Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs” as Want to Read:
Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  242 Ratings  ·  23 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mexico, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mexico

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aaron Meyer
Nov 20, 2010 Aaron Meyer rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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
Jan 27, 2014 Mi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: méxico-read
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
Aug 30, 2008 Denise rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 20, 2012 Mei-Lu rated it really liked it
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
Aug 19, 2011 Andres rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*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
Allie Penn
Read for my Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art History class.

Depending on when you read this review, I recommend to read the latest edition of this book because discoveries about pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art are constantly being made and updated.
Bob Nichols
Jan 17, 2011 Bob Nichols rated it liked it
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
Aug 09, 2010 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: archaeology
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
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
Jan 13, 2016 Nichole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year I bought the book for my World Civilizations, Prehistory to 1500 class. The class had to do a thesis and I chose to write mine on The Olmecs. I had used Michael D.Coe as a reference and my professor asked me if I had read the book and I had only read some but I planned on buying it hard copy because it was an amazing book. I have always hated history in school until I took this class in college and I loved it. I would recommend this book.
Feb 06, 2009 Allisonperkel rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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
Jan 11, 2014 John Doyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mark Nambo

A lot of geology, landscape, diet, and other explanations. It's hard to write history and put it all the pieces of the puzzle together, especially when a lot of the pieces are missing or are made up of a couple opposing theories and perspectives. This book has a lot of info.
Jan 09, 2011 Bramble rated it liked it
Shelves: anthro, latin_america
Excellent overview. Will retain for review and reference.
Jul 04, 2008 Dfunky1 rated it liked it
This is a highly readable introduction to Mexico's past in terms of culture and art.
David Bates
Jan 31, 2015 David Bates rated it liked it
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.
Jaime Contreras
Jul 24, 2011 Jaime Contreras rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Eleanor Lux
Apr 11, 2016 Eleanor Lux rated it it was amazing
I've always been curious about the Olmex and this book had more information than I have ever found before
Sep 25, 2013 Krissy rated it liked it
A bit dry, but still enjoyable.
Nov 01, 2011 Dana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college
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.
Joe Spencer
Mar 01, 2008 Joe Spencer rated it liked it
Certainly a definitive history, but written like one.
Valena Arguello
Dec 30, 2009 Valena Arguello rated it it was amazing
Very informative for anyone interested in Mesoamerica.
Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen rated it really liked it
May 10, 2017
Julia rated it it was amazing
Mar 05, 2008
Cynthia Ross
Cynthia Ross rated it it was ok
Jan 23, 2014
Patricia Patteson
Patricia Patteson rated it really liked it
May 07, 2014
Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien rated it really liked it
Dec 18, 2016
Caroline Aubry
Caroline Aubry rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2014
Mary rated it it was amazing
Sep 22, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Aztecs
  • An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya
  • A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya
  • Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind
  • Aztecs: An Interpretation
  • Popol Vuh
  • Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi (Penguin's Library of American Indian History)
  • The Incas
  • Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico
  • Maya Cosmos
  • Michelangelo
  • The Ancient Maya
  • The Kingdom of the Hittites
  • Aztec & Maya: The Complete Illustrated History
  • Aztec, Inca, and Maya
  • Sidereus Nuncius, or The Sidereal Messenger
  • Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece
  • The Zapatista Reader
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
More about Michael D. Coe...

Share This Book