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The Archaic Period: 7000-2000 BCE – During this time a hunter-gatherer culture began to cultivate crops such as maize, beans and other vegetables and the domestication of animals (most notably dogs and turkeys) and plants became widely practiced.

The first villages of the region were established during this period which included sacred spots and temples dedicated to various gods.

The height of the Maya Civilization in the Classic Period produced the incredible cultural advances for which they are well known.

Who, precisely, the people were who inhabited El Tajin remains unknown as there were over fifty different ethnic groups represented in the city and dominance has been ascribed to both the Maya and the Totonac.

The Classic Maya Period: 250-950 CE – This is the era which saw the consolidation of power in the great cities of the Yucatec Maya such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal.

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The Maya are an indigenous people of Mexico and Central America who have continuously inhabited the lands comprising modern-day Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas in Mexico and southward through Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.

The widely popular conception that the Maya were driven from their cities by the Spanish Conquest is erroneous as the cities were already vacant by the time of the Spanish invasion (in fact, the Spanish conquerors had no idea the natives they found in the region were responsible for the enormous complexes of the cities).

The Quiche Maya were defeated at the Battle of Utatlan in 1524 CE and this date traditionally marks the end of the Maya Civilization.

The enormous size and scope of Olmec ruins gave birth to the idea that the land was once populated by giants.

Though no one knows where the Olmecs came from, nor what happened to them, they lay the foundation for all the future civilizations in Mesoamerica.

The Toltecs, a new tribe in the region, took over the vacant urban centers and re-populated them.

At this time, Tula and Chichen-Itza became dominant cities in the region.

Direct cultural influences may be seen, in some sites, from the Olmecs and the Zapotecs and the cultural values of Teotihuacan and El Tajin but, in others, a wholly new culture seems to have emerged (such as at Chichen Itza where, though there is ample evidence of cultural borrowing, there is a significantly different style to the art and architecture).