Mesoamerican Civilizations


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Mesoamerican Civilizations

  1. 1. MESOAMERICAN CIVILIZATIONS Olmecs, Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs
  2. 2. Geography and People <ul><li>The first great American civilizations developed in Mesoamerica, also call Middle America </li></ul><ul><li>Region includes Mexico and Central America </li></ul><ul><li>The people that inhabited this region had migrated from other parts of North America </li></ul><ul><li>The people farmed and grew corn, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers also domesticated animals </li></ul>
  3. 3. Map of Mesoamerica
  4. 4. The Olmecs <ul><li>The Olmec Empire, which existed from 1400-500 BC was the first major Mesoamerican civilization </li></ul><ul><li>Developed in the tropical rain forests of Mexicos gulf coast </li></ul><ul><li>They invented a calendar and system of writing made up of carved inscriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Strongly devoted to religion and priests were highly respected </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Olmec Empire
  6. 6. The Mayas <ul><li>Flourished from AD 300-900 </li></ul><ul><li>Complex agricultural society </li></ul><ul><li>Mayas established large city-states </li></ul><ul><li>Farming and Trade – most of the people were farmers. Men farmed while the women turned the crops into food. Farmers paid taxes in foodstuffs to support the city state. </li></ul><ul><li>Religion was very significant and priests were well respected. Priests were the only who could conduct ceremonies and rituals that the Mayas believed would ensure bountiful harvests and victories in battle </li></ul>
  7. 7. Mayan Social Structure <ul><li>Ruling Chief </li></ul><ul><li>Nobles (Military and Government Officials) </li></ul><ul><li>Merchants and Artisans </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers </li></ul>
  8. 8. Mayan Contributions <ul><li>Architecture – Built large pyramids and palaces </li></ul><ul><li>Agriculture – Grew enough food to support large populations </li></ul><ul><li>Science – Developed a hieroglyphic style of writing, an accurate calendar, numbering system, and understood the concept of zero </li></ul>
  9. 9. Mayan Decline <ul><li>Around 900 AD, the Mayas abandoned their cities for unknown reasons. Historians speculate that possible causes of the decline may have been warfare, overpopulation, famine, or natural disaster. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Map of the Mayan Empire
  11. 11. Mayan Ruins
  12. 12. The Aztecs <ul><li>In the late 1200’s, a nomadic group settled into Mexico and established their capital in Tenochtitlan </li></ul><ul><li>The Aztecs were fierce warriors using military conquests and alliances to build a huge empire </li></ul><ul><li>The Aztec Empire became very wealthy from collecting taxes from conquered people </li></ul><ul><li>By the 1500’s, the Aztec Empire covered most of Mexico and included approximately 30 million people </li></ul>
  13. 13. Social Structure of the Aztecs <ul><li>Aztecs were rules by a single emperor who was chosen by a council of priests and nobles </li></ul><ul><li>Nobility </li></ul><ul><li>Warriors </li></ul><ul><li>Traders – also acted as military scouts </li></ul><ul><li>Farmers </li></ul><ul><li>Slaves </li></ul>
  14. 14. Aztec Religion <ul><li>Priests were highly respected individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Chief god was the Sun God </li></ul><ul><li>To please their gods, the Aztecs offered thousands of human sacrifices </li></ul>
  15. 15. Aztec Contributions <ul><li>Developed an accurate calendar and established schools </li></ul><ul><li>Doctors learned to set broken bones and dentists learned to treat dental cavities </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture – the capital was built on the site of present day Mexico City. The city began as two small islands on Lake Texaco. Engineers filled in parts of the lake and built bridges to connect the city to the mainland. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Human Sacrifice and the Capital
  17. 17. The Incas <ul><li>In the 1400’s, the Incas Emerged from the Andes Mountains and conquered a large area that extended over 2500 miles down the Pacific Coast </li></ul><ul><li>The Incas were ruled by and emperor who held absolute power and also acted as chief religious leader and the son of the Sun God </li></ul><ul><li>Capital was located at Cuzco </li></ul><ul><li>The government controlled the lives of the people within their empire, everyone had to speak the Incan language and worship Incan gods </li></ul>
  18. 18. Incan Roads <ul><li>The Incans built a large and </li></ul><ul><li>elaborate system of roads </li></ul><ul><li>Runners used these roads to </li></ul><ul><li>carry news to far off provinces </li></ul><ul><li>and the capital </li></ul><ul><li>Often compared to the Roman </li></ul><ul><li>system of roads </li></ul>
  19. 19. Religion <ul><li>Worshipped many gods related to the forces of nature </li></ul><ul><li>Sun God was the most important </li></ul><ul><li>Priests were very powerful members of society </li></ul>
  20. 20. Incan Contributions <ul><li>Engineering – a system of roads that extended over 12,000 miles and included bridges and tunnels </li></ul><ul><li>Temple of the Sun – built in the capital, it was so strong it could withstand the power of major earthquakes </li></ul><ul><li>Agriculture – terrace farming used in mountainous regions </li></ul><ul><li>Communication – Incan government officials kept records by means of a knotted, colored string system called quipus </li></ul><ul><li>Incans also excelled in medicine </li></ul>
  21. 21. Temple of the Sun and Quipus
  22. 22. Spanish Conquistadors <ul><li>Francisco Pizarro – conquered the Incan Empire </li></ul><ul><li>Hernan Cortes – conquered the Aztec Empire </li></ul><ul><li>The Native Mesoamerican population was devastated by diseases brought over by the Europeans </li></ul><ul><li>The Europeans also had superior military technology </li></ul>