Ancient Mexico

Overview

About 10,000 years ago, men and women entered what is now Mexico (some experts claim human settlement began thousands of years earlier). The first Mexicans were roving hunters who traveled in bands of twenty to fifty people. Eventually they discovered farming and built villages. The villages evolved into cities, which served as focal points for great societies such as the Olmecs and the Maya and later the Toltecs and the Aztecs.

Religion dominated the lives of ancient Mexicans. ...

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Overview

About 10,000 years ago, men and women entered what is now Mexico (some experts claim human settlement began thousands of years earlier). The first Mexicans were roving hunters who traveled in bands of twenty to fifty people. Eventually they discovered farming and built villages. The villages evolved into cities, which served as focal points for great societies such as the Olmecs and the Maya and later the Toltecs and the Aztecs.

Religion dominated the lives of ancient Mexicans. The people constructed massive pyramids and temples designed to worship the gods and determine their wishes. Mexico was both a beautiful and a harsh land where more than 3,000 volcanoes stood and earthquakes struck with terrifying frequency. Prolonged drought, especially in central Mexico, was a constant threat to the farming societies. The gods controlled the good as well as the hurtful forces in the natural world. Therefore, the gods must be comforted with gifts, and often those gifts included human blood and hearts. Human sacrifice-the ritualistic killing of human beings in order to please the gods-was widespread in ancient Mexico.

The accomplishments of the ancient societies are remarkable: The Maya were some of the greatest mathemeticians in all of antiquity and the Aztecs were among the finest engineers and builders. The period of ancient Mexico ended in the 1520s when Spaniards arrived from Europe and conquered the Aztecs. Today, ancient Mexico looms as a fascinating historical epoch filled with mystery and triumph.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Marla K. Unruh
Completing his series begun in 2007, the author presents a balanced view of both ancient and more recent Mexican history in these two volumes. In Ancient Mexico, the narrative begins with the Paleo-Indians and traces the rise and fall of Pre-Columbian peoples such as the Olmecs, Maya, Toltecs, and Aztecs. Competing theories concerning dates and origins are given a nod without impeding the flow of the text; however, omission of more recent historical thought is disappointing, particularly when Stein references a quote from 1994 that there may have been half a million people in Pre-Columbian North America. More recently, authors such as Charles Mann (1491[Knopf, 2005]), contend that there may have been 25 million people here when Columbus arrived. In Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican Revolution, Stein's clear-eyed, readable style makes Zapata a sympathetic character without overlooking his flaws as he, Pancho Villa, and other players struggled on the Revolution stage. Various generals and dictators fought each other, causing more bloodshed than even our Civil War. But of them all, only Zapata remained true to his vision of land and liberty for the disenfranchised poor. The love and loyalty he inspired keeps his legend alive today. In both books, maps, photos, and text boxes enhance the text, and the back matter includes timelines and websites. In spite of several mistakes that escaped the editor, young scholars will find this series helpful. They should, however, be encouraged to examine works with more recent references as well. (The Story of Mexico) Reviewer: Marla K. Unruh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599351612
  • Publisher: Morgan Reynolds, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Series: The Story of Mexico Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,491,271
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Land and Its First Inhabitants 9

2 The Olmecs 25

3 The Mystery People and Their Mystery City 37

4 Time and the Maya 53

5 The People of Monte Albán 67

6 Mexico in the Classic Period 77

7 The Toltecs: Warrior/Poets 85

8 The Rise of the Aztecs 95

9 The Feathered Serpent Returns 113

10 The Legacy of Ancient Mexico 129

Timeline 133

Sources 136

Bibliography 138

Web Sites 139

Index 140

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