Add to GoodReads

Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica

Walter R. T. Witschey and Clifford T. Brown

Mesoamerica is one of six major areas of the world where humans independently changed their culture from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle into settled communities, cities, and civilization. In addition to China (twice), the Indus Valley, the Fertile Crescent of southwest Asia, Egypt, and Peru, Mesoamerica was home to exciting and irreversible changes in human culture called the “Neolithic Revolution.” The changes included domestication of plants and animals, leading to agriculture, husbandry, and eventually sedentary village life. These developments set the stage for the growth of cities, social stratification, craft specialization, warfare, writing, mathematics, and astronomy, or what we call the rise of civilization. These changes forever transformed humankind.

The Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica covers the history of Mesoamerica through a chronology, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 900 cross-referenced dictionary entries covering the major peoples, places, ideas, and events related to Mesoamerica. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Mesoamerica.
« less more »
Scarecrow Press
Pages: 446Size: 6 x 9
978-0-8108-7167-0 • Hardback • December 2011 • $121.00 • (£80.00)
978-0-8108-7096-3 • eBook • December 2011 • $115.00 • (£75.00)
Walter R. T. Witschey is a professor of anthropology and science education at Longwood University. For the past decade, he has been a Research Fellow of the Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, and chaired the Virginia Governor’s Environmental Education Commission from 2000-04. Along with Clifford Brown, he is a co-principal investigator of the Electronic Atlas of Ancient Maya Sites, which provides raw data for settlement pattern studies, site location data, mapping services, and datasets for Google Earth displays.

Clifford T. Brown is associate professor on the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Florida Atlantic University. He has supervised the excavation of Temple 30 on the Acropolis of Copán, Honduras, under the distinguished E. Wyllys Andrews V. He has directed archaeological excavations at Mayapán, the Late Postclassic capital city of northern Yucatán, and he has worked on archaeological research projects in Yucatán and Nicaragua. Along with Walter Witschey, he is a co-principal investigator of the Electronic Atlas of Ancient Maya Sites.
Editor’s Foreword (Jon Woronoff)
Reader’s Notes
Maps of Mesoamerica
The Dictionary
Appendix: Research Institutions
About the Authors
Witschey (anthropology/science education, Longwood University) and Brown (anthropology, Florida Atlantic University) have produced a creditable addition to Scarecrow’s Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras series. It is in straight dictionary format with boldfaced cross-references and extensive see also references. Topics covered include individual archaeological sites, lists of kings, cities, and ethnic groups. Archaeologists known for their work in Mesoamerica are also featured. Subjects such as architecture, agriculture, and literature receive lengthy entries....This is a fairly specialized item and would be most useful in an academic library where there is a Mesoamerican archaeology program, although students of pre-Columbian history will find it useful as well. Very large public libraries with archaeology collections may also want to consider this.

Archaeologists Witschey (anthropology & science education, Longwood Univ.; fellow, Middle American Research Inst., Tulane Univ.) and Brown (anthropology, Florida Atlantic Univ.) are coprincipal investigators of the Electronic Atlas of Ancient Maya Sites (mayagis.smv.org). Their excellent dictionary’s introduction, which explains the importance of Mesoamerica’s contributions to civilization, is followed by more than 900 cross-referenced entries that provide an overview of people, cities, culture, religion, language, architecture, and rulers. City entries list the place’s latitude and longitude and when it existed and provide information on its importance. There is an extensive entry about architecture, and photos provide examples of temples and other structures. A chronology and maps illustrate the development of the civilization and its geographic location. The extensive bibliography is subdivided by publication type and then by people or location and includes Internet sources. VERDICT This dictionary would be a worthy addition to the reference collection of an academic library and will benefit those studying Latin American history.
Library Journal

Witschey (Longwood Univ.) and Brown (Florida Atlantic Univ.) offer a traditional ready-reference work with short entries on archaeological sites, categories of material culture, language families, and cultures within a geographically defined region (part of Mexico to parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica--shown on the book's first map). This volume updates and expands Joel Palka's Historical Dictionary of Ancient Mesoamerica (CH, Jan'01, 38-2521). Similarly organized, both works treat indigenous cultural and linguistic continuity and change in historic and present times. Like Palka's earlier volume, this work offers terms in boldface, cross-referenced to others, but the extensive bibliographies are located toward the end and not cross-referenced with dictionary entries. Coverage emphasizes the best-known and studied areas and archaeological sites, including dynastic sequences based on glyph decipherment for several major Mayan sites. This dictionary features more gray-scale illustrations and black-and-white maps than Palka's....This new volume's bibliographies combine earlier and recent scholarship, and deserve credit for including good Internet resources....As an update for Palka or to fill a ready-reference gap for Mesoamerica, Witschey and Brown's volume will be useful for college/university libraries, museums, and research centers serving programs in anthropology, archaeology, and Latin American studies. Summing Up: Recommended.

The Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica provides students and teachers with concise and well-written definitions covering ancient Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Coverage includes topics in places, ideas, events, and important people. There is a strong emphasis on the contributions that occurred here that changed civilization, such as the domestication of plants and animals, growth of cities, craft specializations, warfare, mathematics, and astronomy. Each definition is written in clear language and ranges in length from a short paragraph to multiple pages. There are also a number of black-and-white photographs of important archaeological sites and cultural artifacts. . . . This dictionary is a highly recommended acquisition for all academic and large public libraries.
American Reference Books Annual