GUATEMALA FISHING VACATION GUATEMALA SPORTFISHING AND FLY FISHING
GUATEMALA HISTORY
       

Before 1943 the term Central America was vague and confusing since it encompassed an area from the Antilles Islands to the continent. At that time only North America and South America existed. Some said South America began in Mexico, others in Panama, others at the Panama Canal, and still others in Colombia. For some, Mexico was Central America.

In 1943 a commission led by Paul Kirchof, in a provisional way, proposed the term Mesoamerica. At the beginning the commission could not agree what area it would encompass. Some said from Mexico to Panama while others from Mexico to the Panama Canal. Kirchof proposed it encompass from Mexico's Central Valley all the way to half of Nicaragua and be based on XVI centrury chronicles.

Mesoamerica is not a geographic area, but more an area where certain traits and cultural characteristics are shared, such as:

1) The use of the Coa:The Coa is a wooden stick whose point has been fire hardened. It's a tool for planting seeds since it is pushed into the ground to make a hole where the seed is placed. In the southern coast of Guatemala this process is called "seeding with macana".
2). Farming of Chan: Chan is a seed that had ritual and medicinal properties. Today it is used in lemonade, placed on pieces of wet canvas in orchards and used in flower rugs for Holy Week .
3) Use of chinampas: Also known as floating gardens, they were basically used in the Valley of Mexico even though they have been found in other places. The chinampa was a log raft anchored to the bottom of a lake, which was covered with mud from the lakes bottom. The mud contained lime, which helped the plants on top of the chinampas to grow.
4) Farming of century plants: the leaves of the century plants were crushed and dried to produce a type of paper. The three Maya codexes are written on century plant paper. The fiber of the century pant is used to make a rope called jarcia that is used to tie tamales ( a local food). The heart of the century plant is fermented and the alcoholic drink pulgue is produced.
5) Farming of the cacao plant (chocolate tree): cacao beans are of Mesoamerican origin and were used by the Mayas as currency and a symbol of wealth. For example, someone may ask, "how many cacahuates (cacao beans) do you have on you?", and is really asking you how much money is that person carrying. The word chocolate is of Maya origin. Xoco = mud and atl = water = xocoatl.
6) Farming of corn and athe nixtarial technique, this is probably the largest common characteristic of the Mesoamerican area. Today the nixtarial is cooked with corn and lime and in ages past with ashes. The corn is cooked with lime and water until the husk falls off, this is called nixtarial. The white water produced, along with the husks, is called "agua chiua" (calf milk) and is given to pigs as food. Before the advent of the nixtarial mill, powered by an electric motor or the more common diesel engine, the grinding stone was used. The resulting dough is used to make tortillas and atoll (corn dough and water, a "corn drink"). One prehispanic custom alive and well in Guatemala is drinking atoll, almost everyone likes it. In fact in Native American weddings, if no atoll is served, the couple is considered doomed to failure. The atoll with no additives is called atol blanco (white colored atoll) or dough atoll. Some drink it sweet other salty. The atol shuco (dirty atoll) has black beans, hot peppers and white colored atoll.
7) Manufacture and use of clay projectiles, blowguns were used a long time ago to kill birds, nowadays slingshots are used.
8) The use of rabbit hair in fabric. Rabbit hair was woven into fabrics to make them showier.
9) Manufacture of wooden swords. Two pieces of wood were glued and pressed together, in between which a slab of obsidian was placed. The obsidian was sharpened and an efficient sword produced.
10) Use of cotton vests as armor. These cotton vests were used as protection in battles.
11) Construction of stepped, flat topped pyramids. They can be found all over Mesoamerica.
12) Use of stucco. The stucco was made out of line meshed sand, lime and water. In prehispanic constructions, stucco was used on the floors and walls. In archeological site in Copan, Honduras and bona mpale, Mexico one can still observe prehispanic stucco. If the ingredients are properly combined, water will not penetrate stucco.
13) Glyphic writing. The use of glyphs was for the people to write about everyday life, not the gods. Hieroglyphics talk about the gods.
14) Use of signs for numbers:
15) Books were accordion like; in these type of books the Maya wrote their codexes.
16) The use of calendars:
-Solar Calendar: it was made up of 18 months with 20 days and 1 month of 5 days. The last 5 days were left over and considered ominous and bringers of bad luck. Boys born in those days were considered bad and the girls prostitutes. Once those days were over, life returned to normal.
-Ritual Calendar: also known as the tzolkin. It had 260 days and is still in use among Guatemalan Native Americans. It has one special day; the initial day called wak xx kib batz or seven days, seven monkeys or seven threads. That day all the witch doctors and Maya priests get together in momostenango (the mush or the navel of the world) and bring those that will ordain new priest. They return the sacred staffs, a certain amount of beans to cure, predict the future, etc. nowadays woman participate although non-native Americans can not.
Venus calendar; it has specific movement in regards to the earth
Lunar calendar: follows the movement of the moon. The Mayans related menstruation to the moon.
17) Certain types of sacrifice: Perforation of the penis, legs tongue and ears with a stingray spine. Extraction and incineration of the heart as an offering to the gods.
18) The flying tree pole: a tall, wide, limbless tree is stood up and ropes are fixed and wrapped around its top. One end of rope is tied to a person's ankle and that person

A) Geographic: Mesoamerica can be divided in 10 georaphic areas.

1) Lowland maya lands of the north: From the Chamá Mountain Reange to the Coast.
2) Lowland maya lands of the South: From tehe Chamá Mountain range to Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
3) North—western area: Golf of México.
4) Highlands of Guatemala: Huehuetenango, Quiche, Alta Verapaz; Chiapas, México.
5) Central highland plain of Guatemala: Central plateau of Guatemala, Sacatepequez, Guatemala, parts of Chimaltenango, Santa Rosa, Lowlands of Baja Verapaz and El Progreso.
6) Surrounding area to the South East of the Maya lowlands: Eartern part of Guatemala (Quirigua,Guatemala) and northern part of Honduras (Copan, Honduras).
7) The land between the high and lowland on the Pacific side of Guatemala: Between 1 000 and 200 meters above sea level from Tapachula, Mexico to Oratorio, Santa Rosa, Guatemala.
8) Southern coast of Guatemala: From 200 meters above sea level to the coast.
9) The Isthmus of Tehualtepeque.
10) The highlands and Central Valle de Mexico: The central Plateau

B) Chronologic: Mesoamerica can be divided into 3 periods:

Preclassic Period: Circa *1 1800 BC—250 AC
Early: Circa 1800 BC—800 BC
Middle: 800BC—250 BC
(protoclassic : 50 BC—250AC*2
late: 250 BC—250AC

Classic Period: 250AC—900AC
Early: 250AC—650AC
Middle: 400AC—700AC*3
Late: 650AC—900AC
Terminal: 800AC—1000AC*2

Post Classic Period: 900AC—1524AC
Early: 900AC—1250AC
terminal: 1250AC—1524AC*4

Protohistoric or *5
Ethnohistoric period: 1500AC—1700AC

*1) Circa means approximately.
*2) These periods are not gone through by all groups in Mesoamerica.
*3) Many modern archeologists no longer agree to this sub division.
*4) These periods are not gone through by all groups in Mesoamerica.
*5) 1524AC is the date of the conguest of Guatemala. Some groups that live in Peten, Guatemala were no conguered until 1600AC.
6) Determined by the dates of native American manuscripts. It initiates after the three main periods of Mesoamerica.

The Tehuacan Valley in Mexico has been carefully and exhaustively studied because there have been found the first and most important signs of inhabitation of all Mesoamerica. Due to its study, the process by which groups adapted from a nomad to a sedentary life, around 800AC with the development of agriculture, has been established. In fact the term ethnoarqueobotanical (it dates from the 1940’s) was created while this valley was being studied.

The Valley is surrounded by mountains, is a semi-desert and almost has four sea sons (spring, summer, autumn and winter). The climatic conditions are stable and help in the preservation of cultural material found there. Rain and heat are considered average and a temperate climate is the norm.

Around 1800BC the inhabitants were nomad groups, gatherers and hunters with spears. Bow and arrows are more recent invention appearing in the post classic period. Their economy was based on the gathering of fruits of the land and minor hunting. Their ceramic is almost unknown, since they probably did not have any.

The first groups had several camps that they visited throught the year. The camps were not at fixed locations, they were constantly being changed. Their new camps were close one to another, but not necessary the same ones each year.
Their nomad lifestyle influenced their social organization. During times of plenty the whole extended family got together and in lean times only the nuclear family gathered.

Tipes of families.
- Nuclear family: Father, mother and single children.
- Nuclear family of orientation: Father, mother and children.
- Nuclear family of procreation: Wed children of the above family with their own children.
- Extended family: The reunion of several velated nuclear families.
- Lineage: Several extended families having a common ancestor older than the parents; could be grandparents, great grandparents, etc.
Social organization varied from camp to camp, there was no concept of territory due to the constant or priests. Traveling of the groups. There is no established religion since it is incipient. There is a sence of wath is trascendental. Industry is lithic (work, stone).

Little developed social groups do not damage the environment, such as hunter-gatherers. The less developed the group the more it adapts to its environment. As beings become more developed the environment stars to get modified to suit the needs of the group.
The first evidences in Tehuacan were found in the garbage. The garbage revealed: Type of food, economic level and number of inhabitants and determined that the groups began changing their nomad life to a more sedentary one as they began an incipient agriculture.

Agriculture allowed them: 1) Members of the group spent more time at one camp, 2) a sense of territory was developed, 3) changes to the social structure initiate, possibly the development of the matriarchy, 4) division of labor between men and women, 5) development of an incipient religion, some people specialize and become priests, although not full time.

Some say agriculture was invented by women since they tilled the land, planted seeds, etc; while the men were out hunting. Thanks to having a formal agriculture, from semi nomad they became sedentary with the following characteristic: 1) There is a definite sense of territory, borders and limits are used. 2) Another change in the social structure happens: From a matriarchy to a patriarchy. 3) There is greater division and specialization of work, so there is more religion. 4) Ceramics begin appearing. 5) In Mesoamerica an apparatus called metate appears in Guatemala it is called a grinding stone

Established sedentary groups initiate a process in agriculture still practiced today:

Plant, clean (clearing of weeds), harvest and leftovers are burnt (in Guatemala this is called ‘the roza”) in the belief they are fertilizing the land. This is wrong because “la roza” does not nourish the land but instead burns nutriets off it.Once harvesting is over there is a period when no one can plant because of droughts. This allowed the domestication of animals. Besides agricultural products, their diet included animals. For example chicken soup with eggs and hot peppers (like chiltepe). Agriculture allowed them to raise and feed animals which they later ate. After agriculture was discovered there is more free time available. Handcrafts appear and then ceramics. With the advent of ceramics different types of grinding stones are developed, grinding stones for corn and grinding stones for cacao.

The nuclear families are more in touch with the extended families, since there is plenty they can all live together. When abundance exits less fortunate relatives can be invited over, if no abundance they are not invited.

A especial group appears, the elite, in society. To belong or get to it people have to fight to change one for another. Using force one group displaces another. The first elites were between family members and related to age. They were called gerentocracies, meaning the government of the old.

Religion is on the rise and priests now enjoy a full time job. They begin charging tribute for their services.
Inter local commercial exchange appears based on accepting barter or money as a means of payment. Since there was excess production it had to be sold or exchanged. With commerce there develops family relation between near by villages by means of traveling salesmen and businessmen.

All of the previous activity was happening in the Tehuacan Valley circa 900 BC. In the year 900 BC a sudden change influences the life of the inhabitants of Mesoamerica: A large strong culture appears, the Olmecs.

One hypothesis on the rise of the Olmec points out that by Palos Verdes, on the Baja California Peninsula, pass some marine corrents that go to Hawai, the Auletian Islands, reach China and return to America. It is possible that by means of these current, using boats, people from China came to America since there exists evidence of American cocoa beans in China. Another evidence found at Palos Verdes is that in the sea there are some kidney shaped stones with a hole drilled through them that could be sea anchors like the ones used by the Chinese.

Another hypothesis is that some Chinese were expelled from China and, having knowledge of these currents, came to America. Their persecuters catch up with them and burn their boats, leaving them stranded in America so they cannot return to China.

Independently on the hypothesis of how they got to America, those people began searching for a place similar to home. They travel across Mexico and come to a place with many estuaries, the area of the Usumacinta River. This peregrinations begin around the year 2000 BC and as they crossed the land, they began to absorb the culture they passed and those different cultural characteristics they made their own (cultural syncretism) while at the same time spreading their own culture.
The name Olmec was given to this group because that is the name of the place they were found. Nobody knows what they called them selves. The following are Olmec characteristics in the year 900 BC: 1) Cult of the jaguar: This cult had followers until the post classic. The jaguar was the basic deity of their religion and is tipically represented as a mouth whit fangs.

2) Anthropo- morphic representations related to the jaguar: Men with headdresses that have a jaguar. 3) Their art has a bilateral symmetry and is rigid. Itsa monumental art, having a relation to the large carred stone heads. 4) Numerical system represented by dots on bars. The mayas perfectioned and developed the Olmec numerical system. 5) The basic calendar was introduced by the Olmec. The Aztecs and Mayas perfected it.

Olmec trait were spread by war an through commerce. They were a warrior group and imposed their culture on others.

San Lorenzo, on the Golf of Mexico, was inhabited by pre-Olmecs groups and was violently occupied by the Olmecs who imposed their culture. After wards they spread to many places. They went to La Ventana, Mexico to Abajtajalik, Retalhuleu, (in Guatemala) and Kaminal Juyu. To Kaminal Juyu, Guatemala arrives the Olmec fad, not the Olmecs. Later on they reach Peten, Guatemala. The Olmecs imposed their culture by many means, including through the Filosophical-religious domain. During the middle pre classic (500 BC) Olmec culture was spreading towards the scarcely populated maya lowlands.

The constant movement of the Olmec people spread their culture and it begins to become popular, not their essence but their fashion and style. Groups that have been invaded by the Olmec emigrate towards the Usumacinta and La Pasion Rivers. There they settle down and begin to disperse by land to Peten, Guatemala and Belize.

Independently on the hypothesis of how they got to America, those people began searching for a place similar to home. They travel across Mexico and come to a place with many estuaries, the area of the Usumacinta River. This peregrinations begin around the year 2000 BC and as they crossed the land, they began to absorb the culture they passed and those different cultural characteristics they made their own (cultural syncretism) while at the same time spreading their own culture.

The name Olmec was given to this group because that is the name of the place they were found. Nobody knows what they called them selves. The following are Olmec characteristics in the year 900 BC: 1) Cult of the jaguar: This cult had followers until the post classic. The jaguar was the basic deity of their religion and is tipically represented as a mouth whit fangs.

2) Anthropo- morphic representations related to the jaguar: Men with headdresses that have a jaguar. 3) Their art has a bilateral symmetry and is rigid. Itsa monumental art, having a relation to the large carred stone heads. 4) Numerical system represented by dots on bars. The mayas perfectioned and developed the Olmec numerical system. 5) The basic calendar was introduced by the Olmec. The Aztecs and Mayas perfected it.

Olmec trait were spread by war an through commerce. They were a warrior group and imposed their culture on others.

San Lorenzo, on the Golf of Mexico, was inhabited by pre-Olmecs groups and was violently occupied by the Olmecs who imposed their culture. After wards they spread to many places. They went to La Ventana, Mexico to Abajtajalik, Retalhuleu, (in Guatemala) and Kaminal Juyu. To Kaminal Juyu, Guatemala arrives the Olmec fad, not the Olmecs. Later on they reach Peten, Guatemala. The Olmecs imposed their culture by many means, including through the Filosophical-religious domain. During the middle pre classic (500 BC) Olmec culture was spreading towards the scarcely populated maya lowlands.

The constant movement of the Olmec people spread their culture and it begins to become popular, not their essence but their fashion and style. Groups that have been invaded by the Olmec emigrate towards the Usumacinta and La Pasion Rivers. There they settle down and begin to disperse by land to Peten, Guatemala and Belize.


During the early pre classic, on the Southern Coast of Guatemala, there was a human presence that had a similar, homogenous culture. It is believed homogenous because their ceramic was very similar. By the middle pre classic the ceramic shows signs of changes, it contains Olmec designs, because everything Olmec was in fashion. During that period. In the late pre classic there is another change in their ceramic, the Olmecs were no longer present, they had disappeared. Only their culture, mixed with that of other people and their descendants, persisted.

Olmec descendants began joining Guatemalan groups of the Southern Coast and initiate the cult to the “Poy belly’s”. These are groups with which they can exchange goods. These groups from the Southern Coast of El Salvador. This integration (ifluence) happens between 50 BC and 250 AC. This is the protoclassic. The Olmec culture has been called the mother culture because it gave birth to the maya and other cultures.


As has been mentioned before, there were few people in the maya lowland. In Belize there is evidence of habitation 1400 years before the arrival of the Olmecs. If the Olmecs rocs around 900 BC, then Belize has signs of habitation since 2300 BC. During Olmec times it was inhabited little by little. The settlers came from the area of the Golf of Mexico. These were either settlers or emigrants Olmecs had expelled. It is supposed that from the Usumacinta River they traveled to La Pasion River. These immigrants adapted to the dress style and community characteristics of the maya lowlands.

There exist differences in the theories on now the highland of Guatemala were inhabited. Supposedly once the Olmecs reached the highland they also emigrated to the maya lowlands of the North and South. The discovery of Rio Azul near the border of Peten, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico, leaves some doubts about the dates the Olmec and their influence, arrived.

The Villages in the Center and South of the Maya lands were mingling, fusing with the Olmec culture as the Olmecs traveled across the land.

The Maya and Olmec were born at the same time. The Olmec and Maya cultures were both in the middle Pre classic, circa 850 BC-250 BC.

By AD 250, the Early Classic Period, great temple cities were beginning to be built in the Guatemalan highlands, but by the Late Classic Period (AD 600 to 900) the center of power had moved to the El Petén lowlands. Following the mysterious collapse of the Maya civilization, the Itzaes also settled in El Petén, particularly around the present-day site of Flores.

When Pedro de Alvarado came to conquer Guatemala for the king of Spain in 1523, he found the faded remnants of the Maya civilization and an assortment of warring tribes. The remaining highland kingdoms of the Quiché and Cakchiquel Maya were soon crushed by Alvarado's armies, their lands carved up into large estates and their people ruthlessly exploited by the new landowners. The subsequent arrivals of Dominican, Franciscan and Augustinian friars could not halt this exploitation, and their religious imperialism caused valuable traces of Mayan culture to be destroyed.Independence from Spain came in 1821, bringing new prosperity to those of Spanish blood (creoles) and even worse conditions for those of Mayan descent. The Spanish Crown's few liberal safeguards were now abandoned. Huge tracts of Mayan land were stolen for the cultivation of tobacco and sugar cane, and the Maya were further enslaved to work that land. The country's politics since independence have been colored by continued rivalry between the forces of the left and right - neither of which have ever made it a priority to improve the position of the Maya.

>
For more information or questions contact us
International:
1-336 655 0541

Guatemala:
Office: 00(502) 7934-62-20
Cell: 5966-4528 or 4065-1179

apycom                 designed by 3amigos.com
written by Kevin Styles www.Greatsailfishing.com
facebook
Bookmark and Share
facebook
twitter