2S02 Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs: 5000 Years of Mesoamerican History

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Tutor/Facilitator Jim Pribble – Facilitator

Date: on/from Tue 23 Jul 2019 to Tue 17 Sep 2019
Frequency: weekly until 17 Sep 2019
Class time: 11:30-1:15

Mary Kehoe Centre, Room 3

Other information

About 35,000 years ago, during what is called the Wisconsin Glaciation, the seabed between Asia and North America was exposed, allowing migration (humans and other animals) into North America. When the glaciers receded about 15,000 (+/-) years ago, migrants were able to move southward and eastward across North America, finally reaching the east coast and the southernmost tip of South America (Fin del Mondo – End of the Earth).

Civilisations developed all along the migration routes, but here we will concentrate our researches, geographically, to the area from Teotihaucan, a city area Northeast of present-day Mexico City, to the southern border of Guatemala (Copan, Honduras), known collectively as Mesoamerica (part of).

Culturally, we will investigate the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec civilisations. Our investigations will encompass the histories of these peoples, their cultures (including their creation myth), scientific accomplishments, building skills, religion, writing skills and artworks, as well as their propensity to wage war on neighbours, almost as a sport. We start the journey near San Lorenzo, on the east coast of Mexico, some 4000+ years ago with the Olmec civilisation, and end with the expulsion of the Spanish from the Yucatan in the mid 1800s. The question is: ”Where did they go?”

We will explore: plants, cuisine, medicine, the creation myth (Popul Vuh), mathematics, calendar, “hieroglyphs” and codices, astronomy, geometry and art, the Mesoamerican ball game, shaft tombs of west Mexico and religion.

Cities: Teotihuacan (pre-Maya), Tikal, Palenque, Copan, Monte Alban (Oaxaca); Chichen Itza; Tulum; Uxmal; El Mirador; Mayapan; Marida; Tenochtitlan (present Mexico City).

Civilisations: Olmec, Toltec, Zapotec, Maya, Mexica/Aztec.

TUTOR: Jim grew up Southwestern Oregon, USA, and graduated from Oregon State University (OSU) with a Master of Science degree in 1972. He worked on several research projects at OSU, then he was employed by the Research Division of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 1979, Jim was recruited to design and implement a major research program for the Victorian Fisheries Division in Australia. He remained in research management for the remainder of his career in the Victorian Government, retiring in 1998. Previous U3A courses he has facilitated include Evolution of the English Language and Egypt: 500,000 BC to 30 BC.