The First Americans
• Native Americans learned to grow corn
(maize) and other crops.
• Several complex civilizations emerged in
Mesoamerican (present-day Mexico and
• Historians refer to these civilizations as
Pre-Columbian because they existed
before the arrival of Columbus.
• Native Americans did not emerge in river
• huge cities in the jungles
• Writing System
• Math and Science
• complex numbering system, use of zero.
• calendar with 365 days
• colorful murals
The Inca Empire ( 1200-1535)
Lived in the Andes Mountains in
present day Peru
kept llamas for their meat, wool and to
The Inca Empire
• Built stone roads over 10,000 miles.
• No writing system
– used quipu—bundles of knotted and colored ropes
to count, keep records, and send messages.
The Inca Empire
• Machu Picchu
• Built stone buildings with no cement, but
fit stones together perfectly.
• Stone sculptures
• Ceramic bowls carved with
human and animal forms
• Locatedin aridvalley in centralMexico
• Economybasedon agricultureandtributefrom
• Polytheisticreligion with pyramids/rituals
TheAztec began c. 12th centuryA.D.
Began a long migration that brought them into the Valley of Mexico.
Theyestablished their capital city at Tenochtitlán.
An Aztec legend said that when the people found their newhome they would seean
eagle perched ona cactus holding a snake. They saw this in lake Texcoco.
Their city was built up on rafts made from reeds and coveredwith dirt. They werecalled
chinampas. Present-Day Mexico-City is built on top of this city. Theoriginal was
destroyed by the Spanish.
Lake Texcoco-Swampy lake that was the home of the capital city. Tenochtitlán means
the Place of the Prickly PearCactus.
Political and Social Structure
By 1500 there wereabout 4 million people in the Aztec Empire.
Ruled over the Aztec Empire.
Was the supreme leaderofthe people.
Heclaimed that hewas divine.
Madeupofcommoners, indentured workers, andslaves.
Most people were farmers, butthey also traded with people in the surrounding areas.
Men weretobe the warriors, while a woman’s role was to bein the home. Women were
allowed toown and inherit property and enter contracts. Womenwovetextiles and raised
children. They could also be priestesses.
Had a polytheistic religion based on warfare.
Their chief god. He was the godof the sun. The Aztec
offered him human sacrifice to givehim strength to battle the forces of darkness each
night so that hecould rise each morning.
Hebelieved 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.
Thesubjugation of the people of the Aztec
Empire bredhatred and discontent among the
people. When the Spanish arrived they did
not have a difficult time finding allies to fight
Spanish Conquistador who cameto the valley of Mexico in 1519 with 550 soldiers and 16
horses. He was at first greetedby the Aztec EmperorMontezuma (Moctezuma). The
Spanish later kidnapped the Emperorand madehim a puppet. Thepeople rebelled and
the Emperorwas killed. TheSpanish barelyescaped.
TheSpanish returned several months later. Many ofthe natives had fallen ill with
Smallpox. Cortés and his allies destroyed the Aztec capital and subjugated the Aztec
•Located in the Andes Mountains of South America
•Represented by Machu Picchu
•Ruled by anemperor
•Economy based on high-altitude agriculture
Late 1300's Inca
TheInca started as a small group that werelocated in Cuzco. They did not begin to
becomepowerful until after the fall of the Mocheof Peru.
Unified the Inca and established the Inca Empire.
Organization ofthe Empire
Incan state was built on war.
Theconquered peoples were all taught the same language.
Each region was appointed a governorwhoanswered to the
Road System: 24, 800 miles of Road
TheInca 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 waterways.
Were required to marryfrom within their own social group.
Women wereexpected to live at home,the only alternative was to be a priestess.
Most people were farmers, they also herdedllamas and alpacas.
Quipu-Asystem of knotted strings used by the Inca to keeprecords.
Theyhad great buildings made ofstone held
without mortar. Theirroads also show their
ability as great builders.
City built at 8,000 ft above sea level.
Riverbelow Machu Picchu
Extremely sharp swords but brittle. Also wore cotton quilt armor.
TheSpanish arrived in 1531
1531: Francisco Pizarro
Spanish Conquistador led a band of 180 men with
TheInca, like the Aztec, weredevastated by disease.
Devastated the Population
After the death ofthe Inca Emperora civil war brokeout, Pizarro took advantage and defeated
Pizarro andhis men established Lima as the newcapital ofthe Spanish Colony in 1535.