This book is the first in a three-volume history of Mexico, a major work that conveys the full sweep of Mexican history in all its social, economic, and political diversity. Volume 1 charts the development of Mesoamerica from roughly 25,000 BC down to the Spanish Conquest in 1519-21. Analysing the principal periods and ethnic groups - Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Toltec, Teotihuacano, and Aztec - Alan Knight seeks to explain the basic processes of pre-conquest history: the formation of states and social hierarchies, the rise and fall of empires, the role of religion, 'markets', migration and ecology, patterns of settlement and consequent regional differentiation. Clear, comprehensive, and gracefully written, Knight's analysis illustrates the rich diversity of Mesoamerican history, while locating that history within a broader, comparative framework of historical change. The book concludes with the trauma of the conquest, the destruction of the Aztec empire, and the birth of colonial New Spain.