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Transcript
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.