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MESOAMERICA. MOST LIKELY THEORY. First Americans originated in Gobi Desert Some migrated to Siberia around 15,000 years ago Crossed Bering Strait in Alaska Land bridge probably existed at the time Gradually dispersed throughout North and South America. NEW THEORY.

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most likely theory
MOST LIKELY THEORY
  • First Americans originated in Gobi Desert
  • Some migrated to Siberia around 15,000 years ago
  • Crossed Bering Strait in Alaska
    • Land bridge probably existed at the time
  • Gradually dispersed throughout North and South America
new theory
NEW THEORY
  • Ancestors of modern Native Americans originated in Europe
  • Ice Age extended shorelines of North America, Europe, and Greenland far into the Atlantic
  • Prehistoric people traveled along shoreline hunting and crossed over
    • Settled here and gradually dispersed through hemisphere
  • Exterminated by Central Asian immigrants who came later
emergence of indian civilization
EMERGENCE OF INDIAN CIVILIZATION
  • Indians developed different cultures depending on the ecology of the region where they settled
  • Some developed true civilizations
    • Those in southern Mexico, northern Central America, and the Andes Mountains in Peru
olmec civilization
OLMEC CIVILIZATION
  • Appeared around 1200 BCE
  • In swampy region along the Gulf of Mexico near modern-day Vera Cruz
    • Not in a river valley
  • Three major cities
    • San Lorenzo, La Venta, and Très Zapotes
olmec achievements
OLMEC ACHIEVEMENTS
  • Talented engineers and architects
    • Built underground sewer system at San Lorenzo
    • Built pyramids and palaces from stone
  • Also carved giant stone heads
    • Largest is 9 feet tall and weighs 15 tons
    • No one knows their exact function
  • Also developed a writing system and a system to record calendar dates
olmec religion
OLMEC RELIGION
  • Polytheistic
  • Most important god portrayed as half man/half jaguar
  • Believed that certain people could turn into jaguars at will
    • Variation of the “were-wolf” myth
teotihuac n
TEOTIHUACÁN
  • Olmec civilization faded around 900 BCE but influenced later civilizations
  • Teotihuacán
    • 200-700 AD
    • Giant city containing 200,000 people
    • Two giant pyramids
      • Pyramid of the Sun
      • Pyramid of the Moon
    • Hundreds of other buildings
mayans
MAYANS
  • Located in Yucatan, Honduras, and Guatemala
  • 300-900 AD
  • Sophisticated agriculture
    • Two to three harvests a year
    • Supported population of 2 million people
  • Divided into a number of small states
    • Never a single united state
mayan cities
MAYAN CITIES
  • Semi-urban people
  • Built huge ceremonial centers that resembled cities
    • Contained pyramids, plazas, wide streets
    • Only used during religious celebrations
  • Most Mayans lived in small villages that surrounded centers
    • Moved to centers for celebration and then returned to their villages when it was over
mayan religion
MAYAN RELIGION
  • Extraordinarily complex
  • Chief god was Itzamná
    • Creator of human beings and inventor of art and science
    • Countless other gods below him
  • 13 levels of heaven and 9 levels of hell
mayan achievements
MAYAN ACHIEVEMENTS
  • Sophisticated mathematics
    • Understood concept of zero
    • Developed “place-value” system
  • Developed elaborate but accurate calendar
  • Literate but little of their writing survives
collapse of mayan states
COLLAPSE OF MAYAN STATES
  • Mayan states collapsed around 900 AD
    • Perhaps due to natural catastrophe
  • Left behind impressive ruins, achievements in sciences, and language
toltecs
TOLTECS
  • Moved into southern Mexico from north around time of Mayan collapse
  • Took over and expanded Mayan centers
  • Built capital city of Tula using Mayan architectural and construction techniques
more on toltecs
MORE ON TOLTECS
  • Developed impressive metal-working industry
    • Specialized in jewelry
  • Established trade network which stretched into northern South America
  • Civilization flourished for around 100 years
    • Empire eventually fragmented into small states, constantly fighting among themselves
the aztecs arrive
THE AZTECS ARRIVE
  • Also known as Mexicas
  • Originally a nomadic tribe from north
    • Looking for “promised land”
    • Found it in 1325 AD on island in middle of Lake Texcoco in central Mexico
  • Built capital city on island
    • Tenochtitlán
rise of the aztecs
RISE OF THE AZTECS
  • Rich mud of island home ideally suited for agriculture
    • Produced abundant crops
    • Standard of living increased dramatically
  • Were in high demand as mercenaries in wars between post-Toltec states
  • Rose rapidly
    • Stepped into power vacuum and took over much of central and coastal Mexico and northern Central America
tenochtitl n
TENOCHTITLÁN
  • Grew wealthy from tribute from conquered territory
  • Turned city into magnificent place
    • Canals served as arteries of transportation
    • Aqueduct system for fresh water and sophisticated waste removal system
    • Huge temples and places
    • Brightly colored art
aztec religion
AZTEC RELIGION
  • Two sets of gods
    • Nature gods
      • Worshipped by farmers
      • Had shape of the item the god controlled
    • Great gods of state
      • Usually portrayed as half human/half animal or as monster
      • Chief god was Huitzilopochtli
        • God of the sun
human sacrifice
HUMAN SACRIFICE
  • Believed that the world had passed through four previous stages (“suns”)
    • Each one destroyed by catastrophe
  • To prevent destruction of fifth “sun”, Huitzilopochtli had to be appeased
    • By feeding him human hearts
    • Aztecs therefore sacrificed victims by ripping out their hearts and holding them up for Huitzilopochtli to symbolically eat
how often did they do it
HOW OFTEN DID THEY DO IT?
  • Spanish claimed that sacrifice was performed on a daily basis and that thousands were sacrificed on religious holidays
    • Historians have used this information to argue that it was the need to get victims that motivated Aztec conquests and their harsh legal code
  • Others claim Spanish exaggerated number of sacrifices to justify their conquest and destruction of Aztec civilization
end of the aztecs
END OF THE AZTECS
  • Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortez, destroyed Aztec civilization in 1519
    • Very tragic act
    • Wiped out a rich and vigorous culture off the face of the map
      • Enormous loss to all civilized human beings