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Maya Civilization


Maya Civilization I. Classic Period: 250-900 C.E. Located in southern Mexico, northern Central America Influenced heavily by older culture, the Olmecs Ball courts ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Maya Civilization

Maya Civilization
I. Classic Period 250-900 C.E.
  • Located in southern Mexico, northern Central
  • Influenced heavily by older culture, the Olmecs
  • Ball courts believed that playing this game
    would maintain cycles of sun and moon, bring
  • Planned ceremonial centers, religious ceremonies
  • Gods and spirits Jaguar spirit at center
  • Empire of independent city-states
  • Examples Tikal, Chichen Itza
  • Each ruled by a god-king
  • Centers of religion, trade
  • Linked by common language, religious beliefs

II. Trade Agriculture
  • City states linked by trade routes and alliances
  • Products salt, feathers, shells, honey, textiles
  • Cacao beans sometimes served as currency
  • Agriculture formed basis of Maya life
  • Squash, maize (corn), beans
  • Once thought to only practice slash and burn
  • Evidence has shown more sophisticated methods
    beds raised above swamps

III. Social Classes
  • As civilization grew, more wealth and development
    of social classes
  • King at top, passed title to eldest son
  • Was a divine (god-like) figure
  • Noble class warriors, priests
  • Middle class Merchants, artisans
  • Peasant farmers (majority of population)
  • Slaves criminals, prisoners of war

KING PACAL,603-683 C.E.
IV. Religion
  • Polytheistic believed in many gods
  • Believed each day was a living god, behavior was
    predicted by a system of calendars
  • Religious practices
  • Made offerings
  • Pierced or cut their bodies to offer their blood
  • Practiced human sacrifice, usually enemies
  • Believed that it pleased the gods and kept world
    in balance

V. Math, Calendar, Astronomy
  • Religious beliefs led to developments in math,
    astronomy, and use of calendars
  • Important to have an accurate calendar to know
    which god is carrying time that day
  • Identify the best times to plant crops, attack
    enemies, crown new rulers
  • Based on careful observation of planets, sun,
  • Calculated year to 365.2420 days
  • Had concept of zero

VI. Written Language
  • Most advanced writing system in ancient Americas
  • 800 glyphs, or hieroglyphic symbols
  • Used for record keeping, history of civilization
  • Recorded important historical events in book
    known as a codex
  • Only 3 of these have survived
  • Creation story recorded in the Popol Vuh

VII. Decline
  • Late 800s many cities suddenly abandoned
  • Other peoples moved into areas being abandoned,
    disrupted Maya civilization
  • Theories
  • Increased warfare between city-states disrupted
    trade, increased economic hardship
  • Population growth, over-farming caused food
    shortages, famine, disease
  • When the Spanish arrive in the 1500s, Maya
    divided and weak, easily conquered
  • Examples of Mayan ruins

Aztec Civilization(Late 1100s 1500s)
I. Toltec Influence
  • Toltec peoples laid foundation for Aztec
  • Toltec ruled over central Mexico beginning around
    900, lasted until about 1150.
  • Gained power as Maya were losing theirs
  • Militaristic, human sacrifice a main component
    of religious ceremonies
  • Worshiped Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent
  • Became legend among different peoples of
    Mesoamerica, including Aztec

II. Aztec Rise to Power
  • Originally poor, nomadic people from deserts of
    northern Mexico
  • Built up civilization from ashes of Toltec,
    around Lake Texcoco
  • City of Tenochtitlan
  • Formed Triple Alliance with other city-states,
    Texcoco and Tlacopan basis of Aztec Empire
  • By 1500s, empire stretched 80,000 square miles,
    5-15 million people
  • 38 provinces loosely controlled through strong
    military and tributes (taxes, human sacrifice)

Aztec Empire, 1200s-1500s
III. Social Classes
Nobles military leaders, land owners
Commoners merchants, artisans, soldiers,
Slaves prisoners of war, criminals
IV. Religious Life
  • Religion played a major role in daily life
  • Hundreds of temples and religious structures
    erected throughout civilization
  • 1,000 gods
  • Many adopted from other Mesoamerican peoples
  • Quetzalcoatl god of learning and books, god of
    wind, symbol of death and rebirth
  • Depicted as both feathered serpent and
    pale-skinned man with beard
  • Practiced human sacrifice
  • Thousands a year sacrificed to Huitzilopochtli
  • Enslaved persons, criminals, prisoners of war

V. Decline
  • 1502 Montezuma II crowned emperor
  • Demanded even more tribute and sacrifice from
  • Many provinces rebelled, threw civilization into
  • Return of Quetzalcoatl
  • Many saw bad omens all around
  • The Spanish invaders represented Quetzalcoatl and
    downfall of civilization
  • Easily overthrew Aztec had better weapons
    disease, Aztecs weak and divided

Inca Empire(1200s mid 1500s)
I. Beginnings
  • Built upon foundations of older civilizations
  • Chavin, Moche, Nazca, Chimor
  • Settled in Valley of Cuzco in Andes Mountains
  • 1200s small kingdom established
  • Pachacuti took throne in 1438
  • Greatly expanded control over neighboring lands
  • Belief that ruler was descended from sun god
  • Only men from one of 11 noble families could be
    selected as leader

I. continued
  • Empire called Land of the Four Quarters
  • Encompassed 80 provinces, up to 16 million people
  • Used combination of military force and diplomacy
    to overtake and control territories
  • Hundreds of different languages, ethnic

II. A Unified Empire
  • Utilized extensive road system
  • One official language Quechua
  • Economy strictly controlled by government
  • Regulated production and distribution of goods
  • Centralized bureaucracy oversaw entire empire
  • Depended on ayllu extended family group
  • Groups divided into 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000
  • Chief led each group
  • Chain of command community-gtregional-gt central
  • Demanded tribute
  • Mita labor required by all able-bodied citizens

II. Continued
  • Recording keeping
  • No written language utilized oral tradition
  • Used the quipu a set of knotted strings to
    record numerical data
  • Knots and their position on the string indicated
  • Colors of the strings represented different
    categories of information

III. Religion
  • Focused worship mostly on nature spirits
  • Moon, stars, thunder, sun gods
  • Mamakuna unmarried women selected for a
    lifetime of religious service
  • Yamacuna men who served as full-time religious
  • Sacrificed llamas and distributed goods as gifts
    from gods

IV. Decline
  • Huayna Capac Inca leader during early 1500s
  • Died of disease (probably small pox) when
    travelling around Ecuador
  • After death empire split in two, ruled by two
  • Civil war weakened empire
  • 1530s Spanish arrived to overtake a very weak
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