Central Mexico Timeline Social Studies

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Central Mexico Timeline Social Studies

Central Mexico has a rich history that spans thousands of years. The region has been home to many civilizations, including the Olmecs, the Maya, the Zapotec, the Totonac, the Teotihuacán, and the Toltecs. These civilizations have left their mark on the region’s landscape and society.

The first human experiments with plant cultivation began in the New World during the early post-Pleistocene period. Squash was one of the earliest crops. This agricultural development process, which continued slowly over thousands of years, formed the basis of the first villages of Mesoamerica (including Mexico and Central America) .

Around 1500 B.C., the first major Mesoamerican civilization, the Olmecs, grew out of the early villages, beginning in the southern region of what is now Mexico. This period was marked by the effective cultivation of crops such as corn (maize), beans, chile peppers, and cotton; the emergence of pottery, fine art, and graphic symbols used to record Olmec history, society, and culture; and the establishment of larger cities such as San Lorenzo (about 1200-900 B.C.) and La Venta (about 900-400 B.C.) .

In the late Formative (or Pre-Classic) period, Olmec hegemony gave way to a number of other regional groups, including the Maya, Zapotec, Totonac, and Teotihuacán civilizations, all of which shared a common Olmec heritage. The Mayan civilization, centered in the Yucatán peninsula, became one of the most dominant of the area’s regional groups, reaching its peak around the sixth century A.D., during the Classic period of Mesoamerican history. The Mayas excelled at pottery, hieroglyph writing, calendar-making, and mathematics, and left an astonishing amount of great architecture; the ruins can still be seen today. By 600 A.D., the Mayan alliance with the Teotihuacán, a commercially advanced society in north-central Mexico, had spread its influence over much of Mesoamerica .

With Teotihuacán and Mayan dominance beginning to wane, a number of upstart states began to compete for power. The warlike Toltec, who migrated from north of Teotihuacán, became the most successful, establishing their empire in the central valley of Mexico by the 10th century. The rise of the Toltecs, who used their powerful armies to subjugate neighboring societies, is said to have marked the beginning of militarism in Mesoamerican society .

The early Post-Classic period began with the dominant Toltecs headquartered in their capital of Tula (also known as Tollan). Over the next 300 years, internal conflict combined with the influx of new invaders from the north weakened Toltec civilization, until by 1200 (the late Post-Classic period) the Toltecs were vanquished by the Chichimecha, a collection of rugged tribes of undetermined origin (probably near Mexico’s northern frontier) who claimed the great Toltec cities as their own .

The mighty Aztecs conquered their chief rivals in the city of Azcapotzalco and emerged as the dominant force in central Mexico. They developed an intricate social, political, religious, and commercial organization, with an economy driven by bustling markets such as Tenochtitlán’s Tlatelolco, visited by some 50,000 people on major market days .

Mexico was colonized by Spain in the early 16th century, and the Spanish ruled the country for the next 300 years. In 1810,