By Lynn V. Foster

A quick background of valuable the US, moment version explores the heritage of the significant American isthmus from the pre-Columbian cultures to the modern international locations that make up the zone at the present time: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. This moment variation brings the heritage of the sector brand new with new advancements, together with fresh elections, the ongoing fight with the aftermath of the civil wars, and the impression of the unfastened exchange contract signed with the U.S. in 2003/2004.

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Waterborne trade certainly contributed to their success as merchants. , as well as a massive masonry port in Yucatán, constructed 2,000 years later, that belonged to the inland Mayan city of Chichén 36 THE MAYANS AND THEIR NEIGHBORS Itzá. A Mayan trading canoe off the coast of Honduras so impressed Christopher Columbus in 1502 that he talked about the wealth it promised for a voyage to the “unknown” land of Yucatán. The Mayans traded among and with the rest of Mesoamerica as well as with their neighbors in southern Central America.

At numerous Costa Rican sites, great granite spheres, the largest 7 feet in diameter and weighing 15,000 tons, were carefully worked and lined up in what may have been a cosmological or astronomical arrangement, just as buildings in Mesoamerica were aligned to measure and commemorate such events. Monumental grinding stones decorated with trophy heads were apparently used in maize rituals of human sacrifice (see Maize close-up, Chapter 1). The richest Coclé and Veraguas graves in Panama included sacrificed retainers as well as ornaments of semiprecious stones and hammered and cast gold jewelry.

A few centuries later, the first American pyramid, 100 feet high, rose at La Venta, another Olmec city. Colossal sculptures, 20-ton portrait heads of shaman rulers, were carved from basalt transported from the volcanic Tuxtla Mountains, 30 miles from San Lorenzo and 80 miles from La Venta. Olmec rulers accumulated great wealth, and some found its way into elaborate offerings buried beneath the plazas and buildings: one offering contained 50 tons of polished green serpentine blocks. The cost of such enormous human endeavor was subsidized by trade.

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