In what ways was the Toltec society a continuation of earlier Mesoamerican societies?  The text being used is Traditions and Encounters by Bentley and Ziegler.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bentley and Ziegler suggest that the the Tolmec continued different aspects of Mesoamerican societies that preceded them.  One example of this would be how the Olmec believed in a centralized focus for social life. The preceding Olmec civilization developed centers of ceremony.  These centers were critically important to the communal life of the Olmec.  This centralized importance is seen in the Tolmec establishment of Tula as the capital for their empire.  The Tolmec echoed the Olmec importance of centralization.

While the Tolmec had mirrored the Olmec embrace of centrality, the Tolmec also embraced the warfare element of Mayan society.  The Mayans had established their political importance through their capital city of Tikal as well as embracing soldiers and warriors in the highest brackets of society.  These habits were evident in how the Tolmec embraced the exertion of militaristic force as critical to the expansion of their empire and rooted in the capital city of Tula.  Like the Mayans, the Tolmec sought to elevate the militaristic and those who embodied the tenets of a "warrior group bent on conquest."  In addition to this, the Mayans had established a form of spiritual identity and religious worship that emphasized the importance of the divine in mortal life.  The creation of Popul Vuh as well as how individuals have to be subservient to the will of the Gods is evident in Tolmec spirituality.  Depictions of the God- King  Quetzalcóatl were offered to reflect how the individual has to be mindful of their own place in a larger configuration.  Embracing this aspect of Mayan culture, the Tolmec emphasized that individuals were to understand their own place within a configuration in which  the God- king existed.  The Mayan emphasis on hierarchy and control seemed to be appropriated by a Tolmec culture that became "more aggressive" in terms of expansion and status.