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Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs
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Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  20 reviews
This edition of Michael D. Coe's Mexico includes new developments in the birth of agriculture and writing, both of which were independently invented here. Fresh insights into the metropolis of Teotihuacan reveal a world of palaces and warrior cults brought down by social revolts. A spectacular new find in the centre of the Aztec capital, just unearthed, gives a privileged ...more
Paperback, 5th, 248 pages
Published January 23rd 2003 by Thames & Hudson (first published 1962)
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Coe and Koontz do a thorough--yet not exhaustive--review of the earliest civilisations in Mexico. The transition from the Toltecs to the Aztecs is somewhat brief but this is also because there is not a substantial amount of historically verifiable data surrounding it. I would say, however, that for the non-academic this book could be challenging to read as it contains quite a lot of information that is not necessarily pertinent for a casual reader. Nevertheless, the inclusion of pictures and arc ...more
Aaron Meyer
Michael Coe and his book on "Mexico" in the Ancient Peoples and Places series I must admit was boring the first half, it improved dramatically in the second half when it began talking about the Formative Period. The main civilizations of the middle and southern Mexican regions were in order, the Olmec, Monte Alban I, Izapan these falling in the Formative Period roughly 1500 BC to 300 AD. Then came the Classical Period 300-900 AD and the civilization of the Teotihuacan, the classic Veracruz civil ...more
This book was beautiful! It was incredible in that it broadened my perception of beauty and the power of art - something that I did not think was possible at the time. Before reading this book, I had absolutely no connection to Mexico's history. I discovered that it's art historical tradition is complex, multi-faceted, and thoroughly fascinating. For the prehistoric and ancient peoples of this land create art and life were inseperable.
This slim, introductory text to the archaeological history of Central Mexico covers a wide range of Mesoamerican cultures both historic and contemporary. Michael Coe, one of the foremost figures in the field, does an excellent job of helping readers gain a sense of the commonalities that united the various societies of Mesoamerica as well as grasp some of the big questions facing archaeologists today. Some reflections on Mexico's pre-Columbian past are offered by Coe and he also provides a solid ...more
After reading Charles C. Mann's fantastic 1491: New revelations of the Americas before Columbus, I became very curious about Pre-Columbian history so I bought a small selection of books on the topic from Mexico from the Olmecs to the Aztecs is clearly intended to be used in a classroom environment (sort of a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica 101 textbook) and is the companion to Coe's The Maya. Because there are so many Pre-Columbian civilizations in Mesoamerica, Coe divided up the subject i ...more
*Review of 2008 6th edition*

This is a great, thoroughly detailed overview of the history of the Mesoamerican cultures that occupied what is now Mexico. Backed up entirely by the archeological evidence, the book covers chronologically the very beginnings of human activity in this area and works its way through the myriad cultures that waxed and waned in power and influence over the course of the next few thousand years. It does indeed cover the time span between the "Olmecs and the Aztecs", but i
Bob Nichols
In this book, Coe traces the pre-Spanish archaeological history of Mexico.

The centerpiece of the earlier (pre-300 CE) Mesoamerican civilizations were "elite centers" consisting of rulers and "priestly hierarchies" supported by "the great mass of the people in hamlets and villages scattered through the build and maintain the temples and palaces and for food to support the non-farming specialists, whether kings, priests, or artisans." During the classic period (300-900 CE), natur
This is a very nice summary of the pre-Hispanic history of Mexico. Very easy to read in the sense that it's concise and interesting. It contains maps and illustrations that guide you through history from 1700 B.C. to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519 and the later fall of the Aztec empire by 1521. This book should be read along with two extensions for the Mayan and Aztec cultures because they are so rich that this book could only explain bits of their philosophy, sciences, lifestyle, religion ...more
David Bates
If brief descriptions of archaeological sites and artifacts really turns your wheels, here's a wonderful volume.

It really brings home how little we know about ancient Mexican civilizations.
This book is purely archaeological. I liked how the author goes into detail on the different artifacts that have been found in the area and which civilization they come from. I had a little trouble following the civilizations chronologically. This book is separate from a similar book written specifically about the Maya civilization so it's hard to understand how the civilizations overlap since they are so close geographically. It was interesting to see all the different groups started out peacef ...more
I’ve always loved archaeology, particularly in regards to the Americas. This book has a wealth of information on the civilizations of Mexico. It contains photos I haven’t seen elsewhere too. I found it interesting and it made me want to visit the sites to see them for myself. If you have an interest in the Aztecs, Olmecs, Toltecs, Zapotecs or any of the other great civilizations of Mexico you’d probably enjoy reading this as much as I did.
This review really should be a 3.5 star as the book is, in general, quite good but I felt that the writing didn't grab me as much as his books on the Maya.

As a primer to the various civilizations in Mexico with a view towards their architecture and art, this book is perfect. It could use a few more images, and maybe a little less focus on pottery.
John Doyle
Academic presentation of Mexican civilization (excluding the Maya) from 5,000 B.C. to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century A.D. For me the book was an ideal intro to history that my formal education largely ignored.
Jaime Contreras
This scholarly book got me hooked on Mesoamerican archeology. I treasure it and refer to it periodically. It is a great beginning book for anyone interested in Mexico's pre-Columbian people.
Not horribly written, but it gets two stars because it uses words like "barbaric" and "savage" which should be extremely offensive to anyone who knows anything about anthropology.
This is a highly readable introduction to Mexico's past in terms of culture and art.
Joe Spencer
Certainly a definitive history, but written like one.
Valena Arguello
Very informative for anyone interested in Mesoamerica.
Excellent overview. Will retain for review and reference.
A bit dry, but still enjoyable.
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Michael D. Coe (born 1929) is an American archaeologist, anthropologist, epigrapher and author. Primarily known for his research in the field of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican studies (and in particular, for his work on the Maya civilization, where he is regarded as one of the foremost Mayanist scholars of the latter 20th century). Coe has also made extensive investigations across a variety of other a ...more
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