Maya, Aztec and Inca
Civilizations
Essential Question
What are the cultural
achievements of the
Ancient Maya?
Timeline
Incas
1200-1500 CE
1600 CE
0
Maya
300-900 CE
Aztecs
1100-1521 CE
The Mayas
• What
geographical
features did the
Mayan lands
include?
• Southern Mexico
(Yucatan
Peninsula), Belize,  Gulf of Mexico to Caribbean Sea
Guatemala, El

Rugged highlands/swamps
Salvador and
Honduras
The Mayas
• What did the
Mayans look like?
• Short with
straight, black
hair, painted
bodies, tattoos,
crossed eyes,
flattened
foreheads
• Why did Mayas tie
objects from their
infants’
foreheads?
• To encourage
their eyes to cross
• Why did some
Mayas tie boards
to their children’s
heads?
• To flatten their
foreheads – this
was a sign of
beauty in their
culture
The Mayas
The Mayas
• What did early Mayas
eat?
• They fished and they
grew maize (corn),
beans, squash,
peppers, avocados,
and papayas
• Pre-Classic: 2,500BC to
AD 250 – fishing
villages/learned to plant
crops
• Classic Era: AD 250 – AD
900 – built cities, pyramid
temples, developed
advanced math and
astronomy and writing
• Post-Classic Era: AD 900 –
1500 – Mayas left their
great cities and scattered
through out countryside
– not sure why – we will
discuss possible reasons
The Mayan Eras
• Largest city - Tikal (in present day Guatemala) – 100,000+ people
The Maya - Tikal
• 2nd Largest city – Copán (in present day Honduras)
• The Great Staircase: 30ft wide, 63 steps, picture writing covers each step
The Maya – Copan
• Chichen Itza – Large observatory tower used by ancient
astronomers and Well of Sacrifice
Mayan Writing
• Borrowed a writing
from Olmecs
• Developed a
system of writing
using pictures
(glyphs) and
symbols
Mayan Books
• Made paper by pounding fibers
from bark of ficus tree into pulp
and glued it together with tree
sap
• When the paper dried they
coated it with white lime
• A Mayan book is called a codex
• Fiber paper/deer hide for covers
• Why did the Spanish destroy
Mayan books?
• Why do you think they thought
they were evil?
Mayan Math
+
=
7 + 3 = 10
=
18 - 7 = 11
+ + =
3 + 12 + 0 - 5 = 10
=
+ 7 + 2- 9 = 0
Mayan Calendar
• The Mayan priest used
their knowledge of
astronomy and math to
develop two accurate
calendars
• One was sacred
(religious), the other was
for planning
• The Mayan Calendar
– solar year of 365 days.
– divided into 18 months of
20 days each, followed by a
five-day period that was
highly unlucky.
– Did the Mayan’s predicted
that the world would end
on December 21, 2012?
The Great Mystery
of the Maya
• Around AD 850/900 the Mayas suddenly left their cities
and were scattered throughout the countryside – Why??
• Some theories for why they did this include:
• Natural Disasters – earthquake, hurricane,
drought
• Disease
• Crop failures/famine (no plow, did not develop
new agriculture methods)
• Peasant rebellion against the priests and
nobles who ruled the cities
• Invaders - Toltecs
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Aztec, Inca, and Maya Civilizations