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Mesoamerica: Mayan & Aztec Empires Climate of Mesoamerica Warm Temperatures Plentiful Rainfall Rich volcanic soils – Good for growing crops like maize, beans, and squash. Early Mesoamerican Civilizations Olmec – (1200 BC to 300 AD) Zapotec – (1500 BC to 750 AD) Toltec – (900 to 1200 AD) The Mayan Civilization Developed around 1000 BC – At its height, Maya civilization consisted of some 10 million people spread among 40 cities. Supporting Large Cities Trade and agriculture helped support larger populations, and early Maya villages grew into cities. Mayan Farming Practices Slash and Burn Agriculture- a method of farming involves burning the vegetation to clear land for planting. Mayan Cities & Government Classic Age – (250 to 900 AD) Mayans built: – Stone pyramids – Temples – Palaces Who did they build them for? – Local Rulers (Kings) – Gods Mayan Society & Religion Society – Kings ruled with absolute power It was believed they communicated with the gods. – Priests & Warriors Upper Class – Merchants & Skilled Craftsmen Middle Class – Farmers & Slaves Lower Class Religious Ceremonies – Offering of blood to the gods. (Blood Letting) – Ball Game Only allowed to use your elbows, knees, and hips to get a rubber ball through a hoop. – Losing team sacrificed. – Human Sacrifice Religion: Major Gods Hun Hunahpu – maize god. – Father of the hero twins – Most important deity for the Maya – He brought about the creation for the present world age. Chac – god of rain, thunder, and lightning. – Both adored and feared by the Maya – He was portrayed as both a benefactor and a violent warrior. Religion: Major Gods cont. Gukumatz – Feathered snake god – Taught the Maya the arts of civilization, including codes of law, agriculture, fishing, and medicine. Ixchel – Earth and Moon Goddess – Goddess of creativity, weavers and childbirth, goddess of medicine and reason, and a bringer of the storms. Mayan Achievements Architecture – Buildings – Canals Astronomy Math – Used Zero (0) Writing Calendar System Mayan Calendar The Maya had two calendars: – 365 day farming calendar – 260 day religious calendar It was more accurate that the European calendar. Decline of Mayan Civilization Factors to decline: – Environmental Damage Overuse of resources – Drought Not able to feed everyone – Warfare Increased Competition over lands – Abuse of Power by Kings The Aztecs Located in modern day Mexico, and Tenochtitlan was the capital city and is located in what is now present day Mexico City. Rise of the Aztec Empire According to legend, the war god told one of the tribes’ leaders that they should look for a place where they saw an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake. It was there that they should settle and build a new capital. – They built Tenochtitlan after the prediction came true, and it was on a swampy island in Lake Texcoco. Rise of the Aztec Empire Cont… Population consisted of farmers & warriors. – Allied with Texcoco and Tlacopan. After the alliance was formed the empire gained control over many region. – Ruled 400 – 500 other city-states. – 5 Million people under Aztec rule. Aztec Empire Conquered people paid tribute. – Tribute was a type of tax. The Aztec Empire gained wealth: – Trade – Tribute Tenochtitlan Size – Five square miles Approximately 3200 acres Population – 200,000 Architecture – – – – – – Walled City Pyramid Temples Palaces Ball court “Floating Gardens” Chinampas – Canals – Markets Aztec Society Social Classes King Priests & Warriors Though people were born into a certain class it was possible to move up the ranks within a life time. Also apart of the middle class • Merchants and Artisans Farmers Slaves & Prisoners of War Aztec Religion Main deity in the Aztec religion was Huitzilopochtli and was known as both the sun god and war god. – Human sacrifice was practiced heavily in the Aztec religion. Believed that these sacrifices gave power to the gods which in turn would insure the survival of the Aztec civilization. Religion War captives were used in the sacrifices – In times of peace the Aztec would have to resort to ritualistic warfar. In the year 1487 the Aztecs reported killing 84,400 war prisoners in four days at the great pyramid of Tenochitlan. – After a town was conquered the inhabitants where no longer eligible of sacrifice and became Aztec citizens. Aztec Art The Aztecs also made other religious and non-religious artifacts such as jade masks. – These artifacts were sold in markets by visiting merchants. Aztec Achievements Written Record – Glyphs- symbols that represented both objects and sounds. Kept track of tax record and business details. Astronomy – Calendar like the Mayans, but they also tracked the movements of some planets.