illustrations. _Cloth, $1.00._

Essentials of Anthropometry. By L. B. Sullivan. _Revised Edition_, by H.
L. Shapiro. 83 pages, and illustrations. _Cloth, $1.00._

The Ancient Quipu or Peruvian Knot Record. By L. Leland Locke. 84 pages,
and illustrations. _Cloth, $3.00._

Peoples of Asiatic Russia. By Waldemar Jochelson. 277 pages, maps and
illustrations. _Paper, $2.50._

                             GUIDE LEAFLETS

The Indians of Manhattan Island and Vicinity. By Alanson Skinner.
_Fourth Edition_, 63 pages, and illustrations. _Paper, 20 cents._

Peruvian Art. A Help for Students of Design. By Charles W. Mead. _Fifth
Edition_, 24 pages, and illustrations. _Paper, 10 cents._

Indian Beadwork. By Clark Wissler. _Second Edition_, 31 pages, and
illustrations. _Paper, 20 cents._

Basketry Designs of the Mission Indians. By A. L. Kroeber. _Second
Edition_, 20 pages, and illustrations. _Paper, 15 cents._

Indian Costumes in the United States. By Clark Wissler. 32 pages, and
illustrations. _Paper, 15 cents._

The Maoris and Their Arts. By Margaret Mead. 38 pages, and
illustrations. _Paper, 15 cents._

Pottery of the Southwestern Indians. By Pliny Earle Goddard. 30 pages,
and illustrations. _Paper, 15 cents._

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

—Where possible, transcribed text within images.

—Silently corrected apparent typographical errors; left non-standard
 spellings and dialect unchanged.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America - Third and Revised Edition" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.