Aztec and Inca

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The Americas: The
Aztec & the Inca
The Aztecs
Rise of the Aztecs

Aztecs (Mexica) migrate to Lake
Texcoco in central Mexico c.
1325

Founded city of Tenochtitlan in
1325

Empire started in 1434

Aztec kings represented civil
power and served as a
representative of the gods on
Earth
Aztec
Government

City-states ruled by a speaker chosen
from the nobility

The Great Speaker, ruler of
Tenochtitlan, was in effect an emperor


Increasingly considered a living god
Conquered peoples maintained some
autonomy if they paid tribute
Aztec Religion

Aztec maintained traditional
deities of Mesoamerica


128 major deities
Huitzilopochtli (right) was the
Aztec tribal patron and patron
deity of the cult of warfare and
sacrifice
Human Sacrifice

Human sacrifice was a
typical part of
Mesoamerican religion


Aztec expand
practice into a cult
where military
supplied war captives
for sacrifice
Why?

Political purposes

Population control

Cannibal kingdom
Human
Sacrifice
Tenochtitlan

On an island in Lake Texcoco

Aztecs called it the “foundation of
Heaven”

By 1519 had a population of 150,000

Connected by causeways and canals
Tenochtitlan
“The Venice
of the
Americas
Aztec Economy

Agriculture

Food often provided as tribute

Built chinampas

Pochteca was a special merchant class which specialized in long-distance
luxury trade

Cacao beans and gold dust were used as currency; bartering was most
common
Chinampas
Chinampas were man-made floating
islands 17’ long x 100’ to 300’ feet
wide. Aztecs built over 20,000
acres of chinampas.
Chinampas
Aztec Society
Originally
divided into
seven clans
called calpulli
• Calpulli redistributed land,
organized labor gangs & military
units, maintained temples & schools
Eventually a
class of nobility
emerged
• Nobility controlled the priesthood &
military

Women’s primary role was the household

Aztec Society
Women spent six hours a day grinding corn; restricted
women’s rights

Marriages were arranged

Polygamy existed amongst the nobility

Women could inherit property
The Inca
Rise of Inca

Founded by Quechua-speaking
clans, ayllus, living near Cuzco c.
1350

Inca (ruler) Pachacuti expanded
the empire from 1438-1471


Built Machu Picchu
Expansion continued after
Pachacuti’s death
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Conquest &
Religion

Expansion motivated by split
inheritance

Polytheistic


Sun God was the primary god
Influenced by animism

Mountains, rivers, etc. were
considered holy shrines
Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu
Inca
Government

Inca was considered almost a god

Divided empire into four provinces

Developed a bureaucracy run by nobles

Nobility drawn from the ten ayllus

Local rulers maintained their positions

Colonized conquered areas

Relocated some conquered peoples

Unlike Aztecs, not a lot of trade


Inca Economy
Tried to be self-sufficient
Primarily agricultural

Terrace farming & complex irrigation

Over 200 types of potatoes

Inca Socialism

Used forced labor for massive projects

Mita
Terrace Farming
Inca Society

Inca emphasis on military reinforced gender inequality

Women worked in the fields, wove cloth, and cared for the household


Women worshipped fertility deities
Recognize parallel descent

Women passed rights and property to their daughters
Inca Technology

Built a complex system of roads
and bridges

2500 miles of roads

Used a system of runners to carry
messages throughout the empire

Beautiful pottery, cloth, and
metalworking

Quipu

Masonry
Bridges and Roads
Quipu
Inca Metalworking
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