Prehispanic Period

During the prehispanic period of Mexico it is generally accepted that groups of nomad hunters from the northern part of the Continent arrived in what is now Mexico around 10,000 BC. Recent evidence has surfaced that have led some to believe that the country may have been populated even earlier.

Before 6,000 BC, the prehispanic inhabitants supported themselves by hunting, fishing and gathering roots and berries what is now Mexico City. The Tepexpan and Santa Isabel Ixtapan peoples used fire, dressed in the skins of animals and had domesticated the dog. Much earlier inhabitants left traces in Tlapacoya, also in the State of Mexico.

Between the periods of 5,000 and 2,000 BC, the hunters and the berry gatherers developed, culturally, into the pre-ceramic, Neolithic pattern. They agriculturally based edible plants, such as squash, maize, also known as corn and beans. The communities developed around the Valley of Tehuacan and Puebla.

As early as 2,000 BC more advanced cultures started to form. These were agriculturally based pottery makers who began to establish settlements. These societies began to develop into periods prior to the Spanish conquest.

The Preclassic Period

The Preclassic period was established around 2,000 BC forming around agriculturally based settlements. The Preclassic period is generally subdivided into three sub-periods.

The Lower Preclassic is generally defined as the period prior to the Olmec civilization. This period happened between 1,800 and 1,300 BC.

The Middle Preclassic, between 1,300 BC and 800 BC, is defined as the renaissance of the Olmec civilization when ritual urban centers around Veracruz began to appear.

The Formative Preclassic period extends until the rise of the Christian era. It was the height of the Olmec civilization.

The Classic Period

The Classic period has been noted by the monuments of the south Mayan zone, part of which is located in the country’s Southeast and the rest, throughout the territories now comprised by Guatemala and Honduras. Among these are the remains of Palenque, Bonampak, Piedras Negras, Yaxchilan, Tikal, Copan and Quirigua. This period also includes the Zapotec city of Montealban, in the Valley of Oaxaca.

The Teotihuacan civilization rose in central Mexico during this period. Its capital, the city of Teotihuacan (where man met the gods) was the first and largest urban center in the Continent.

The archaeological evidence demonstrates the existence of a highly advanced society which had developed agriculture, astronomy, a calendar system, mathematics, architecture, and arts.