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In Mesoamerica the market was a basic institution; it does not appear to have been so in the Andes, where the redistributive economy of the Inca empire—with such features as its government warehouses and a system of highways—must have had deep roots in the past.
On the other hand, in the early development and deployment of metallurgy and in governmental institutions and empire-building, the ancient Peruvians were much more efficient than their Mesoamerican contemporaries.
Like the ancient civilizations of the Old World, those in the New World were characterized by kingdoms and empires, great monuments and cities, and refinements in the arts, metallurgy, and writing; the ancient civilizations of the Americas also display in their histories similar cyclical patterns of growth and decline, unity and disunity.
The northern border of Mesoamerica runs west from a point on the Gulf coast of Mexico above the modern port of Tampico, then dips south to exclude much of the central desert of highland Mexico, meeting the Pacific coast opposite the tip of Baja (Lower) California.
These early villagers wove cloth, made pottery, and practiced other typical Neolithic skills.
It appears that such villages were economically self-contained and politically autonomous, with an egalitarian social order.
Among these competitors were the Toltecs of Tula, in central Mexico, who held sway from perhaps 900 to 1200 (the Early Postclassic Period).
After their decline (in the Late Postclassic Period), another interregnum of warring states lasted until 1428, when the Aztec defeated the rival city of Azcapotzalco and emerged as the dominant force in central Mexico.
Thus, in Mesoamerica there was, from early on, a profound interest in hieroglyphic writing and calendar making.