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This research project will attempt to unravel the various threads of cultural influence that existed in Archaic Mesoamerica. Of particular interest will be to test the validity of the theory that there is a “mother culture,” usually posited as the Olmec, which was responsible for the innovations that led to the social complexities of later cultures such as the Mayans and Aztecs. Alternately, it is possible that innovations developed by several different cultures were shared through diffusion due to strong trade networks and other methods. This research question is important because it deals with the evolutionary development of advanced social structures and complex societies. Historical data will be examined to see if there is any bias towards one of these competing viewpoints. Of particular interest will be to look for parallels between the development of these civilizations and ones that developed around the same time in the Middle East and Asia. Finally, several archaeological case studies will be examined to attempt to fit the evidence within one of these theoretical frameworks and show how archaeological evidence can facilitate theory formation.

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Subject Major(s)


Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Bernard Means


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

Is Part Of

VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


© The Author(s)

The Origins of Mesoamerican Civilization