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AP WORLD HISTORY Chapter 11: The Americas on the Eve of Invasion, 1000-1500
DoDEA World History Standards:
1. Students will trace the development and impact of major civilizations, states, and empires in different
regions of the Americas from 1000 to 1500.
2. Describe the origins and importance of farming in the development of pre-Columbian societies and
civilizations in various regions of the Americas.
3. Compare and contrast the Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations in terms of theirs arts, religion, sciences,
economy, social hierarchy, government, armed forces, and expansion.
Major topics for brief, Cornell Note-focused lectures:
1. Postclassical Mesoamerica, 1000-1500 C.E.
*collapse of Teotihuacan and the abandonment of the classic Maya cities in the 8th century
*followed by Toltecs and Aztecs, who built on preceding achievements, surpassing only with their military
*Toltecs created a large empire whose influence extended far beyond central Mexico
*Aztecs rose in 15th century to create an extensive empire organized for war, motivated by religious zeal
*Aztec economy rested on a firm agrarian base; chinampas, or floating gardens
2. Aztec Society in Transition
*became more hierarchical as the empire grew; social classes with different functions developed
*tribute was drawn from subject people but Aztec empire never integrated; tribute city-states left alone
*confronted technological barriers (no wheel to grind corn, no pack animals) that made it difficult to
maintain the large central Mexican population
3. World of the Incas
*emerged c. 1300 in the Andean cultural hearth; eventually spread control over the whole region
*highly centralized system that integrated various ethnic groups into an imperial state
*extensive agriculture supported a state religion and royal ancestor cult
*had llama pack animals but no wheel or system of writing but did use a system of knotted strings, or quipu,
that worked like an abacus, for record-keeping
*ingenious agricultural terraces, complex irrigation technology, & extensive road system…in the Andes
4. The Other Peoples of the Americas
*Aztecs & Incas=high points of Native American achievement cut short by contact & conquest
*the Americas continued to be occupied by a wide variety of peoples who lived in different ways, ranging
from highly complex sedentary agricultural empires to simple kin-based bands of hunters & gatherers
*population estimates vary, but peoples of the Americas c.1500 roughly equivalent to Europe population
*Great Plains sparsely occupied: buffalo hunting w/o horse difficult, farming not easy w/o metal plows
Key terms:
Split inheritance:
“flowery death”:
Inca socialism:
Hernan Cortes:
Class Discussion Questions:
1. Describe the relationship between the Aztecs and the Toltecs.
2. Define the political, social, and economic organization of the Aztec Empire.
3. Describe the political, social, and economic organization of the Inca Empire.
4. Compare the other Indian groups of the Americas with the imperial cultures.
5. Compare the imperial civilizations of the Andes and Mesoamerica.
6. Compare the civilizations of the Americas and Polynesia.