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Ancient Latin American Civilizations


Ancient Latin American Civilizations Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas Maya Civilization Arrived in (present-day) northern Guatemala around 1000 BC The Mayas are BEST known ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ancient Latin American Civilizations

Ancient Latin American Civilizations
  • Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas

Maya Civilization
  • Arrived in (present-day) northern Guatemala
    around 1000 BC
  • The Mayas are BEST known for
  • Studying the stars and planets (led to a calendar
    being created)
  • Developing a system of writing called HIEROGLYPHS

The Maya also lived in southern Mexico, Honduras,
El Salvador, and Belize.
Maya Origins and Religion
  • Origins
  • Early Maya lived in small, isolated villages
  • Villages soon began TRADING with each other---as
    TRADE increased, villages GREW
  • TRADE, not RULERS, linked the Mayas cities
  • Religion
  • Worshipped MANY gods
  • EXS sun god, moon goddess, and maize (corn) god
  • Believed each god controlled a different part of
    everyday life
  • Wanted to please the gods---believed them to be

  • Studied math and astronomy extensively (With a
    lot of detail)
  • Created calendars based on various movements
  • Ex. 260-day calendar for sacred days and a
    365-day calendar based on the suns movements
  • Maya calendar was MORE accurate than any calendar
    used by Europeans until the 1700s.

  • Created a system of writing called Hieroglyphs
  • Best developed written language in ancient Latin

Example of Maya hieroglyphs from the Museo de
sitio in Mexico.
The Mayans Disappear?
  • Early AD 900s, the empire began to decline
  • People stopped building structures and left the
    cities, moving back to the countryside
  • There are MANY theories (ideas) as to why the
    Maya empire collapsed, but one thing is for
    sure---by the time the Spanish arrived in the
    1500s, the Mayas had faded.

Aztec Civilization
  • Arrived in the Valley of Mexico in the 1100s
  • The Aztecs were made up of a number of wandering
    warriors, most from the Mexica tribe
  • All the good land was taken, so they settled on
    a swampy island in the middle of Lake Texcoco
  • Had little land to farm on, so the Aztecs built
    floating gardens called CHINAMPAS

Aztecs Expand
  • 1325 began building their capital, Tenochtitlan,
    and conquering nearby towns
  • Came to power mainly due to war and the conquest
    of other peoples
  • The Aztecs forced those conquered to pay TRIBUTES
  • How could tributes be paid?
  • Food, cotton, gold, or slaves
  • Tributes allowed the Aztecs to grow very rich

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Aztec Society
  • The MOST important member of society was the
  • Chose trusted nobles to oversee his demands
    regarding trade, payment collections, and warfare

All men, including PRIESTS, had to join Aztec
army for 2 reasons (1) help maintain a powerful
empire and (2) religious.
  • Religion
  • Worshipped MANY gods, believed the gods
    controlled nature and human activities.
  • Exs. Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, and
  • Human sacrifices were regularly made by priests
    to please the gods
  • (mostly SLAVES and those captured in battle
    were sacrificed)

Aztec Achievements
  • Sculpted stone pyramids and statues
  • Like the Maya, studied astronomy and made a
  • Like the Mayans, used HIEROGLYPHS for their
    writings and kept detailed records of historical
  • Had a strong oral tradition

End of Aztec Empire
  • Late 1400s Spanish arrive
  • Are looking for (1) Adventure, (2) Riches, and
    (3) Converts to Catholicism
  • 1519 Group was led by conquistador (conqueror)
    Hernan Cortes
  • Aztecs are taken over by Cortes and the Spanish

Hernan Cortes vs. Montezuma II story
  • 1200 Settled in Cuzco, which is a village in the
    Andes (South America)
  • Began as a small tribe in the Andes
  • Cuzco eventually became the capital city
  • Mid 1400s Inca ruler, Pachacuti, began to expand
    Inca territory (some conquering)
  • Other leaders soon followed his example
  • Empire eventually stretched from (present-day)
    Ecuador to central Chile
  • About 12 million Incas lived in the empire

Inca Government
  • To rule effectively, built a strong CENTRAL
  • Pachacuti removed local leaders from conquered
    lands because he wanted to remain the MAIN
  • Created an official language (Quechua) to UNIFY
    the people
  • Government also told households what work to do.

Social Divisions
Inca had NO Slaves, didnt practice this idea.
Incan Religion
  • Worshipped many gods
  • Inti, the sun god was the most important
  • Incas thought their rulers were related to the
    SUN god (their most important) and that they
    never really died.
  • Inca had ceremonies with sacrifices, but didnt
    use humans like the Maya and Aztec.
  • Those outside of Cuzco worshipped other gods as
    well and at other sacred locations
  • Mountaintops, rocks, and springs

Inca Achievements
  • Excellent farmers, builders, and managers
  • Cuzco (capital) was the center of government,
    trade, learning, and religion
  • Built more than 19,000 miles of roads
  • Why?
  • Roads allowed the Incas to better govern their
    empire they could get to other areas easier

Achievements continued
  • The Incas also built canals and aqueducts
  • What is an AQUEDUCT?
  • Pipe or channel designed to carry water from a
    distant source
  • Why did the Incas feel that canals and aqueducts
    were important?
  • Allowed the Incas to irrigate (dampen) land that
    was otherwise too dry to grow crops

Inca Language?
  • Had NO written language
  • Recorded info. using a QUIPUS (kee-pooz)
  • What is a Quipus?
  • A writing system of knotted strings where the
    knotsnumbers and the different color strings
    represent info. about crops, land, and other
    important topics
  • When Spanish arrived, they had Inca
    stories/historical info. written in Spanish

The End of the Inca Empire
  • Late 1520s Civil War breaks out amongst the
    Incas2 brothers both want to be NEW ruler
  • Atahualpa (ah-tah-WAHL-pah) vs. Huascar
  • 1532 Atahualpa wins, but the fighting has
    weakened the Inca army
  • On the way to his crowning, Atahualpa learns of a
    Spanish group in the area led by Francisco
    Pizarro, the Spanish attack
  • Atahualpa is captured (and later killed) and the
    Incas are defeated
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