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Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed

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Cultures +4 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary, Adults

This bilingual collection features activities, publications, and videos for middle and high school students as well as scholars and life-long learners on Central American archaeology and history through ceramics from 1000 BC to the present.

For thousands of years, Central America has been home to vibrant civilizations, each with unique, sophisticated ways of life, value systems, and arts. The ceramics these peoples left behind, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of these dynamic cultures and their achievements. Cerámica de los Ancestros examines seven regions representing distinct Central American cultural areas that are today part of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Spanning the period from 1000 BC to the present, the ceramics featured, selected from the National Museum of the American Indian's collection of more than 12,000 pieces from the region, are augmented with significant examples of work in gold, jade, shell, and stone. These objects illustrate the richness, complexity, and dynamic qualities of the Central American civilizations that were connected to peoples in South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean through social and trade networks sharing knowledge, technology, artworks, and systems of status and political organization. 

This collection features the past exhibition, Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed, a collaboration of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Revealing Ancestral Central America

Smithsonian Latino Center (SLC)

Celebrating Cerámica Activity Poster

Smithsonian Latino Center (SLC)

The Central American Ceramics Project

Smithsonian Latino Center

Guayabo and Las Mercedes

National Museum of the American Indian

Stone Spheres of Costa Rica

National Museum of the American Indian

Joya De Cerén

National Museum of the American Indian

El Panteoncito, Cordillera del Bálsamo, El Salvador

National Museum of the American Indian

Revealing Ancestral Central America, Part 1

National Museum of the American Indian

Revealing Ancestral Central America , Part 2

National Museum of the American Indian

Revealing Ancestral Central America, Part 3

National Museum of the American Indian

Revealing Ancestral Central America, Part 4

National Museum of the American Indian