I. Questions of periodization A. Nature and causes of changes in the world history framework leading up to 600 C. E. – 1450 as a period


VI. Social, cultural, economic, and political patterns in the Amerindian world



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VI. Social, cultural, economic, and political patterns in the Amerindian world

A. Maya, Aztec, Inca

Background

a. Earliest Meso-American state was the Omecs – 1500-500 BCE

1. Foundation for basic cosmology of later Mesoamerican religions

2. Other foundations

a. pyramid mounds surrounded by plaza

b. elaborate, public religious ceremonies

c. large stone sculptures

d. solar calendar

e. network of trade routes

1. Social

a. Maya


1. Kings, priests, hereditary nobility at top of social pyramid

2. Merchants relatively high status

3. Majority of people peasants or slaves

a. Similar to most agricultural societies

b. Aztec

1. Nomadic people, Mexicas, migrated through Mexico

2. Stratified

a. Classes of nobles, peasants and slaves

b. Organized into clans – calpulli

3. Women


a. Died in childbirth honored similar to men dying in battle

b. talent for weaving honored

c. politically subordinate

d. could inherit property and will it to heirs

c. Inca

1. Women – wives domestic servants

a. Peasant women – weavers, farmers, child rearers

b. Option of religious life – serve in temples of gods


d. Generalities

2. Cultural

a. Maya

1. Pyramid builders – like Egyptians

a. Chichen Itza – similar to Egyptian pyramids/ziggurat

b. Several ball courts

i. Ritual sport

2. Wrote using hieroglyphics

3. Religion

a. Divided their cosmos into three parts

i. Humans middle level

ii. Between heavens and the underworld

b. Gods created humans out of maize (corn)

c. Gods maintained agricultural cycle for honors, sacrifices, bloodletting ritual

d. Warfare has religious significance

i. Days of ritual precede battle

ii. King and nobility actively participate in battle

iii. Purpose to acquire slaves - No large animals, had to use manpower

4. Golden age – 500 > 850 CE

a. Produced many great works of scholarship

b. Developed complex calendar

i. Mayan calendar based on zero

c. Architecture and city planning best researched – ruins still exist

i. Tikal – most important political center – 100,000 people

b. Aztec

1. Religion – built great pyramids as temples

a. Worshipped many of the same gods as other Central American peoples

i. Key deities – jaguar god/feathered serpent (Quetzalcoatl)

ii. Sun God – Huitziopochtli – giant hummingbird

iii. Reappearance of sun based on worship

iv. Sun drew its energy from human blood

v. Human sacrifice on extremely large scale

a. Victims prisoners of war as well as ordinary citizens

b. 20,000 per year killed

c. Inca

1. Method of communication – 13,000 > 19,000 miles of roads

2. Cities – Machu Picchu – great fortress/temple complex

3. Religion

a. Worshipped number of deities

i. Foremost – sun god

ii. Temple of the Sun – designed in shape of puma


  1. Interior lined with gold

  2. staffed by thousands of acllas “virgins of the sun”

d. Generalities

1. High level of situation without developing alphabet/written language

2. Financial records kept through series of knots on cords/strings – quipo

3. Religion – polytheism, sun gods important, deities/sites have animal themes

3. Economic

a. Maya


1. Advanced agricultural techniques

a. Ridged field system

i. Swamp and heavy rainfall

2. Cotton/maize widely cultivated

a. Known for cotton textiles

3. No large animals – had to use manpower

a. Led to need for slavery

b. Aztecs

1. chinampas – twisted vines with soil on top – floated in canals

2. maize and beans primary staple

3. marketplace under government control

4. Records kept through picture writing/hieroglyphics

c. Inca

1. Grew crops – but cultivating land difficult

a. Terrace farming – staircase fashion

b. Labor intensive

2. Animal Husbandry

a. Llamas, alpacas, vicunas

b. Used for transport/food products/wool

d. Generalities

1. Maize/corn primary staple

2. Agriculture/construction done without wheel/large beasts of burden

4. Political

a. Maya


1. 300 BCE > 800 CE

2. Collection of city-states ruled by king

3. Reasons for decline

a. Disease

b. Drought

c. Internal unrest

d. Deserted cities around 800 CE

b. Aztec


1. Chief city – Tenochtitlan – Mexico City today

a. At height, population of half a million

b. Palace of king covered two acres

c. Connected by four causeways

2. militant warrior tradition

3. rule by severe despots

4. large urban capital

5. decentralized network of city-states who paid tribute

c. Inca

1. Part of Andean peoples - mountain

a. Royal court in Cuzco – king Great Inca

i. Sacred, descended from god of the sun

ii. Punishable by death to look at him

d. Generalities

5. Moundbuilders of North America

a. 700-1500 CE – Mississippians

b. Agricultural people

c. Earthen mounds – burial places/ceremonial centers

1. Cahokia – in Illinois – most famous

2. Pyramid design shows contact with Mesoamerica






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