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By Lynn V. Foster

A short historical past of critical the United States, moment variation explores the background of the critical American isthmus from the pre-Columbian cultures to the modern countries that make up the sector this present day: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. This moment variation brings the historical past of the quarter brand new with new advancements, together with contemporary elections, the continuing fight with the aftermath of the civil wars, and the impression of the loose exchange contract signed with the USA in 2003/2004.

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Until the Spanish conquest. Ravaged by time, eroded by rain and sun, shrouded by vines and trees, these ruined cities have nonetheless survived as an extraordinary legacy from the pre-Columbian world. E. E. , when Mayan accomplishments in writing, astronomy, architecture, and art proliferated from one city-state to the next throughout the lowlands of the Petén and Yucatán. Yet Mayan civilization endured much longer than its Classic period. E. monumental buildings were constructed in the Petén heartland and in Belize.

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. Linea Vieja graves in northern Costa Rica demonstrate not only wealth, but also an amazing diversity of foreign contacts, not just from Central America but also from Peru and the West Indies, from Mesoamerica and northern South America.

The sacred calendar, so essential to the pre-Columbian world order, has not yet lost its authority: in Quiché Mayan towns, such as Momostenango in Guatemala, venerated “daykeepers” divine the future and determine religious festivities based on the 260-day count. Studying the movements of the heavens, the Mayans were fascinated by cycles, and especially overlapping cycles. For example, they delighted in noting that the eclipse tables equaled 46 rounds of the 260-day calendar. The most important overlapping cycle, however, was the Calendar Round that occurred every 52 years when the ritual 260-day calendar and the 365-day solar calendar ended on the same day.

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