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Early Civilizations. The blossoming of life as we know it…. Early Civilizations:. In order from oldest-youngest. The Olmecs 3,500 years ago. 1. 2. 3. 4. The Mayas 3,000 years ago. The Aztecs 700 years ago. The Incas 500 years ago. The Olmecs. (1200 B.C. – 600 B.C.).

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early civilizations

Early Civilizations

The blossoming of life as we know it…

early civilizations1
Early Civilizations:

In order from oldest-youngest

The Olmecs3,500 years ago





The Mayas

3,000 years ago

The Aztecs

700 years ago

The Incas

500 years ago

the olmecs
The Olmecs

(1200 B.C. – 600 B.C.)

Central America:

Along the Gulf of Mexico



Art and Science

Government and Religion


Grew Surplus (extra) crops to sell to nearby cities

Carved stone:

10ft carved stone heads

Well organized government,

Different social classes and complex religion


The Mayas

(250 A.D. – 900 A.D.)

Central America:


Farming:Maize (corn) was most important crop

Used slash-and-burn agriculture – trees are cut down and burned to clear and fertilize the land.



Art and Science

Government and Religion

The Mayan Calendar: Developed to help Mayans know when to hold religious celebrations. (First 365 day calendar like our own)

Numbers: First to have concept of “zero”

Hieroglyphics: A system of writing using signs and symbols

Priests and Nobles:

Most power held by Priests who lived in the center of the city in large palaces. Mayas were Polytheistic.


The Aztecs

(1325 A.D. – 1521 A.D.)

Central America:


Farming: Swampy Land

Aztecs built island gardens to grow crops and even built aqueducts to transport water. Farmers used boats to transport produce to the capital.



Art and Science

Government and Religion

Aztec Calendar: Based on Mayan calendar. Had 13 months of 20 days each.

Astronomy: Aztecs were skilled at studying the stars.

Schools: Tenochtitlan (capital city) had schools and a university for boys from noble families.

Strict Class System:

Emperor  royal family, nobles, priests and military leaders  soldiers,  Artisans (skilled creators of jewelry, pottery, sculpture)  farmers (largest group)  Slaves (most were prisoners of war)

Human Sacrifice: (polytheistic)

Most important god was the Sun god. Priests thought the sun would not have the strength to rise and cross the sky each day without human blood. Without sun, no crops!


The Incas

(1400s A.D. – 1535 A.D.)

South America:

Andes Mountains (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina)

Farming: Terraces -

Step-like ledges cut into mountains needed to create flat land to farm.

Quipu: a group of knotted strings used to keep track of information like births, deaths and harvests.



Art and Science

Government and Religion

Engineering: Used stone to build long lasting buildings and built bridges. Buildings were so well made, most are still standing today.

Sapa Inca: Incan ruler/emperor. People believed he was related to the sun-god. He owned all the land and divided it among the people.


Census: an official count of the people to keep track of responsibilities and taxes.

the moundbuilders
The Moundbuilders:

Native American Groups who built earthen mounds