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Article:Mesoamerica
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'''Mesoamerica''' is a [[region]] and [[cultural area]] in the [[Americas]], extending approximately from central [[Mexico]] to [[Belize]], [[Guatemala]], [[El Salvador]], [[Honduras]], [[Nicaragua]], and northern [[Costa Rica]], within which a number of [[Pre-Columbian era|pre-Columbian societies]] flourished before the [[Spanish colonization of the Americas]] in the 15th and 16th centuries.<ref>"Meso-America." ''[[Oxford English Dictionary|Oxford English Reference Dictionary]]'', 2nd ed. (rev.) 2002. (ISBN 0-19-860652-4) Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; p. 906.</ref><ref>(2000): Atlas del México Prehispánico. Revista Arqueología mexicana. Número especial 5. Julio de 2000. Raíces/ Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. México.</ref>
 
'''Mesoamerica''' is a [[region]] and [[cultural area]] in the [[Americas]], extending approximately from central [[Mexico]] to [[Belize]], [[Guatemala]], [[El Salvador]], [[Honduras]], [[Nicaragua]], and northern [[Costa Rica]], within which a number of [[Pre-Columbian era|pre-Columbian societies]] flourished before the [[Spanish colonization of the Americas]] in the 15th and 16th centuries.<ref>"Meso-America." ''[[Oxford English Dictionary|Oxford English Reference Dictionary]]'', 2nd ed. (rev.) 2002. (ISBN 0-19-860652-4) Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; p. 906.</ref><ref>(2000): Atlas del México Prehispánico. Revista Arqueología mexicana. Número especial 5. Julio de 2000. Raíces/ Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. México.</ref>
   
As a cultural area, Mesoamerica is defined by a mosaic of cultural traits developed and shared by its indigenous cultures. Beginning as early as 7000 BC the domestication of [[maize]], [[phaseolus|beans]], [[squash (plant)|squash]] and [[Chili pepper|chili]], as well as the [[Meleagris gallopavo|turkey]] and [[Xoloitzcuintle|dog]], caused a transition from [[Paleo-Indians|paleo-Indian]] hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent formative period, agriculture and cultural traits such as a complex [[Mesoamerican religion|mythological and religious tradition]], a [[vigesimal]] numeric system, and a [[Mesoamerican calendar|complex calendric system]], a [[Mesoamerican ballgame|tradition of ball playing]], and a distinct [[Mesoamerican architecture|architectural style]], were diffused through the area. Also in this period villages began to become socially stratified and develop into [[chiefdom]]s with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods such as [[Obsidian use in Mesoamerica|obsidian]], [[jade]], [[Cocoa bean|cacao]], [[cinnabar]], [[Spondylus]] shells, [[hematite]], and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important.{{sfn|Carmack|Gasco|Gossen|1996|p=55}}
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As a cultural area, Mesoamerica is defined by big giant balls of cultural traits developed and shared by its indigenous cultures. Beginning as early as 7000 BC the domestication of [[maize]], [[phaseolus|beans]], [[squash (plant)|squash]] and [[Chili pepper|chili]], as well as the [[Meleagris gallopavo|turkey]] and [[Xoloitzcuintle|dog]], caused a transition from [[Paleo-Indians|paleo-Indian]] hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent formative period, agriculture and cultural traits such as a complex [[Mesoamerican religion|mythological and religious tradition]], a [[vigesimal]] numeric system, and a [[Mesoamerican calendar|complex calendric system]], a [[Mesoamerican ballgame|tradition of ball playing]], and a distinct [[Mesoamerican architecture|architectural style]], were diffused through the area. Also in this period villages began to become socially stratified and develop into [[chiefdom]]s with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods such as [[Obsidian use in Mesoamerica|obsidian]], [[jade]], [[Cocoa bean|cacao]], [[cinnabar]], [[Spondylus]] shells, [[hematite]], and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important.{{sfn|Carmack|Gasco|Gossen|1996|p=55}}
   
 
Among the earliest complex civilizations was the [[Olmec]] culture which inhabited the Gulf coast of Mexico and extended inland and southwards across the [[Isthmus of Tehuantepec]]. Frequent contact and cultural interchange between the early Olmec and other cultures in Chiapas, Guatemala and Oaxaca laid the basis for the Mesoamerican cultural area. This formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. In the subsequent [[Mesoamerican chronology|Preclassic period]], complex urban polities began to develop among the [[Maya civilization|Maya]] with the rise of centers such as [[El Mirador]], [[Calakmul]] and [[Tikal]] and the [[Zapotec civilization|Zapotec]] at [[Monte Albán]]. During this period the first true [[Mesoamerican writing systems]] were developed in the [[Epi-Olmec culture|Epi-Olmec]] and the Zapotec cultures, and the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic [[Maya Script|Maya Hieroglyphic script]]. Mesoamerica is one of only five regions of the world where writing was independently developed. In Central Mexico, the height of the Classic period saw the ascendancy of the city of [[Teotihuacan]], which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area and northward. Upon the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition between several important political centers in central Mexico such as [[Xochicalco]] and [[Cholula (Mesoamerican site)|Cholula]] ensued. At this time during the Epi-Classic period the [[Nahua people]]s began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, and became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of [[Oto-Manguean languages]]. During the early post-Classic period, Central Mexico was dominated by the [[Toltec]] culture, Oaxaca by the [[Mixtec civilization|Mixtec]], and the lowland Maya area had important centers at [[Chichén Itzá]] and [[Mayapán]]. Towards the end of the post-Classic period the [[Aztec]]s of Central Mexico built a [[tributary states|tributary]] empire covering most of central Mesoamerica.{{sfn|Carmack|Gasco|Gossen|1996|pp=40-80}}
 
Among the earliest complex civilizations was the [[Olmec]] culture which inhabited the Gulf coast of Mexico and extended inland and southwards across the [[Isthmus of Tehuantepec]]. Frequent contact and cultural interchange between the early Olmec and other cultures in Chiapas, Guatemala and Oaxaca laid the basis for the Mesoamerican cultural area. This formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. In the subsequent [[Mesoamerican chronology|Preclassic period]], complex urban polities began to develop among the [[Maya civilization|Maya]] with the rise of centers such as [[El Mirador]], [[Calakmul]] and [[Tikal]] and the [[Zapotec civilization|Zapotec]] at [[Monte Albán]]. During this period the first true [[Mesoamerican writing systems]] were developed in the [[Epi-Olmec culture|Epi-Olmec]] and the Zapotec cultures, and the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic [[Maya Script|Maya Hieroglyphic script]]. Mesoamerica is one of only five regions of the world where writing was independently developed. In Central Mexico, the height of the Classic period saw the ascendancy of the city of [[Teotihuacan]], which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area and northward. Upon the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition between several important political centers in central Mexico such as [[Xochicalco]] and [[Cholula (Mesoamerican site)|Cholula]] ensued. At this time during the Epi-Classic period the [[Nahua people]]s began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, and became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of [[Oto-Manguean languages]]. During the early post-Classic period, Central Mexico was dominated by the [[Toltec]] culture, Oaxaca by the [[Mixtec civilization|Mixtec]], and the lowland Maya area had important centers at [[Chichén Itzá]] and [[Mayapán]]. Towards the end of the post-Classic period the [[Aztec]]s of Central Mexico built a [[tributary states|tributary]] empire covering most of central Mesoamerica.{{sfn|Carmack|Gasco|Gossen|1996|pp=40-80}}
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