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Mesoamerican Transition: From Nomads to Settlers

            Beginning with the most ancient of civilizations, most humans had a nomadic way of living in which moving from place to place was key. The people of Mesoamerica led nomadic hunter and gatherer life styles and were originally traveling groups that exploited the natural environment of a particular area (Pool, 2007). Nomadic hunting and gathering, which is the following of seasonal wild plants and game, is one of the oldest human survival methods (Coe & Houston, The Maya, 2015). The Mesoamerican tribes or communities would use up all the resources in that area during that season, then move to another area when the next season arrived. While this may have worked for communities during a greater period of history, the need for a more permanent style of living was evident. This was especially clear as the small nomadic groups grew in size. It became increasingly difficult to provide for the growing population through this lifestyle (Pope, 2001). In order to transition away from a nomadic life style the Mesoamerican people domesticated both plants and animals, made significant changes in how and where they "farmed", and created food storage systems. .
             Mesoamerican cultures differed greatly; it is the "ancient foursome of maize, beans, peppers, and squash" that ties them together and forms the basis of the people's diet (Coe & Houston, The Maya, 2015), with maize being the most important source of food. While domestication can be defined in many ways, the definition proposed by Russian geneticist Nikolai Vavilov is used for the basis of this essay. Vavilov states that it is the "evolution directed by the interference of humans". This basically means that humans have altered or interfered with the reproduction of certain species (Coe & Koontz, Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs, 2013). Prior to domestication, Mesoamerican cultures solely consumed the raw kernels of maize.

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