Mayans • Began to develop around 300 A.D. in what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador • Known as “The People of the Jaguar”
Olmec Influence on the Mayans • Maize • Ceremonial centers with temple pyramids • Calendar based on the Olmec one • Ball games • Rituals involving human sacrifice
Agriculture Maize Cacao
Agriculture • Soil in Mesoamerican lowlands was thin and quickly lost fertility • Mayans built terraces • Raised maize, cotton, and cacao • Cacao was a precious commodity consumed mostly by nobles and even used as money Cacao tree
Social Hierarchy A Mayan Warrior A Mayan Priest
Religion: Bloodletting Rituals • Mayans believed the shedding of human blood would prompt the gods to send rain to water the maize • Bloodletting involved both war captives and Mayan royals Mayan queen holds a bowl filled with strips of paper used to collect blood.
Religion: Bloodletting • A popular bloodletting ritual was for a Mayan to pierce his own tongue and thread a thin rope through the hole, thus letting the blood run down the rope
Religion: The Ball Game • Mayans inherited a ball game from the Olmecs that was an important part of Mayan political and religious festivals • High-ranking captives were forced to play the game for their very lives • The losers became sacrificial victims and faced torture and execution immediately following the match • Object of the game was to propel an 8 inch ball of solid baked rubber through a ring or onto a marker without using your hands
New Technologies Mayan Calendar Observatory at El Caracol
New Technologies • Excelled in astronomy and mathematics • Could plot planetary cycles and predict eclipses of the sun and moon • Invented the concept of zero and used a symbol to represent zero mathematically, which facilitated the manipulation of large numbers • By combining astronomy and mathematics, calculated the length of the solar year at 365.242 days– about 17 seconds shorter than the figure reached by modern astronomers Mayan numerical system
Art and Writing Mayan writing
Mayan Decline • By about 800, most Mayan populations had begun to desert their cities • Full scale decline followed everywhere but in the northern Yucatan • Possible causes include foreign invasion, internal dissension and civil war, failure of the water control system leading to agricultural disaster, ecological problems caused by destruction of the forests, epidemic diseases, and natural disasters
The Aztec Empire The Aztec Empire is part of Mexico today. According to Aztec legend, the gods told the nomadic people who had entered the Valley of Mexico to search for an eagle peached on the top of a cactus. The eagle would be holding a snake in its beak. When they saw the sign on a swampy island in Lake Texcoco they established the city of Tenochtitlan Mexico’s Flag
Tenochititlan • Tenochititlan was linked to the mainland with causeways. It had an aqueduct to ensure a fresh water supply and sewers carried waste materials away.
Food and work The Aztec used a lot of herb and prayer in their medicine. The Aztec also developed a writing system with pictographs that gave a image of the story. Aztecs ate corn and beans. Tortillas grilled and dipped in tomatoes. They also ate pancakes stuffed with tadpoles.
Montezuma Montezuma was the Emperor of the Aztecs in the Sixteenth Century. He was a conquering king who often went to war with his neighbors. He kept the gods on his side by making human sacrifices to the gods.
Human Sacrifices • Tens of thousands of prisoners were sacrificed at a time. Each had to be individually killed. The usual method of sacrifice was to open the victims chest, pull out his heart while he was still alive and then knock the victim down the temple stairs. The temple stairs were covered in blood.
Why Sacrifice? Huitzlopochtli, the sun and war god battled the forces of darkness each night and was re-born each morning. There was no guarantee the sun would win, so human sacrifices were made to help him.
Inca • By the 13th Century, the Inca had established domination over the regional states in Andean South America • In 1438, Pachacuti launched a series of military campaigns that greatly expanded Inca authority • By the late 15th Century, the Inca empire covered more than 2,500 miles, embracing almost all of modern Peru, most of Ecuador, much of Bolivia, and parts of Chile and Argentina
Agriculture Llamas Terraced farm land
Agriculture • Intensive agricultural techniques • Inca empire spanned many types of environments and required terraces to make farmland out of the mountainous terrain • Chief crop was the potato • Herded llamas and alpacas for meat, wool, hides, and dung (used as fuel)
Social Hierarchy • Chief ruler was a god-king who theoretically owned everything and was an absolute and infallible ruler • Dead rulers retained their prestige even after death • Remains were mummified and state deliberations often took place in their presence in order to benefit from their counsel • Were seen as intermediaries with the gods
Social Hierarchy • Aristocrats lived privileged lives including fine foods, embroidered clothes, and large ears spools • Spanish called them “big ears” Inca ear spools
Cities: Cuzco • Inca capital at Cuzco served as the administrative, religious, and ceremonial center of the empire • May have supported 300,000 residents at the height of the Inca empire in the late 15th Century • Tremendous system of roads emanated from Cuzco
New Technologies Major Roads of the Inca Empire
Economic Exchange Inca gold
Economic Exchange • Gold, the Inca’s most valuable commodity, proved to be their undoing when Spanish conquistadors destroyed much of the empire in the early 1500s in search of gold • The Spanish melted down almost all the gold so few works of art remain Arrival of Francisco Pizarro in South America
Art and Writing • The Inca had no writing • Instead they kept records using a quipu • A array of small cords of various colors and lengths, all suspended from a thick cord • By tying knots in the small cords, Inca could record statistical information 586 on a quipu