Civilizations of the Americas

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The Mayan, Aztec, and Inca civilizations were the largest empires in the lands we now call Latin America. The Mayans, the oldest of these three great civilizations, built their empire in what is now southern Mexico and Central America. Mayan civilization had collapsed when the Aztecs built huge pyramids to their gods. The Aztecs built well-organized cities and developed a writing system. The Incans created a road system to connect their empire in the Andes Mountains. They also developed an irrigation system and their own language.

The Mayans and Aztecs created accurate calendars and the Incas practiced brain surgery. All three of these cultures were governed by a hereditary king. In addition to these three civilizations, there were many smaller tribes and civilizations that inhabited the area we now call Latin America. These accomplishments established them as advanced societies during their time.

The Mayan civilization wasn’t one empire, but rather various groups of people with common cultural backgrounds.

Maya writing was composed of recorded inscriptions on stone and wood and used within architecture. In both the priesthood and the ruling class, nepotism was apparently the prevailing system under which new members were chosen. Primogeniture was the form under which new kings were chosen as the king passed down his position to his son.

A human sacrifice was then offered at the time of a new king's ceremony. To be a king, one must have taken a captive in a war and that person is then used as the victim in this ceremony. The art of the Mayans, is a reflection of their lifestyle and culture. The art was composed of descriptions and paintings upon paper and plaster, carvings in wood and stone, clay and stucco models, and terra cotta figurines from molds. The technical process of metal working was also highly developed but as the resources were scarce, they only created ornaments in this field.

The Aztecs were an advanced and prosperous civilization who built beautiful structured cities. The Aztecs were culturally developed in music, arts, crafts, and the sciences. Music played an important role in Aztec religious rituals for worshiping their many gods. Its empire had an elaborate leadership and society that consisted of four classes, the nobles, serfs, commoners and slaves. The Aztecs believed in many gods, whom they paid tribute to every day of their lives. Human sacrifices, as well as animal were a big part of Aztec religion. They used sacrifice as a means of satisfying their gods when they believed that they were angry. When an individual was sacrificed they would climb to the top of the pyramid, stretch out over a convex stone, and then the priest would cut out the heart using a knife. The number of sacrifices that were performed often depended on whether or not they were in a drought or not. If the harvesting was good they did not sacrifice many people, however if there was a draught hundreds of people could be sacrificed.

The Incan empire upheld very organized civilization. The Inca society was arranged by a strict hierarchical structure. To improve their empire, the Incans formed their own language and religion. Since population was increasing and the organization they built enormous fortresses on top of steep mountains that helped them to see their enemies and defend themselves.

Each of these three civilizations, advanced similarly in their developments. The Mayans were an advanced group of people who made much advancement in math and astronomy, which they used to calculate an accurate calendar. The ancient Mayans were a well developed society with an accurate calendar, skilled architects, artisans, extensive traders and hunters. They are known to have developed medicine and astronomy as well.

Most of the Aztec advances in science were in the area of astronomy. Their most prominent accomplishment was the building of a stone calendar. The Aztecs made scientific advances in the area of medicine as well as the Mayans. The Incas had no written language but they communicated using strings and beads that messengers carried. The Incas created a road system that eventually worked against them as the Spanish were able to move and obtain control quickly. Overall each of these civilizations created and still influence w hat is today, “America”.

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