Mokaya were pre-Olmec cultures of the Soconusco region in Mexico and parts of the Pacific coast of western Guatemala, an archaeological culture that developed a number of Mesoamerica’s earliest-known sedentary settlements.
The Soconusco region is generally divided by archaeologists into three adjacent zones along the coast—the Lower Río Naranjo region (along the Pacific coast of western Guatemala), Acapetahua, and Mazatán (both on the Pacific coast of modern-day Chiapas, Mexico). The term Mokaya was coined by archaeologists to mean "corn people" in an early form of the Mixe–Zoquean language, which the Mokaya supposedly spoke. The Mokaya are thought to have been among the first cultures in Mesoamerica to develop a hierarchical society, which arose in the Early Formative (or Preclassic) period of Mesoamerican chronology, at a time (late 2nd millennium BCE) slightly before similar traits were evident among the early Olmec centers of the Gulf Coast region.
Around 1900 BC one of the dozen species of cacao was carried from the upper Amazon and domesticated by the Mokaya. A Mokaya archaeological site provides evidence of cacao beverages dating to 1900 BC.
- Pool 2007
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