The Rise of Warfare in Mesoamerica

Ross Hassig

in War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 1992 | ISBN: 9780520077348
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912281 | DOI:
The Rise of Warfare in Mesoamerica

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This chapter describes the development of warfare in Mesoamerica. Organized warfare and domination by foreign groups did not truly begin in Mesoamerica until the rise of the Olmecs. The Olmecs probably did not rely on the atlatl as a weapon. Defensive armor was also rare among them. The demise of the Oaxaca trade had significant effects in the Olmec area. San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan's local dominance rested in large part on its unrivaled ability to import elite goods. During the La Venta phase, trade underwent a number of changes, both in type of goods and method of procurement. The role of the Olmec military remained protective rather than expansionistic. The Olmecs did not fight to maintain their position—they lacked the manpower and logistical capability to do so—but simply withdrew when they could no longer sustain mercantile relations.

Keywords: warfare; Mesoamerica; Olmecs; San Lorenzo; Tenochtitlan; Oaxaca trade; La Venta phase

Chapter.  6112 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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