Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Teotihuacan and the Olmec Peoples

Lesson 10 Essay

         Mesoamerica, or Central America, extended to the south and to the east of central Mexico. Mexico had many civilizations including the Teotihuacan and the Olmec people. Although these civilizations were in Mexico, they didn't develop the same, but they had a few similarities. Let me explain.

        The Teotihuacan, established around 100 BC, were located in the valley of Mexico. They built very grid-like cities with streets going north-south and east-west directions. They continued to build their cities until around 250 AD. The city was, at it's peak, much larger than the city of Rome. They built adobe huts for the poor and the richer people got single story houses.
        The Teotihuacan were very famous for the stepped pyramids with temples at the top that they built. The largest of these temples is the Pyramid of the Sun.
                                                                Pyramid of the Sun
        They also had multiple trades: They were very agricultural. They were merchants in the salt trade. They were also very good potters; they had a thin orange pottery style that spread through Mesoamerica. They made weapons and tools from obsidian. Onyx and jade were used for decoration, along with carved shells and ear spools.

        Sadly though, the Teotihuacan civilization was destroyed by fire in 750 AD. They left no written records except calenders.

        The Olmec people were the first major civilization in Mexico. They lived in a tropical, jungle region of South-central Mexico. They had three major religious centers: San Lorenzo, La Venta, and Tres Zapotes. The Olmec also built stepped pyramids with temples on top like the Teotihuacan. Their gods were animal heads carved out of of stone. These heads can be found on the walls of the temples.

        The Olmec are most known for their huge, artful head statues carved from volcanic rock. Their writing was much like the Egyptian writing. They used hieroglyphs, but, instead of one hieroglyph per one word or phrase, the Olmec used one hieroglyph per syllable.

                                                              Olmec  statue
        The majority of the Olmec people lived in villages. These villages were located on higher ground and consisted of several scattered houses. A modest temple may have been associated with the larger villages. The individual dwellings would consist of a house, an associated lean-to, and one or more storage pits. They traded for obsidian, basalt, and jade.