I  Short Answer & Multiple Choice


1. Which of the following are rivers in Mexico;  a)  Chicomuceltec  b) Panuco  c) Lanugo  

d)  Lerma-Santiago   e) El Chichón f) Balsas  g) Cempoaltepec  h) Motagua  i) Paniagua 

j) Grijalva  k) Ortiga   l)  Orizaba   (4 pts)


2.  Which of the following volcanic peaks means “white woman”?  a) Chicontepec 

b) Popocatepetl  c) Citlaltepetl   d)  Tajmulco  e) Ixtaccihuatl  (1 point)


3.  31.  Cocijo is the name of a deity important to rain and lightning among the   a) Teenek  

b) Huastec   c)  Tzeltal  d)  Lacandón   e)  Tzotzil   f)  Zapotec   g) Aztec   h) Quiché   (1 pt)


4.  Paul Kirchhoff listed several traits that he proposed were characteristic of Mesoamerica. 

Which three of the following were on Kirchhoff's list.  (circle three).  a)  chinampa agriculture, 

b)  laced sandals, c) a calendar of 12 months of 30 days each , d) barkless dog       

e)  giant stone heads   f) a decimal numeration system  g) limestone sculptures,  h) purification

rituals   i) maguey cultivation  (3 points)  (4 points)


5. The number systems of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations were   a) decimal  b) hexadecimal 

c) base two   d) vigesimal   e) ordinal  f) subliminal  (2 pts)


6. What two kinds of calendar were employed by pre‑Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations;

how many days in each. ( 4 pts)


7. Circle the three fruits, from among the following, that were growing in Middle America when

the Spaniards first arrived:  mango, avocado, orange, tomato, pineapple, peach, starfruit, pear,

banana (3 pts)


8. The black Zapote is used  a) to blow up trucks  b) to eat out of hand   c) as a fish poison  

d) to heal wounds   e) as a powerful hallucinogren  f) as a love charm  (2 pts)


9. Name the important events in Middle America associated with the following dates:  (6 pts)





10. Numeral classifiers are found in  some  a) Aztec languages   b)  Mayan languages  

c) Oto-Manguean languages  


11. non-alcoholic Middle American maize based drinks include  a) tepache   b) ceviche 

c) pozole d) guandule  e) pinol  f)  atole   g) guapinol   h) aerosol   i ) aguardiente   (3 pts)        


12. Lacandons, in honoring their gods, use  a) balché   b)  large wooden spoons   

c)  fankincense   d) woven hammocks   e)  obsidian arrow points   f) treemoss   

g) whitewashed censersh) paper made from the fig tree   (5 pts)


13. The important transition from child to adult life in indigenous Middle America is signaled

by  a) puberty ceremony  b) age 18    c)  marriage    d) cargo service   e) the new fire ceremony

(2 pts)


14. The traditional shape of Huastec houses  is  a) rectangular   b) square   c)  round  

d) eliptical   e) rhomboid   f)  oval     (2 pts)


15. Into a deceased’s coffin Huastecs place   a ) a small tuft of dog hair   b) some tortillas  

c) a gourd   d) a pair of sandals   e) a hammock  f) a candle   g) some thatch from the roof

 (3 pts) 


l6. Who or what supports the earth according to Huastec belief?  (2 pts)


l7.A straddling-the-hip ceremony for children takes place among the  a) Tzotzils   b)  Tzeltals  

c)  Lacandóns  d)  Teeneks   e)  Huastecs   f)  Yucatecs   (2 pt)


18. Hunahpu lost his head in  a)  House of Gloom  b)  House of  Knives c)  House of Bats

d)  House of Cold  e) House of Jaguars   f)  House of Fire. (2 pts)


19.  People in Todos Santos Cuchumatan in highland Guatemala speak  a) Ixil    b)  Tzeltal  

c) Quiché   d) Mam   e) Tzotzil   f)  Yucatec    (2 pts)


20.  The Popol Vuh was originally written in  a) French  b)  Spanish  c)  Quiché   d) Lacandón  

e) Tzeltal.  (2 pts)


21.  Popocatepetl  is a   a) town in Mexico  b) lake in Guatemala  c) volcanic peak in Mexico  

d) river in Mexico   e) Yucatec monster   f)  river in Guatemala.  (1 pt) 


22.  Guatemala’s Atitlan is a:  a) volcano   b)  river   c)  lake   d)  town  e)  dam   f) cave  

g) province   (1 pt)


23.  The Mayan language separated by more than 4OO miles from any other Mayan idiom is  

a) Chicomuceltec   b)  Ixil   c) Quiché   d) Tzeltal   e)  Lacandón   f) Yucatec   g)  Teenek    

(1 pt)


24.  Which of the following are rivers in Guatemala?  a)  San Pedro Ixcan    b) Motagua 

c) Rio Atitlan   d) Usumacinta  e) Comalcalco   f) Fer-de-Lance    (2 points) 


25.  Most of the Mesoamerican tone languages are in the  a) Uto-Aztecan language family 

b) Mayan  language family  c)  Oto-Manguean language family   d)  Totonacan language family  

e) Mixe-Zoquean language family.   (2 points)


26.  An ash cross is laid out on the floor of the deceased's house among the   a)  Lacandóns

b) Tzotzils   c)  Tzeltals   d)  Huastecs    (1 point)


27.  The largest lake in Mexico is named  a) Lago Izabal   b) Peten Itza  c)  Chapala  

d) Cuitzeo  e) Atitlán   (1 point)


28.  The tallest peak in Mesoamerica is   a)  Popocatepetl   b)  Colima  c) Centeno  

d) Orizaba

e)  Teponaztli   f)  Foam mountain  g) Tajmulco


23.  The Teenek demon Elul is seen as  a) a dwarf wearing a woman’s cape   b) a ladino on

horseback  c) a transvestite with wild hair   d)  a moth     e) a black dog


24.  In Spanish (borrowed from Nahuatl) the reed mat is called  a) tula   b)  petate  

c) ocosingo   d) dormilón   e)  macana   f) teotihuacan




II  Identify (in a few keywords or a sentence or two) (3 pts each)


1.  Diego de Landa  


2.  Maguey  


3.  Papaloapan  


4.  Volador     


5.  Burning Salt  


6.  Nagual      


7.  Balche      


8.  Cargo System  


9.  Hachakyum   


10. Amaranth    


11. Xoloitzcuintli  


12. X‑tabay      


13. 4OO Boys    


14. Xbalanque    


15. Tepexpan Man  



III True or False (place a T or F to the left of each number). (2 pts each)


1. In Middle America a bride price is commonly paid by the bride's parents.


2. Corn meal is sprinkled around the house of a newly deceased  a) Tzotzil  b) Teenek

c) Tzeltal   d) Lacandón   e) Yucatec     


3. Chinampa agriculture has caused serious erosion problems in Middle America


4. Before the Spaniards arrived in Middle America, native trade was limited  to the distance

a man could travel from dawn to dusk


5. K'in, K'ayum, and Bor are the names of Teenek deities.


6.  Huastecs used to file their teeth, dye them black, and dye their hair.


7. Divination by "lifting the basket" is used by Tzeltals to answer "who" questions.


8. According to Tzeltal tradition dreams can reveal events of the future.


9. The louse has a place in Lacandon burial ritual and also as a messenger in the Popol Vuh. 


10. Proverbs are one of the more obvious aspects of Chamula Tzotzil

    culture, which is why they are called "holy words of the ancients".     


11. Zinacantan has two Christ figures at Christmas time; a male Christ and a female Christ. 


12. Benito Juarez was a Nahuatl Indian and president of Mexico during the

    latter half of the 19th century. 


13.  Fire and salt are important for combating Tzeltal demons, monsters, and naguals.


14.  The earliest civilization in Middle America is referred to as Totonac.


15.  The Eagle Dance is the Huastec name for the Volador ceremony.


16.  The ceiba is the sacred tree of the Mayans.


17.  Sweet manioc or cassava is called yuca in Spanish speaking Mesoamerica


18.  Porfirio Diaz,  of Mixtec heritage was a president in Mexico prior

     to the revolution.


19.  Mesoamerican families are generally hierarchical, with male and age dominance.


20.  Malinche was the name given to Pedro de Alvarado after he did his

     famous "dance of defeat," killing several hundred Aztec nobles.


21.   Marriage in Mesoamerica tends to be negotiated by elders for sons and daughters


22.  When a Lacandón infant’s cord falls off, it is buried and a banana tree is planted over the



23.   Many Huastecs have both a three-stone hearth and a raised stove or fire-table.


24.  Most Teenek houses will have an altar.






IV  Short Essay (pick three of the following to answer, spend no more than lO to 15 minutes on each)

(15 pts each)


l.  If you saw the film When the Mountains Tremble, tell what it is about, including its



2.  Discuss forms and functions of ritual sacrifice in l6th century Yucatan according to  

Bishop de Landa’s  book.


3.  What does Evon Vogt mean by structural and conceptual replication, and how does this

relate to Zinacantan's two Christ figures.


4.  Discuss the arms and customs of war among the Yucatecs as described by a Bishop of

the l6th century.


5.  Discuss the role of alcohol in Yucatec society of the l6th century and in contemporary

Zinacanteco Tzotzil or Tenejapa Tzeltal society.


6.  Outline the plot line of Carter Wilson's novel, and briefly discuss the novel as a device for

presenting ethnography.


7.  Discuss the religion and worldview of the Lacandones 


8.  Discuss personal names among two Mayan groups, commenting on both forms and



9. Discuss the functions of gossip in a Mesoamerican Indian Community.


10. There are three genres of insulting speech in Zinacanteco Tzotzil, referred to by Tzotzil

terms for joking speech, ridicule, and scolding speech.  If scolding is defined in terms of

direct insults made in the second person, whether true or false, and ridicule in terms of

direct insults made in the third person that are true, what then characterizes joking, and what

kinds of means can be employed to insult in the "joking" genre.  Give examples and compare

with joking that you know about you your own culture.


11. Divination is of great importance in Indian Middle America.  Discuss this phenomenon,

perhaps comparing it to U.S. society as you may know it.  Discuss, minimally, forms,

functions, and implications.


12. In Huastec mythology an ugly orphan jumps over fire to become the sun.  The Aztecs tell

of Nanahuatl,  a diseased but courageous pauper, transformed,  by leaping into a great fire,

into the sun.  In the Quiche Popol Vuh, the Hero Twins jump over fire 4 times and later jump

in to become the sun and the moon.  How might you explain these similarities, and the

relationship of the sun to fire as well as to persons jumping over fire? 


13. Discuss sickness and its cure in Chan Kom.  Relate it to the h‑men.


14.  Provide the situational context for this typical fragment of a Zinacanteco  dialogue.

"May your head speak, may your heart speak; Seize my words, beloved father.  Today

I speak because of your mud, your earth.  Don't cut out my child's heart.


15. If you saw Chac the Rain God, tell what it is about.   


16.  Talk about the directional rain deities of the Teeneks, including how many they are, what

they do, where they live, etc.


17.  Explain what the film Discovering Dominga is all about.


18.  Explain why you think that underlying the first half of the Popol Vuh is the life cycle of

maize  (or if you prefer, of cacao)


19.  It has been said that the solution of certain problems created by agriculture led to

civilization.  What are some of these problems, and when did they arise in Mesoamerica. 


20.  If you are familiar with El Norte, explain what it is about.


21.  In what ways do the Lacandon seem to diverge from the lecturer's characterization of

general features of Middle American Indian Society


22.  If you read Wilson’s  Crazy February, discuss its plot and how well you think such a book

can function as an ethnography (description of a culture).


23.  Using either of Gonzalez’s books, discuss the use of fiction for conveying ethnographic

information to the reader.