A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other permanent surface. A distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture; some wall paintings are painted on large canvases, which are attached to the wall. Whether these works can be called "murals" is a subject of some controversy in the art world, but the technique has been in common use since the late 19th century. Murals of sorts date to Upper Paleolithic times such as the cave paintings in the Lubang Jeriji Saléh cave in Borneo, Chauvet Cave in Ardèche department of southern France. Many ancient murals have been found within ancient Egyptian tombs, the Minoan palaces, the Oxtotitlán cave and Juxtlahuaca in Mexico and in Pompeii. During the Middle Ages murals were executed on dry plaster; the huge collection of Kerala mural painting dating from the 14th century are examples of fresco secco. In Italy, circa 1300, the technique of painting of frescos on wet plaster was reintroduced and led to a significant increase in the quality of mural painting.
In modern times, the term became more well-known with the Mexican muralism art movement. There are many different techniques; the best-known is fresco, which uses water-soluble paints with a damp lime wash, a rapid use of the resulting mixture over a large surface, in parts. The colors lighten; the marouflage method has been used for millennia. Murals today are painted in a variety of ways; the styles can vary from abstract to trompe-l'œil. Initiated by the works of mural artists like Graham Rust or Rainer Maria Latzke in the 1980s, trompe-l'oeil painting has experienced a renaissance in private and public buildings in Europe. Today, the beauty of a wall mural has become much more available with a technique whereby a painting or photographic image is transferred to poster paper or canvas, pasted to a wall surface to give the effect of either a hand-painted mural or realistic scene. In the history of mural several methods have been used: A fresco painting, from the Italian word affresco which derives from the adjective fresco, describes a method in which the paint is applied on plaster on walls or ceilings.
The buon fresco technique consists of painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, lime mortar or plaster. The pigment is absorbed by the wet plaster. After this the painting stays for a long time up to centuries in brilliant colors. Fresco-secco painting is done on dry plaster; the pigments thus require a binding medium, such as egg, glue or oil to attach the pigment to the wall. Mezzo-fresco is painted on nearly-dry plaster, was defined by the sixteenth-century author Ignazio Pozzo as "firm enough not to take a thumb-print" so that the pigment only penetrates into the plaster. By the end of the sixteenth century this had displaced the buon fresco method, was used by painters such as Gianbattista Tiepolo or Michelangelo; this technique had, in reduced form, the advantages of a secco work. In Greco-Roman times encaustic colors applied in a cold state were used. Tempera painting is one of the oldest known methods in mural painting. In tempera, the pigments are bound in an albuminous medium such as egg yolk or egg white diluted in water.
In 16th-century Europe, oil painting on canvas arose as an easier method for mural painting. The advantage was that the artwork could be completed in the artist's studio and transported to its destination and there attached to the wall or ceiling. Oil paint may be a less satisfactory medium for murals because of its lack of brilliance in colour; the pigments are yellowed by the binder or are more affected by atmospheric conditions. The canvas itself is more subject to rapid deterioration than a plaster ground. Different muralists tend to become experts in their preferred medium and application, whether that be oil paints, emulsion or acrylic paints applied by brush, roller or airbrush/aerosols. Clients will ask for a particular style and the artist may adjust to the appropriate technique. A consultation leads to a detailed design and layout of the proposed mural with a price quote that the client approves before the muralist starts on the work; the area to be painted can be gridded to match the design allowing the image to be scaled step by step.
In some cases the design is projected straight onto the wall and traced with pencil before painting begins. Some muralists will paint directly without any prior sketching, preferring the spontaneous technique. Once completed the mural can be given coats of varnish or protective acrylic glaze to protect the work from UV rays and surface damage. In modern, quick form of muralling, young enthusiasts use POP clay mixed with glue or bond to give desired models on a canvas board; the canvas is set aside to let the clay dry. Once dried, the canvas and the shape can be painted with your choice of colors and coated with varnish; as an alternative to a hand-painted or airbrushed mural, digitally printed murals can be applied to surfaces. Existing murals can be photographed and be reproduced
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved, which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record. Sites may range from those with few or no remains visible above ground, to buildings and other structures still in use. Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a "site" can vary depending on the period studied and the theoretical approach of the archaeologist, it is invariably difficult to delimit a site. It is sometimes taken to indicate a settlement of some sort although the archaeologist must define the limits of human activity around the settlement. Any episode of deposition such as a hoard or burial can form a site as well. Development-led archaeology undertaken as cultural resources management has the disadvantage of having its sites defined by the limits of the intended development. In this case however, in describing and interpreting the site, the archaeologist will have to look outside the boundaries of the building site.
According to Jess Beck in "How Do Archaeologists find sites?" the areas with a large number of artifacts are good targets for future excavation, while areas with small number of artifacts are thought to reflect a lack of past human activity.” Many areas have been discovered by accident. The most common person to have found artifacts are farmers who are plowing their fields or just cleaning them up find archaeological artifacts. Many people who are out hiking and pilots find artifacts they end up reporting them to archaeologist to do further investigation; when they find sites, they have to first record the area and if they have the money and time for the site they can start digging. There are many ways to find sites, one example can be through surveys. Surveys involve walking around analyzing the land looking for artifacts, it can involve digging, according to the Archaeological Institute of America, “archaeologists search areas that were to support human populations, or in places where old documents and records indicate people once lived.”
This helps archaeologists in the future. In case there was no time, or money during the finding of the site, archaeologists can come back and visit the site for further digging to find out the extent of the site. Archaeologist can sample randomly within a given area of land as another form of conducting surveys. Surveys are useful, according to Jess Beck, “it can tell you where people were living at different points in the past.” Geophysics is a branch of survey becoming more and more popular in archaeology, because it uses different types of instruments to investigate features below the ground surface. It is not as reliable, because although they can see what is under the surface of the ground it does not produce the best picture. Archaeologists have to still dig up the area in order to uncover the truth. There are two most common types of geophysical survey, which is, magnetometer and ground penetrating radar. Magnetometry is the technique of mapping patterns of magnetism in the soil, it uses an instrument called a magnetometer, required to measure and map traces of soil magnetism.
The ground penetrating radar is a method. It uses electro magnetic radiation in the microwave band of the radio spectrum, detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures. There are many other tools that can be used to find artifacts, but along with finding artifacts, archaeologist have to make maps, they do so by taking data from surveys, or archival research and plugging it into a Geographical Information Systems and that will contain both locational information and a combination of various information. This tool is helpful to archaeologists who want to explore in a different area and want to see if anyone else has done research, they can use this tool to see what has been discovered. With this information available, archaeologists can expand their research and add more to what has been found. Traditionally, sites are distinguished by the presence of both features. Common features include the remains of houses. Ecofacts, biological materials that are the result of human activity but are not deliberately modified, are common at many archaeological sites.
In the cases of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras, a mere scatter of flint flakes will constitute a site worthy of study. Different archaeologists may see an ancient town, its nearby cemetery as being two different sites, or as being part of the same wider site; the precepts of landscape archaeology attempt to see each discrete unit of human activity in the context of the wider environment, further distorting the concept of the site as a demarcated area. Furthermore, geoarchaeologists or environmental archaeologists would consider a sequence of natural geological or organic deposition, in the absence of human activity, to constitute a site worthy of study. Archaeological sites form through human-related processes but can be subject to natural, post-depositional factors. Cultural remnants which have been buried by sediments are in many environments more to be preserved than exposed cultural remnants. Natural actions resulting in sediment being deposited include aeolian natural processes. In jungles and other areas of lush plant growth, decomposed vegetative sediment can result in layers of soil deposited over remains.
Colluviation, the burial of a site by sediments moved by gravity can happen at sites on slopes. Human a
Mesoamerican chronology divides the history of prehispanic Mesoamerica into several periods: the Paleo-Indian, the Archaic, the Preclassic or Formative, the Classic, the Postclassic and Postcolonial. The periodization of Mesoamerica is based on archaeological and modern cultural anthropology research; the endeavor to create cultural histories of Mesoamerica dates to the early twentieth century, with ongoing work by archeologists, ethnohistorians and cultural anthropologists. 10,000–3500 BCE The Paleo-Indian period or era is that which spans from the first signs of human presence in the region, to the establishment of agriculture and other practices and subsistence techniques characteristic of proto-civilizations. In Mesoamerica, the termination of this phase and its transition into the succeeding Archaic period may be reckoned at between 10,000 and 8000 BCE, although this dating is approximate only and different timescales may be used between fields and sub-regions. Before 2600 BCEDuring the Archaic Era agriculture was developed in the region and permanent villages were established.
Late in this era, use of pottery and loom weaving became common, class divisions began to appear. Many of the basic technologies of Mesoamerica in terms of stone-grinding, pottery etc. were established during this period. 2000 BCE–250 CEDuring the Preclassic Era, or Formative Period, large-scale ceremonial architecture, writing and states developed. Many of the distinctive elements of Mesoamerican civilization can be traced back to this period, including the dominance of corn, the building of pyramids, human sacrifice, jaguar-worship, the complex calendar, many of the gods; the Olmec civilization developed and flourished at such sites as La Venta and San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán succeeded by the Epi-Olmec culture between 300–250 BCE. The Zapotec civilization arose in the Valley of Oaxaca, the Teotihuacan civilization arose in the Valley of Mexico, the Maya civilization began to develop in the Mirador Basin and the Epi-Olmec culture in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec expanding into Guatemala and the Yucatán Peninsula.
250–900 CEThe Classic Period was dominated by numerous independent city-states in the Maya region and featured the beginnings of political unity in central Mexico and the Yucatán. Regional differences between cultures grew more manifest; the city-state of Teotihuacan dominated the Valley of Mexico until the early 8th century, but we know little of the political structure of the region because the Teotihuacanos left no written records. The city-state of Monte Albán dominated the Valley of Oaxaca until the late Classic, leaving limited records in their undeciphered script. Sophisticated arts such as stuccowork, sculptural reliefs, mural painting and lapidary developed and spread during the Classic era. In the Maya region, under considerable military influence by Teotihuacan after the "arrival" of Siyaj K'ak' in 378 CE, numerous city states such as Tikal, Calakmul, Copán, Palenque, Cobá, Caracol reached their zeniths; each of these polities was independent, although they formed alliances and sometimes became vassal states of each other.
The main conflict during this period was between Tikal and Calakmul, who fought a series of wars over the course of more than half a millennium. Each of these states declined during the Terminal Classic and were abandoned. 900–1521 CEIn the Postclassic Period many of the great nations and cities of the Classic Era collapsed, although some continued, such as in Oaxaca and the Maya of Yucatán, such as at Chichen Itza and Uxmal. This is sometimes seen as a period of increased warfare; the Postclassic is viewed as a period of cultural decline. However, it was a time of technological advancement in architecture and weaponry. Metallurgy came into use for jewelry and some tools, with new alloys and techniques being developed in a few centuries; the Postclassic was a period of rapid movement and population growth—especially in Central Mexico post-1200—and of experimentation in governance. For instance, in Yucatán,'dual rulership' replaced the more theocratic governments of Classic times, whilst oligarchic councils operated in much of Central Mexico.
It appears that the wealthy pochteca and military orders became more powerful than was the case in Classic times. This afforded some Mesoamericans a degree of social mobility; the Toltec for a time dominated central Mexico in the 9th–10th century collapsed. The northern Maya were for a time united under Mayapan, Oaxaca was united by Mixtec rulers in the 11th–12th centuries; the Aztec Empire arose in the early 15th century and appeared to be on a path to asserting dominance over the Valley of Mexico region not seen since Teotihuacan. Spain was the first European power to contact Mesoamerica and its conquistadores and a large number of native allies conquered the Aztecs. By the 15th century, the Mayan'revival' in Yucatán and southern Guatemala and the flourishing of Aztec imperialism evidently enabled a renaissance of fine arts and science. Examples include the'Pueblan-Mexica' style in pottery, codex illumination, goldwork, the flourishing of Nahua poetry, the botanical institutes established by the Aztec elite.
1521-1821 CEThe Colonial Period was initiated with Spanish conquest, which ended the hegemony of the Aztec Empire. It was accomplished with
A unique and intricate style, the tradition of Mayan architecture spans several thousands of years. The buildings most dramatic and recognizable as Mayans are the stepped pyramids of the Terminal Pre-classic period and beyond. Being based on the general Mesoamerican architectural traditions, these pyramids relied on intricate carved stone in order to create a stairstep design; each pyramid was dedicated to a deity. During this "height" of Maya culture, the centers of their religious and bureaucratic power grew into large cities, namely Tikal and Uxmal. Through observation of the numerous consistent elements and stylistic distinctions, remnants of Maya architecture have become an important key to understanding the evolution of their ancient temples; as Maya cities spread throughout the varied geography of Mesoamerica, the extent of site planning appears to have been minimal. Maya architecture tends to integrate a great degree of natural features. For instance, some cities existing on the flat limestone plains of the northern Yucatán grew into great sprawling municipalities, while others built in the hills of Usumacinta utilized the natural loft of the topography to raise their towers and temples to impressive heights.
However, some semblance of order, still prevailed. At the onset of large-scale construction, a predetermined axis was established in congruence with the cardinal directions. Depending upon the location and availability of natural resources such as fresh-water wells, or cenotes, the city grew by connecting great plazas with the numerous platforms that created the sub-structure for nearly all Maya buildings, by means of sacbeob causeways; as more structures were added and existing structures re-built or remodeled, the great Maya cities seemed to take on an random identity that contrasts with other great Mesoamerican cities such as Teotihuacan and its rigid grid-like construction. At the heart of the Maya city existed the large plazas surrounded by their most valued governmental and religious buildings such as the royal acropolis, great pyramid temples, ballcourts. Though city layouts evolved as nature dictated, careful attention was placed on the directional orientation of temples and observatories so that they were constructed in accordance with Maya interpretation of the orbits of the stars.
Outside this ritual center were the structures of lesser nobles, smaller temples, individual shrines: the less sacred and less important structures had a greater degree of privacy. Outside the evolving urban core were the less permanent and more modest homes of the common people. Classic Era Maya urban design could be described as the division of space by great monuments and causeways. In this case, the open public plazas were the gathering places for the people and the focus of the urban design, while interior space was secondary. Only in the Late Post-Classic era did the great Maya cities develop into more fortress-like defensive structures that lacked, for the most part, the large and numerous plazas of the Classic. All evidence seems to suggest that most stone buildings existed on top of a platform sub-structure that varied in height from less than a meter, in the case of terraces and smaller structures, to 45 meters in the case of great temples and pyramids. A flight of steep stone steps split the large stepped platforms on at least one side, contributing to the common bi-symmetrical appearance of Maya architecture.
Depending on the prevalent stylistic tendencies of an area, these platforms most were built of a stucco and cut stone exterior filled with densely packed gravel. As is the case with many other Maya reliefs, those on the platforms were related to the intended purpose of the residing structure. Thus, as the sub-structural platforms were completed, the grand residences and temples of the Maya were constructed on the solid foundations of the platforms; as all structures were built, little attention seems to have been given to their utilitarian functionality and much to external aesthetics. Though not an effective tool to increase interior space, as it required thick stone walls to support the high ceiling, some temples utilized repeated arches, or a corbelled vault, to construct what the Maya referred to as pibnal, or sweatbath, such as those in the Temple of the Cross at Palenque; as structures were completed extensive relief work was added to the covering of stucco used to smooth any imperfections.
These would continue uninterrupted around an entire structure and contain a variety of artwork pertaining to the inhabitants or purpose of a building. Though not the case in all Maya locations, broad use of painted stucco has been discovered as well, it has been suggested that, in conjunction to the Maya Long Count Calendar, every fifty-two years, or cycle and pyramids were remodeled and rebuilt. It appears now that the rebuilding process was instigated by a new ruler or for political matters, as opposed to matching the calendar cycle. However, the process of rebuilding on top of old structures is indeed a common one. Most notably, the North Acropolis at Tikal seems to be the sum total of 1,500 years of architectural modifications. Building Materials
Maya astronomy is the study of the Moon, Milky Way and other astronomical occurrences by the Precolumbian Maya Civilization of Mesoamerica. The Classic Maya in particular developed some of the most accurate pre-telescope astronomy in the world, aided by their developed writing system and their positional numeral system, both of which are indigenous to Mesoamerica; the Classic Maya understood many astronomical phenomena: for example, their estimate of the length of the synodic month was more accurate than Ptolemy's, their calculation of the length of the tropical solar year was more accurate than that of the Spanish when the latter first arrived. In 46 BC Julius Caesar decreed that the year would be made up of twelve months of 30 days each to make a year of 365 days and a leap year of 366 days; the civil year had 365.25 days. This is the Julian calendar; the solar year has 365.2422 days and by 1582 there was an appreciable discrepancy between the winter solstice and Christmas and the Vernal equinox and Easter.
Pope Gregory XIII, with the help of Italian astronomer Aloysius Lilius, reformed this system by abolishing the days October 5 through October 14, 1582. This brought the tropical years back into line, he missed three days every four centuries by decreeing that centuries are only leap years if they are evenly divisible by 400. So for example 1700, 1800, 1900 are not leap years but 1600 and 2000 are; this is the Gregorian calendar. Astronomers use the Julian/Gregorian calendar. Dates before 46 BC are converted to the Julian calendar; this is the proleptic Julian calendar. Astronomical calculations return a year zero and years; this is astronomical dating. There is no year zero in historical dating. In historical dating the year 1 BC is followed by the year 1 so for example, the year -3113 is the same as 3114 BC. Many mayanists convert Maya calendar dates into the proleptic Gregorian calendar. In this calendar, Julian calendar dates are revised as if the Gregorian calendar had been in use before October 15, 1582.
These dates must be converted to astronomical dates before they can be used to study Maya astronomy because astronomers use the Julian/Gregorian calendar. Proleptic Gregorian dates vary from astronomical dates. For example, the mythical creation date in the Maya calendar is August 11, 3114 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar and September 6, -3113 astronomical. Astronomers describe time as a number of days and a fraction of a day since noon January 1, -4712 Greenwich Mean Time; the Julian day starts at noon. The number of days and fraction of a day elapsed since this time is a Julian day; the whole number of days elapsed since this time is a Julian day number. There are three main Maya calendars: The Long Count is a count of days. There are examples of Long Counts with many places but most of them give five places since the mythical creation date - 126.96.36.199.0. The Tzolk ` in is a 260-day calendar made up of a day from 20 day names; the Haab' is a 365-day year made up of a day of zero to 19 and 18 months with five unlucky days at the end of the year.
When the Tzolk'in and Haab' are both given, the date is called a calendar round. The same calendar round repeats every 18,980 days - 52 years; the calendar round on the mythical starting date of this creation was 4 Ahau 8 Kumk'u. When this date occurs again it is called a calendar round completion. A Year Bearer is a Tzolk'in day name that occurs on the first day of the Haab'. A number of different year bearer systems were in use in Mesoamerica; the Maya and European calendars are correlated by using the Julian day number of the starting date of the current creation — 188.8.131.52.0, 4 Ajaw, 8 Kumk'u. The Julian day number of noon on this day was 584,283; this is the GMT correlation. At the time of the Spanish conquest the Maya had many books; these were painted on folding bark cloth. The Spanish conquistadors and Catholic priests destroyed them; the most infamous example of this was the burning of a large number of these in Maní, Yucatán by Bishop Diego de Landa in July 1562. Only four of these codices exist today.
These are the Dresden, Madrid and Grolier codices. The Dresden Codex is an astronomical Almanac; the Madrid Codex consists of almanacs and horoscopes that were used to help Maya priests in the performance of their ceremonies and divinatory rituals. It contains astronomical tables, although less than are found in the other three surviving Maya codices; the Paris Codex contains prophecies for tuns and katuns, a Maya zodiac. The Grolier Codex is a Venus almanac. Ernst Förstemann, a librarian at the Royal Public Library of Dresden, recognized that the Dresden Codex is an astronomical almanac and was able to decipher much of it in the early 20th century; the Maya erected a large number of stelae. These had a Long Count date, they included a supplementary series. The supplementary series included lunar data - the number of days elapsed in the current lunation, the length of the lunation and the number of the lunation in a series of six; some of them included an 819-day count which may be a count of the days in a cycle associated with Jupiter.
See Jupiter and Saturn below. Some other astronomical events were recorded, for example the eclipse warning on Quirigua Stela E - 184.108.40.206.0. A partial solar eclipse was visible in Mesoamerica two days on 220.127.116.11.2 - Friday January 18, 771. Many Mayan temples were inscribed with hieroglyphic texts; these contain both astronomical content. Maya astronomy was naked-eye astronomy based on the observations of the azimuths of the
Sacrifice in Maya culture
Sacrifice was a religious activity in Maya culture, involving either the killing of animals or the bloodletting by members of the community, in rituals superintended by priests. Sacrifice has been a feature of all pre-modern societies at some stage of their development and for broadly the same reason: to propitiate or fulfill a perceived obligation towards the gods. What is known of Mayan ritual practices comes from two sources: the extant chronicles and codices of the missionary-ethnographers who arrived with or shortly after the Spanish conquest of Yucatán and subsequent archaeological data; the historical record is more sparse than that for the Aztecs, can only be reliable in regards to the Post-Classical period, long after the Classic Maya collapse. The chroniclers have been accused of colonial bias, but the most comprehensive account of Maya society, by Diego de Landa, has been described by modern experts as an "ethnographic masterpiece”, despite his role in the destruction of Maya codices.
The archaeological data has continued to expand as more excavations are undertaken, confirming much of what the early chroniclers wrote. A major breakthrough was the deciphering of the Maya syllabary in the 1950s, which has allowed the glyphs carved into many temples to be understood. Excavation and forensic examination of human remains has thrown light on the age and cause of death of sacrificial victims; the Mayas engaged in a large number of festivals and rituals on fixed days of the year, many of which involved animal sacrifices and all of which seem to have involved blood letting. The ubiquity of this practice is a unique aspect of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture, is now believed to have originated with the Olmecs, the region's first civilization. Ritualised sacrifice was performed in public by religious or political leaders piercing a soft body part, most the tongue, ear or foreskin, collecting the blood to smear directly on the idol or collecting it on paper, burned. In what is today Nicaragua, the blood was smeared on maize, distributed to the people and baked into sacred bread.
The blood could be collected from the non-elite from the foreskins of youths, or from high-ranking women. The site of collection was of obvious ritual significance. Joralemon notes it is "virtually certain" that blood from the penis and the vagina were the most sacred and had "extraordinary fertilizing power" and that such rituals were essential for the regeneration of the natural world cultivated plants. In one dramatic variant men and women "gathered in the temple in a line, each made a pierced hole through the member, across from side to side, passed through as great a quantity of cord as they could stand, but auto-sacrifice could be an everyday event, with those passing by an idol anointing it with blood drawn on the spot as a sign of piety. Blood sacrifice to the Maya gods was vigorously opposed by the Spanish clergy as the most visible sign of native apostasy, as De Landa, to become the second bishop of the Yucatán, makes clear: "After the people had been thus instructed in religion, the youths benefitted as we have said, they were perverted by their priests and chiefs to return to their idolatry.
Upon this the friars held an Inquisition. Some of the Indians out of grief, deluded by the devil, hung themselves. Mesoamerica lacked domesticated food animals such as sheep and pigs, so animal protein and byproducts could only be obtained by hunting. Montero-Lopez argues that on the basis of analysis of the distribution of deer parts in Classical Maya sites, the archeological record does not support a clear distinction between the secular and sacred uses of animals. After deer, the next most common sacrificial animals were dogs and various birds, followed by a wide range of more exotic creatures, from jaguars to alligators. Animal sacrifice seems to have been a common ritual before the commencement of any important task or undertaking. De Landa provides the most comprehensive account of calendar festivals and rituals, but in none of these regular events is human sacrifice mentioned, which must mean his Maya informants were unaware of any instances since the cleric would hardly have suppressed such information.
The traditional view is that the Mayans were far less prolific in sacrificing people than their neighbours. Bancroft notes: "An event which in Mexico would be the death-signal to a hecatomb of human victims would in Yucatán be celebrated by the death of a spotted dog." But mounting archeological evidence has for many decades now supported the chroniclers' contention that human sacrifice was far from unknown in Maya society. The city of Chichen Itza, the main focus of Maya regional power from the Late Classical period, appears to have been a major focus of human sacrifice. There are two natural sinkholes, or cenotes, at the site of the city, which would have provided a plentiful supply of potable water; the largest of these, Cenote Sagrado, was where many victims were cast as an offering to the rain god Chaac. A 2007 study of remains taken from this cenote found that they had wounds consistent with
The Pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continent, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period. While the phrase "pre-Columbian era" refers only to the time preceding Christopher Columbus's voyages of 1492, in practice the phrase is used to denote the entire history of indigenous Americas cultures until those cultures were exterminated, diminished, or extensively altered by Europeans if this happened decades or centuries after Columbus's first landing. For this reason the alternative terms of Precontact Americas, Pre-Colonial Americas or Prehistoric Americas are in use. In areas of Latin America the term used is Pre-Hispanic. Many pre-Columbian civilizations established hallmarks which included permanent settlements, agriculture and monumental architecture, major earthworks, complex societal hierarchies.
Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first permanent European colonies and the arrival of enslaved Africans, are known only through archaeological investigations and oral history. Other civilizations were contemporary with the colonial period and were described in European historical accounts of the time. A few, such as the Maya civilization, had their own written records; because many Christian Europeans of the time viewed such texts as heretical, men like Diego de Landa destroyed many texts in pyres while seeking to preserve native histories. Only a few hidden documents have survived in their original languages, while others were transcribed or dictated into Spanish, giving modern historians glimpses of ancient culture and knowledge. Indigenous American cultures continue to evolve after the pre-Columbian era. Many of these peoples and their descendants continue traditional practices while evolving and adapting new cultural practices and technologies into their lives.
Before the development of archaeology in the 19th century, historians of the pre-Columbian period interpreted the records of the European conquerors and the accounts of early European travelers and antiquaries. It was not until the nineteenth century that the work of men such as John Lloyd Stephens, Eduard Seler and Alfred P. Maudslay, of institutions such as the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Harvard University, led to the reconsideration and criticism of the European sources. Now, the scholarly study of pre-Columbian cultures is most based on scientific and multidisciplinary methodologies. Asian nomads are thought to have entered the Americas via the Bering Land Bridge, now the Bering Strait and along the coast. Genetic evidence found in Amerindians' maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA supports the theory of multiple genetic populations migrating from Asia. Over the course of millennia, Paleo-Indians spread throughout South America; when the first group of people migrated into the Americas is the subject of much debate.
One of the earliest identifiable cultures was the Clovis culture, with sites dating from some 13,000 years ago. However, older sites dating back to 20,000 years ago have been claimed; some genetic studies estimate the colonization of the Americas dates from between 40,000 and 13,000 years ago. The chronology of migration models is divided into two general approaches; the first is the short chronology theory with the first movement beyond Alaska into the Americas occurring no earlier than 14,000–17,000 years ago, followed by successive waves of immigrants. The second belief is the long chronology theory, which proposes that the first group of people entered the hemisphere at a much earlier date 50,000–40,000 years ago or earlier. Artifacts have been found in both North and South America which have been dated to 14,000 years ago, accordingly humans have been proposed to have reached Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America by this time. In that case, the Eskimo peoples would have arrived separately and at a much date no more than 2,000 years ago, moving across the ice from Siberia into Alaska.
The North American climate was unstable. It stabilized by about 10,000 years ago. Within this time frame pertaining to the Archaic Period, numerous archaeological cultures have been identified; the unstable climate led to widespread migration, with early Paleo-Indians soon spreading throughout the Americas, diversifying into many hundreds of culturally distinct tribes. The Paleo-Indians were hunter-gatherers characterized by small, mobile bands consisting of 20 to 50 members of an extended family; these groups moved from place to place as preferred resources were depleted and new supplies were sought. During much of the Paleo-Indian period, bands are thought to have subsisted through hunting now-extinct giant land animals such as mastodon and ancient bison. Paleo-Indian groups carried a variety of tools; these included distinctive projectile points and knives, as well as less distinctive implements used for butchering and hide processing. The vastness of the North American continent, the variety of its climates, vegetation and landforms, led ancient peoples to coalesce into many distinct linguistic and cultural groups.
This is reflected in the oral histories of the indigenous peoples, described by a wide range of traditional creation stories which say that a given people have been living in a certain territory since the creation of the world. Over the course of thousands of years, paleo-Indian