North and South America
make up the region that we call the Americas. high mountains, desert plateaus, grassy plains, and forests make up the
northern continent. In the north of this continent, the climate is cold and icy, but in the south, the climate is much
much warmer. If you head further down you will find a region called Mesoamerica. In this region, steamy rain forests
and active volcanoes form most of the land. These landforms make the soil very fertile. This makes the soil very
excellent to farm on. Because of this, the first farmers came form Mesoamerica.
The Mayan culture was started on Mesoamerica. Thick forests covered most of the lands. They grew maize as well
as other crops. These people made the most of their enviornmnet. For exzample, deer and monkeys were a food source;
trees, wood poles, and vines and mud were good materials for building ones house.
The Aztecs were skilled fighteers that came home to a swampy island in the middle of Lake Texcoco. On this lake, the
Azecs built their capital, Tenochtitlan. The people built huge causeways so that it would be easier to travel and trade
within the empire. These were made of dirt and rocks. Surrounding them, there was a whole bunch of water.
But, this water was undrinkable, so they built stone aqueducts to bring fresh water to their city.
The Incas started their
culture in the South America. There were some different civilizations. Such as the Chavin, highlands, the Nazca,
Moche, and chimu, coast. The Incas started in their capital, Cuzco, in the Andes.
Mayan (green) and Aztec (orange) civalizations
The Mayan culture was
very odd. They worshiped gods related to different aspects of theri life. The creator was the most important god
of all. They believed that he would take many different forms. To kee all gods happy, Mayans offered blood.
They would pierce thier tounge or skin for their god. But on special occassions, they needed more amounts of blood.
So they offered human sacrafice. These sacrafices occured in a special temple.
The Aztecs believed that there was a God for everyting. They believed that sacrafice was necessary to please the gods.
Huitzilopochtli, war god, and Tlaloc, rain god, were the two gods that the Aztecs made the most sacrafices to. They
believed that bloody cermonies on top of the Great Temple in Tenochtitlan would make the gods happy enough to make their crops
grow every day. Priests led these religious ceremnoies. These victims were P.O.W. They would sacrafice their
hearts and blood to feed and make the gods stronger. There were as many as 10000 victims sacraficed a year.
When the Incas captured new people, they made them be the same religion as the original Incas. But they could worship
their same god, this made it so that the conquered people could worship many different gods. The Sun god was very important
to Inca religion. Every time the sun went down, they preformed a religious ceremony to tie down the sun so it won't
dissapear completely. As a result, they thought that their kings never really died. Priests brought mummies of
kings so they could give them gifts and stuff. Ceremnoies included sacrafice fo llamas, cloth, food (not humans).
They also believed that special rocks and mountaintops had magical powers.
shows the bloody sacrafice of the Aztecs
Buildings made of jade
or stone were the achievements fodr archutecture. Slaves built these buildings with their hands and with no metal tools.
They had to move heavy blocks on logs and then place it on the temple. They also built astronomy towers to observe
the stars. They figureed out that there are 365 days in the year. Also, they figuered the cycle of the moon.
So they developed calenders. They planned religious ceremonies around the calender. Math was another achievement.
They created the number zero.The Popol Vuh was created to store Mayan records. Eventhough they passed down their information
orally, they needed something to keep when the Spanish arrived.
ancient Mayan calender
There were many
achievements for the Aztecs. One of which being the floating chinampas. This was their most greatest acomplishment.
They also made discoveries in creating a calender. This was used to place the dates for ceremnoies and planting crops.
They also made acheivements in plants. They found over 100 different plants that could be used as medicine. The
people of this city also created beautiful works of temples and pyramids. They used hard stone to do such a thing.
They also useed turquoise mosaics to decorate knife handles and masks. Woman decorated cloth and made it from cooton
in their spare time. The Aztecs had a complete writing system that they used to keep historical records in. They
used a codex to do this. The pages were made of bark or animal skins. They also had a very good oral system.
They tested peoples knowledge by doing riddles and seeing if they had paid attention in school. They passed down stories
from one generation from the other. Soon they wrote these down.
The Incas were known by
their huge stone buildings. Inca masonry was very high in the quility that even today it is hard to fit a knife between
the stone. They also paved different roads that connected canyons and all parts of the empire. The artisans made
beautiful works of art. They made a field of maize with all gold and silver. They also made beautiful tiles that
are brightly colored. There were no written records of anything in the Inca civilization. They passed down information
through song. These were memorixed by official memorizers. After the Spanish took control of the Incas, they started
to pass info down by stories in spanish.
End of Mayan Civlization
The civilization began to collapse in the 900's. Historians think that
warfare might have caused the end of this civilization. This is caused by crops being brought up by the wind, so they
wanted more land. They went to other cities and battled for it. Another theory is that the kings made too many
demands of his people. They rebelled or left the cities. Other historians think that the climate might also have
played a role in the collapse of the empire. The Mayans wuffered from a senere drought for about 150 years. This
made it hard to grow foods and feed everybody in the cities. But all of the researchers agree that no one single event
caused the decline.
Fall of the Incas
- empire had entrenal problems when the Spanish arrived
- Spanish captured ruler of empire
- guns and horses gave Spanish military advantage
- disease weakened the people
As you can see, it is much like the Aztecs fall.
The warfare was in
Mayan society was very bloody. They used hand-to-hand combat with spears, flint, knives, and wooden clubs. During
their fights, they burned enemy towns and destroyed crops.
The Aztecs were very skilled in the war department of their rise to power. War was usually got most of there land and
power. They also made alliances with other towns to defeat other less powerful towns. The towns that the Aztecs
conquered had to pay tribute. Tribute is a payment to a more powerful country. They had to pay them with
cotton, gold, or food. Hernan Cortes led a small group of conquistadors through Mexico in 1519. Moctezuma II believed
that Cortes was a God because of the legend that said that the goe Quetzalcoatl would be returning to Mexico in 1519.
So he gave Cortes gifts and gold. Then Cortes came back and took him captive and forced the Aztrec to declare war.
Cortes and his men were driven out of their country only later to return with indiana allies to conquer Tenochtitlan.
The Incas conquered alot of people. They put a leader in charge of each tribe they conquered so they wouldn't gain too
much power. They also made children come to the capital to be taught about Inca government and religion. Then
they went back to their home village to rule. The Incas were very smart. They used one universal language to communitcate
with everybody, Quechua. They wrote all the records in the quipus. The fighting was what had really killed this
civilization. Two sons Atahualpa and Huascar, fought for the thrown of the Inca ruler. Atahualpa won but had destroyed
his empire. His troubles didn't stop there. Spanish people came and took him capture and killed 1000 of the Incas.
Pizarro held captrue Atahualpa adn asked for ransome of gold and jewerly. He killed Atahulapa and gained control of
The early people of Mesoamerica were home to ruch
soils and worm temperatures. One of the first crops produced in the region was maize, or corn.. Later they learned
to grow beans and squash. Because of these foods, civalizations began to grow. Ultimately, settlements developed
and grew into towns and cities. Potatoes also began to develop in other cultures as well as maize.
The Maya cities traded
with those opposite of them. For example, the highland cities traded with the lowland cities. This was done so
that everybody could have the thing they desireed most. Whether it be jade, obsidian, cotton, or cacao they all wanteded
The Aztecs had controlled
a ginormous trade network. Merchants carried luxury goods such as gems and rare foods. Since these merchants dealt
with people, Aztec emperors used them as spies to spy on the people of other empires. There were absolutely no
farming areas on the capital. So to improvise, they bult chinampas, floating gardens. They did this by putting
soil on floating rafts that were anchored to treas in the water. This, along with huge temples, busy markets, clean
streets, and a magnificent palace, made Tenochtitlan the greatest city in the Americas. When they were at the height,
the city had some 200,000 people.
The Incas jmade their
people pay in labor. This was called the mita. The government told each household what to do. Most of the
Incas were farmers. They grew crops like peanuts and maize where it was warm while they grew poutatoes where it was
cooler. Up in the mountains, they raised llamas for meat and wool. These farmers also had to work on the governments
land too, to pay in mita. Villagers had to produce cloth adn grain fo rthe army. No merchants or markets were
in the Inca civilization. Instead the government distributed the goods collected from mita. The leftovers were
stored in the capital for emergances.
The Mayan cities had
a great life. They had pyramids, buildings, and temples. These honored local Mayan kings. They also had
structures to improve their life. They improved life by paving unpaved roads, building canals to flow water throughout
the city, and the shaped hillsides to make a better farm land. They also had a ball court for people to play apon.
They used heads, shoulders and hips to bounce a hard heavy ball through a high small hoop. These cities had their own
governmnet and their own king. No ruler united cities into own empire. The Mayan society ahd tow classes, the
upper and lower class. The upper class was home to many groups of people. The king held the highest position,
while priests, warriors, and merchants were below him. Kings were believed to be related to God. So they got pampered
with beautiful clothing and jewelry. Priests were born into their role. They led religious ceremonies and were
the most educated people in the society. Warriors were the next people in the society. They participated in battle
against rival cities. Merchants rounded out the upper class. They controlled transportation and the distribution
of goods. Although, most families were part of the lower class. Women stayed home and cooked while men went hunting
for dinner. The farmers had to pay the king with their crops. They also had to serve their country in their time
of need. Slaves were the lowest people in Mayan society. People who owned money or were orphan children became
slaves. The lower class supported the upper class with food, labor and protection.
The Aztec society were organized into different groups called calpullis. Calpullis were families that shared land, schools,
and temple. Each of these elected a leader who took orders form the king. The king was the most important person
in the society. He lived in luxury with almost 3000 servants. He was incharge of law, trade and tribut, and warfare.
Aztec nobles helped him with this stuff. They collected taxes, and were judges when ever they were called upon.
Priests and wariors were just below the king and nobles. The priests job are listed as followes:
keep calendars and
decide when to plant crops or perform ceremonies
pass down Aztec history
and stories to keep tradition alive
perform various religious
ceremonies, including human sacrafice
The warriors had many
duties as well. They worked hard to capture villages and people. Because of this, they were highly respected.
Merchant and artisans were not really the upper class. Merchants traded and brought goods to Aztecs, so they became
very rich. Artisans were very rcih also. They made beautiful works of art like head dresses and gold jewerly.
Farmers and slaves were considered the lower class of the Aztec society. Farmers grew maize, beans, and a few other
crops. They were most of the people in the society. Like the conquered tribes, they had to pay tribute.
They lived in huts outside of Tenchtitlan. The slaves suffered the most in the society. Most of the people were
P.O.W. (prisoners of war) or people who couldn't pay their debts. They were sold as laborers to nobles and merchants.
If they didn't obey, then they would be sacraficed to the Gods.
The Incas had two main classes: upper and lower. The upper class consits of people from Cuzco while the lower class
was the people that were conquered. The upper class made was made up of the king, priests, and government. Women
took care of children and worked for the government. Sons went to Cuzco to study and learn. The yhad many privalges
They lived in stone houses and wore the best clothes. Theyt ahd servants and didn't have to pay taxes. But
htey had a duty to keep the people happy. The lower class constited of farmers, artisans, and servants (no slaves).
Men and women farmed government lands and served in the army, built roads, and worked mines. Parents taught there children
how to work like them. Special young girls were chosen to go to school to learn how to weave, cook, and learn religion.
They lived in small houses outside of Cuzco. The law stated that the lowerclass people had to wear plain clothes.
End of the Aztec Civilization
There were four factors to the Aztecs fall: aliances, weapons and horses, geography, and disease. The first factor
was the Spanish alliances. Malinche helped the Spaniards by interperating for him. She helped him make alliances
with tribes that were conquered by the Aztecs. They gave Cortesn supplies, information, and warriors to help defeat
the Aztecs. The Spanish weapons also helped their victory. They brought armor, cannons, and swords, and horses.
They were afraid of these items. Geography was the third item. They blocked Tenochtitlan's causeways, bridges,
and waterways to cut off drinking water and other supplies. Disease was the final factor for the Aztecs death.
Thej Spanish brought smallpox with them. This swept through the communities and wipped out all of the people.