Olmec Culture: Cradle of Civilization   Sometime after 3000 BC the people settling along the fertile southern coasts of the Gulf of Mexico began forming a society. The “Olmec” (as they would later be called by the Aztecs) are one of the earliest cultures in Mesoamerica. They evolved without outside influence, making them what archaeologists […]

mor·tar /ˈmôrdər/ noun    1. a cup-shaped receptacle made of hard material, in which ingredients are crushed or ground, used especially in cooking or pharmacy. See also; “mortar and pestle” The Mortar was a widely used implement in many Pre-Columbian cultures. It played a key role in rituals and ceremonies but was also an important part […]

Faces of the Past: Pre-Columbian Masks   The first masks likely evolved from face painting in the Neolithic period. Since then, various types of masks have been used in nearly every part of the world. Masks are worn for protection, disguise, performance, ritual and in burial practices. Others are not worn, but represent the faces of […]

Ancient Avians: Birds in Pre-Columbian Art The humans that inhabited Central and South America before the arrival of Europeans were keen observers. Like us, they  marveled at the detail and diversity of life in their surroundings. How do we know this? Because their weavings, stone work, metal work and ceramics all come to life with […]

Gold of the Ancient Americas   The earliest evidence of worked gold in the Americas appears around 2000 BC from the region near the Lake Titicaca at the modern border between Bolivia and Peru. From there, the use of gold spread slowly northward up the coast over many centuries. By 100 BC it was in regular […]

The Baskets of Tiahuanaco The Tiahuanaco Culture flourished in the Bolivian Altiplano south of Lake Titicaca for over a millennia. At the height of the empire, from 300 BC – 300 AD, the capital city of Tiahuanaco was the major cultural and spiritual center in the region. Tiahuanaco’s builders engineered massive stone structures and courtyards […]

Primary Form: Mezcala Ancestral Figures   The Mezcala culture thrived in the modern state of Guerrero, on the west coast of southern Mexico for  six centuries (350 BC – 250 AD). Their civilization developed a simple yet sophisticated lithic tradition focused on representations of the human form. Two millennia before Rodin, Giacometti, Brancusi and Moore, these […]