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Who were the earliest Americans?. The Americas. Guess how much the statue weighs!. Student who comes closest gets a prize (2 mins ). 8 tons/16,000 pounds!!!!. Intro video.

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The Americas

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Who were the earliest americans

Who were the earliest Americans?

The Americas

Guess how much the statue weighs

Guess how much the statue weighs!

Student who comes closest gets a prize (2 mins).

8 tons 16 000 pounds

8 tons/16,000 pounds!!!!

Intro video

Intro video

Aks 36

36a explain the rise and fall of the Olmec, Mayan, Aztec and Inca empires

36b compare the culture of the Americas including government, economy, religion, social structure, technology and the arts of the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas

Aks 36

Essential question

Essential question

Who were the Olmecs and what was their contribution to civilization in the Americas?

The earliest civilizations

The earliest civilizations

How did they get here

How did they get here?

Review of effects of agriculture

Review of effects of agriculture

How did people survive before settled agriculture

How did people survive before settled agriculture?

Early civilizations

The Olmec

Early civilizations

Olmec civilazation

  • Mesoamerica’s first civilization builders

    • What does “Mesoamerica” mean?

  • Began carving out a society around 1200 BC in the jungles of southern Mexico

  • Thrived 800-400 BC

  • San Lorenzo – the oldest site


Olmec heartland

Olmec heartland

What do you think the olmec environment was like

What do you think the olmec environment was like?

Where was the olmec civilization located

Where was the olmec civilization located?

The environment

  • Hot and humid and covered with swamps and jungles

    • Rainfall often caused rivers to flood

  • Large deposits of salt and tar and clay to make….?

  • Wood and rubber from rain forest

  • Flooded plains near rivers provided…?

The environment

Olmec society

  • Earthen mounds, courtyards, and pyramids

  • Planned ceremonial centers

  • Stone symbols – writing?

  • Ritual ball games

Olmec society

Olmec culture

  • What do you think these monuments, mounds, and colossal heads tell us about their culture?

    • May have represented particular Olmec rulers

  • Elite ruling class

Olmec culture

Olmec religion

  • Believed to have prayed to a variety of nature gods

  • “The Jaguar Spirit”

    • Half-human, half-jaguar

    • Powerful rain god?

    • Earth, fertility?

Olmec religion

Trade and commerce

  • Olmec trade spanned north and south!!!

  • Trade spread Olmec influence

Trade and commerce

Decline by 400 bce

What do you think happened to the Olmec?

Decline (by 400 BCE)

Legacy impact

The Olmec left their mark

Olmec art and construction affected future cultures like the Maya

Olmec developed ceremonial centers, ritual ball games, and ruling class

Later cultures in Mesoamerica adopted Olmec ways

Influenced Mayan writing system

Origin of the Mayan calendar system



3 – things you learned

2 – things you want to find out more about

1 – question you have


The mayans

Who were the Mayan’s and what triggered their decline?

The Mayans

Engineering an empire

Engineering an Empire

The mayans1

The Mayans

Tikal pyramids

Tikal Pyramids

Mayan civilization

Southern Mexico into northern Central America

Includes dry scrub forest of the Yucatan Peninsula

Also – dense, steamy jungles

Maya took on Olmec influences and blended it with their local customs

Mayan Civilization


What was the climate like for the Mayans?

Where was their civilization located?


Mayan civilization cont

  • AD 250-900 = “Classic Period” of Maya civilization

  • Built many cities (Tikal) in northern Guatemala

    • Each city-state

      • Which means what for its government?

  • Giant pyramids, temples, palaces, and elaborate stone carvings

  • Tens of thousands of people surrounded the city center

Mayan Civilization (cont)


How was each Mayan location set-up in terms of government?



  • Each Maya city featured a ball court

    • What happened to the losers?

  • Religious and political significance

  • Maya believed the playing of this game would maintain the cycles of the sun and moon and bring rain


Ball game gear

Ball game gear

The americas

Exact rules and method of scoring are unknown.

Inscriptions indicate that players could not use their hands or feet to move a solid rubber ball.

Members of the losing team might be sacrificed by beheading.

Agriculture and trade

City-states exchanged their local products and craft goods

No unifying currency, cacao (CHOCOLATE) beans sometimes served as one

Maize, beans, and squash provided the basis for Maya life

Agriculture and trade

Social structure

  • King sat at the top and was regarded as a holy figure (hereditary)

  • Noble class (priests and leading warriors)

  • Merchants and specialized skills

  • Peasant majority

Social structure


  • What type of religion do you think they practiced?

    • Polytheism – gods of corn, of rain, of war, etc.

  • How did they worship?

    • Prayed, made offerings of food, flowers, incense

    • Offered their blood to nourish the gods

    • Human sacrifice – of captured enemies


Math and religion

Mayans believed that time was a burden carried on the back of a god

Very important to have an accurate calendar to know which god was in charge of the day

260 day religious calendar

365 day solar calendar

Math and religion

Mayan numerals

Mayan numerals

Written language

  • 800 hieroglyphic symbols (glyphs)

  • Carved glyphs into a bark-paper book known as a codex (only 3 survive)

    • Burned by Spanish priests in 16th century

  • PopulVuh – the Maya’s version of the story of creation

    “Before the world was created, Calm and Silence were the great kings that ruled. Nothing existed, there was nothing”

Written language

Mayan writing

Mayan writing


Why was math and religion important to the Mayans?

Describe their social structure.



  • In the 800s, the Maya suddenly abandoned many of their cities

  • Invaders from the north moved into the lands.

  • Reasons?

    • Frequent warfare between kingdoms

    • Population growth = needed more land


Use your creativity

In one paragraph, write a short story about what you think happened to the Mayans?

Use your creativity

The aztecs

The aztecs

Essential question1

Who were the Aztecs? How did their civilization function, thrive, and ultimately decline?

Essential question

The aztecs1

The aztecs

Setting the stage

Greatest empire in Mesoamerica

Heart of civilization located around modern Mexico City

Ancestors of the Olmec

Setting the stage



Teotihuac n

“City of the Gods”

First major city-state of Central Mexico

Peak population ~150,000 – 200,000

Obsidian – Green or black volcanic rock used to make razor sharp weapons

Abandoned by 750 AD


Teotihuac n1




The aztecs2

  • Arrived in the Valley of Mexico ~1200 AD

  • The god of sun and warfare told them to create a city

  • Based power on military conquest

    • Demanded tribute from their neighbors (gold, jade, maize, cacao)

The Aztecs

Aztec social structure

  • Emperor

  • Nobles: Military, Priests, Government Officials

  • Merchants, Artisans, and Soldiers

    • Merchants formed a subgroup of elite

  • Enslaved People

Aztec social structure




Established by the early 1500’s

Population 200,000 – 400,000 (larger than London or other European Cities at the time)

Built on an island surrounded by marshland/water




Aztec religion

  • Worshipped sun god

  • Human sacrifice was a way to please the gods

    • Enslaved, war prisoners

    • Without blood, the sun would not rise

Aztec religion


Describe the beginning of the Aztecs.

What was their social structure?

What was their religion?

How did they decline?


Human sacrifice

Human sacrifice


  • Montezuma II became Emperor in 1502 and the Empire began to decline

    • He called for more tribute and sacrifice

  • The Spanish Conquistadors eventually arrived



  • Describe:

    • 3 traits of the civilization

    • 3 strengths leading to power

    • 3 weaknesses leading to decline


The incas

The Incas

Essential question2

Who were the Incas and what were some of their social innovations unique to Pre-Columbian culture in the Americas?

Essential Question

Origins location

  • Descended from many different civilizations in the region

  • Believed Incan ruler was descended from sun god

  • Located in the Andes Mountains of Peru

  • Founded capital Cuzco around 1100 AD


Incan government

  • Governed by central bureaucracy?

    • What is bureaucracy?

  • Roads tied the empire together

  • The heart of the empire of the city of Cuzco

  • Ayllu – extended families that performed tasks to large for a regular family

    • A chief lead each group but they reported to the emperor

Incan government

Roads 14 000 miles

Roads (14,000 miles)

Welfare state

  • Compared to modern socialism

  • Mita – Annual labor tribute

    • Work on roads, make goods, etc

  • Messages travelled on road system (postal system)

  • No writing system

  • Kept detailed numerical records using quipu

  • Cared for entire population

Welfare state


  • Incan king was considered a descendent of sun god

  • Worshipped sun, moon, rain, thunder gods

  • Young men and women would be drafted into a lifetime of service

  • Great cities – Machu Pichu

    • Sun Temple (center), public buildings, central plaza



  • During the 1500’s the empire split between two sons after death of emperor

    • Civil War ensured weakening the empire

    • Spanish (Pizarro) arrived during the last days of the war



  • 3 – Name 3 things you learned

  • 2 – Things you want to find out more about

  • 1 – Question you have!

    • It is good to have questions!


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