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Sections 2 and 3
STANDARD WHI.11a, b
The student will demonstrate knowledge of major civilizations of the Western Hemisphere, including the Mayan, Aztec, and
a) describing geographic relationship, with emphasis on patterns of development in terms of climate and physical features.
b) describing cultural patterns and political and economic structures
Olmec 1300 B.C.-
The first civilization of Mesoamerica
They were located in the hot and swampy lowlands
along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico south of
They had large cities that were centers for religious
They carved colossal stone heads
They may have been to represent
their ancestors or gods.
Was the first major city in Mesoamerica
Arose around 250 B.C. and collapsed about 800 A.D.
May have had as many as 200,000 inhabitants at its height.
Has a main thoroughfare, known as the Avenue of the Dead, had
two main temples.
The Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon.
• Located in the Mexican and Central American
• Represented by Chichén Itzá
• Group of city-states ruled by a king
• Economy based on agriculture and trade
• Polytheistic religion—Pyramids
-Maya were found in the Yucatan Peninsula and Part of
Maya: Between 300 and 900 A.D.
-Flourished during this time. We do not know why it fell into
decline. The Maya abandoned their cities, we do not know
Political and Social Structure
Cities-Were built around a central pyramid
Pyramid-Was topped with a shrine to the gods.
-Ruled the Mayan Kingdom
They claimed they were divine
Were assisted by nobles and a class of scribes
Made special blood sacrifices to maintain the
-Included townspeople, skilled artisans, officials, and
Many people were peasant farmers who worked on
terraced hillsides farming.
Men did the fighting and hunting, women made
cornmeal and were responsible for homemaking and
The Maya were Polytheistic.
They believed that all of life was in the hands of a divine
They were responsible for pleasing the gods.
Their gods were ranked in order of importance, the Jaguar
was the god of night and was seen as evil.
The Maya practiced human sacrifice to appease their gods.
Human sacrifice was also used to mark special occasions.
When a king ascended to the throne war captives were
tortured and beheaded to mark the occasion.
The Maya developed an independent
The Spanish destroyed most of the
Mayan writings. They were not seen as
having any value. Their language was
not translated until the 20th
The Maya developed a calendar
that had two different parts.
It had a solar calendar with 365
days, divided into 18 months
with 20 days each with 5 extra
days at the end.
A Lunar calendar and a
Calendar based on the
movement of the Planet Venus.
This was a sacred calendar with
260 days and 13 weeks of 20
The Mayan calendar says our
present world was created in
3114 B.C. and the current world
will end on December 23 2012
• Located in arid valley in central Mexico
• Represented by Tenochtitlan
• Ruled by an emperor
• Economy based on agriculture and tribute from
• Polytheistic religion with pyramids/rituals
The Aztec began c. 12th century A.D.
Began a long migration that brought them into the Valley of
They established their capital city at Tenochtitlán.
An Aztec legend said that when the people found their new
home they would see an eagle perched on a cactus holding a
snake. They saw this in lake Texcoco.
Their city was built up on rafts made from reeds and covered
with dirt. They were called chinampas. Present-Day Mexico-
City is built on top of this city. The original was destroyed by
Political and Social Structure
By 1500 there were about 4 million people in the Aztec Empire.
Ruled over the Aztec Empire.
Was the supreme leader of the people.
He claimed that he was divine.
Made up of commoners, indentured workers, and slaves.
Most people were farmers, but they also traded with people in
the surrounding areas.
Men were to be the warriors, while a woman’s role was to be in
the home. Women were allowed to own and inherit property
and enter contracts. Women wove textiles and raised children.
They could also be priestesses.
Had a polytheistic religion based on warfare.
Their chief god. He was the god of the sun. The Aztec
offered him human sacrifice to give him strength to battle the
forces of darkness each night so that he could rise each
The feathered Serpent
He believed he had left the valley of
Mexico and promised to return in triumph.
Each Aztec city contained a pyramid where they
practiced human sacrifice as a way to postpone
the end of the world.
Destruction of the Aztec
The subjugation of the people of the Aztec
Empire bred hatred and discontent among the
people. When the Spanish arrived they did
not have a difficult time finding allies to fight
Hernán Cortés 1519
Spanish Conquistador who came to the valley of Mexico in
1519 with 550 soldiers and 16 horses. He was at first greeted
by the Aztec Emperor Montezuma (Moctezuma). The
Spanish later kidnapped the Emperor and made him a puppet.
The people rebelled and the Emperor was killed. The
Spanish barely escaped.
The Spanish returned several months later. Many of the
natives had fallen ill with Smallpox. Cortés and his allies
destroyed the Aztec capital and subjugated the Aztec people.
• Located in the Andes Mountains of South
• Represented by Machu Picchu
• Ruled by an emperor
• Economy based on high-altitude agriculture
• Polytheistic religion
• Road system
Late 1300's Inca
The Inca started as a small group that were located in Cuzco.
They did not begin to become powerful until after the fall of
the Moche of Peru.
Unified the Inca and established the Inca Empire.
Organization of the Empire
Incan state was built on war.
The conquered peoples were all taught the
Each region was appointed a governor who
answered to the Emperor.
Road System: 24, 800 miles of Road
The Inca built roads to unify their people.
Roads made travel and communication
throughout the empire more efficient.
There were rest houses and storage depots
along with bridges to span ravines and
Were required to marry from within their own social group.
Women were expected to live at home, the only alternative
was to be a priestess.
Most people were farmers, they also herded llamas and
QuipuQuipu-A system of knotted strings used by the Inca to keep
Great BuildersGreat Builders
They had great buildings made
of stone held without mortar.
Their roads also show their
ability as great builders.
Machu PicchuMachu Picchu
City built at 8,000 ft above sea
Urubamba RiverUrubamba River
River below Machu Picchu
The Spanish arrived in 1531
1531: Francisco Pizarro
Spanish Conquistador led a band of 180 men with
The Inca, like the Aztec, were devastated by disease.
Devastated the Population
After the death of the Inca Emperor a civil war broke out, Pizarro
took advantage and defeated the people.
Pizarro and his men established Lima as the new capital of the
Spanish Colony in 1535.
Achievements of Mayan, Aztec, and
• Writing and other record-keeping