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Ancient Mesoamerica.

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Presentation on theme: "Ancient Mesoamerica."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ancient Mesoamerica

2 The Olmec, 1200-400 BCE 125 miles long and 50 miles wide
Active volcanoes and earthquakes Tropical lowlands and scrub forests Tutla Mountains break it into microclimates, making trade profitable

3 The beginnings of large-scale organization
Not much metal, but lots of minerals--obsidian, jade, and fertile soil So that means lots of plants for domestication, like maize, squash, beans Organize people not for rivers, but for drainage and raising fields out of wetlands

4 the mother culture Established foundation of Mesoamerican cultures to follow Stone architecture, calendars, writing, magnetic compasses, city design Cities oriented around stone temples, decorated with serpents, condors, and Jaguar men, and rubber ball courts

5 Shamanism and were-jaguars
Shamans are those who assume the powers of familiar animals; combine intellect and power Usually jaguars if you are an Olmec Jaguars were associated with rain and fertility; rituals of cracking whips (thunder) and babies’ tears

6 center of regional trade
Ceramics and were- babies Colossal heads, rolled down mountains on logs and then rafts

7 Birth of Writing Oldest date recorded from 31 BCE
Base 20; bars are 5, dots are singles Followed soon after by ritual defacing and destruction of monuments

8 The Maya, c CE People of the Jaguar

9 Maya Agriculture Soil in Mesoamerican lowlands was thin and quickly lost its fertility “Swidden” agriculture--slash and burn The Maya built terraces to retain silt Major crops: maize, cotton, and cacao, which they used as money

10 Olmec influence Maize agriculture, as in Popul Vuh, the creation myth
Ceremonial centers with temple pyramids Calendar Ball games (Hochtli) Blood-letting rituals Larger area and larger cities

11 Tikal Population of 50,000 from a surrounding area of 500,000
Ceremonial, not commercial centers Temple of the Jaguar

12 The Underworld, Place of Awe
Priests officiated at ceremonies to keep demons and spooky creatures locked inside the underworld, where they belonged.

13 A civilization based on Maize
Corn God who undergoes birth, death, and resurrection.

14 The Legend of Mirrors Mirrors were avenues of communication with the gods Warriors wore mirrors on their backs so that any enemies trying to sneak up on them would be vulnerable to a demon snatch from the underworld

15 Temples and observatories
5 15

16 Birds, serpents, and alignment with the universe
At sunset on the spring and autumn equinoxes, shadows create the form of a snake slithering down the stairway of the pyramid until it reaches one of the snakeheads at the base The zenith passage is The path the sun takes on these days—from sunrise through zenith, to sunset. At equator it coincides with equinoxes. Each of the 4 stairways has 91 steps + 1 step on the top = 365 6 16

17 Maya Calendar A “long calendar” solar year of 365 days governed the agricultural cycle A ritual year of 260 days divided into twenty “months” of thirteen days each 52-year cycles, ending December 20, 2012, when the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in 26,000 years.

18 Huitzilopochtli Saves his People, 1325
The Aztecs were a poor, ragged, despised people who survived on vermin, snakes, and stolen food. Their war god, Huitzilopochtli, told them to go to the swamps of Lake Texcoco, known today as Mexico City. Hummingbird God of war; feather helmet and blue serpent weapon

19 This is the central medallion of the Mexican flag
Tenochtitlan Huitzilopochtli told the Aztec leader Tenoch to look for an eagle perched on a cactus, growing from a rock or cave surrounded by water. At that location, they were to build their city and honor Huitzilopochtli with human sacrifices. The city they built was called Tenochtitlán, the city of Tenoch. This is the central medallion of the Mexican flag

20 Chinampas 25,000 acres of chinampas (floating gardens) by the time the Spanish arrived Woven from reeds, plastered with mud, anchored by cypress roots, fertilized by night soil. Also attracted fish and waterbirds

21 Aztec Empire The Aztecs were not good neighbors
They required 20,000 captives a year for sacrifice. War was about captives, not killing

22 Tribute The Aztec also required lots of tribute, like animal skins, feathers, cotton, food, and so on. So, when the Spanish showed up, they had lots of help from the Aztecs’ enemies.

23 Moctezuma II, Seventh and greatest ruler, his name meant “Our Angry Looking God, He Who Frowned Like a Lord” Originally a priest, which is why he knew about Quetzelcoatl Also a great soldier

24 Quetzelcoatl As a priest, Moctezuma knew the prophesies about Quetzelcoatl, a tall, bearded, fair-skinned god, returning from the east. So when he heard that some fishermen had seen “floating mountains” and the people disembarking from them were tall, fair-skinned and bearded, he was reluctant to fight.

25 the Spanish were offered gold and feathers
The Aztec thought they were nuts to go for the gold when they had the chance of scoring some quetzal feathers

26 Cortez, 1512 Spanish couldn’t get over how clean, large, beautiful, and sweet-smelling the city was (Aztecs raised flowers) This is a map Cortez drew from memory in 1515

27 Why did 600 Spanish win against 1.2 million Aztec?
They brought disease with them (maybe smallpox, maybe the common cold) that weakened the natives; 90% of Mesoamerica’s inhabitants would die in the first 100 years. Horses (the Aztec thought at first the men and the horses were one beast). Gunpowder and Spanish fighting to kill, not to capture. The Aztecs had lots of enemies that helped.

28 Spanish horrified by sacrifice
Systematically destroyed all aspects of Aztec culture. Only four books (codices) left

29 The Inca: Children of the Sun

30 The Incan Empire

31 Living on the edge of the world
The Inca lived in the Andes Mountains, the edge of a tectonic plate Bounded to the west by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by the Amazon basin. Extreme temperatures and a marginal ecosystem make trade between zones necessary

32 The Incan Empire Beginning in the 1300s, the Inca moved down from their Andean homeland to conquer the neighboring lands and peoples along the Pacific coast of South America. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s, the Inca Empire was at the height of its power. It stretched some 2,500 miles—the approximate distance from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles, California—and incorporated more than 12 million people speaking 20 different languages. BUT: no horse, written word, wheel

33 Incan Roads and chasqui

34 The Incan Empire: 40,000 Inca, 12.5 million subjects
Once they accepted the Inca gods, subjects were allowed to worship in their own way and keep some of their local customs and powers. To ensure loyalty to the Sapa Inca, the newly conquered people's most important religious objects or statues, huacas, were taken to Cuzco. There they were worshipped and cared for, but since they were in the Incas' power, the conquered people would not dare rebel against their new rulers. [from PBS website on The Conquistadors]

35 Religious beliefs The Inca worshipped Inti, the God of the Sun. Each night he swam under the earth to reappear the next morning in the east. He was married to his sister, the moon. The stars were guardians; they were arranged in constellations shaped like the objects they guarded. The Pleiades, which the Inca called the Storehouse, guarded seeds and so were especially honored. The Inca were also animists, who called specially shaped objects worthy of worship huaca. They sacrificed children and llama to the huaca. Finally, they honored their ancestors, whom they mummified.

36 The Sapa Inca According to Inca beliefs, the Sapa Inca was father to all of the men of the empire and husband to all of the women. Because the Sapa Inca was the son of the Sun, he was married to his sister, the Coya, who was also considered to be descended from the Sun. One of their sons would be selected to be the next emperor. The Sapa Inca enjoyed many privileges. He lived in his own royal palace in Cuzco and was worshipped with absolute devotion and obedience. The Sapa Inca wore a headdress of valuable vicuna- wool tassels across his forehead. Every day he wore a finely- woven garment – but only once! Each outfit was then stored for a year, and at a special ceremony all of the clothing was burned. When the Sapa Inca went out of his palace, he rode on a litter with runners going in front to announce his arrival. When visitors met with him, they were required to take off their sandals and wear symbolic burdens on their backs. They were probably kept behind special screens and forbidden to look at the Sapa Inca. [from PBS site on the Conquistadors]

37 The Life of the People Everybody, regardless of gender or age, worked all day. Two-thirds of what they made went to the government but there were no rebellions and no discontent. The unconditional obedience of the masses was due to chewing the leaves of coca, which made people the perfect workers–they hardly ate or slept but felt satisfied, even happy. However, the narcotic also led to premature aging and a physical and mental breakdown. Then came an agonizing death. 

38 Llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs, yum, yum
Llamas and alpacas were very valuable to the Incas. Raised for thousands of years before the rise of the Inca Empire, the Incas had huge herds, which they used for fertilizer, fuel, sacrifices, meat, leather, needles, flutes, and beads. Llamas were also used for pack animals. The coarse hair of the llama was woven to make sacks, heavy blankets, and ropes. Alpacas had softer wool, which was woven into clothing.

39 Pizarro—what follows is adopted from the PBS website
Francisco Pizarro made his first voyage to the New World in November After skirmishes with natives in Panama, he returned to Spain empty-handed. Pizarro's second voyage (November 1526 to late 1527) was much larger, with 160 men and several horses carried in two ships. After some initial probing, Pizarro's expedition split with Bartolomé Ruiz, the pilot, taking half the command. While sailing off the coast of what is now Ecuador, Ruiz made first contact with the Incas. Aboard a balsa trading raft with a huge triangular cotton sail were 20 Inca crew and passengers. The Spanish boarded the vessel and, to their delight, saw many pieces of silver and gold, precious stones and intricately woven fabrics. Ruiz kept three of the Inca to be trained as interpreters. Through sign language, the captives told him that their gold came from a land far to the south, a land of wonders. As with Cortes and the Aztec, Pizarro’s men had an unexpected weapon— smallpox. It killed the Inca and plunged his country into civil war. Pizarro returned to Toledo to report to the Spanish monarchs, who granted him Peru. Three years later, in 1532, Pizarro returned again with 160 men.

40 Cuzco, the Navel of the World
The main temple in Cuzco had golden walls and golden threads woven into the thatched roof. In the temple courtyard was a golden garden. Everything inside it was made of gold-golden maize plants, golden clods of dirt, golden grass, and a life-size herd of 20 llamas and their shepherds, also made of gold!

41 The End of the Inca One of Pizarro’s priests explained that the Spanish ruler was a friend of God and called upon the Inca to renounce their gods. When Atahuallpa asked the priest what authority he had for his belief, the friar told him it was all written in the book he was holding. The Inca then said: "Give me the book so that it can speak to me." Atahuallpa held the book next to his ear trying to listen to its pages. At last he asked: "Why doesn't the book say anything to me?" And he threw it on to the ground with a haughty and disdainful gesture. Father Vicente shouted that the Indians were against the Christian faith and gave the order to attack. The Spanish emerged with their guns from the porticoes around the square and fired in to the massed crowds of unarmed people. They held him for a king’s ransom of gold; the Incas thought the Spanish must eat gold because they loved it so much Then they killed him anyway.


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