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WH Chapter 7 Olmecs and Mayas
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WH Chapter 7 Olmecs and Mayas

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  • 1. CHAPTER 7 Olmecs and Mayas
  • 2. LEGACY OF THE OLMECS The earliest American civilization emerged in the tropical forests along the Mexican Gulf Coast  The Olmec civilization lasted from about 1400BC500BC  Archaeologists know very little about the Olmecs  Rich tombs and temples suggest that a powerful class of priests and aristocrats stood at the top of Olmec society  The Olmecs did not build cities---instead they built ceremonial centers 
  • 3. OLMEC MAP
  • 4. OLMECS
  • 5. LEGACY OF THE OLMECS The most dramatic remains of the Olmec civilization are the giant carved stone heads found in the ruins of a religious center at La Venta  No one knows how the Olmecs moved these colossal 40-ton stones from distant quarries without wheeled vehicles or draft animals 
  • 6. OLMEC STONE HEAD
  • 7. LEGACY OF THE OLMECS Through trade, Olmec influence spread over a wide area  The Olmecs invented a calendar and used carved inscriptions as a form of writing  Their most important legacy may be the tradition of priestly leadership and religious devotion that became a basic part of later Middle American civilizations 
  • 8. THE WORLD OF THE MAYAS Between 300AD-900AD Mayan city-states flourished from the Yucatan in southern Mexico through much of Central America  Mayans used a unique method of farming in the tropical environment---they cleared land the dense rain forests and then built raised fields that caught and held rainwater  They also built channels to drain excess water  This complex system produced enough maize (native corn) and other crops to support rapidly growing cities 
  • 9. YUCATAN PENINSULA
  • 10. YUCATAN PENINSULA AND MAYAN EMPIRE
  • 11. MAYANS
  • 12. MAIZE
  • 13. TEMPLES AND PALACES Towering pyramid temples dominated the largest Mayan city of Tikal, located in present-day Guatemala  Priests climbed steep temple stairs to perform sacrifices while the people watched from the plazas below  The Mayan pyramids remained the tallest structures in the world until 1903 when the Flatiron Building skyscraper was built in New York City 
  • 14. TIKAL
  • 15. TIKAL
  • 16. TEMPLES AND PALACES Tikal also boasted large palaces and huge stone pillars covered with carvings  The carvings recorded event in Mayan history  Much of the wealth of Tikal and other Mayan cities came from trade  Goods traded included: honey, cocoa, cotton cloth, and feathers 
  • 17. CHICHEN ITZA
  • 18. CHICHEN ITZA
  • 19. TULUM
  • 20. TULUM
  • 21. TULUM
  • 22. TULUM
  • 23. TULUM
  • 24. SOCIAL CLASSES Each Mayan city has its own ruling chief  Nobles served as military leaders and officials who managed public works, collected taxes, and enforced laws  Rulers were usually men, however, Mayan records and carvings show that women occasionally governed on their own or in the name of young sons  Priests held great power because only they could conduct the elaborate ceremonies needed to ensure good harvests and success in war 
  • 25. SOCIAL CLASSES Most Mayans were farmers  They grew corn, beans, squash---the basic food crops of Middle America---as well as fruit trees, cotton, and brilliant tropical flowers  Men grew the crops while women turned them into food  To support the cities, farmers paid taxes in food and helped build the temples 
  • 26. ADVANCES IN LEARNING The Mayans developed a hieroglyphic writing system, which has only recently been deciphered  Mayan scribes kept their sacred knowledge in books made of bark (Spanish conquistadors later burned most of these books but a handful were taken to Europe and are in museums)  Many priests were expert mathematicians and astronomers and developed an accurate 365-day solar calendar  Mayan priests invented a numbering system and understood the concept of zero 
  • 27. DECLINE About 900AD, the Mayans abandoned their cities, leaving their great stone palaces and temples to be swallowed up by the jungle (some of these were not “rediscovered” till modern times)  No one knows for sure why the Mayan civilization declined  Some causes may have been---frequent warfare, overpopulation and overfarming, and heavy taxes  Some remnants of the civilization survive today: millions of people in Guatemala and southern Mexico speak Mayan languages and are descendents from the original Mayans 