Mexico’s comparative arts through the ages

articles Culture & Arts

Rita Pomade

Arts of Mexico

The following comparative time line provides an orientation to the roots, elements and development of the rich artistic heritage of Mexico.
The time line presentation allows for a sense of movement and awareness of events at equivalent times in the western and oriental worlds.

Time-Line Overview

Arts in Mexico




East and USA

10,000 B.C. – The Pre-agricultural Period

2,000 B.C.

  Carved sacral bone, oldest known sculpture on American continent Lascaux cave paintings – Southwest France Jericho – oldest known walled city
  Evidence of first pyramids (temple bases) in Mesoamerica Cave paintings of Altamira, Spain Invention of writing in Sumeria
      Cheops builds Great Pyramid
      Roots of Hinduism in Persia

2,000 B.C. – The Preclassic Period

100 A.D.

  Olmecs – first high civilization in Americas


Minoan age – Crete (2500 B.C. – 1200 B.C.) Stele of Hammurabi: seven-foot monolith (1792 B.C. – 1750 B.C.)
  Root of Mayan, Huasteca, Totonac cultures

Influence on Zapotecs

Classical Greece

(1200 B.C. – 323 B.C.)

Veda compiled from oral tradition (1500 B.C. – 600 B.C.)
  Peaked in 1200 B.C. Etruscans settle in Italy (800 B.C.) Soloman builds first temple (950 B.C.)
  Technical proficiency in pottery Rome founded (753 B.C.) Birth of Lao Tzu (600 B.C.)
  Monumental sculpture Golden age of Greek sculpture – classical art (600 B.C. – 300 B.C.) Birth of Buddha (563 B.C.)



  Jade carvings unequalled except in China Golden Age of Athens (480 B.C. – 460 B.C.) Birth of Confucius (551 B.C.)
  Hieroglyphic writing


Concept of zero

Positional numeration

Complex social and political organization

Concept of time and space

Parthenon in Athens (447 B.C. – 432 B.C.) The Great Wall of China (221 B.C.)










  Great refinement and complexity in art – a fusion of material and meaning not known in Europe First clash between Greece and Rome

(289 B.C.)

  Independent development of Oaxaca:

Zapotec domination

Mixtec subculture

Punic Wars 264 B.C.)  
  City states governed by theocracies:

(300 B.C.)

Teotihuacan (Central High Plateau)

Monte Alban (Oaxaca)

Mayas (southwest)

Romans destroy Carthage (146 B.C.)  

100 B.C. – The Classical Period

900 A. D.

  Early Mayan empire (100 B.C. – 300)

Art already distinctive and mature

Augustus becomes first Roman Emperor (27 B.C.) Herod is made King of Judaea (44 B.C.)
  Teotihuacan at its height as a religious center for the Toltecs (master builders) in the High Central Plateau

Abandoned in 700

Christian religion legalized (314) Birth of Jesus
  Central Vera Cruz peaks (300 – 900)

Arrival of

Totonacs brings new qualities to architecture and sculpture.


First depiction of smile

Use of wheel in sculpture

Attila the Hun invades Europe (375) Ku K’ai Chih

One of the greatest Chinese painters of his time.

Esteemed for linear mastery and coloristic subtlety

(345 – 405)

  Zapotec culture flourishes in Monte Alban Fall of the Roman Empire (476) Coptic art –

Produced by Egyptian Christians (400s – 700s)

  Decline of the Toltecs in the High Central Plateau (850) Beginning of

the Middle Ages (476)

Justinian builds Santa Sofia in Constantinople (537)
  Mayan Classical period (600 – 900)


Highest cultural development in America

Byzantine architecture and its use of colored mosaics (400s – 500s) The Chinese invent porcelain (650 approx.)

Published or Updated on: April 13, 2003 by Rita Pomade © 2009

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