Middle American Culture

Before 1492, modern-day Mexico, most of Central America, and the southwestern United States comprised an area now known as Meso, or Middle, America. Meso American peoples shared many elements of culture: pictographic and hieroglyphic forms of writing; monumental architecture; a diet primarily of corn, beans, squash and chiles; weaving of cotton cloth; and extensive trade networks. While most people lived by working the land, many societies also included nobles and priests, warriors, craftsmen, and merchants.

The Mexica (Aztec) had formed a powerful state in the central valley of Mexico and conquered many neighboring states by the late 15th century. The bustling island capital, Tenochtitlan, with a population of perhaps 200,000, was located in the middle of Lake Texcoco. Groups like the Tarascans in the west and Zapotecs to the South, however, remained relatively independent. Even states that had been absorbed by the Mexica retained their rulers as well as their religion, language, and lands.

Continue the Voyage with The Andes: Life in the Highlands or abandon ship and use the Outline.