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.
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