Comparing Civilizations

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The Mayan civilization is a historical Mesoamerican civilization which extended across present-day Guatemala, the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. The Maya civilization lasted about 3,000 years and featured a written language, architecture, a well-ordered social class system, agriculture, art, the development of a calendar, mathematics, trade and a well-developed religious system. They were skilled as farmers, weavers, and potters. There are around thirty different indigenous Mayan languages although most people spoke Spanish also. Around 900 A.D., the Mayan society started to decline, and around 1200 A.D., it finally fell. The reasons for the collapse of this civilization are still a mystery today, although some theories have been formed such as warfare, population growth, soil exhaustion, drought, and the attempt to increase agriculture.

The Aztecs came from the remote north, probably around the early 13th century. They called themselves the Mexica, which Mexico is named after.

This empire controlled much of Mesoamerica. The capital city of the Aztecs was at Tenochtitlan-Tlatlelco, what is Mexico City today. They were a civilization with a rich mythology and cultural heritage. The most important god in their society was Quetzalcoatl, who was a feathered serpent. He represented the forces of creation, virtue, learning, and culture. Human sacrifice was a common element of Aztec sacrifice, with the most common form being blood-letting which occurred at every religious function. There were nobles and commoners. The commoners had to wear plain, rough clothes and were farmers, fishermen, laborers. The nobles were very wealthy and wore elaborate and brightly colored clothing. Like the Mayans, the Aztecs developed a true system of writing and a calendar.

The Incan empire was founded by Pizarro in 1532 and its empire stretched 2600 miles from Ecuador to Chile with a population in the millions. The capital was Cuzco.