Pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya and Inca

Essay by pathim02University, Bachelor's April 2012

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Himanshu Patel

HIS 150

Research Paper

Pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya and Inca

The story of the great early human civilizations generally begins with the Vedic Civilization of India, Egyptians and then focuses on the Greeks and the Romans. While these societies were certainly responsible for creating many marvelous things, they were not the only magnificent early cultures. One of them was the Pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya and Inca.

The Maya was a Mesoamerican civilization that occupied the Yucatan peninsula, todays Honduras, and Guatemala. They date back perhaps to the second millennium BC right around the beginning of the European Middle Ages. The Maya reached a pinnacle of sophistication. Their culture was at the peak between 600 and 900AD. Noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas (there are older forms of writings from the Olmecs but not much of it survives, with Mayan writing being the only Mesoamerican writing preserved in quantity), the Mayans evolved the only true written system native to the Americas using pictographs and syllabic elements in the form of texts and codices inscribed on stone, pottery, wood, or highly perishable books made from bark paper.

The Mayans were never a single unified civilization; they were divided into several city states, much like ancient Greece. And yet they had sprawling cities, step pyramids, and a rich, vibrant culture. Their cities were probably living places for the nobles and royals, with the poor living in villages surrounding the capitals. At the center was the temple, the aforementioned step-pyramid that was likely the tallest building around, where every once in a while they'd sacrifice someone to appease the water god.

The Maya had a class society much like the ancient Vedic civilization of India and the Egyptians, except the Egyptians and the...