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The Americas on the Eve of Invasion. Shortly after the Olmec civilization vanished, a new civilization arose in the second century BC in the valley of.

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Presentation on theme: "The Americas on the Eve of Invasion. Shortly after the Olmec civilization vanished, a new civilization arose in the second century BC in the valley of."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Americas on the Eve of Invasion

2 Shortly after the Olmec civilization vanished, a new civilization arose in the second century BC in the valley of Mexico. This grand civilization would dominate the culture of the valley of Mexico for almost a millenium and stands as the most significant cultural influence throughout the history of Central American civilizations. This civilization was centered around the city of Teotihuacán. At its peak, Teotihuacán was a city of over one hundred thousand peoplenot only was it the largest city in America, it was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, period. Pyramid of the Sun Teotihuacán was the religious center of Mesoamerica. Its skyline was dominated by two enormous pyramids which the Aztecs called the "Pyramid of the Sun" and the "Pyramid of the Moon," both linked by a broad avenue. It was a planned city of over two thousand structures. While farmers primarily lived in wooden houses, other inhabitants lived in stone houses decorated with paintings and murals and, in some cases, with elaborate drainage systems. Pyramid of the Moon

3 Teotihuacan: The "Camino de los Muertos" from the Pyramid of the Sun It is a city shrouded in mystery. Who were these people? What was daily life like? What gods did they worship? Just as mysterious was its sudden demise. Begining around 700 AD, people simply stopped living in the city. Why they left is anyone's guess. Archaeologists have found evidence that a great fire decimated just about every structure in the city in 700 AD and some argue that the fire was caused by an invading people. Whatever the cause, the city never really recovered from the disaster and all its magnificence came to an end.

4 Postclassical Mesoamerica 1500s the Americas were densely populated. The people were called Indians (mistakenly) because Columbus thought he had landed in the Indies beyond India. The name just stuck. Rich in cultural achievements Continuity of civilization in the Americas in regions Impressive to Europeans Gazing on such wonderful sights, we did not know what to say, or whether what appeared before us was real Bernal Diaz del Castillo

5 Toltecs The Toltecs expanded the cult of Quetzalcoatl, the "Soveriegn Plumed Serpent," and created a mythology around the figure. In Toltec legend, Quetzalcoatl was the creator of humanity and a warrior-god that had been driven from Tula, but would return some day. The Toltecs also originated the Central American ball- game, which was played on a large stone court with a rubber ball. The game was primarily a religious ritual celebrating the victory of god-heroes over the gods of death; as a religious ritual, it involved the human sacrifice of the loser. The post-Classical Toltecs were a conservative culture. For the most part they preserved Teotihuacán traditions. Toltecs conquered large areas controlled by the Maya and settled in these areas; they migrated as far south as the Yucatán peninsula. The culture borne out of this fusion is called the Toltec-Maya, and its greatest center was Chichén Itzá on the very tip of the Yucatan peninsula Teotihuacán was conquered by northern tribes in 700 AD and began to rapidly decline in its influence over the Mexican peoples. For two hundred years following the decline of Teotihuacán, the region had no centralized culture or political control. Beginning around 950, a culture based in northern Mexico at Tula began to dominate Central America. These people were known as the Toltecs. They were a war-like people and expanded rapidly throughout Mexico, Guatemala, and the Yucatán peninsula. At the top of their society was a warrior aristocracy which attained mythical proportions in the eyes of Central Americans long after the demise of their power. Around 1200, their dominance over the region faded.

6 Observatory in Chichén Itzá Chichén Itzá: Chacmool MRCA/CIVAMRCA.HTM Mesoamerican Picture Gallery /rf-ci-4-temple-warrior.htm

7 Aztecs/ Mexica (me-shee-ka) Migrated to Lake Texcoco around 1325 (Mexico) Lake dominated by several tribes and organized into city-states They served as mercenaries because of their military powers. They were disliked and were feared. Their position as mercenaries brought them much wealth and many allies. By 1428 the Aztecs took regional power Aztecs began conquering and created a large empire Conquered people had to pay tribute, surrender lands, or even perform military services. It was said the Aztecs were chosen to serve the gods under their supreme leader POWs became victims for human sacrifice which extended greatly. It was controlled by the ruler and nobles to create fear and power.

8 Aztec Empire

9 Aztec Religion Incorporated Mesoamerican beliefs: human sacrifice and blood letting ceremonies 128 major deities, male and female forms and different manifestations Supported by yearly festivals and ceremonies with penance and sacrifice Fertility and agriculture: (Tlaloc god of rain) Creator deities: great god and goddess that brought the universe into being Cult of warfare and sacrifice: built on Mesoamerican traditions (Toltec). Huitzilopochtli-Aztec tribal patron and old sun god Aztecs revered Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl (ancient god of civilization), but Huitzilopochtli was the paramount god. Saw him as the sun god and warrior of the daytime. Because the gods had sacrificed themselves for humankind the nourishment the god needed most was that which was most precious: human life in the form of hearts and blood. Continued older blood letting ceremonies where elite would draw blood from lips, ears, and penises

10 We can successfully reconstruct Aztec human sacrifice with a high level of accuracy. Some sacrifices were very minimal, involving the sacrifice of a slave to a minor god, and some were very spectacular, involving hundreds or thousands of captives. Aztec history claims that Ahuitzotl ( ), who preceded Mocteuzma II as king, sacrificed 20,000 people after a campaign in Oaxaca ("O-a-sha-ka"). No matter what the size of the sacrifice, it was always performed the same way. The victim was held down by four priests on an altar at the top of a pyramid or raised temple while the officiant made an incision below the rib cage and pulled out the living heart. The heart was then burned and the corpse was pushed down the steep steps; a very brave or noble victim was carried down the steps. The most brutal of human sacrifices were those dedicated to the god Huehueteotl. Sacrificial victims were drugged and then thrown into a fire at the top of the ceremonial platform. Before they were killed by the fire, they were dragged out with hooks and their living hearts were pulled out and thrown back into the fire. While human sacrifice was the most dramatic element of Aztec sacrifice, the most common form of sacrifice was voluntary blood-letting which occurred at every religious function. Such blood-letting was tied to rank: the higher one was in social or priestly rank, the more blood one had to sacrifice. There was an urgency to all this sacrifice. The Aztec believed that the world was controlled by divine forces that were in constant conflict and opposition to one another. The universe was poised between conflicting forces of creation and destruction; human beings could, in part, influence this balance through the practice of sacrifice.

11 A tzompantli is illustrated to the right of a depiction of an Aztec temple dedicated to the deity Huitzilopochtli; from Juan de Tovar's 1587 manuscript, also known as the Ramírez Codex.HuitzilopochtliRamírez Codex The Wall of Skulls, Tenochtitlan

12 World Cycles The Aztecs like the Mayans had a cyclical view of history. They believed that the world had been destroyed four times and created five times. They were a part of the 5 th creation and the world was to be destroyed by earthquakes soon. The Aztec calendars correlated to the ends of these cycles. Every 52 years the world could possibly end. This was the time the gods could decided to destroy the world and all its people. So it was a time of important religious ceremonies: the new fire ceremony where all religious alters were destroyed, furniture and possessions burned, and alter fires put out. If on the last day of the ceremony a certain constellation appeared then the gods had decided to allow the world to continue. The next day was a celebration that included human sacrifice, blood letting, and feasting.

13 Tenochtitlan: Aztecs

14 Aztec Legend The Aztec were hunter-gatherers living on a small island in northwestern Mexico, when their god, Huitzilopochtli (wee tsee loh POCH tlee), told them to leave their homeland. He said: Aztecs/aztecs1.htm

15 "Go where the cactus grows, on which the eagle sits happily…there we shall wait, there we shall meet a number of tribes and with our arrow or with our shield we shall conquer them." They journeyed through deserts and over steep mountains.

16 There was no time to grow food, so they ate fly eggs and snakes to survive. There was no time to weave cloth, so they wore animal skins for clothing. They journeyed through the lands of tribes that were larger and stronger. These tribes looked down on the Aztec, calling them Dog People because of their barbarian ways. They did not allow the Aztec to settle. Besides, the Aztec still had not seen the sign.

17 After 200 years of wandering, the Aztec came upon the promised sign. They found the eagle eating the snake on a cactus on a small, swampy island in Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. There they started to build a powerful empire. They named their new home Tenochtitlan,(tay nawch tee TLAN) " Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus." No one knows exactly why the Aztec came to the Valley of Mexico. Perhaps they liked the valley's good soil, or the valley's mild temperatures.


19 The Aztec built fancy palaces, temples, and government storehouses out of stone and brick.


21 Slaves were the lowest of the Aztec society. Many slaves were captives of war. Others were Aztec who had committed crimes or who had not repaid debts.

22 Because the Aztec lived by farming, the two most important gods in the Aztec world were Tlaloc (tla LOHK), the god of rain, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and of war who could destroy the world whenever he wanted.

23 The Aztec held many religious ceremonies throughout the year where priests offered sacrifices to the gods to make their crops grow. Human sacrifice was common. When the Temple of the Sun in Tenochtitlan was dedicated to the sun and rain gods, the Aztec sacrificed as many as 10,000 people

24 Aztec Economy Aztecs formed the city of Tenochtitlan and it was self- sufficient because the Aztecs continued to use a Mesoamerican tradition, chinampas or floating gardens which they build on Lake Texcoco. They were reeds that had mud on top where seeds were planted. Water could reach all the plants and they were very productive. As the empire grew so did the demand for agricultural products. Soon the farming from Tenochtitlan couldnt support the Aztec people alone so much tribute was collected from conquered peoples. Had periodic markers were goods were usually bartered (cocao and gold dust sometimes currency). Pochteca controlled luxury items: plumes of birds and cacao All tribute collected by the state was used as it saw fit. Amount of tribute depended on if the people tried to fight. If they did they paid more! Tribute was food, slaves, and people for sacrifice!

25 Society Aztecs were divided among calpulli or kinship clans. Over time the various calipulli groups had an economic factor where they practiced a specific trade. Over time the calpulli became more divided between commoners and nobles. Specific families making up the nobility. The calpulli were also arranged then by rank. Boys went to school. Pilli-nobility and macehualles-commoners Elite (kings), merchant class, serfs, and slaves Slaves: POWs, criminals, sold by parents, or even sell yourself Serfs worked on private lands of the nobility, but werent slaves! Women-subordinate to men and be virtuous and moral. Not permitted in government positions. Few were priestess at a few temples. Believed if they died in childbirth that a women was ensured eternity in the highest heaven like nobles who died acquiring sacrifice victims (flowery death) Nobles practiced polygamy whereas peasants did not. Women required hr of work a week to prepare maize. No wheel or mill to grind like in the Mediterranean and Europe!

26 Laws Aztec laws were simple and harsh. Almost every crime, from adultery to stealing, was punished by death and other offenses usually involved severe corporal punishment or mutilation (the penalty for slander, for instance, was the loss of one's lips). This was not a totalitarian state, however; there was a strong sense of community among the Aztecs and these laws, harsh as they seem, they were supported by the community rather than an autocratic judiciary. Each city-state was ruled by a speaker chosen from the nobility. The Great speaker ruled Tenochtitlan. He was an emperor. Over time he was seen as a living god. One couldnt look directly into his eyes and had to throw dirt upon their heads as a sign of humility. He ruled with a prime minister (usually related to him). They also had a governing council, but it had little powers. As the Aztecs expanded the Great Speakers became an absolute ruler. Local ruler kept their positions and collected tribute and provided labor when necessary. Revolts were ruthlessly put down by the Aztecs. (Why was Aztec government successful?)

27 Conclusion for Aztecs Increasing social stresses b/c the rise of the nobles, collection of tribute, and system of terror (sacrifices) imposed on subjects caused weaknesses and rebellions. This problems eventually led to the Aztec collapse. The Aztecs continued Mesoamerican civilization from the classical era into the postclassical era. What Europeans discovered when they arrived was not the culmination of Native civilization, but rather a militarized afterglow.

28 PRE Inca Moche 600:dominated north coastal region of Peru. Didnt establish a formal empire. The Moche (mo-che) and Chimu (chee-moo)(who followed) cultivated maize, quinoa, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes with massive irrigation works. Produced coca at high elevations and it was used in ritual. Got water for irrigation sometime from 75 miles away…established hydraulic works maintained by the commoners. They were also herders and llamas were important. Highly stratified culture to support the labor demands for the irrigation systems. This social distinctions can been seen in their burial practices. Decline because of earthquakes, the changing of the Moche river, flooding, drought. In the Andean highlands at the same time of the Moche were the Tiwanaku and Wari. Had intensive agriculture activities from lakes similar to chinampas of Mesoamerica. Fell perhaps due to military conflict? Taken over by the Inca

29 Inca: Twantinsuyu In the early 15 th century the Incas were one of many competing military powers in the southern highlands, and area of limited political significance after the collapse of the Wari. The Incas were initially organized into chiefdoms. Strong and resourceful leaders eventually consolidated political authority They lived in Cuzco and had defeated their neighbors by Under their ruler (or inca) Pachacuti, they launched a series of military alliances and campaigns that brought the entire area from Cuzco to the shores of Lake Titicaca under their control. Continued their expansion and even conquered the northern coastal kingdom of Chimor! They controlled land from Ecuador to Chili miles long

30 Inca map

31 Machu Picchu

32 Conquest and Religion Cult of the ancestors: Deceased rulers were mummified and then treated as intermediaries with the gods, they were paraded in public during festivals, offered food and gifts, and consulted by oracles on important matter. After the kingdom of Chimor was conquered by the Incas they adopted the practice of split inheritance. Whereby all political power and titles of the ruler went to the successor. However, all the former rulers palaces, wealth, land, and possession went to his male descendants to use to support the cult of the dead incas mummy for eternity. To ensure their own cult, each new inca needed to secure land and wealth which came typically with conquest. Hence the need for conquering! Like the Aztecs, the Incas believed in many gods with the sun god being the highest deity. Incas believed that the gods and their rulers shared the obligations of the shepherd to his flock like The Lord is my Shepherd because of their pastoral focus.

33 Human Sacrifice Capacocha: the Inca ceremony of human sacrifice. Little is known of this secret ceremony, however it was a very important ritual that involved sacrificing children. They were elaborately buried in the mountains and then worshipped. This was the ultimate sacrifice the Incas could make to the mountain gods. Sacrifices were done because of an important event: epidemic, disease, drought, earthquake, or death of the inca. The honor brought much to the family and immortalized the child. The sacrificial children had to be perfect and beautiful. After the child was chosen then they would go to Cuzco to meet the emperor and feast would be held. A platform was built on the mountain summit while the celebration continued. Retaining walls were built on the summit with burial artifacts left inside. On the day of the sacrifice the child was fed corn alcohol to easy their minds and help them through the process of death (cold and high attitude). Most mummies have skull fractures which many believed were done by the priests so that the children wouldnt have to suffer from exposure.

34 Inca boy Inca girl The children for sacrifice were chosen among the chiefdoms children

35 Rule Created a great bureaucracy to govern the empire. It was divided into 4 provinces with each province under a governor. Then these provinces were divided again. All nobles played an important part in governing Also, after conquering a people they would incorporate local rulers, curacas, into their imperial system. They rewarded those that fought with them and treated the conquered peoples well. Incas spread their language, Quechua to unify the empire. They also built many roads and bridges. In areas that were conquered new goods and irrigation systems were put in by Incas something the locals couldnt have done without their help.

36 Social Structure The social structure of the Incas was extremely inflexible. At the top was the Inca who exercised, theoretically, absolute power. Below the Inca was the royal family which consisted of the Inca's immediate family, concubines, and all his children. This royal family was a ruling aristocracy. Each tribe had tribal heads; each clan in each tribe had clan heads. At the very bottom were the common people who were all grouped in squads of ten people each with a single "boss." The social unit, then, was primarily based on cooperation and communality. This guaranteed that there would always be enough for everyone; but the centralization of authority meant that there was no chance of individual advancement (which was not valued). It also meant that the system depended too much on the centralized authority; once the invading Spanish seized the Inca and the ruling family, they were able to conquer the Inca territories with lightening speed. Conquered people were required to pay a labor tax (mita ) to the state; with this labor tax, the Incas built an astonishing network of roads and terraced farmlands throughout the Andes. At its height, the Inca civilization crashed into the European expansion. In 1521, Herman Cortés conquered the Aztecs; this conquest inspired Francisco Pizzarro to invade the Incas in He only had two hundred soldiers, barely enough to walk the dog. However, he convinced the ruler of the Incas, Atahualpa, to come to a conference at the city of Cajamarca. When Atahualpa arrived, Pizzarro kidnapped him and killed several hundred of his family and followers. Atahualpa tried to ransom himself, but Pizzarro tried to use him as a puppet ruler. When that failed, Pizzarro simply executed him in Over the next thirty years the Spanish struggled against various insurrections, but, with the help of native allies, they finally gained control of the Inca empire in the 1560's.

37 In return for helping locals, the Inca demanded loyalty and tribute Took land and labor from subject peoples as tribute They had to work for the state, mita (labor turns). Women had to produce woven cloth for the nobles and religious ceremonies Some women were taken as concubines for the inca. Women could pass property to daughter.The empire had the power to select the most beautiful young women to serve the temples or to be given to the inca. Yanas-servants, artisans, and workers for the Inca nobility Members of the nobility were very privileged. They held high positions and had different dress and customs. The Spaniards called them orejones or big ears. A system of mulitple royal marriage created rival claims to the position of inca and created the possibility of a civil war. Which is where the Incas were when the Spanish first arrived.

38 Of all the urbanized people of the Americas, the Incas were the most brilliant engineers. The Huari-Tiahuanaco performed amazing feats of fitting gigantic stones together, and the Nazca designed mind-numbingly huge earth-drawings that still exist today. But the Inca built massive forts with stone slabs so perfectly cut that they didn't require mortarand they're still standing today in near-perfect condition. They built roads through the mountains from Ecuador to Chile with tunnels and bridges. They also built aqueducts to their cities as the Romans had. And of all ancient peoples, they were the most advanced in medicine and surgery. Genius: land and water management, road system, statecraft, architecture, public building, terrace farming, metalworking, weaving, pottery, quipu (knotted strings), bridges, stonecutting


40 Inca and Aztec Both built on former classical civilizations Both represented the success of an imperial and militaristic organizations Both based on intensive agricultural organization with surplus (tribute) being controlled by the state. Both empires the kinship-based institutions were transformed into a social hierarchy with the nobility being the personnel of the state. (ayllu and calpulli) As long as sovereignty recognized and tribute paid the local maintained their ways See them as variations of similar patterns and process!!! Sedentary agriculture is the most important. (farmers are settled in once place) Differences Climate and geographic differences Trade and markets much more developed in Aztecs Aztecs had a written language

41 Other Peoples There were many other natives that lived in the Americas outside of the rule of the Aztecs or Incas. Think about all the various tribes that called Canada and America home. The population of the Americas used to be at about 8.4 million but has changed as research get better. Most people think it was actually about 67 million (a big difference). Check out the chart on page 252 Similar kinds of chieftainship based on sedentary agriculture found in other areas too Combination of farming with hunting and fishing Slash and burn farming led to periodic village movement Strong class divisions Hunter and gathering groups, no nomadic herders though Rich religious and artistic life Limited technology Saw themselves a part of the ecological system and not in control of it. Few large state systems, mostly kin-based societies

42 Cahokia in Illinois SHARE Great Serpent Mound: Adena effigy mound In Ohio Great Serpent Mound, near Peebles, Ohio. Richard A. Cooke/Corbis

43 Conclusions By the end of the 15th century 2 major imperial systems dominated civilizations in Mesoamerica and the Andes Built on classical civilizations and focused on military Fragile due to internal problems and limitation with technology Broad range of societies from empires to hunting and gathering groups Their isolation kept them from ironworking, wheel, domestication of animals, world religions, and immunity to Afro-Eurasian diseases 1492 forever changed the Americas…what would have happened if the Americas remained isolated?

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