Atlas of Ancient America

by Michael Coe

Hardcover, 1986


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Call number

E61 .C66


Checkmark Books (1986), 240 pages


Text, illustrations, and maps survey the history, art, and archaeology of the original cultures native to North, Central, and South America.

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LibraryThing member keylawk
The science of archeology was initiated by Thomas Jefferson around 1782. [25] A century before stratigraphic excavation was practiced anywhere else in the world, Jefferson directed the trenching of a burial mound on his Virginia estate, noting four superimposed layers and the practice of group burial.

This Atlas is a scholarly work with maps, gazeteer, biobiography, and index.

The collapse of population brought about by indigenous factors is documented. [60, the vacant quarter in the heartland/Mississippi delta], 15 Nazca] well before 1300 AD.

The leyenda negra is exploded, but so is the encomiendas system. "As Las Casas tirelessly pointed out, Spaniards tended to ignore the duties imposed upon them by the system--the preservation and protection of the Indians, the provision of priests and schools--while imposing tribute and labor demands of such intensity that they distorted and destroyed native communities." [22]

Demographics -- Epidemics often preceded the first attempts to reconstruct demographic data. Best estimates are that people were scarce in the Arctic, Subarctic, Plains and Great Basin. Medium densities of 1-100 per 100 kilometers in Southern Canada, Plateau and Northeastern Mexico. High densities, of more than 100/100, probably characterized the rest of the continent. [21] The authors seem to acknowledge the drastic declines caused by post-1600 epidemics of smallpox, measles, influenza and other pathogens.[21]

In Peru, the native population is estimated to have fallen from 9 million in 1533 to 500,000 by the 17th century. [22] Mexico, with an estimated 11-25 million on the eve of Spanish conquest, fell to 1.25 million by 1625.[23] Other regions are difficult to estimate.

The great enterprise, and expense, of locating and preserving the manuscripts of the New World, was undertaken by Edward King, born 1795. He died bankrupt in a debtor's prison, but without his quixotic efforts we would have few of the most important manuscripts -- for example, the Maya Dresden Codex. [24] Humboldt's contributions to the archeology of the Americas are modest. [26]

Art. The first art to appear in Mesoamerica is the Olmec [96]
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12.25 inches


0816011990 / 9780816011995

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