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Mesoamerican Civilizations


Maya: Between 300 and 900 A.D. -Flourished during this time. The Maya eventually abandoned their cities ... The Inca, like the Aztec, were devastated by disease. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mesoamerican Civilizations

Mesoamerican Civilizations
  • Chapter 11
  • Sections 2 and 3

Olmec 1300 B.C.- The first civilization of
Mesoamerica They were located in the hot and
swampy lowlands along the coast of the Gulf of
Mexico south of Veracruz. They had large
cities that were centers for religious
rituals. They carved colossal stone
heads Possibly to represent their ancestors or
  • Teotihuacán
  • Was the first major city in Mesoamerica
  • May have had as many as 200,000 inhabitants at
    its height.
  • The main thoroughfare was known as the Avenue of
    the Dead
  • Two main temples
  • The Temple of the Sun
  • Temple of the Moon.

Mayan Civilization
  • Located in the rain forests of Mexico and Central
  • Represented by Chichén Itzá
  • Group of city-states ruled by a king
  • Economy based on agriculture and trade
  • Polytheistic religionPyramids

Maya Between 300 and 900 A.D. -Flourished
during this time. The Maya eventually abandoned
their cities..we do not know why. Political and
Social Structure Cities were built around a
central pyramid Pyramid was topped with a shrine
to the gods. City-States were governed by a
hereditary ruling class
Mayan Kings -Ruled the Mayan Kingdom They claimed
they were divine Were assisted by nobles and a
class of scribes Made special blood sacrifices to
maintain the kingdom. People -Included
townspeople, skilled artisans, officials, and
merchants. Many people were peasant farmers who
worked on terraced hillsides farming. Men did
the fighting and hunting, women made cornmeal and
were responsible for homemaking and raising
Religion The Maya were Polytheistic. They
believed that all life was in the hands of a
divine power. They were responsible for pleasing
the gods. Their gods were ranked in order of
importance, the Jaguar was the god of night and
was seen as evil. The Maya practiced human
sacrifice to appease their gods. Human
sacrifice was also used to mark special
occasions. When a king ascended to the throne
prisoners of war were tortured and beheaded to
mark the occasion.
Accomplishments Language The Maya developed an
independent Hieroglyphic language. The Spanish
destroyed most of the Mayan writings. They were
not seen as having any value. Their language was
not translated until the 20th century.
Calendar The Maya developed a calendar that had
two different parts. It had a solar calendar with
365 days, divided into 18 months with 20 days
each with 5 extra days at the end. A Lunar
calendar and a Calendar based on the movement of
the Planet Venus. This was a sacred calendar
with 260 days and 13 weeks of 20 days each. The
Mayan calendar says our present world was created
in 3114 B.C. and the current world will end on
December 23 2012 A.D.
Chichén Itzá
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Aztec Civilization
  • Located in arid valley in central Mexico
  • Represented by Tenochtitlan
  • Ruled by an emperor
  • Economy based on agriculture and tribute from
    conquered peoples
  • Polytheistic religion with pyramids/rituals

The Aztec began 12th century A.D. Began a long
migration that brought them into the Valley of
Mexico. They established their capital city at
Tenochtitlán. Tenochtitlán An Aztec legend
said that when the people found their new home
they would see an eagle perched on a cactus
holding a snake. They saw this in lake
Texcoco. Their city was built up on rafts made
from reeds and covered with dirt. They were
called chinampas. Present-Day Mexico-City is
built on top of this city. The original was
destroyed by the Spanish. Lake Texcoco-Swampy
lake that was the home of the capital city.
Tenochtitlán means the Place of the Prickly Pear
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Political and Social Structure By 1500 there were
about 4 million people in the Aztec Empire.
Aztec Emperor Ruled over the Aztec Empire. Was
the supreme leader of the people. He claimed that
he was divine. People Made up of commoners,
indentured workers, and slaves. Most people were
farmers, but they also traded with people in the
surrounding areas. Men were the warriors, while
a womans role was to be in the home. Women were
allowed to own and inherit property and enter
contracts. Women wove textiles and raised
children. They could also be priestesses.
Religion Had a polytheistic religion based on
warfare. Huitzilopochtli Their chief god. He
was the god of the sun. The Aztec offered him
human sacrifices to give him strength to battle
the forces of darkness each night so that he
could rise each morning. Quetzalcoatl The
feathered Serpent He believed he had left the
valley of Mexico and promised to return in
triumph. Human Sacrifice Each Aztec city
contained a pyramid where they practiced human
sacrifice as a way to postpone the end of the
Destruction of the Aztec The subjugation of the
people of the Aztec Empire bred hatred and
discontent among the people. When the Spanish
arrived they did not have a difficult time
finding allies to fight the Aztec. Hernán
Cortés 1519 Spanish Conquistador who came to the
valley of Mexico in 1519 with 550 soldiers and 16
horses. He was at first greeted by the Aztec
Emperor Montezuma (Moctezuma). The Spanish later
kidnapped the Emperor and made him a puppet. The
people rebelled and the Emperor was killed. The
Spanish barely escaped. The Spanish returned
several months later. Many of the natives had
fallen ill with Smallpox. Cortés and his allies
destroyed the Aztec capital and subjugated the
Aztec people.
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Incan Civilization
  • Located in the Andes Mountains of South America
  • Represented by Machu Picchu
  • Ruled by an emperor
  • Economy based on high-altitude agriculture
  • Polytheistic religion
  • Road system

Organization of the Empire Incan state was built
on war. The conquered peoples were all taught
the same language Quechua Each region was headed
by a governor who answered to the Emperor. Road
System 24,800 miles of Road The Inca built roads
to unify their people. Roads made travel and
communication throughout the empire more
efficient. There were rest houses and storage
depots along with bridges to span ravines and
Culture Were required to marry from within their
own social group. Women were expected to live at
home, the only alternative was to be a priestess.
Most people were farmers, they also herded
llamas and alpacas. Quipu-A system of knotted
strings used by the Inca to keep records.
Great Builders They had great buildings made of
stone held without mortar. Their roads also show
their ability as great builders. Machu
Picchu City built at 8,000 ft above sea level.
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Defeat The Spanish arrived in 1531 1531
Francisco Pizarro Spanish Conquistador led a band
of 180 men with superior weapons. The Inca,
like the Aztec, were devastated by disease.
Smallpox Devastated the Population Civil
War After the death of the Inca Emperor a civil
war broke out, Pizarro took advantage and
defeated the people. Defeat Pizarro and his men
established Lima as the new capital of the
Spanish Colony in 1535.
Achievements of Mayan, Aztec, and Incan
civilizations Calendars Mathematics
Writing and other record-keeping systems
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