Mixtec (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Mixtec people shared a common language and a distinctive Mesoamerican culture. Unlike many Mesoamerican societies, there was never a Mixtec empire with a capital city. Rather, numerous, small, politically independent kingdoms characterized the Mixtec political landscape. Each kingdom was headed by its own prestigious royal dynasty, centered in its own town boasting public buildings, temples, ball courts, hieroglyphic writing, luxurious royal residences, and elaborate tombs. The mountaintop sites of Monte Negro, Yucuñudahui, and Huamelulpan are examples of such royal centers in the Mixteca Alta.
The social system was one of the most rigidly hierarchical in Mesoamerica, with clear class divisions between nobility and commoners as well as ranked divisions within each of these broad classes. Mixtec royalty were among those in Mesoamerica who claimed (possibly fictional) descent from the Toltec of Central Mexico. A small but professional military helped maintain social order and was sometimes used for territorial expansion at the expense of neighboring Mixtec kingdoms. Agricultural produce (maize, beans, and squash) and crafts were extracted from the commoners as tribute.
The Mixtec were divided into three principal groups. The most northerly group inhabited the Mixteca Baja, a series of hot, humid valleys descending toward the Gulf Lowlands. Kingdoms within the Mixteca Baja flourished from 600 to 900 c.e., after the decline of Teotihuacán...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
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