Museum Collections - Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is defined geographically by the present-day countries of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Many distinct cultures developed throughout Mesoamerican history. According to the historical record, Olmec art was among the earliest artistic traditions to emerge - around 1200 B.C. The Olmec occupied the gulf coastal regions of Veracruz and Tabasco, which later became home to the Classic Veracruz cultures.
The Pacific coast region of West Mexico was home to ancient peoples known for their distinctive hollow ceramic figures. To the south in the Oaxaca valley, the Zapotec reigned over much of the highlands. Central Mexico saw the emergence of the large and influential city-state of Teotihuacan. Later, this same region saw the militaristic rise of the Toltec.
For centuries, the Maya region has been the realm of a politically diverse group of peoples united by shared cultural and religious values. The artistic and technological accomplishments of the ancient Maya continue to astound scholars today, while the strength and sense of a Maya identity endures among millions of descendants.