Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Zoque Sites

The Olmec, mother culture of Mesoamerica, are increasingly referred to as the "Mixe-zoque", the name of their language family.This is a map of Olmec and Olmec-influenced sites with occupations in the 1,500 to 400 B.C. (early and middle pre-classic) time frame:
Olmec and Olmec-influenced sites 1,500 - 400 B.C.
As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge. This data comes from Michael D. Coe, Richard A. Diehl, Stephen D. Houston, and various archaeologists associated with the New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF), such as Gareth W. Lowe, V. Garth Norman, and Bruce R. Bachand. There is much more still to come. INAH, for example, is currently excavating a major Olmec site in Quintana Roo near Chetumal Bay that will document a significant Olmec presence along the Caribbean. Olmec civilization was a continental (sea-to-sea) phenomenon centered on splendid capitals at San Lorenzo and later La Venta. Zoque Chiapa de Corzo was a regional phenomenon with strong cultural and economic ties to the Olmec heartland in Veracruz and Tabasco.
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Contemporary Mesoamerican languages in the Mixe-zoque family include Mixe, Zoque, and Popoluca. The Zoque are particularly interesting because of recent NWAF excavations at their capital, Chiapa de Corzo, that show a brilliant florescence in the 900 - 400 B.C. era, with wide-ranging cultural influence. Here is a map of Zoque archaeological sites based on Gareth W. Lowe in Norman D. Thomas, "The Linguistic, Geographic, and Demographic Position of the Zoque of Southern Mexico," NWAF Paper No. 36 (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1974) and Bruce R. Bachand, "Chiapa de Corzo: Rise of a Zoque Capital in the Heart of Mesoamerica," Popular Archaeology, Vol. 3, June 2011. The 5 yellow push pins represent the 5 municipios in the region known as "La Frailesca" in Chiapas. Lowe saw a great deal of Zoque influence in La Frailesca in the middle pre-classic era. The blue-shaded polygon is Bachand's representation of the area under Zoque influence at Chiapa de Corzo's apogee, ca. 700 - 500 B.C. That influence was weaker, obviously, in the eastern half of the culture area and it began to wane toward the end of the middle pre-classic as Maya influence pushed steadily westward. 
Zoque sites and area under Zoque influence at
Chiapa de Corzo apogee ca. 700 B.C.