Maya, Inca, and Aztecs. By Maya. The Mayans. The Mayans. Mayan Geography.
Maya, Inca, and Aztecs
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The Maya lived in what is now the Northern Part of Guatemala. They cleared areas of the rain forest to plant crops like maize, or corn. The forest environment provided deer, monkeys, and rabbits shelter, and these animals were crucial. They also grew cocao.
They used trees to make wooden poles and vines along with mud to build their houses.
The Mayans were Polytheistic.
They built large temples that were shaped like mountains. The Mayans considered mountains to be sacred because they allowed people to approach the gods.
They made human sacrifices on special holidays.
The king held the highest position in Mayan society because he was believed to be related to the gods.
Priests, merchants, and noble warriors were also a part of the upper class. They held all the power in Mayan society.
The lower class Mayas were mostly farming families, where the women cared for the children, cooked, made yarn, and wove cloth. The men farmed, hunted, and crafted tools.
Slaves were the lowest class. They carried goods along trade routes or worked as servants or farmers for upper class Maya.
They built observatories so their priests could watch the stars and plan religious festivals.
They developed a calendar with 365 days for planting and another 260 day calendar for religious events.
They Mayans created a a number system that helped them tell time.
They created huge temple pyramids and wheeled vehicles.
We don’t know why the Mayan civilization ended, but historians think that it was because the people didn’t want to work for the kings and they rebelled.
Another theory is that cities started competing for farmland and the battles ruined the crops and led to food shortages. Scientists also think that it could have been a drought that brought the decline.
Observatories- Buildings from which people could study the sky.
Cocao- beans which are used in making chocolate.
Rise to Power
The first Aztecs settled on a swampy island in the middle of the lake Texcoco.
The Mayans capitol was Tenochtitlan.
The Aztecs got from city to city by building causeways and canals that were also used for trade.
They farmed on chinampas
The Emperor was the most important person in society, followed by the nobles, priests, merchants and artisans, farmers and laborers, and slaves.
Farmers and laborers made up most of the population.
The Aztecs were polytheistic like the Mayans, but they made more sacrifices then them. The victims were usually captives or slaves.
They sacrificed as many as 10,000 people a year.
Artists and architects created fine stone pyramids and statues. They also wove colorful cloths.
They had a calendar like the Mayan’s. They kept detailed written records for history. They also passed on history orally.
The Aztec civilization fell because of the conquistadors.
Hernan Cortez came to the Americas to convert the natives to Catholicism, get gold, and for adventure and to be remembered.
The Europeans brought diseases such as smallpox that weakened and killed thousands of native people, and brought the empire to an end.
Causeways- Raised roads across water or wet ground.
Chinampas- floating gardens made on large rafts that had been piled with soil and anchored to trees.
Conquistadors- Spanish conquerors.
Central Rule and Economy
The ruler Pachacuti started the policy of removing local leaders and replacing them with trusted officials.
The Incas used the language Quechua to do all official business.
The government told each house hold what work to do. People paid taxes in work instead of in money. This was called the mita.
There were no merchants or markets because the government distributed goods collected through the mita. If people couldn’t care for themselves, the government gave them supplies.
The emperor, priests, and government officials made up the upper class. They lived comfortable lives and didn’t have to pay the labor tax. They could relax in places like Machu Picchu.
Thelower class was made up of farmers, artisans, and servants. There were no slaves.
They believed that their rulers were related to the sun god, so they never truly died.
They also held sacrifices, but they sacrificed llamas, cloth, or food, but rarely humans.
The Incas were masters at masonry. They also built a network of roads that ran the length of the empire.
Artisans made pottery and gold and silver jewelry.
They had no writing system, but they kept records with knotted cords that were color coded for different topics.
They passed down their history orally, and they had official memorizers who learned poems and legends about Incan history.
When Francisco Pizarro came to the Incan empire, him and the other conquistadors attacked and killed thousands of Inca soldiers and captured their leader. Pizarro defeated the last of the Incas in 1537, and Spain took over the region for the next 300 years.
Quechua- an official Incan language
Mita- the labor tax system used instead of money.
Machu Picchu- a royal retreat that was in the Andes where emperors and nobles could relax.
Why did the Mayan civilization decline?
Where did the Aztecs settle? How did they live there?
What conquistador conquered the Aztecs? What disease did he bring with him?
Who was the most powerful in Incan society? Why?
How were taxes paid in Incan Society? How were people fed?