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UNIT 9: Connections Across Land

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VIDEO SEGMENT: The Turquoise Roads

This segment explores a lesser-known — but equally important — trading network that linked various peoples from Central America to what is now New Mexico. Archaeological and anthropological studies suggest that complex trading relationships developed in this area as early as 700 CE due to the demand for turquoise. As a result, these trading routes became known as the Turquoise Roads.

The peoples of Mesoamerica valued turquoise for its beauty as well as its ritual significance, but it could only be obtained by the Anasazi peoples who lived 1000 miles to the north. In response to the demand by Mesoamerican peoples, the Anasazi devoted significant energy to mining turquoise. Although the evidence is fragmentary, it seems that the Anasazi received exotic birds and feathers, as well as agricultural goods, in return for turquoise.

These trade routes were so important that they survived changes in empires in the south and social organization in the north, and flourished until the time of European contact. It is also clear that commodities were not the only things that traveled along the Turquoise Roads. Indeed, physical evidence indicates that the belief in the Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl spread north, as did many ceremonies, traditions, and architectural styles.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous, TURQUOISE AND CORAL MOSAIC, AZTEC (n.d.). Courtesy of Pictures of Record, www.picturesofrecord.com.

J. Q. Jacobs, CASA RINCONADA, GREAT KIVA, CHACO CANYON (2000). Courtesy of J. Q. Jacobs.



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