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Mesoamerican Civilizations


Mesoamerican Civilizations ... The Maya Mayan civilization Located in the Mexican and Central American rain forest -Maya were ... The Inca, like the Aztec, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mesoamerican Civilizations

Mesoamerican Civilizations
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 They
may have been to represent their ancestors or
Teotihuacán Was the first major city in
Mesoamerica Arose around 250 B.C. and collapsed
about 800 A.D. May have had as many as 200,000
inhabitants at its height. Has a main
thoroughfare, known as the Avenue of the Dead,
had two main temples. The Temple of the Sun and
the Temple of the Moon.
The Maya
  • Mayan civilization
  • Located in the Mexican and Central American
    rain forest
  • -Maya were found in the Yucatan Peninsula and
    Part of Guatemala
  • Maya Between 300 and 900 A.D.
  • -Flourished during this time. We do not know why
    it fell into decline. The Maya abandoned their
    cities, we do not know why

  • Way of Life
  • Cities-Were built around a central pyramid
  • People lived in small settlements scattered
    throughout the countryside.
  • Large cities were religious centers and had no
    permanent inhabitants.
  • Economy based on agriculture and trade.
  • Almost all Mayans were farmers.

  • Mayan Government
  • -Not much is known about their government system.
  • Priests and nobles ran the city and surrounding
  • People and Education
  • 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 children.
  • Children learned at home from their parents.
  • No formal schools or school system.

  • Religion
  • The Maya were Polytheistic.
  • Worshiped rain gods, soil gods, sun gods, corn
    gods etc.
  • Their gods were ranked in order of importance,
    the Jaguar was the god of night and was seen as
  • They believed that all of life was in the hands
    of a divine power.
  • Believed all gods and humans descended from the
    sun and moon.
  • They were responsible for pleasing the gods.
  • The Maya practiced human sacrifice to appease
    their gods.
  • Human sacrifice was also used to mark special
  • Pyramids were topped with a shrine to the gods.

  • Art and Science
  • Language
  • Most advanced system of writing among Native
  • Similar to hieroglyphics.
  • The Spanish destroyed most of the Mayan writings.
    They were not seen as having any value. Their
    language was not translated until the 20th
  • Mathematics advanced math systems

Art and Science Calendar The Maya developed an
extremely accurate calendar. 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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The Aztec

The Aztec began c. 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 at 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 city 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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The Aztec
  • Way of Life
  • Warrior society
  • Highly developed military organization
  • Farming was basis of economy
  • Well populated cities
  • Made up of commoners, indentured workers, and
  • Men were to be 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.

  • Government
  • By 1500 there were about 4 million people in the
    Aztec Empire.
  • Well organized government
  • Emperor has supreme power over everyone
  • He claimed that he was divine.

  • Religion
  • Had a polytheistic religion based on warfare.
  • Main gods were god of war and god of sun.
  • Constant war and human sacrifice were required
  • Each Aztec city contained a pyramid where they
    practiced human sacrifice as a way to postpone
    the end of the world.
  • Huitzilopochtli
  • Their chief god. He was the god of the sun.
  • The Aztec offered him human sacrifice 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.

The Aztec
  • Education
  • Education was controlled by the priests.
  • Most children learned about history, Aztec
    history and crafts.
  • Some students attended special religious schools
    to learn official religious duties.

The Aztec
  • Arts and Science
  • Flat topped pyramids with temples on top
    resembled Mayan architecture.
  • They had no alphabet. Used pictures and symbolic
    characters for communication purposes.

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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.
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
Late 1300's Inca The Inca started as a small
group that were located in Cuzco. They did not
begin to become powerful until after the fall of
the Moche of Peru. Pachacuti Unified the Inca
and established the Inca Empire.
Organization of the Empire Incan state was built
on war. The conquered peoples were all taught
the same language. Each region was appointed 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.
Urubamba River River below Machu Picchu
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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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