Atlas of the North American Indian, Third Revised Edition by Carl Waldman

By Carl Waldman

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200 to 900. City-states such as Tikal and Palenque in what is now central Guatemala, southeastern Mexico, and Belize prospered during the Classic period. Their inhabitants sometimes are called Lowland Maya. Tikal had some 3,000 structures, including six temple pyramids, located over one square mile, with an estimated population of 100,000. One structure was a terraced, four-sided pyramid, 145 feet high, with a flight of steep stone steps leading to a three-room stone temple, topped by a roof comb (an ornamental stone carving).

Izapa Cholula Izapa culture, as found at the Izapa site on the border of present-day Mexico and Guatemala near the Pacific Coast, is sometimes viewed as an intermediary culture between Olmec and Classic Maya. Both location and time-scale fit this hypothesis, as do artistic traits. At the site of Cholula, southeast of the Valley of Mexico, stands the largest ancient structure of the New World—the Great Pyramid, covering 25 square acres and looming 180 feet. Dedicated to Quetzalcoatl, it was not built all at once but in four successive superpositions by the site’s original inhabitants during the Classic period.

It is known that Adena Indians eventually grew tobacco for ceremonial use. But they were primarily hunters and gatherers, enjoying, like other Woodland Indians, the rich flora and fauna of their homelands—rich enough, in fact, to support a sedentary rather than nomadic life-style. The framework of Adena houses had a unique construction. Outward-sloping posts, set in pairs, formed a circle. Four vertical center posts supported the high ends of the rafter poles that extended downward, beyond the wall posts, to form generous eaves.

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