Although the key food plants of Mesoamerica—maize, beans, and squash—were domesticated by 5000 B.C., settled village life only became widespread by around 2000 B.C. As the Mesoamerican lifestyle grew increasingly sedentary, artists began to produce ceramic objects, including vessels and small figurines, in a variety of localized styles. The site of Tlatilco, in the Valley of Mexico, is known for its distinctive figurines, particularly the famous “pretty ladies” that were found in abundance in burials. In addition to these local forms, Tlatilco objects include vessels carved with stylized motifs as well as figurines with slit eyes and downturned mouths—belying awareness of the burgeoning Olmec civilization of the Gulf Coast.
Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the collections, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2013).
Michael D. Coe and Rex Koontz, Mexico from the Olmecs to the Aztecs, 7th edition (London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013).
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum: handbook of the collections, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).
Gordon Bendersky, "Tlatilco Sculptures, Diprosopus, and the Emergence of Medical Illustrations," Perspectives in Biologly and Medicine 43, no. 4 (2000): 477-501.
Michael D. Coe et al., The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership (Princeton, Princeton University Art Museum, 1996).
Gerald Berjonneau, Emile Deletaille, and Jean-Louis Sonnery, Rediscovered Masterpieces of Mesoamerica: Mexico-Guatemala-Honduras (Boulogne: Editions Arts, 1985).
Frances Pratt and Carlo T. E. Gay, Ceramic figures of ancient Mexico: Guerrero, Me´xico, Guanajuato, Michoaca´n, 1600 B.C.-300 A.D. (Graz: Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt, 1979).