Ancient Civilizations of the Americas Lecture 19 The Cultures of the Gran Chichimeca The arid region north of Mesoamerica is today called the Gran Chichimeca. It was a region inhabited, according to Mexica ethnohistory by the “Chichimecs.” Chichimec can be variously translated as “people of the dog lineage,” or “ nomadic peoples from the north.” The kingdoms of Postclassic central Mexico such as the Mexica and Tarascans claimed Chichimec origins even though they were speakers of unrelated languages. Today the Gran Chichimeca is inhabited principally by speakers of Uto-Aztecan languages such as the Mayo, Cora, Huichol, Tarahumara, and Yaqui. The Chalchihuites Culture Chalchihuites: “little green stones” Name given to Classic period cultures of Northwestern frontier after town of same name near archaeological site of Alta Vista in Zacatecas state. Teotihuacan colony model: Teotihuacan is now thought to have declined in the mid 6th century AD, during the Middle Classic period – too early to have founded Alta Vista (AD 400-850) or La Quemada (AD 500-900) as colonies. These centers may have risen as a consequence of Teotihuacan’s decline as independent agents of their commodities. Alta Vista, Zacatecas Sunken courtyard in front of the Hall of Columns The region around Alta Vista is rich in turquoise, malachite, jadite, “chalchihuites,” chert and flint. Ancient tunnels and deep pits have been found. Hall of columns – dedicated to Tezcatlipoca? (Lord of the North) After AD 700 Sacrificial cult appears – First Tzompantli in Mesoamerica constructed 800-850 AD Walkway supported hanging femurs and pierced skulls. 20 cm thick layer of human skeletal material found on the floor of Structure 4. Evidence of cannibalism noted. Temple of the Skulls reconstruction Pseudo-cloisonné bowl Alta Vista La Quemada • Located on a mountain in the Malpasso Valley. • May have been a “shrine site.” Sunken patio • Occupied AD 500-900 with the high point being AD 600-850. • May have been a “sister-center” with Alta Vista. • Hall of Columns contained bones from several hundred individuals in disarticulated piles. • On Terrace 18 were found structures that replicated those of the site core. Temple contained the remains of 14 individuals that had been displayed in groupings of similar bones.