CATEGORY: feature DEFINITION: A platform of earth and stone, usually rectangular in shape and flat-topped, that forms a base for the construction of a building, such as a palace or temple. The buildings served as habitation and/or ceremonial structures.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Large multi-moundsite in southern Georgia, US, that includes burial mounds and a platform mound from the latter half of the 1st century AD. It seems to have thrived in the period between the decline of the Woodland Tradition and the emergence of the Mississippian. Elaborately worked funerary vessels and grave goods such as copper ornaments and shell beads attest to ceremonial burial practice. There are indications of a chiefdom organization.
CATEGORY: chronology DEFINITION: A division of time in Andean/Peruvian South America, c 600-1000 AD, used to refer to the first imperialistic domination of area under the unifying forces of Tiahuanaco and Huari (Wari) cultures. It was the time of the first large-scale imperial expansions. During the first half of the Middle Horizon, in central Peru, the Huaricame to control the highlands and possibly the coast. The remains of large groups of food-storage buildings in the Huari strongholds suggest military activity like that of the late Inca. Huari is closely linked in its art style to the monuments of the great site of Tiahuanaco, located on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Tiahuanaco expanded over the altiplano and adjacent regions of Bolivia, southern Peru, and northern Chile. The principal buildings of Tiahuanaco include the Akapana Pyramid, a huge platform mound or stepped pyramid of earth faced with cut andesite; a rectangular enclosure known as the Kalasasaya, constructed of alternating tall stone columns and smaller rectangular blocks; and another enclosure known as the Palacio. They practiced the raised-fieldsystem of agriculture. Some Tiahuanacoeffigy vessels have been discovered at Huari, but otherwise they seem to have been independent entities. In the second half of the Middle Horizon, the political and economic systems slowly collapsed. The decline of these two states was followed by a period of more localized political power. The Late Intermediate Period began about 1000 AD.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Ceremonial platform mound site in the Lurín Valley of Peru, dated to the early Initial Period.
San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan / San Lorenzo
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: The oldest-known Olmec center, located in Veracruz, Mexico, and revealing information on Olmec origins. It was a large nucleated village flourishing during the Early Formative. The first phase of occupation (Ojochi, c 1800-1650 BC) left no architectural traces, but during the next period (Bajío, 1650-1550 BC) a start was made on the artificial plateau with lateral ridges forming the base of most subsequent structures. The Chicharras phase (1550-1450 BC) foreshadows true Olmec in its pottery, figurines, and perhaps also in stone-carving. The San Lorenzo phase (1450-1100 BC) marks the Olmec climax at the site, whose layout then resembled that of La Venta. The principal features of the site are a large platform mound and a cluster of smaller mounds surrounding what may be the earliest ball court in Mesoamerica; more than 200 house mounds are clustered around these central features. A system of carved stone drains underlying the site is a unique structural feature. Around 900 BC, the stone monuments were mutilated and buried upon the center's collapse. La Venta then came to power. The monuments weighed as much as 44 tons and were carved from basalt from the Cerro Cintepec, a volcanic flow in the Tuxtla Mountains about 50 air miles to the northwest. It is believed that the stones were somehow dragged down to the nearest navigable stream and from there transported on rafts up the Coatzacoalcos River to the San Lorenzo area. The amount of labor involved must have been enormous, indicating a complex social system to ensure the task's completion. Most striking are the colossal heads human portraits on a stupendous scale, the largest of which is 9 feet high. After a short hiatus, the site was reoccupied by a group whose culture still shows late Olmec affinities (Palangana phase, 800-450 BC), but was again abandoned until 900 AD when it was settled by early post-Classic (Villa Alta) people who used plumbate and fine orange pottery. The collapse of San Lorenzo c 1150/1100 BC was abrupt and violent. The population was forced to do its agricultural work well outside the site, which may have contributed to the center's collapse.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tarascans, Purépecha CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: An independent state of the Late Post-Classic Period centered in the mountains of the Michoacán province of Mexico, one of the very few to successfully resistAztec incursions. It is also the name of the people there, who were linguistically unrelated to any other Mesoamerican group. Their capital, Tzinzunzan, was built overlooking Lake Patzcuaro, and appears to be a ceremonial center consisting of a huge platform mound surmounted by five pyramids. Fine gold and tumbagajewelry and well-made copper and bronze tools have been found. The Tarascanstate, with its later capital of Pátzcuaro, survived into historic times. They reached a level of social and political organization comparable to that of the Aztec and the Maya.