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By Hanns J. Prem

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

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Additional resources for Ancient Americas: A Brief History and Guide to Research

Example text

While those working the soil need to labor more than hunters and gatherers to gain their food, their diet is not well balanced overall, and failed crops are a greater danger due to a dependence on fewer sources of food. It has been suggested that human beings were forced into such disadvantage when their attempts to feed a constantly rising number of people could not be managed any other way. It is doubtful if early cultivation was consciously used to solve nutrition problems, or if it was even capable of doing so.

While historical researchers are conscious of the limits of their possibilities of insight and statements, some modern heirs of the old cultures and their sympathizers claim that they have a direct access, but this cannot be checked scientifically. Their assertions do allow insights into the thought processes of contemporary societies, but often falsify the image of past ones. This complex situation had to be taken into account in the present volume. The temporal and spatial extent and the difference of the cultures demand a concentration on the latest periods, especially the states of the Aztecs and the Incas, which were then the largest indigenous powers and as such commanded the center of attention of the conquerors, so that they were documented in the most extensive way and can be most clearly recognized.

On the base of one structure there is an almost life-sized battle scene painted in breathtaking realism: a group clad in jaguar skins fights man to man against another with bird helmets, whose features seem to be Mayan. In a second series of paintings inside a temple, victors and losers of the battle are confronting each other, illuminated and now complementing each other. Their disagreement, incomprehensible in its details, has been resolved into myth and presents the opposing pairings jaguar-feather serpent, night-light, and earth-sky.

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