Posted 23 September 2011, by K. Kris Hirst, About (New York Times), archaeology.about.com
Textbooks and general public outreach articles about Mesoamerica often of necessity split Mesoamerica into discrete pieces: Toltec, Aztec, Maya, Olmec. It is plainly easier for us modern types to think of (and write about) these groups as separate entities, separate cultures with distinct cultural ethos.
But in reality, or at least as close to reality as archaeological research can take us, there were many points of interconnectedness. Much of this is visible in evidence of religious beliefs, the systems that people use to make sense of their world. How did we get here, what happens when we die, what is the meaning of life? These are questions that are universal to human societies. Because humans are social beings, when we create our own personal understanding of the way the universe works, we use what we understand of our ancestors’ and our neighbors’ belief systems to create our own.
An example of one of these interconnected bits is the origin myth of Chicomoztec, the mythical Aztec and Toltec “Cave of Seven Niches”. Chicomoztec is an origin myth that argues that people came out of the earth, a myth common to many groups in Central and North America.
- Read Chicomoztec, contributing writer Nicoletta Maestri’s latest article, with extensive references
- More on caves and cave mythologies of North America
Or get into the nitty gritty with About.com’s
Photo of the image by Nanahuatzin