Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ancient American Civilizations

This week in history we are studying ancient American civilizations.  We began our study with the nazca culture which flourished from the first to eighth centuries AD beside the dry southern coast of Peru.  The Nazca culture is renouned for their large geoglyphs.  The geoglyphs of Nazca or "Nazca lines" are a series of geometric shapes, miles of lines, and large drawings of animal figures (some as large as a football field) constructed on the desert floor in the Nazca region.  The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks or orcas, llamas, and lizards.

According to Wiki: The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the  reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish ground beneath. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes; more than seventy are designs of animal, bird, fish or human figures. The largest figures are over 200 metres (660 ft) across. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, but they generally ascribe religious significance to them, as they were major works that required vision, planning and coordination of people to achieve. Here is an example of a monkey geoglyph.

As part of our study T designed and drew his own geoglyphs.

We also briefly studied the Olmec culture which were an ancient Pre-Columbian civilization living in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico.  The most familiar aspect of the Olmecs is their artwork, particularly the aptly-named colossal heads.  As no known pre-Columbian text explains them, these impressive monuments have been the subject of much speculation. Once theorized to be ballplayers, it is now generally accepted that these heads are portraits of rulers, perhaps dressed as ballplayers. Infused with individuality, no two heads are alike and the helmet-like headdresses are adorned with distinctive elements, suggesting to some personal or group symbols. There have been 17 colossal heads unearthed to date.  According to Wiki the heads range in size from the Rancho La Cobata head, at 3.4 m high, to the pair at Tres Zapotes, at 1.47 m. It has been calculated that the largest heads weigh between 25 and 55 tons.

The heads were carved from single blocks or boulders of volcanic basalt, found in the Tuxtlas Mountains.  Here is an example of an Olmec Head.

T constructed his own Olmec head out of playdoh.

We plan on studying ancient American civization more in depth in the coming weeks.  T seems especially interested in them due to their close geographic proximity.


Stuff On My Blog said...

T's head sculpture is awesome :) My guys were totally fascinated by the Nazca lines!

Anonymous said...

Nice head "T".....