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The Mesoamerican

By Jose Rosario
Empires of the Americas
The Mayas
By Jose Rosario
The Maya Empire
1. The Maya civilization is a
Mesoamerican civilization.
a.They had the only
known fully
language of the
b.And spectacular
architecture, &
mathematical &
2. The Mayas established in Central America
and the Yucatan Peninsula during the Pre-
classic period (c. 250 to 900 AD).
a.By the arrival of
the Spanish the
Civilization was
not longer
b.At its peak, it was
one of the most
populated &
3. The first clearly “Maya” settlements were
established in approximately 1800 BC in
Soconusco region of the Pacific Coast.
a. Archaeological
suggests the
construction of
architecture in
Maya area by
1000 BC.
b.Evidence suggests
that these
cultures and the
formative Maya
4. The Classic period (c. 250 - 900) was
the peak of large-scale construction
and urbanism.
a.They developed a city-centered empire
consisting of numerous independent
b.Including well-known cities of Tikal,
Palenque, Copán and Calakmul,
& lesser known cities.
c.They built pyramids as their religious
centers and palaces of their rulers.
d.Other important archaeological remains
include the carved stone slabs
usually called stelae.
5. The Maya centers went into decline during
the 8th & 9th centuries and were
abandoned shortly thereafter.
a.This decline was coupled with a cessation of
monumental inscriptions and large-scale
architectural construction.
b.Although there is no universally accepted
theory to explain this “collapse,” current
theories fall into two categories:
c. Non-ecological theories: foreign invasion,
peasant revolt, &/or the collapse of
key trade routes.
d.Ecological hypotheses: environmental
catastrophe, epidemic disease, & climate
6. The Maya peoples never
a. Today, the Maya &
their descendants
form sizeable
throughout the
Maya area &
maintain a
distinctive set of
traditions & beliefs
that are the result
of the merger of
pre-Columbian &
ideologies (&
structured by the
almost total
The Aztecs
By Jose Rosario
The Aztec Empire
1. The true origin of the Aztecs is
a. According to their
legends, the
Aztec's place of
origin was Aztlán.
b.It is generally
thought that
Aztlán was
somewhere to
the north of the
Valley of Mexico;
some experts
have placed it as
far north as the
2. It appears that the Mexicans
arrived at Chapultepec in or around
the year 1248 AD.
a. At the time of their arrival, the Valley of Mexico
contained many city-states, like Culhuacan
& Azcapotzalco.
b. According to Aztec legend, the Aztecs were
shown a vision of an eagle perched on a
prickly pear cactus, clutching a snake in its
c. This vision indicated that this was the location
where they were to build their home.
d. The Aztecs arrived on a small swampy island in
Lake Texcoco where they founded the town
of Tenochtitlan in 1325.
e. In 1376, the Mexicas elected their first Huey
Tlatoani, Acamapichtli,
Acamapichtli who was living in
Texcoco at the time.
3. The Aztecs is a collective term used for all
of the Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican
peoples under the control of the Mexica,
founders of Tenochtitlan,
Tenochtitlan & their two
principal allies, who built an extensive
empire in the late Post-classic period in
the 14th , 15th & 16th centuries in Central
4. The nucleus of the Aztec Empire was the
Valley of Mexico, where their capital
Tenochtitlan was built upon raised islets
in Lake Texcoco.
a.After the 1521 conquest of
Tenochtitlan by Spanish forces and
their allies which brought about the
effective end of Aztec dominion,
b.The Spanish founded the new
settlement of Mexico City on the site
of the now-ruined Aztec capital.
c.The capital of the modern-day nation of
Mexico, the greater metropolitan
area of Mexico City now covers much
of the Valley of Mexico and the
now-drained Lake of Texcoco.
5. Aztec culture had rich &
complex mythological &
religious traditions.
a.For Europeans, the most striking
element of the Aztec culture was the
practice of human sacrifice which
was conducted throughout
Mesoamerica prior to the Spanish
b.While human sacrifice was practiced
throughout Mesoamerica, under the
Aztecs this practice to an
unprecedented level. Ex., for the
reconsecration of Great Pyramid
of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs
Human Sacrificed
The Incas
By Jose Rosario
The Inca Empire
The Incas
1. The Incas had various origin myths. These
myths have been transmitted via oral
tradition, since the Incas did not develop
2. The Inca people began as a tribe in
the Cuzco area around the 12th
a.Under the leadership of Manco Capac,
they formed the small city-state of
b.In 1438 they began a far-reaching
expansion under the command of
Sapa Inca Pachacuti.
c.Pachacuti reorganized the kingdom into
an empire, a federalist system which
consisted of a central government
with the Inca at its head
d.Pachacuti sent spies to regions he
wanted in his empire; they brought
3. The most powerful figure in the
empire was the Sapa Inca ('the
unique Inca').
a.Only descendants of the original Inca
tribe ever ascended to the level of
b.Most young members of the Inca's
family attended Yachay Wasis
(houses of knowledge) to obtain
their education.
c.There were separate chains of
command for both the military and
religious institutions, which
created a system of partial checks
4. Architecture was by far the most
important of the Inca arts, with pottery
and textiles reflecting motifs that were at
their height in architecture.
a.The breathtaking site of Machu Picchu was
constructed by Inca engineers.
b.Amaranth was one of the staple foods of the
Incas, and it is known as kiwicha in the
Andes today.
c. Native Americans were responsible for some
of the world’s most prolific crops,
including tomatoes, peppers, lima beans,
ancient ancestors to modern squash and,
most importantly, the potato.
d.Maize (Corn) was also deeply integrated
into Inca agriculture and daily life.