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War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica$
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Ross Hassig

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520077348

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520077348.001.0001

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The Rise of Warfare in Mesoamerica

The Rise of Warfare in Mesoamerica

(p.12) Chapter 2 The Rise of Warfare in Mesoamerica
War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica

Ross Hassig

University of California Press

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

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