chapter  2
74 Pages

The Rise of the Mexican Nations

WithAlice B. Kehoe

Native American Indian civilizations reached a peak of technological and social complexity and population densities in southernmost North America, what is now Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras. The earliest great Mexican nation, the Olmec, lay at the north end of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, but came to be eclipsed by the Mexican and Mayan nations to the west and east, respectively. The distinctive Preclassic archaeological remains from the northern Tehuantepec area are named "Olmec. Historically, part of this region has been the homeland of a relatively small and politically insignificant people called the Olmeca, or in English, Olmecs. The Olmec civilization becomes recognizable about 1400 b.c. There are three major centers—San Lorenzo and Tres Zapotes, in southeastern Veracruz, and La Venta, just over the eastern border of Veracruz in Tabasco. San Lorenzo may have been the leading center of civilization in the earlier portion of the Preclassic period in Mesoamerica.