Spanish conquest of Yucatán
The Spanish conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities in the Yucatán Peninsula, a vast limestone plain covering south-eastern Mexico, northern Guatemala, all of Belize. The Spanish conquest of the Yucatán Peninsula was hindered by its politically fragmented state; the Spanish engaged in a strategy of concentrating native populations in newly founded colonial towns. Native resistance to the new nucleated settlements took the form of the flight into inaccessible regions such as the forest or joining neighbouring Maya groups that had not yet submitted to the Spanish. Among the Maya, ambush was a favoured tactic. Spanish weaponry included broadswords, lances, halberds, crossbows and light artillery. Maya warriors fought with flint-tipped spears and arrows and stones, wore padded cotton armour to protect themselves; the Spanish introduced a number of Old World diseases unknown in the Americas, initiating devastating plagues that swept through the native populations.
The first encounter with the Yucatec Maya may have occurred in 1502, when the fourth voyage of Christopher Columbus came across a large trading canoe off Honduras. In 1511, Spanish survivors of the shipwrecked caravel called Santa María de la Barca sought refuge among native groups along the eastern coast of the peninsula. Hernán Cortés made contact with two survivors, Gerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero, six years later. In 1517, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba made landfall on the tip of the peninsula, his expedition continued along the coast and suffered heavy losses in a pitched battle at Champotón, forcing a retreat to Cuba. Juan de Grijalva explored the coast in 1518, heard tales of the wealthy Aztec Empire further west; as a result of these rumours, Hernán Cortés set sail with another fleet. From Cozumel he continued around the peninsula to Tabasco. In 1524, Cortés led a sizeable expedition to Honduras, cutting across southern Campeche, through Petén in what is now northern Guatemala.
In 1527 Francisco de Montejo set sail from Spain with a small fleet. He left garrisons on the east coast, subjugated the northeast of the peninsula. Montejo returned to the east to find his garrisons had been eliminated. Montejo pacified Tabasco with the aid of his son named Francisco de Montejo. In 1531 the Spanish moved their base of operations to Campeche, where they repulsed a significant Maya attack. After this battle, the Spanish founded a town at Chichen Itza in the north. Montejo carved up the province amongst his soldiers. In mid-1533 the local Maya rebelled and laid siege to the small Spanish garrison, forced to flee. Towards the end of 1534, or the beginning of 1535, the Spanish retreated from Campeche to Veracruz. In 1535, peaceful attempts by the Franciscan Order to incorporate Yucatán into the Spanish Empire failed after a renewed Spanish military presence at Champotón forced the friars out. Champotón was by now the last Spanish outpost in Yucatán, isolated among a hostile population.
In 1541–42 the first permanent Spanish town councils in the entire peninsula were founded at Campeche and Mérida. When the powerful lord of Mani converted to the Roman Catholic religion, his submission to Spain and conversion to Christianity encouraged the lords of the western provinces to accept Spanish rule. In late 1546 an alliance of eastern provinces launched an unsuccessful uprising against the Spanish; the eastern Maya were defeated in a single battle, which marked the final conquest of the northern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. The polities of Petén in the south remained independent and received many refugees fleeing from Spanish jurisdiction. In 1618 and in 1619 two unsuccessful Franciscan missions attempted the peaceful conversion of the still pagan Itza. In 1622 the Itza slaughtered two Spanish parties trying to reach their capital Nojpetén; these events ended all Spanish attempts to contact the Itza until 1695. Over the course of 1695 and 1696 a number of Spanish expeditions attempted to reach Nojpetén from the mutually independent Spanish colonies in Yucatán and Guatemala.
In early 1695 the Spanish began to build a road from Campeche south towards Petén and activity intensified, sometimes with significant losses on the part of the Spanish. Martín de Urzúa y Arizmendi, governor of Yucatán, launched an assault upon Nojpetén in March 1697. With the defeat of the Itza, the last independent and unconquered native kingdom in the Americas fell to the Spanish; the Yucatán Peninsula is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east and by the Gulf of Mexico to the north and west. It can be delimited by a line running from the Laguna de Términos on the Gulf coast through to the Gulf of Honduras on the Caribbean coast, it incorporates the modern Mexican states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Campeche, the eastern portion of the state of Tabasco, most of the Guatemalan department of Petén, all of Belize. Most of the peninsula is formed by a vast plain with few hills or mountains and a low coastline. A 15-kilometre stretch of high, rocky coast runs south from the city of Campeche on the Gulf Coast.
A number of bays are situated along the east coast of the peninsula, from north to south they are Ascensión Bay, Espíritu Santo Bay, Chetumal Bay and Amatique Bay. The north coast features a sandy littoral zone; the extreme north of the peninsula corresponding to Yucatán State, has underlying bedrock consisting of flat Cenozoic limestone. To the south of this the limestone rises to form the
For the region on Io see Chaac-Camaxtli Region Chaac is the name of the Maya rain deity. With his lightning axe, Chaac produces thunder and rain. Chaac corresponds to Tlaloc among the Aztecs. Like other Maya gods, Chaac manifold. Four Chaacs are wear the directional colors. In 16th-century Yucatán, the directional Chaac of the east was called Chac Xib Chaac'Red Man Chaac', only the colors being varied for the three other ones. Contemporary Yucatec Maya farmers distinguish many more aspects of the rain and the clouds and personify them as different, hierarchically-ordered rain deities; the Chorti Maya have preserved important folklore regarding the process of rain-making, which involved rain deities striking rain-carrying snakes with their axes. The rain deities had their human counterparts. In the traditional Mayan community, one of the most important functions was that of rain maker, which presupposed an intimate acquaintance with the rain deities, a knowledge of their places and movements. According to a Late-Postclassic Yucatec tradition, Chac Xib Chaac was the title of a king of Chichen Itza, similar titles were bestowed upon Classic rulers as well.
Among the rituals for the rain deities, the Yucatec Chʼa Cháak ceremony for asking rain centers on a ceremonial banquet for the rain deities. It includes four boys chanting as frogs. Asking for rain and crops was the purpose of 16th-century rituals at the cenotes, of Yucatán. Young men and women were lowered into these wells, so as to make them enter the realm of the rain deities. Alternatively, they were thrown into the wells to be drawn up again, give oracles; the rain deity is a patron of agriculture. A well-known myth in which the Chaacs have an important role to play is about the opening of the mountain in which the maize was hidden. In Tzotzil mythology, the rain deity figures as the father of nubile women representing maize and vegetables. In some versions of the Qʼeqchiʼ myth of Sun and Moon, the rain deity Choc'Cloud' is the brother of Sun. Chocl commits adultery with his brother's wife and is duly punished. Versions of this myth show the rain deity Chac in his war-like fury, pursuing the fleeing Sun and Moon, attacking them with his lightning bolts.
Chaac is depicted with a human body showing reptilian or amphibian scales, with a non-human head evincing fangs and a long, pendulous nose. In the Classic style, a shell serves as his ear ornament, he carries shield and lightning-axe, the axe being personified by a related deity, god K, called Bolon Dzacab in Yucatec. The Classic Chaac sometimes shows features of the Central Mexican precursor of Tlaloc. A large part of the most important Maya book, the Dresden Codex, is dedicated to the Chaacs, their locations, activities, it illustrates the intimate relationship existing between the Chaacs, the Bacabs, the aged goddess, Ixchel. The main source on the 16th-century Yucatec Maya, Bishop Diego de Landa, combines the four Chaacs with the four Bacabs and Pauahtuns into one concept; the Bacabs were aged deities governing its water supplies. In the Classic period, the king impersonated the rain deity while a portrait glyph of the rain deity can accompany the king's other names; this may have given expression to his role as a supreme rain-maker.
However, it is the war-like fury of the rain deity that receives emphasis. The king personifying the rain deity is shown carrying war implements and making prisoners, while his actions seem to be equated with the violence of a thunderstorm. About Chaac's role in Classic period mythological narrative, little is known, he is present at the resurrection of the Maya maize god from the carapace of a turtle representing the earth. The so-called'confrontation scenes' are of a more legendary nature, they show a young nobleman and his retinue wading through the waters and being approached by warriors. One of these warriors is a man personifying the rain deity, he represents an ancestral king, seems to be referred to as Chac Xib Together with the skeletal Death God, Chaac appears to preside over an initiate's ritual transformation into a jaguar. Klein, Chac: Dios de la lluvia, a film made with Mayan actors. Yopaat, a related southern Maya storm god Aktzin Braakhuis and Kerry Hull, Pluvial Aspects of the Mesoamerican Culture Hero.
Anthropos 2014/2: 449-466. Cruz Torres, Rubelpec. García Barrios, Ana, El aspecto bélico de Chaahk, el dios de la lluvia, en el Periodo Clásico maya. Revista Española de Antropología Americana 39-1: 7-29. Redfield and Alfonso Barrera Vasquez, Chan Kom. Roys, Ralph L; the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel. 1967. Taube, Karl, An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. Thompson, J. E. S. Maya History and Religion. 1970. Tozzer, Landa's Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán, a Translation. 1941. Wisdom, The Chorti Mayas
Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America. It extends from central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and northern Costa Rica, within this region pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. In the 16th century, European diseases like smallpox and measles caused the deaths of upwards of 90% of the indigenous people, it is one of five areas in the world where ancient civilization arose independently, the second in the Americas along with Norte Chico in present-day Peru, in the northern coastal region. 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 BCE, the domestication of cacao, beans, avocado, vanilla and chili, as well as the turkey and dog, caused a transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent Formative period and cultural traits such as a complex mythological and religious tradition, a vigesimal numeric system, a complex calendric system, a tradition of ball playing, a distinct architectural style, were diffused through the area.
In this period, villages began to become stratified and develop into chiefdoms with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods, such as obsidian, cacao, Spondylus shells and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important. 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 and Oaxaca laid the basis for the Mesoamerican cultural area. All this was facilitated by considerable regional communications in ancient Mesoamerica along the Pacific coast; this formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. In the subsequent Preclassic period, complex urban polities began to develop among the Maya, with the rise of centers such as El Mirador and Tikal, the Zapotec at Monte Albán.
During this period, the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures, the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya hieroglyphic script. Mesoamerica is one of only three regions of the world where writing is known to have 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, ensued. At this time during the Epi-Classic period, the Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, 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, the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán.
Towards the end of the post-Classic period, the Aztecs of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mesoamerica. The distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition ended with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Over the next centuries, Mesoamerican indigenous cultures were subjected to Spanish colonial rule. Aspects of the Mesoamerican cultural heritage still survive among the indigenous peoples who inhabit Mesoamerica, many of whom continue to speak their ancestral languages, maintain many practices harking back to their Mesoamerican roots; the term Mesoamerica means "middle America" in Greek. Middle America refers to a larger area in the Americas, but it has previously been used more narrowly to refer to Mesoamerica. An example is the title of the 16 volumes of The Handbook of Middle American Indians. "Mesoamerica" is broadly defined as the area, home to the Mesoamerican civilization, which comprises a group of peoples with close cultural and historical ties. The exact geographic extent of Mesoamerica has varied through time, as the civilization extended North and South from its heartland in southern Mexico.
The term was first used by the German ethnologist Paul Kirchhoff, who noted that similarities existed among the various pre-Columbian cultures within the region that included southern Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, western Honduras, the Pacific lowlands of Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica. In the tradition of cultural history, the prevalent archaeological theory of the early to middle 20th century, Kirchhoff defined this zone as a cultural area based on a suite of interrelated cultural similarities brought about by millennia of inter- and intra-regional interaction. Mesoamerica is recognized as a near-prototypical cultural area, the term is now integrated in the standard terminology of pre-Columbian anthropological studies. Conversely, the sister terms Aridoamerica and Oasisamerica, which refer to northern Mexico and the western United States have not entered into widespread usage; some of the significant cultural traits defining the Mesoamerican cultural tradition are: sedentism based on maize agricultu
The Motagua River is a 486-kilometre long river in Guatemala. It rises in the western highlands of Guatemala where it is called Río Grande, runs in an easterly direction to the Gulf of Honduras; the final few kilometres of the river form part of the Guatemala/Honduras border. The Motagua River basin is the largest in Guatemala; the river runs in a valley that has the only known source of jadeitite in Mesoamerica, was an important commerce route during the Pre-Columbian era. The important Maya site of Quirigua is near the river's north bank, as are several smaller sites with jade quarries and workshops; the Motagua river valley marks the Motagua Fault, the tectonic boundary between the North American and the Caribbean Plates. The Motagua fault has been the source of several major earthquakes in Guatemala. Much like Lake Amatitlán, the river is polluted with untreated sewage, industrial waste, tons of sediment and blackwater from Guatemala City. Río Cocoyá, Río Cotón, Río Suchicul, Río Morazán, Río Comajá, Río Lato, Río Huijo, Río La Palmilla, Río Teculutan, Río Pasabien, Río Hondo, Río Jones, RíoLos Achiotes, Río Mayuelas, Río El Lobo, Quebrada Agua Fría, Quebrada La Vegega, Río Las Conchas Río Chipaca, Rio Agua Escondida, Rio Quisaya, Rio Pixcayá, Río Cotzibal, Río Las Vacas, Río Grande, Río Ovejas, Río El Tambor, Río San Vicente, Río Grande o Zapaca, Río Carí, Río Las Naranjas, Río Biafra, Río El Islote, Río Jubuco, Río Lagarto, Río Tepemechín, Río Juyamá, Río Bobos, Río Animas, Río Chiquito, Río Nuevo o Cacao Map of Guatemala including the river Jade sources in The Motagua River Valley
Trade in Maya civilization
Trade in Maya civilization was a crucial factor in renaming Maya cities. Chief staples of Maya economic activities were centered around foods like fish, yams, honey, turkey, chocolate drinks; the Maya had an important service sector, through which mathematicians, farming consultants, architects, astronomers and artists would sell their services. Specialized craftsmen played a large part, creating luxury items and developing devices to overcome specific problems by royal decree, they engaged in long range trade of any other necessities such as salt, potato and luxury items because there was a large need for trade in order to bring such basic goods together. The types of trade varied regionally with specific districts of kingdoms specializing in a specific trade which contained workers of every skill set needed to produce their designated specialty. Areas were given a designated specialty based upon the resources available in their areas which allowed for rapid production and distribution of a regions products.
The Maya relied on a strong middle class of skilled and semi-skilled workers and artisans which produced both commodities and specialized goods. Governing this middle class was smaller class of specially educated merchant governors who would direct regional economies based upon simple supply and demand analysis who would place mass orders as needed by other regions. Above the merchants were skilled specialists such as artists, architects, astronomers; the specialist class would sell their services and create luxury goods based upon their specific skill set. At the top of the structure was a ruler, or rulers, an array of advisers who would manage trade with other kingdoms, ensure that regions remained stable, inject capital into specific sectors and authorize construction of large public works. For decades, Maya exchange systems and overall economic systems have been viewed as overly simplistic and adhering to ideas of preindustrial political economies put forth by Polanyi. In the mid-20th century, political economy was examined with an emphasis on identifying the evolution of political organization rather than understanding the economic systems that set the foundation for how they function.
Polanyi put forth three modes of exchange for the Maya: reciprocity and market exchange, which limited Maya societies to chiefdom levels of societal complexity. In Polanyi's model of Maya economy there existed centralized control of exchange by the elite members of society who maintained their status and a system of civic-ceremonial infrastructure through taxation of tribute goods followed by redistribution down the social ladder to secure loyalty and fealty from others. Polanyi's legacy and the subsequent substantivist versus formalist debate have reduced interest in the discussion of preindustrial market economies and have created a market/no market dichotomy in political economy literature. However, as more research has been conducted on Maya trade and exchange systems there have been multiple models put forth that recognize higher levels of complexity, various degrees of participation, fluctuating economic scales related to political organization and collapse; the delineation of trade routes, acceptance of marketplaces and market exchange economies, has increased due in large part to the archaeological research surrounding Maya obsidian procurement, distribution and exchange.
It is now believed that Classic Maya cities were integrated and urbanized, featuring marketplaces and market economies to exchange many goods including obsidian. A market exchange mechanism has been noted at Classic period Calakmul murals that depict a range of specialists near an area that appears to be a market. Linguistic evidence shows that there are words in the Yucatec Maya language for “market” and “where one buys and sells”; the Classic Maya region is integrated into the overall trade network but it appears that several routes connected the East and West due to the variety of large, urbanized Maya centers as well as marketplace distribution economies. At Late Classic Coba, marketplaces were determined to have existed in two large plazas that featured multiple causeway entrances, linear/parallel market stall architecture, geochemical signatures of high Phosphorus levels in arranged patterns which indicate the presence of traded organic goods. In the Puuc region, more central Mexican obsidian entered and while it does appear to be limited to elites only it does appear to be a commercialized and valued exchange good linked to Chichen Itza and market distribution.
The Maya used several different mediums of exchange and in the trading of food commodities, the barter system was used for large orders. Cacao beans were used for everyday exchange in Postclassic times. For more expensive purchases gold and copper were used as a means of exchange.a However, these mediums of exchange are not "money" in the modern sense, in different sites and cities, these mediums of exchange were valued differently. Because of the available trade resources and local merchants in most of the Maya territo
History of the Maya civilization
The history of Maya civilization is divided into three principal periods: the Preclassic and Postclassic periods. Modern scholars regard these periods as arbitrary divisions of chronology of the Maya civilization, rather than indicative of cultural evolution or decadence. Definitions of the start and end dates of period spans can vary by as much as a century, depending on the author; the Preclassic lasted from 2000 BC to 250 AD. Each period is further subdivided: The Maya developed their first civilization in the Preclassic period. Scholars continue to discuss. Discoveries of Maya occupation at Cuello, Belize have been carbon dated to around 2600 BC. Settlements were established around 1800 BC in the Soconusco region of the Pacific coast, they were cultivating the staple crops of the Maya diet, including maize, beans and chili pepper; this period, known as the Early Preclassic, was characterized by sedentary communities and the introduction of pottery and fired clay figurines. During the Middle Preclassic Period, small villages began to grow to form cities.
By 500 BC these cities possessed large temple structures decorated with stucco masks representing gods. Nakbe in the Petén Department of Guatemala is the earliest well-documented city in the Maya lowlands, where large structures have been dated to around 750 BC. Nakbe featured the monumental masonry architecture, sculpted monuments and causeways that characterised cities in the Maya lowlands; the northern lowlands of Yucatán were settled by the Middle Preclassic. By 400 BC, near the end of the Middle Preclassic period, early Maya rulers were raising stelae that celebrated their achievements and validated their right to rule. Murals excavated in 2005 have pushed back the origin of Maya writing by several centuries, with a developed script being used at San Bartolo in Petén by the 3rd century BC, it is now evident that the Maya participated in the wider development of Mesoamerican writing in the Preclassic. In the Late Preclassic Period, the enormous city of El Mirador grew to cover 16 square kilometres.
It possessed paved avenues, massive triadic pyramid complexes dated to around 150 BC, stelae and altars that were erected in its plazas. El Mirador is considered to be one of the first capital cities of the Maya civilization; the swamps of the Mirador Basin appear to have been the primary attraction for the first inhabitants of the area as evidenced by the unusual cluster of large cities around them. The city of Tikal to be one of the most important of the Classic Period Maya cities, was a significant city by around 350 BC, although it did not match El Mirador; the Late Preclassic cultural florescence collapsed in the 1st century AD and many of the great Maya cities of the epoch were abandoned. In the highlands, Kaminaljuyu emerged as a principal centre in the Late Preclassic, linking the Pacific coastal trade routes with the Motagua River route, as well as demonstrating increased contact with other sites along the Pacific coast. Kaminaljuyu was situated at a crossroads and controlled the trade routes westwards to the Gulf coast, north into the highlands, along the Pacific coastal plain to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and El Salvador.
This gave it control over the distribution networks for important goods such as jade and cinnabar. Within this extended trade route, Takalik Abaj and Kaminaljuyu appear to have been the two principal foci; the early Maya style of sculpture spread throughout this network. Takalik Abaj and Chocolá were two of the most important cities on the Pacific coastal plain during the Late Preclassic, Komchen grew to become an important site in northern Yucatán during the Preclassic; the Classic period is defined as the period during which the lowland Maya raised dated monuments using the Long Count calendar. This period marked the peak of large-scale construction and urbanism, the recording of monumental inscriptions, demonstrated significant intellectual and artistic development in the southern lowland regions; the Classic period Maya political landscape has been likened to that of Renaissance Italy or Classical Greece, with multiple city-states engaged in a complex network of alliances and enmities. During the Classic Period, the Maya civilization achieved its greatest florescence.
The Maya developed an agriculturally intensive, city-centred civilization consisting of numerous independent city-states – some subservient to others. During the Early Classic, cities throughout the Maya region were influenced by the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico. In AD 378, Teotihuacan decisively intervened at Tikal and other nearby cities, deposed its ruler and installed a new Teotihuacan-backed dynasty; this intervention was led by Siyaj Kʼakʼ, who arrived at Tikal on 220.127.116.11.12. The king of Tikal, Chak Tok Ichʼaak I, died on the same day. A year Siyaj Kʼakʼ oversaw the installation of a new king, Yax Nuun Ayiin I; the new king's father was Spearthrower Owl, who possessed a central Mexican name, may have been the king of either Teotihuacan, or Kaminaljuyu. The installation of the new dynasty led to a period of political dominance when Tikal became the most powerful city in the central lowlands. At its height during the Late Classic, the Tikal city polity had expanded to have a population of well over 1