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Chapter 11 Reading Guide: The Americas on the Eve of
Invasion
Chapter Summary. By 1500, American societies incorporated both densely populated and lesser-inhabited
regions, both long-established in the New World. Columbus called the inhabitants Indians, but the American
societies did not possess a common identity. The great diversity of cultures requires concentration upon a few
major civilizations, the great imperial states of Mesoamerica (central Mexico) and the Andes, plus a few other
independently developing peoples.
1. The capital of the Aztecs was built in the center of a what?
2. What impressed the Spanish when they saw this city? List several features.
3. Where does the term “Indian”, as applied to Native Americans, come from?
4. Did Indians see themselves as one culture or people?
POSTCLASSIC MESOAMERICA, 1000-1500 C.E.
5. What was the early culture that would precede the Toltec, Aztec, and Inca and would be
considered the origins of their respective civilizations (HINT: They’re noted for their enormous
carved stone heads/faces)
THE TOLTEC HERITAGE
6. Your book states that the legend of Topiltzin/Quetzalcoat may have influenced the Aztecs’
reaction to the arrival of the Europeans. How do you think it did this?
7. About 1000 C.E., the Mayan city of ______________________________ in Yucatan was
conquered by Toltec warriors.
8. The Toltecs highly prized the blue stone turquoise. It was utilized in their religious clothing.
However, the stone was not native to Mexico. How did they probably get it?
9. Cite the most persuasive evidence that Indians in the southeastern portion of the United States
MAY have had contact with the Toltecs.
THE AZTEC RISE TO POWER
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Chapter 11 Reading Guide: The Americas on the Eve of
Invasion
10. The people who succeeded the Toltecs as the rulers of central Mexico are known by what two
names?
11. What reputation made the Aztecs both valued and feared?
12. What city did the Aztecs establish ca. 1325 C.E. on a marshy island in Lake Texcoco?
13. How did that city’s location help the Aztecs grow stronger? (HINT: Remember Byzantine
geographic location?!)
THE AZTEC SOCIAL CONTRACT
14. List the three requirements that the Aztecs made of their subject peoples.
A)
B)
C)
RELIGION AND THE IDEOLOGY OF CONQUEST
15. Aztec religion was very complex; however, this complex array of gods can be organized into
three major themes or cults. List them.
A)
B)
C)
16. Explain how the cult of the sun was linked with human sacrifice.
17. Note the fatalism (look it up!) in the Aztecs view of history. How might that fatalistic view
have influenced them when the Europeans showed up, esp. with new diseases?
FEEDING THE PEOPLE: THE ECONOMY OF THE EMPIRE
18. What was the ingenious system of irrigated agriculture the Aztecs adopted? Describe it in your
own words.
19. How did this interesting system help increase the Aztec’s population?
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Chapter 11 Reading Guide: The Americas on the Eve of
Invasion
20. What was the state’s role in the Aztec economy?
AZTEC SOCIETY IN TRANSITION
A WIDENING SOCIAL GULF
21. What was a calpulli, and explain the three important functions of the calpulli.
A)
B)
C)
22. How did social classes/groups in Aztec society distinguish themselves?
OVERCOMING TECHNOLOGICAL CONSTRAINTS
23. What was the significant difference between the life of women in Mesoamerica and in the
Mediterranean world?
TWANTINSUYU: WORLD OF THE INCAS
24. What were two of the most notable achievements of the Incas?
THE INCA RISE TO POWER
25. The capital of the Inca empire was ____________________________.
26. ______________________________ a Inca ruler who launched a series of military campaigns
and alliances that began first creation of the Inca empire in 1438 C.E.
27. What did the Incas and Aztecs’ religion have in common?
THE TECHNIQUES OF INCA IMPERIAL RULE
28. What incentives did the Incas give local rulers to obey? (give both positive AND negative)
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Chapter 11 Reading Guide: The Americas on the Eve of
Invasion
29. Note the Inca use of language, colonists, and relocation of conquered peoples to promote
political and cultural integration. How does this compare to other cultures, particularly
Classical China under the Zhou?
30. The Incas built a very impressive system of roads. Besides communication, note the key
purpose and compare it to that of the Roman road system.
31. How did the Incas practice body modification to denote social status?
32. How do the Incas and Aztecs compare regarding the importance of trade?
INCA CULTURAL ACHIEVEMENTS
33. What did the Inca civilization lack that most civilizations, including the Mesoamerican Indians,
enjoy?
34. What was the quipu used for?
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