Mexico has a rich artistic heritage, going back 20 centuries .  The wonderful Mexican murals that decorate many Mexican buildings is an ancient tradition and the many galleries , museums and historical sites contain many great works of art  which are a highlight of a trip to Mexico . Mexican creativity can also be seen in Mexican folk art, which is still thriving .The Pre-Columbian cities in Mexico were the most populous in the world at their time with great advancements in art and building .Prior to the Spanish,the Mayans developed superbly built city-states in the Yucatan  and the city of Tectihuacan with a population of 200,000 in 600 A.D., made it the largest city in the world .Their Successors the Aztecs ruled over most of central Mexico . 


 Mexicois a mestizo society where the native population and Spanish have blended

to make the country what it is today, the native peoples still make up to 30% of the population.The country has been rocked by upheavals and the loss of almost half its territory in war, foreign invasion and revolution, yet still remains a vibrant country with a unique cultural identity which started to be called Mexicanidad during the Mexican Revolution .


Art in prehistoric Mexico


Great Mural Rock Art , Baja Mexico . Some of the Rock Art

painting in Baja date to 7,500 years ago


The pre-Columbian period reaches back to the Pleistocene age when humans first appeared in Mexico and ends with the arrival of the Spanish . Earlier reports of 'footprints' being found in Mexico that were 40,000 years old appear to be untrue and may not even be human footprints. The oldest accepted human remains found in Mexico, a skull, is dated at 11,500 years old . When the Earth turned warmer and the Bering Straight land bridge went underwater around 8,000 B.C. the migrations out of Siberia ceased .There are rock paintings and a few carvings from this period .The pre-Columbian period reaches back to the Pleistocene age when humans first appeared in Mexico and ends with the arrival of the Spanish


carved coyote head, Tequixqual, 12,000 BC.


One of the earliest pieces of Mexican Art . A coyote head carved from a bone of an extinct llama . Found Tequixqual, near Mexico City and estimated to be about 14,000 years old. People of this time were still able to hunt large animals. As these became extinct, there was a shift to food gathering and hunting small game . There are very little traces of artistic development until the appearance of the first farming villages in the Archaic period from 5000 - 1500 BC..From 1500 - 200 B.C.Pre-Classic era, there are more elaborate settlements and pottery. Clay figurines, usually of females are found in great numbers, possibly as fertility talismans start to be fashioned .


Proto-Olmec figurines, Tlapacoya, 1300 - 800 BC.




Three eyed figure from Tlatilco, one of the earliest pre Columbian towns on western shore of Lake Texcoco , 1300 - 900 B.C.


greenstone figure Guerrero, Mexico 4,000 BC


National Museum of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City owns the world's most impressive collection of pre-Columbian Mexican artThe book includes 450 illustrations, many of them newly photographed masterpieces by the Mexica (Aztecs), Mayas, and other important pre-Columbian cultures











 ©  Thomas Zimmerman  2008


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