Mesoamerica Essay Topics

The Mayans of Mesoamerica Essay

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The Mayans of Mesoamerica

     The ancient Mayans were a very well developed society with a very accurate calendar, skilled architects, artisans, extensive traders and hunters. They are known to have developed medicine and astronomy as well. All of this was developed while the Europeans were still in the Dark Ages.
     Their empire covered an area of roughly 400,000 to 500,000 square kilometers. This area included the present day countries of Belize, Guatemala, western Honduras and El Salvador, and also southern portions of Mexico. These lands have a very diverse terrain, from the mountainous highlands to the tropical lowlands. The wide range of geographical features meant that the…show more content…

     The Maya civilization can be divided into three main periods: Pre-Classic, Classic, and Post-Classic. Their greatest accomplishments most likely took place in the Classic period. This period occurred between 250 and 910AD. An extensive trade network was in place during this period that allowed the civilization to grow as large as sixty separate kingdoms. Other technological advances also took place during this time.
     They developed their writing system, mathematics, astronomy, and calendars. Their study of astronomy allowed them to predict when there would be a solar or lunar eclipse. They also developed their calendar that is called the Long Count Calendar. The Long Count Calendar was not completely a Mayan creation because they inherited the basic form from the Toltec.
     The mathematics developed by the Maya was a base 20 numbering system. This is similar to the base 10 system we use today. The Maya were able to do this using only three symbols, the dot, the bar, and a symbol for zero.

The numbering system was written vertically instead of horizontally like the one we use today. The base level can be represented by 20^0, and each additional level increases the exponent by one. This is shown in the graphic below.

The Mayan calendar has a starting date of 3113BC that is given the year 0. It used their base 20 numbering system to represent periods of time. There

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Anth 336 New World Prehistory
Dr. Darlene Applegate
Fall 2006
Suggested Topics for Research Paper


Peopling of the New World       North America       Mesoamerica       South America

* look in the textbook for additional ideas *




PEOPLING OF THE NEW WORLD


GENERAL TOPIC IDEAS

when humans entered the New World

how humans entered the New World

where the first migrants came from / original homeland of humans who entered the New World

number of prehistoric migrations of humans into the New World

specific site that provides evidence of early human occupations in the New World (e.g., Meadowcroft, Topper, Old Crow Flats, Orogrande)

the lifeways of the first migrants into the New World

the contributions of a particular archaeologist to the study of New World peopling (e.g., James Adovasio, Tom Dillehay, Dennis Stanford)

new analytical methods used to answer questions related to the peopling of the New World (e.g., DNA, dental anthropology, linguistics)
 

SPECIFIC TOPIC IDEAS

the Clovis site:  defining the earliest period of human occupation in North America

the Monte Verde site:  redefining the earliest period of human occupation in the New World

evidence of Ice Age occupations at the Meadowcroft Shelter in Pennsylvania

early mastodon kill sites in the upper Midwest:  evidence from Michigan

evidence for pre-Clovis occupations in the New World

linguistic evidence of prehistoric New World migrations

new evidence of Solutrean (Upper Paleolithic European) migrations into the New World

the fluted projectile point tool tradition

subsistence adaptations of the early migrants

bioarchaeological evidence of the first Americans: a survey of the oldest human skeletal remains in the New World

the Kennewick Man controversy as it relates to the peopling of the New World

Vance Haynes:  in pursuit of the earliest Americans

how AMS radiocarbon dating and radiocarbon calibration are changing our understanding of when humans entered the New World

indigenous peoples' reactions to archaeological evidence and explanations about the peopling of the New World

how archaeological evidence and explanations about the peopling of the New World is presented in elementary and secondary school curricula




NORTH AMERICA


GENERAL TOPIC IDEAS

archaeological investigations at a particular site

the technological developments of a particular group

the subsistence adaptation of a particular group or in a particular area

prehistoric trade and exchange of a particular group or in a particular area

socio-political organization of a particular group or in a particular area

cosmology, belief systems or iconography of a particular group

the contributions of a particular archaeologist to the study of North American prehistory
 

SPECIFIC TOPIC IDEAS

Cahokia:  a late prehistoric city in the Mississippi valley

Jamestown: archaeological investigations at an early British settlement

Lower Shawneetown: an early historic archaeological site in northern Kentucky

archaeological investigations at the Spiro Mounds, Oklahoma

archaeological interpretations of the Medicine Wheel site

the archaeology of Pueblo Bonito

the painted pottery tradition of the American Southwest

beadwork in the Far West

ivory technology in the Arctic/Subarctic

Adena moundbuilding in the Eastern Woodlands

copper exchange networks in the Eastern Woodlands

the Hopewell Interaction Sphere

the adoption of maize agriculture in the Eastern Woodlands

the shift to food production in the American Southwest

bison hunting adaptations on the Plains

new evidence of cannibalism among prehistoric puebloans in the American Southwest

lifeways of the Thule in the Arctic/Subarctic

lifeways of the Desert Culture of the Far West

archaeoastronomy in the American Southwest

the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex:  pre-contact belief systems and iconography

the "myth of the moundbuilders"

the riverine expeditions of C. B. Moore

Frederick Putnam and the professionalization of American archaeology

Alfred Kidder's contributions to Southwest archaeology

the nature and consequences of European contact with Native Americans




MESOAMERICA


GENERAL TOPIC IDEAS

archaeological investigations at a particular site

the technological developments of a particular group

the subsistence adaptation of a particular group or in a particular area

prehistoric trade and exchange of a particular group or in a particular area

socio-political organization of a particular group or in a particular area

cosmology, belief systems or iconography of a particular group

the contributions of a particular archaeologist to the study of Mesoamerican prehistory
 

SPECIFIC TOPIC IDEAS

La Venta:  early Olmec site on Mexico's Gulf coast

city planning and architecture at Teotihuacan

archaeological investigations at Tula, the Toltec capital

patterns of pyramid use in Mesoamerica

jade use in Mesoamerica

Mixtec gold metallurgy

the Tehuacan Valley:  early evidence of plant domestication and food production

the use of chinampas in Mesoamerican agriculture

Mayan silvaculture

obsidian trade routes in Mesoamerica

the origins of the Classic Maya civilization

archaeological explanations for the collapse of the Classic Maya civilization

Formative Period cultures in Mesoamerica

social stratification in Aztec society

the were-jaguar motif in Mesoamerican iconography and art

the Mayan pantheon

the Danzantes of Monte Alban

the Mesoamerican practice of human sacrifice

Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire

Richard MacNeish's contributions to archaeological investigation of the origins of agriculture in Mesoamerica

Tatiana Proskouriakoff's contributions to the decipherment of Mayan writing




ANDEAN SOUTH AMERICA


GENERAL TOPIC IDEAS

archaeological investigations at a particular site

the technological developments of a particular group

the subsistence adaptation of a particular group or in a particular area

prehistoric trade and exchange of a particular group or in a particular area

socio-political organization of a particular group or in a particular area

cosmology, belief systems or iconography of a particular group

the contributions of a particular archaeologist to the study of South American prehistory
 

SPECIFIC TOPIC IDEAS

the Nasca Lines of Peru: new interpretations about their age and function

monumental public architecture at Macchu Picchu

sacred architecture at Cuzco, the Inca capital

trephination, an ancient form of skull surgery

archaeological evidence of "the myth of El Dorado"

Inca road systems

general patterns of pyramid construction and use in Andean South America

the quipu, the Peruvian method of record keeping

the textile industry in ancient Andean South America

archaeological evidence of the practice of mummification

Moche portrait vessels / head pots

the maritime foundations theory for the origins of complex society in Andean South America

animal domestication in Andean South America

social organization in Wari society

Tiwanaku empire building

the institution of the Inca [sacred kingship]

Chavin iconography

Spanish conquest of the Inca empire
 


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Page composed by Darlene Applegate, darlene.applegate@wku.edu
Last updated on September  9, 2006
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