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books about the ancient
'Pre-Columbian Civilizations & Cultures'
of North, Central & South America

- page five -

- 'The Olmecs' -

 

 

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Below are a selection of books about'Pre-Columbian Civilizations & Cultures' that brought great architectural structures, social organisation, and also 'human blood sacrifice' to the various region of North, Central and South America. These empires were decimated by the Spanish Conquistadors, Portuguese explorers, and other European 'empire-builders', and much detail of their various cultures has been lost forever. But researchers in many fields have managed to reconstruct a series of pictures of daily life in the various cities, towns and villages, and the list below reflects the many views that are currently held about these diverse peoples.

They are in no order of preference, and the book descriptions are used where reviews are not available to us. The similarities, and great differences, between interpretations, often of the same material, urban remains, and local oral traditions recorded by early explorers, make up a body of knowledge that continues to intrigue, facinate and surprise everyone that delves into the mysteries of the many ancient Pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas

 

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"The Olmecs: America's First Civilization" by Richard A. Diehl

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UK Edition

 

"The Olmecs of southern Mexico were America's oldest civilization and Mesoamerica's 'Mother Culture'. Long famous for their Colossal Heads carved from giant boulders, the Olmecs have fascinated the public and archaeologists alike since the 1940s when National Geographic magazine reported the initial explorations of their centres. Despite well-publicized discoveries of spectacular basalt sculptures, portable jade objects and richly decorated pottery vessels, until quite recently almost nothing was known about Olmec history, foreign contacts and daily life. Now archaeologists have recovered information that allows them to assemble a reasonably complete picture of Olmec culture, its accomplishments and its impact on later Mexican civilizations."

 

"The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership" by Michael D. Coe

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UK Edition

 

"Between 1400 and 400 BC, in what is now Mexico and Central America, the Olmec people created a magnificent culture, one too often overshadowed by those of the Maya and the Aztec. This catalogue accompanies an exhibition of over 250 Olmec works of art - ceramic, jade and stone - on display at the Art Museum, Princeton University in December 1995, and travelling to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Essays by prominent scholars offer interpretations of such topics as the power of objects within the context of the Olmec ritual system. These identify and illustrate the fundamental themes of Olmec small-scale sculpture, the sacred role of the maize in Olmec ideology, and the relationship of Olmec culture to later civilizations. An illustrated glossary of motifs and symbols is provided to clarify the often highly abstract style and encoded iconography of the Olmec."

 

"Olmec Art and Archaeology in Mesoamerica" by John E. Clark & Mary E. Pye

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UK Edition

 

"This handsome volume presents the creations of Mesoamerica's most ancient societies in their archaeological contexts. The Olmec, who are best known for a unique style of monumental stone head and jade were-jaguar, were based along the Gulf of Mexico, but evidence of their influence has been found throughout Mesoamerica. Recent spectacular finds, including wooden Olmec busts, jade celts, and rubber balls, are discussed and placed within the context of settlement patterns, religious practices, and ritual from 1800 to 500 BCE. The study provides a framework for understanding Olmec art and archaeology as well as the history of how this important and enigmatic precursor to other Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Maya and Aztec came to be uncovered."

 

"Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs" by Michael D. Coe & Rex Koontz

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UK Edition

 

"Michael D. Coe's Mexico has long been recognized as the most readable and authoritative introduction to the region's ancient civilizations. This companion to his best-selling The Maya has now been completely revised and expanded for the fifth edition by Professor Coe and Rex Koontz. A new chapter covers the Classic period collapse and its aftermath, including the exploration of newly discovered cities. The history of the northern frontier of ancient Mexico receives a completely new treatment, with revised accounts of shaft tombs, the turquoise trade, and ancient Mexico's relation with the peoples of the Southwest United States. The artistry of the Toltec is revealed through a recently discovered shell and turquoise warrior costume, and what we know of the enigmatic relationship between Toltec Tula and Chichén Itzá is brought up to date."

 

"The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec" by Mary Ellen Miller

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UK Edition

"This essential guide to the art and architecture of ancient Mesoamerica succinctly and evocatively summarizes the artistic achievements of the high pre-Columbian civilizations—Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Tolec, Aztec—as well as those of their less well-known contemporaries. The pyramids and palaces, jades and brightly colored paintings emerge from these pages as vividly as when they first astonished Cortés's men in 1519. There was a surprising unity in Mesoamerican culture from Mexico to Honduras and from 1500 BC to the Spanish Conquest. Among many features shared were a 260-day ritual calendar and a preoccupation with gods representing natural forces. Current research also emphasizes the great importance of rites of kingship, including warfare and blood sacrifice."

 

"A History of the African-Olmecs: Black Civilizations of America from Prehistoric Times to the Present Era" by Paul Alfred Barton

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UK Edition

"The Olmec's known in their native language as the Shi originated in West Africa and spoke a Manding language which was proven by several scholars. Secondly and most compelling is the fact that a bioligical process known as differentiation occurred which transformed African people to differnt sub groups of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Modern Day Humans). These Nilotic people were changed by the last Ice Age which forced them to "differentiate" because access to the Sun was reduced due to the arctic conditions."

 

"Ancient Oaxaca (Case Studies in Early Societies S.)" by Richard Blanton, G. Feinman, S. Kowalewski, L. Nicholas, Rita P. Wright (Editor)

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UK Edition

"Just after 500 B.C., one of the earliest states in the New World developed in the Valley of Oaxaca, in present-day Mexico. The newly created political institution brought in its wake a profound transformation of society and technology. This book investigates the rich archaeological record of the valley in an attempt to throw light on the causes and consequences of these changes. This book investigates the emergence of social complexity and state formation in a New World region. Around 500 BC, the Valley of Oaxaca, in present-day Mexico, was the site of one of the earliest Native American states, when a new regional capital was established at Monte Alban. Today one of Mexico's most famous and spectacular archaeological sites, Monte Alban signalled an important series of changes in regional political structure in the direction of greater political complexity and integration within a larger domain."

 

"The Yucatan Before and After Conquest" by Diego De Landa & W. Gates (Translator)

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UK Edition

"Only significant account done of Yucatan in post-Conquest era. Describes geography and natural history of the peninsula, gives brief history of Mayan life, discusses Spanish conquest and its effects and provides a long summary of Maya civilization. Translator William Gates has added appendices, 4 maps and over 120 illustrations."

 

"Olmec Riddle: An Inquiry into the Origin of Pre-Columbian Civilization" by James Gruener

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"THE OLMEC RIDDLE: An Inquiry into the Origin of Pre-Columbian Civilization i an enjoyable book that reflects scholarly research - based on comparative mythology, theology, archeology (including recent discoveries), and theories of the evolution of cultures worldwide. Written by James C. Gruener, THE OLMEC RIDDLE offers a balanced view of intertwined discvoveries, and bridges seemingly divergent fields of academic study. This limited edition hard bound book is 544 pages , with a comprehensive bibliography, 20-page glossary, and a complete subject and cross-reference index. The book features 11 color plates, 10 black-and-white photographs (from the archives of the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution), and 35 beautiful line drawings by William Holmes."

 

"The Humboldt Celt: Key to the Lost Olmec World" by Paul D. Campbell

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"This book provides an extensive study of the Humboldt Celt, an epigraph found in Mexico by Alexander von umboldt in the early 19th century. The Humboldt celt proves likely to be an Olmec cosmogram interpreted by a column of incipient Maya hieroglyphs. Various approaches, including linguistic and historical, show that the script of this treasured Rosetta comprises the first true writing of the Americas. This is an essential book in the study of early Mayan writing."

"Quest for the Lost Civilization - Forgotten Knowledge"

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"Quest for the Lost Civilization - Boxed Set"

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"The Art of Mexico"

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"The Peoples & Places of Mexico"

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"Search for the Lost Cave People"

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"Mystery of the First Americans"

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(USA & Canada)

 

more books about 'Pre-Columbian Civilizations & Cultures' on pages
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