Week 1: Introduction to Mesoamerican Archaeology
We will begin with a brief introduction to archaeology: finding sites, recognizing artifacts, excavation, and dating techniques. We finish with the earliest occupations of Mexico, elephant hunters, the origins of corn (maize) agriculture, and Monte Albán, one of the New World’s oldest cities.
Week 2: The Olmec, the Oldest Civilization in the Americas
We discuss several Olmec centres, including San Lorenzo, home of many of the Olmec colossal heads, and La Venta, possibly the earliest empire in the Americas.
Week 3: Teotihuacán, Mesoamerica’s First Major Power Centre
In this lecture, we will emphasize the Avenue of the Dead, including the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. We will also discuss ritual behaviour and human sacrifice, apartment life, the murals of Teotihucán, and the presence of a civilization without writing.
Week 4: The Early Classic Maya
Our focus will be particularly on Tikal, Guatemala. Topics will include Early Classic ritual behaviour, warfare, and state expansion; the origins of conquest warfare at Uaxactún; the Tikal-Teotihuacán-Kaminaljuyu connection; and, finally, the conquest of Tikal and the Hiatus Period.
Week 5: The Late Classic Maya
In this lecture, we will explore the Copan, Palenque, Tikal (again), Quirigua, Caracól, and the Petexbatun regions. We will continue with the Classic Maya collapse and theories explaining this phenomenon.
Week 6: The Toltecs, the Tula, and Post-Classic Maya
We begin with central Mexico’s Toltecs and Tula and the Post-Classic Maya of Uxmal and Chichén Itzá, and conclude with the Aztecs and their capital at Tenochtitán. Topics include warfare and the Aztec state; human sacrifice and ritual; the return of Quetzalcoatl, and the coming of the Spanish.