Avocado, tomato, and chocolate are used world wide and have their origins in central america. Indeed our English words are based on Nahuatl words: ahuacatl, tomatl, and chocolatl respectively. Nahuatl is the language spoken by the Nahua ethnic group that is found in Mexico today. These folks are remanants of the Aztecs who had a hihghly developed society with a written language when the Conquistadores turned up. This is the only written language that is known to have been developed in the Americas prior to european influence. The Aztecs lived in a collection of city states that shared a common culture but no central government. One of the city states was Mexica. From this name comes the name of the country of Mexico.

The term Mesoamerica refers to the diverse civilizations that are listed below. They share similar cultural characteristics including a complex pantheon of deities, architecture, a ballgame, the 260-day calendar, trade, food (especially a reliance on maize, beans, and squash), and dress. An anthropologist named Paul Kirchkoff first used the term "Mesoamerica" (meso is Greek for "middle" or "intermediate") in 1943 to designate the geographic areas comprising the modern-day countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Well-known Mesoamerican cultures are the Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Teotihuacan, Mixtec, and Aztec. The geography of Mesoamerica is incredibly diverse—it includes humid tropical areas, dry deserts, high mountainous terrain, and low coastal plains. While the geographical diversity contributes to societal difference the trade among these groups brings about a partial unity.

The results of interaction of the various groups can be seen in their languages. The area is characterized by extensive linguistic diversity containing several hundred different languages and seven major language families. At the same time it is also an area of high linguistic diffusion in that long-term interaction among speakers of different languages has resulted in the convergence of certain linguistic traits across disparate language families.

At any rate the origin of these groups is a bit of a puzzle with many of the Mormon persuasion thinking that this is the land of the book of Mormon.


Summary of the Chronology and Cultures of Mesoamerica
DatesPeriodImportant cultures, cities, areas
10,000–3500 BC Paleo-Indian Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, obsidian and pyrite points, Iztapan, Chantuto Archaeological Site
3500–2000 BC Archaic Agricultural settlements, Tehuacán
2000 BC–250 Preclassic (Formative) Unknown culture in La Blanca and Ujuxte, Monte Alto culture, Mokaya culture
2000–1000 BC Early Preclassic Olmec area: San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán;
Central Mexico: Chalcatzingo;
Valley of Oaxaca: San José Mogote.
The Maya area: Nakbe, Cerros;
West Mexico: Capacha
950–400 BC Middle Preclassic Olmec area: Venta, Tres Zapotes;
Zoque area: Chiapa de Corzo;
Maya area: El Mirador, Izapa, Lamanai, Naj Tunich, Takalik Abaj, Kaminaljuyú, Uaxactun;
Valley of Oaxaca: Monte Albán, Dainzú;
West Mexico: Capacha
400 BC–200 Late Preclassic Zoque area: Chiapa de Corzo;
Maya area: Kaminaljuyu, El Mirador, Uaxactun, Tikal, Edzná, Cival, San Bartolo, Altar de Sacrificios, Piedras Negras, Ceibal, Rio Azul;
Central Mexico: Teotihuacan;
Gulf Coast: Epi-Olmec culture;
West Mexico: Teuchitlan tradition, shaft tomb culture, Chupícuaro
200–900 Classic Classic Maya Centers, Teotihuacan, Zapotec
200–600 Early Classic Maya area: Calakmul, Caracol, Chunchucmil, Copán, Naranjo, Palenque, Quiriguá, Tikal, Uaxactun, Yaxha;
Teotihuacan apogee;
Zapotec apogee;
Bajío apogee;
Teuchitlan tradition
600–900 Late Classic Maya area: Uxmal, Toniná, Cobá, Xunantunich, Waka', Pusilhá, Xultún, Dos Pilas, Cancuen, Aguateca, La Blanca;
Central Mexico: Xochicalco, Cacaxtla, Cholula;
Gulf Coast: El Tajín and Classic Veracruz culture
800–900/1000 Terminal Classic Maya area: Puuc sites – Uxmal, Labna, Sayil, Kabah; Petén Basin sites – Seibal, El Chal
900–1519 Postclassic Aztec, Tarascans, Mixtec, Totonac, Pipil, Itzá, Kowoj, K'iche', Kaqchikel, Poqomam, Mam
900–1200 Early Postclassic Tula, Mitla, Tulum, Topoxte
1200–1519 Late Postclassic Tenochtitlan, Cempoala, Tzintzuntzan, Mayapán, Ti'ho, Q'umarkaj, Iximche, Mixco Viejo, Zaculeu
Until 1697 Post Conquest Central Peten: Tayasal, Zacpeten 4/24/18 4/24/18 8/28/19 9/4/18