The influence of the Mayan civilization when at its height (400 to 600 A. D.) may be traced far beyond the limits of the Mayan area. Ideas in art, religion and government that were then spread broadcast quickened diverse speech and a series of divergent cultures. Most of these lesser civilizations were at their best long after the great Mayan civilization had declined, but one or two were possibly contemporary. The present chapter aims to emphasize the indebtedness of these lesser civilizations to the Mayas and to comment upon their characters.
We will first proceed northwest into Mexico and then southeast into the Isthmus of Panama. The environment under which the Mayas developed their arts of life continues in narrowing bands westward along the Gulf of Mexico and southward across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The most westerly Mayan city of importance seems to have been Comalcalco. There is also a large ruin near San Andres Tuxtla, and it may be significant that the earliest dated object of the Mayas (the Tuxtla Statuette) came from this region. The cradle of Mayan culture may have been in this coastal belt where arid and humid conditions exist side by side and where the figurines of the archaic type are found together with those of the Mayas. Unfortunately, the archaeology of this part of Mexico has been little studied.