The more quickly "Mexicans" might have been rock Age hunter-gatherers from the north, progeny of a race that overcome the Bering Strait and reached north America approximately 12,000 B.C. A much more recent concept points come an earlier crossing of peoples from Asia come the brand-new World. What we do understand is the Mexico was occupied by 10,000 B.C. Sometime between 5200 and 1500 B.C., these early people started practicing agriculture and domesticating animals.

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The Olmec & Maya: The Pre-Classic duration (1500 B.C.-A.D. 300) -- agriculture eventually supported large communities, with enough surplus to cost-free some civilization from agricultural work. A human being emerged the we contact the Olmec -- one enigmatic world who settled the Tabasco and Veracruz coasts. Anthropologists to the them together Mesoamerica"s mother society because they created a pattern because that later worlds from northern Mexico to main America. The Olmec developed straightforward calendar, writing, and numbering systems, established principles of city layout and architecture, and originated the cult the the jaguar and the sacredness the jade. Lock probably also bequeathed the spiritual ball game typical to all Mesoamerican culture.


A defining feature the the Olmec culture was that is colossal carved rock heads, number of of i beg your pardon reside now in the Parque-Museo La Venta in Villahermosa, Tabasco. Their definition remains a mystery, however they were tremendous projects, sculpted native basalt mined miles much more than 80km (50 miles) inland and also transported come the coast, more than likely by river rafts. Their rounded, baby-faced look, significant by a peculiar, high-arched lip -- a "jaguar mouth" -- is an identifying note of Olmec sculpture.

The Maya human being began arising in the pre-Classic period, approximately 500 B.C. Understanding of this duration is sketchy, yet Olmec influences show up everywhere. The Maya perfected the Olmec calendar and also developed both their ornate device of hieroglyphic writing and also their at an early stage architecture. The civilization of Teotihuacán, phibìc of contemporary Mexico City, and the Zapotec the Monte Albán, in the sink of Oaxaca, likewise emerged approximately this time.

It"s every in the Game -- The ancient Maya play a ball video game of such importance that round courts show up in practically every Maya city (Bonampak is a rarely exception). They to be laid out in a funding I shape with sloping walls in the center. Comparable ball courts have been discovered as far south together Nicaragua and also as much north together Arizona.


Though we know small about this spiritual game, old depictions, early accounts through the Spanish, and the Popol Vuh (the Maya "bible") show that the solid rubber ball was heavy and could inflict injury. Wearing thick padding and protective gear, players developed teams of 2 to 10 members, the object being to propel the sphere through a stone ring or other goal using mainly the hips.

We also know the video game was component sport and part religious ritual based upon the Maya"s cosmological beliefs. It sometimes connected sacrifice, though we"re not sure whether the winners, the losers, or possibly prisoners of battle were sacrificed. In the Popol Vuh, the hero twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, an obstacle the lords of the underworld to a sphere game, played in component with the head the one brother. Ultimately the twins win and are permitted to go back to the civilization of the living. Play the sphere game, then, can have to be one method to cheat the underworld.

Teotihuacán, Monte Albán & Palenque: The Classic period (A.D. 300-900) -- The rise and fall of these 3 city-states space bookends come the classic Period, the elevation of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art and culture. Achievements include the pyramids and palaces that Teotihuacán; the ceremonial center of Monte Albán; and the stelae and temples the Palenque, Bonampak, and Calakmul. The Maya likewise made far-reaching scientific discoveries, including the principle of zero in mathematics and a facility calendar with which clergymans predicted eclipses and also the motions of the stars.


Teotihuacán (100 B.C.-A.D. 700 -- close to present-day Mexico City), a well-organized city built on a grid, is believed to have had actually 100,000 or more inhabitants at its zenith, led by an industrious, literate, and also cosmopolitan ruling class. The city exerted tremendous influence as far away as Guatemala and the Yucatán. That is feathered serpent god, Quetzalcóatl, join the pantheon of numerous succeeding cultures, consisting of the Toltec, who carried the cult come the Yucatán. Teotihuacán"s sleek aesthetics, obvious in that is beautiful, extremely stylized sculpture and also ceramics, display up in Maya and Zapotec objects. Approximately the 7th century, the city was abandoned. Who these civilization were and also where they went stays a mystery.

Toltec & Aztec Invasions: The Post-Classic period (A.D. 900-1521) -- warfare became more pervasive during this period, and these later human beings were less innovative than those of the classic period. The Toltec of main Mexico established their resources at Tula in the 10th century. Originally among the barbarous hordes the periodically moved from the north, they were influenced by remnants of Teotihuacán culture at some allude and adopted the feathered-serpent god Quetzalcóatl. The Toltec kept a huge military class, and also Tula spread out its influence across Mesoamerica. But their could was played the end by the 13th century, probably because of civil war and battles with intruders from the north.

The Maya that the Yucatán, specifically the Xiu and Itzáes, could have departed from the norm v their large trading networks and also multiple impacts from the external world. They developed beautiful cities in and also around the Yucatán"s Puuc hills, southern of Mérida, their design characterized by intricate exterior stonework above door frames and extending to the roofline. Exceptional examples include the Codz Poop at Kabah and also the palaces in ~ Uxmal, Sayil, and also Labná. Chichén Itzá, likewise ruled by Itzáes, was linked with the Puuc cities yet shows strong Toltec affect in its architecture style and also its cult the Quetzalcóatl, change the name Kukulkán.


The exact nature that the Toltec influence on the Maya is a subject of debate. An intriguing myth in main Mexico tells of Quetzalcóatl quarreling through the god Tezcatlipoca and also being tricked right into leaving Tula. Quetzalcóatl heads eastern toward the morning star, vowing sooner or later to return. In the language that myth, this could be a metaphor for a polite war between two factions in Tula, every led through the priesthood that a various god. Can the losing faction have actually migrated come the Yucatán and later ruled Chichén Itzá? Perhaps. What we do know is that this myth of Quetzalcóatl"s eventual return became, in the hands of the Spanish, a disastrous weapon that conquest.

Cortez, Moctezuma & the Spanish Conquest

In 1517, the very first Spaniards arrived in Mexico and skirmished with the Maya turn off the coast of Campeche. A shipwreck left numerous Spaniards stranded as prisoners of the Maya. One more Spanish expedition, under Hernán Cortez, came down on Cozumel in February 1519. The seaside Maya to be happy to tell Cortez about the gold and also riches of the Aztec realm in main Mexico. Disobeying his superior, the governor of Cuba, Cortez promptly sailed with his military to the mainland and embarked on among history"s many bizarre society clashes.


He landing in Tabasco, created a settlement in Veracruz, and worked his means up the Gulf coast during the height of the Aztec empire"s wealth and power. Moctezuma II ruled the central and southern highlands and also extracted tribute native lowland peoples; his biggest temples were plated v gold and also encrusted through the blood of sacrificial captives. A fool, a mystic, and something the a coward, Moctezuma dithered in Tenochtitlán while Cortez blustered and also negotiated his way into the highlands. The terrified Moctezuma was encouraged that Cortez was the return Quetzalcóatl. By the time Cortez arrived in the Aztec capital, the had built up 6,000 native allies that resented payment tribute come the Aztec. In November 1519, he took Moctezuma hostage in an effort to leverage control of the empire.

In the middle of Cortez"s maneuverings, another Spanish exploration arrived through orders to finish Cortez"s unauthorized mission. Cortez accelerated to the coast, routed the competitor force, and also persuaded the vanquished to sign up with him top top his return to Tenochtitlán. The capital had erupted in his absence, and the Aztec chased his garrison the end of the city. Moctezuma was killed throughout the attack -- whether by his own guys or the Spaniards is not clear. Because that a year and a half, Cortez to adjust siege to Tenochtitlán, aided by rival Indians and a disastrous smallpox epidemic. As soon as the Aztec capital fell in 1521, every of central Mexico lay in ~ the conquerors" feet, vastly broadening the Spanish empire. The king quickened to legitimize the victorious Cortez and ordered the forced conversion come Christianity of the new colony, to be called new Spain. By 1540, brand-new Spain contained possessions native Vancouver come Panama. In the 2 centuries the followed, Franciscan and also Augustinian friars converted numerous Indians to Christianity, and also Spanish lords built substantial feudal mansions with Indian farmers serving as serfs.

The rise of Mexico City & Spanish Colonialism


Cortez set about building a brand-new city ~ above the ruins of the Aztec capital, collecting the tributes that the Indians when paid to Moctezuma. Many paid in labor, which ended up being the version for building the brand-new colony.

Over the 3 century of the early american period, Spain ended up being the richest country in Europe from brand-new World gold and also silver chiseled out by Indian labor. The Spanish elite constructed lavish houses filled with ornate furniture and draped themselves in imported velvets, satins, and also jewels. Under the new class system, those born in Spain considered themselves exceptional to the criollos, or Spaniards born in Mexico. Civilization of various other races and also the castas (Spanish-Indian, Spanish-African, or Indian-African mixes) created society"s bottom rungs. Wealthy homesteaders lived extravagantly regardless of the Crown"s insatiable demand for taxes and contributions.

Criollo resentment of Spanish dominion following the 1767 expulsion that the greatly criollo Jesuit priest simmered because that years. In 1808, Napoleon attacked Spain, deposed Charles IV and crowned his brother Joseph Bonaparte. To plenty of in Mexico, allegiance to France to be unthinkable. The following logical action was revolt.


Hidalgo, Juárez & Mexico"s Independence

In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo collection off the rebellion in the town of Dolores, Guanajuato, with his grito, the fabled cry for independence. V Ignacio Allende and a citizens army, Hidalgo marched toward Mexico City. Back he eventually failed and also was executed, Hidalgo is honored as "the father of mexico Independence." an additional priest, José María Morelos, retained the revolt alive with several successful campaigns prior to he, too, to be captured and executed in 1815.

When the Spanish king who changed Joseph Bonaparte decided to institute social reforms in the colonies, Mexico"s conservative strength concluded castle didn"t need Spain after all. Royalist Agustín de Iturbide defected in 1821 and conspired v the rebels to declare self-reliance from Spain, through himself as emperor. However, interior dissension quickly deposed Iturbide, and Mexico was rather proclaimed a republic.


The young, politically stormy republic ran v 36 presidents in 22 years, in the midst of which it lost half its territory in the damaging Mexican-American war (1846-48). The central figure, Antonio López de Santa Anna, suspect the presidency no fewer than 11 times and also just can hold the document for frequency of exile. He to be ousted for an excellent in 1855 and also finished his job in Venezuela.

Amid proceeding political turmoil after ragtag mexican troops defeated the well-equipped French pressure in a battle near Puebla in 1862 (now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo), conservatives fixed to lug in a Habsburg to gain back control. V French backing, Archduke Maximilian that Austria ended up being emperor in 1864. After 3 year of civil war, the French finally abandoned Maximilian, leaving him to be captured and also executed in 1867. His devil and follower as president to be Benito Juárez, a Zapotec Indian lawyer and one that Mexico"s greatest heroes. Juárez did his finest to unify and also strengthen his country before dying that a heart attack in 1872, and also his plans and visions bore fruit because that decades.

Yucatecan freedom & the Caste War


In 1845, in the middle of political turmoil, the Yucatán"s landing oligarchy asserted independence from Mexico. They equipped the populace -- consisting of Indians who had slaved every their stays on the haciendas -- to safeguard the territory from invasion. The Indians, resentful of their serfdom, realized it didn"t much matter whether their oppressors resided in Mexico City or Mérida, and raised their arms against the landowners in what became the war of the Castes. The slaughter would continue, off and on, for 60 years.

The peasants soon controlled most that the countryside, capturing several towns and the city of Valladolid. Mérida, too, was on the verge of surrender simply as planting season arrived. Quite than press their benefit and take it the capital, the Maya inexplicably laid under their weapons to go back to their cornfields. Yucatecan troops conveniently regrouped, swore fealty come Mexico and also called because that a federal government army. Ultimately the Maya rebels to be driven back into what is currently Quintana Roo, whereby they were mostly left on your own, practically a nation within a nation, until a Mexican army with contemporary weaponry finally penetrated the region at the rotate of the 20th century.

Díaz, Zapata, Pancho Villa & the mexico Revolution


A few years after Juárez"s death, one of his generals, Porfirio Díaz, seized power in a coup. He ruled Mexico native 1877 come 1911, a duration now dubbed the "Porfiriato," keeping power through repression and by courting favor with an effective nations. With international investment come the concentration of good wealth in few hands, and also discontent deepened.

In 1910, Francisco Madero led an armed rebellion that ended up being the Mexican change ("La Revolución" in Mexico; the transformation against Spain is the "Guerra de Independencia"). Díaz was exiled and is hidden in Paris. Madero came to be president, however Victoriano Huerta, in collusion through U.S. Ambassador Henry roadway Wilson, betrayed and also executed him in 1913. Those who had answered Madero"s speak to rose up again -- the good peasant hero Emiliano Zapata in the south, and the look at invincible Pancho Villa in the main north, flanked through Alvaro Obregón and also Venustiano Carranza. They ultimately routed Huerta and began hashing out a brand-new constitution.

For the next few years, Carranza, Obregón, and also Villa fought amongst themselves; Zapata did not seek nationwide power, despite he fought tenaciously for land for the peasants. Carranza, that was chairman at the time, betrayed and also assassinated Zapata. Obregón ultimately consolidated power and probably had actually Carranza assassinated. He, in turn, to be assassinated when he tried come break among the tenets that the transformation -- no re-election. Not until Lázaro Cárdenas was chosen in 1934 go the revolution appear to have actually a chance. He applied massive soil redistribution, nationalized the oil industry, instituted plenty of reforms, and also gave shape to the judgment political party, which evolved into today"s Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI. Cárdenas is practically canonized by most Mexicans.


Of Henequén & Haciendas -- Commercial production of henequén, the thorny agave that yields the rope fiber we recognize as sisal (pictured), started in 1830. Demand reached heat pitch during world War I; through a virtual syndicate on the oro verde ("green gold"), Yucatán blossomed from one of Mexico"s poorest says to among its richest. In enhancement to their baronial dwellings along Mérida"s Paseo de Montejo, landowners developed plantations to satisfy their every comfort once they traveled to the countryside. Your haciendas to be small, self-contained urban supporting thousands of workers, and also each had its very own school, infirmary, store, church, cemetery, and also even a jail.

Invention of artificial fibers during human being War II ruined the henequén industry; exit haciendas came to be grand derelicts until a new generation of well-off Mexicans began turning them right into hotels in the early 1990s.

Modern Mexico


The presidents who adhered to were listed more for graft 보다 leadership, and the party"s reform principles were abandoned. In 1968, the federal government quashed a autonomous student demonstration in Mexico City, killing hundreds of people. Despite the PRI kept its tight on power, it shed its picture as a gradual party.

Economic progress, particularly in the kind of huge development projects, became the PRI"s single basis for legitimacy. In 1974 the government determined to develop a new coastal megaresort. To identify the appropriate location, data crunchers invited all the variables right into a computer. Out popped Cancún, and also Mexico"s economy readjusted forever.

The government weathered numerous bouts of society unrest brought about by routine devaluations that the peso. But in 1985, the destructive Mexico City earthquake brought down countless new, supposedly earthquake-proof buildings, exposing the prevalent corruption the had fostered the shoddy construction, and also triggering criticism the the government"s relief efforts.


Meanwhile, opposition next were getting strength. The two largest were the PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) top top the left and also the PAN (Partido Acción National) on the right. To ensure the candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, would win the 1988 presidential choice over the PRD"s Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (formerly the the PRI and also son of previous President Lázaro Cárdenas), the government simply unplugged election computers and also declared a mechanism failure.

Under push at home and abroad, the federal government moved to show a new commitment to democracy and even started to concede electoral defeats for state governorships and also legislative seats. Power struggles between reformist factions and also hardliners within the party resulted in several political assassinations, most notably that the PRI"s next candidate, louis Colosio, in 1994.

After the crippling economic situation the very same year, Gortari"s successor, Ernesto Zedillo, invested his 6 years in office trying to stabilize the economy and also bring transparency to government. In 2000 the shepherded the an initial true poll in 70 year of one-party rule. The winner was PAN candidate Vicente Fox, a previous businessman who ran top top a platform of economic liberalization and also anti-corruption. Numerous Mexicans voted because that him to watch if the PRI would relinquish power more than for any other reason. It did, however Fox didn"t prove to it is in the master politician that the case required. His efforts to construct a coalition through segments the the PRI failed, and he accomplished tiny during his critical 3 year in office.


The whisker-close and also bitterly discussed presidential election of 2006 experiment Mexico"s nascent pluralism. The vote tribunal"s ruling, denying the PRD"s request for a recount and declaring PAN"s Felipe Calderón the winner, to be profoundly unpopular. Losing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador did no take loss gracefully and provoked a constitutional situation that just time controlled to heal. President Calderón, recognizing the PRD campaign"s resonance v the poor, announced program to an increase employment, reduce poverty, and stabilize the skyrocketing price the tortillas.

His best challenge, however, has proved to be the great escalation of drug-related violence -- a conflagration attributed come his crackdown on traffickers who ferry contraband through Mexico on its method to the joined States. The violence, command at journalists and also government officials and rival drug cartels, is concentrated in six says along the U.S.-Mexico border and also parts of north and central Mexico.

As 2011 began, Calderón could claim a certain success in his battle on the cartels: He thrived in capturing or killing number of high-profile drug lords in 2010 and dismantled several cartel networks in the process. Together victories, however, further upset the balance of power as the establishments attempt to maintain their territory and grab turf from their weakened rivals. The result was the bloodiest year in Mexico"s history -- more than 11,000 deaths, increase from 6,000 in 2009. The gory turf wars have actually boiled up in previously quiet states such together Nuevo Leon, Morelos, Mexico, Colima, and also Jalisco.


Opposition to Calderón"s strategy has actually steadily mounted, and also 2011 brought brand-new tactics. The deployed more highly trained and better-paid (therefore much less susceptible come corruption) commonwealth police come Ciudad Juárez and also other crucial areas. Perhaps much more significantly, the legislature authorized harsher prison sentences for terrorist action while acknowledging the the cartel violence can be classified together terrorism. Merely characterizing the violence as terrorism raises two interesting possibilities. First, it has actually the potential to spike the level the outrage amongst the basic population, for whom tolerating cartel activity has end up being a given; second, it raises the opportunity of boosted U.S. Involvement in the conflict. Calderón is walking a good line; that doesn"t want the U.S. Come storm the border in the surname of counterterrorism, nor deserve to he be certain that he, quite than the cartels, will bear the brunt of publicly outrage.

With the July 2012 presidential election approaching, Calderón is boxed in. Since the July 2009 legislature elections finished the bulk rule of his PAN party, the competitor PRI has actually gained brand-new strength. He needs to reduce the human body count, and he"s running the end of both time and resources. That basically has actually two choices: accept U.S. Intervention, i beg your pardon carries its own political perils, or offer the cartels room to go back to a clear department of territory and also self-policing. As of this writing, Calderón had actually not tipped his hand regarding which path, if either, he can take to maintain his party"s politics future.

Southern Mexico -- particularly Yucatán and also Campeche -- remains blessedly removed from the fray, likely because it is undisputed territory. With some of the lowest casualty counts in the country, the an ar is a safer ar to travel than some components of the United claims or Canada. Yet blaring headlines around the medicine wars, linked with a tenacious worldwide tourism slump and also wariness left end from the 2009 flu scare, have actually kept travelers far in droves. Mexico"s tourism industry, especially around Cancún, showed solid signs of recovery in the winter the 2010 and also 2011, however travel costs have increased negligibly and also in some situations not in ~ all.


A tale of 2 Hurricanes

By 1988, when Hurricane Gilbert swept through, Cancún had an ext than 200,000 residents, with an ext than 12,000 hotel rooms and also another 11,000 top top the drawing boards. The storm"s destruction barely slowed the explosive growth; present resorts were promptly remodeled and reopened, adhered to by dozens of new ones. However the decision to cut hotel prices to lure tourists back, merged with the national drinking age of 18, had the unintended effect of make Cancún the spring-break resources of north America. Photos of binge-drinking college hordes changed idyllic scenes of couples and also families playing tag with turquoise waves.

Ironically, an even much more devastating hurricane rotate this photo around. On Oct. 18, 2005, Hurricane Wilma parked on top of the region, damaging it with 240kmph (150 mph) winds. Bridges linking the island Hotel Zone v the mainland city collapsed, electricity and water were the end for 10 days, and also the world"s most celebrated beaches were scoured under to rock. It was the most disastrous natural disaster in mexican history, surpassing also the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.


The government, insurance companies, and major resort hotel chains mobilized a substantial recovery effort. Repair of more than 11km (6 3/4 miles) the white-powder beach v sand pumped 35km (22 miles) indigenous the ocean bottom (a equipment that showed to it is in temporary and also was reprised in 2009 and also 2010 to do the repairs much more permanent) got the headlines, however a an ext important change was in the works. In ~ 3 months, 18,000 the the 22,000 hotel rooms were prepared for guests. Crews built brand-new roads, installed far better street lamps, planted hundreds of palms, and installed modern-day sculptures. In rebuilding, frequently from the soil up, resorts take it pains to distance themselves indigenous the spring-break crowd, walking bigger, better, and more luxurious than ever before -- with price hikes to match.

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