Central America’s cultural development was initiated by various formative and classical phases. At the time of Kr.f. originated the first classical high culture in Central America, in Teotihuacán, 50 km northeast of present-day Mexico City. Other cultures, such as the totonakers on the central Gulf Coast and the zapotekers in the highlands of Oaxaca, also created magnificent architecture at this time. In the eastern parts of Central America, Mayan culture grew, which was followed by the Interpreters of the 900s. In the 13th century, the Aztecs took over the majority of Central America. See more on COUNTRYAAH.
The most significant building form that these pre-Columbian cultures have produced is the staircase pyramid, which has a flat top and a temple or altar placed on the top platform. The solar pyramid of Teotihuacán from about 200 BC, is the largest known ritual structure from pre-Columbian America. Other remaining pyramids are those at Cuicuilco; about 300 BC, as well as the Morning Star Temple on the Yucatán Peninsula, built by the interpreters in the 9th century.
The Spanish conquest at the beginning of the 16th century meant an abrupt break in Central America’s building tradition. A Spanish Renaissance was introduced and followed by the Baroque. However, the architecture of Central America came to be distinct from the Spanish in that it derived motifs from the pre-Columbian buildings.
After the Mexican Revolution of the 1920s, functionalist architecture gained ground in Central America, often with strong influences from ancient classical cultures with their strong colors and mosaics.
In archaeology, the term “intermediate area” is used, which encompasses a larger area than geographic Central America and includes Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and southern Honduras. Geographically and culturally, these countries lie between the high cultures of Mexico and South America. Together with the Antilles (including the islands of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Cuba), they form a region of similar cultural development.
Findings from paleoindian hunters have been found in Costa Rica, Panama and Venezuela (9000–7000 BC). Coastal resources were used intensively from about 5000 BC in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Trinidad and Cuba. Some of the oldest ceramic finds in America have been found on coastal settlements in Colombia and Ecuador (3300-2700 BC). The ceramics from Valdivia in Ecuador are similar to the Japanese ceramics in Japan, and according to a disputed theory, Japanese fishing boats may have reached Ecuador so early. Farming communities based on agriculture existed on the Orinoco River in eastern Venezuela and on the north Colombian coast about 1000 BC.
Despite this early development and proximity to the “core areas” of Mexico and Peru, the region did not reach the same socio-political level as there. One reason is the very varied ecological conditions that hindered the development of larger states. The settlements consisted of large and small agricultural villages. In northern and central Colombia, however, small states developed, and the Spaniards described the chiefs’ communities in Panama in 1519. In Ecuador there are large burial mounds and pyramids dating from about 500 BC. to about 500 AD In the province of Coclé on the Pacific coast of Panama, excavations have been found with fine painted pottery and gold jewelery from about 500 to about 1000 AD. High quality ceramic and metal crafts are also found in northern Panama and Costa Rica.
The Antilles were populated around 4000 BC, but pottery and cultivation of manioc and corn were first introduced around Kr.f. and is linked to the influence of Venezuela and Trinidad. Ceramics spread to Puerto Rico about 200 BC. and to Cuba 800 years later. In 1493 Columbus gave the first historical description of the American Indians, the Taino people, who carried on the archaeological chicoid culture in Cuba.
The tribal communities of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba reached the highest socio-political development in the Antilles. The finds from there illustrate ceremonialism and the influence of Mayan culture. The recent disaster for Native American culture is reflected in the fact that by 1568, about 90% of Indians in this region had died of European diseases.