Lecture 08 - Lone Star College System

Lecture 08
Central & South America
The Peopling of the Americas
Migrated across the Bering Strait
Living in the New World at least 15,000 years ago
Reached tip of South America by 10,000 B.C.
First Americans were hunters and gatherers
Agriculture dates back at least 8,000 years
•Cultivation of maize paved the way for the first civilizations
Early Civilizations in Central America
•Intensive agriculture
•La Venta
•Class society
America’s First Metropolis
First major Mesoamerica city, c.3000 B.C.E. to 800 C.E
Location: North of present day Mexico City
City dominated by the Pyramid of the Sun
Extensive trading network
City dwellings of stucco
Economic base was agriculture
The Maya
Olmec civilization
Yucatan Peninsula
Slash and burn cultivation to swamp agriculture
Emergence of small city-states: Tikal and Copán
Political Structures:
King, aristocrats (priests, scribes, sculptors, painters), and small middle
class (traders and artisans)
Majority of population were farmers - around 3 million
Copán’s grand palace
Division of labor
Noblewomen played important roles in political and religious life: Pacal’s
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Human sacrifice
City dominated by central pyramid
Ball game
Mayan Hieroglyphs and Calendars
Sophisticated writing system
Spanish destroyed many of the books
Mayan calendar required understanding of astronomical events and
Kept records of astronomical events
Mystery of Mayan Decline
Collapse about 8th or 9th centuries
Possible reasons
Over-cultivation, long drought
Cities like Tikal and Palenque abandoned
Some urban centers survived and prospered:
Uxmal and Chichen Itza
New urban centers on Yucatan
Migrations of the Toltecs under Kukulcan
Some believe the migration under Kukulcan is linked to the story of
Mayan Temple at Tikal
The Aztecs
Called Aztec because of their legendary homeland Aztlán, migrated to Valley of
Mexico in 12th C
By 15 C, dominated entire region
Established capital at Tenochtitlán
Collection of semiautonomous territories
Patron god, Huitzilopochtli, became guiding deity
The Valley of Mexico under Aztec Rule
Politics and Social Structures
Monarch’s power both divine and secular
Chosen from the royal family
Advised by a small council of lords
Hereditary nobility
Served in military, government bureaucracy, or priesthood
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Calpulli -- kinship group headed by an elected chief
Own temples and schools
Often members performed a particular function
Farmland held in common
Gender roles
Male children trained for war
Women did the work at home, raised children, and wove
Women not equal to men, but had more legal rights than
Old World civilizations
women of
Classes not rigidly stratified
Land of the Feathered Serpent: Aztec Religion and Culture
Had more than 100 deities
Some were nature spirits: Tlaloc - the rain god
Some were patron deities: Huitzilopochtli – the symbol of the people
The supreme deity: Ometeotl – remote
Other deities had direct impact: Quetzalcoatl – represents the forces of
creation, virtue, learning and culture
Fatalistic religion
Art and sculpture
Religious significance
Two massive pyramids in the center of Tenochtitlán to the gods
Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc
Artisans worked in stone, gold, and silver
Writing based on hieroglyphs
Destruction of Aztec Civilization
Hernán Cortés, 1519, invasion of Mexico
Moctezuma held captive
Cortés was aided by native groups hostile to the Aztecs, especially the
Defeat of the Aztecs
Disease brought by the Europeans swept the population
The First Civilizations in South America
Andes Mountains
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Northern Peru
•Capital city dominated by two adobe pyramids
•Talented artisanship
•Irrigation system
•Effects of El Niño
Kingdom of Chimor
•Successors of the Moche in the Moche River valley
•Elaborate irrigation system
The Inkan Empire about 1500 A.D.
Campaign of conquest
Boundaries extended under Topa Inka and Huayna Inka to Ecuador,
central Chile, and the edge of the Amazon basin
The Four Quarters: Inkan Politics and Society
Empire called Tahuantinsuyu: “The world of four quarters”
Inkan Culture
Built on war with an army of 200,000 men
Quipu, knotted strings for record keeping
Conquest of the Inka
Machu Picchu
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