Mesoamerica & Andean South American persian chart Key era: 600 C. E. to 1450

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Mesoamerica & Andean South American PERSIAN Chart Key

ERA: 600 C.E. to 1450



  • Leaders/groups

  • Forms of government

  • Empires

  • State building/expansion

  • Political structures

  • Courts/laws

  • Nationalism/nations

  • Revolts/revolutions

  • Never unified politically

  • Divided into a variety of (about 12) kingdoms or states with shifting borders and rulers (similar to Greek city-states)

  • Some towns modeled city-state with hinterlands, similar to Mesopotamian city-states (Palenque, Copan, & Piedras Negras); politically sovereign, but culturally and economically interconnected.

  • Larger towns became substantial sprawling cities with dependent provinces (Tikal & Kalak’mul); had ambitious leaders.

  • Ruled by a theocracy

  • Kingdoms expanded and contracted due to warfare among states.

  • Later wars resulted in larger armies and greater sacrifices; crops were ruined; people fled cities; food supplies decreased; Mayan cities and states fell apart – all factors for decline

  • No single catastrophic – abandonment


  • Agricultural, pastoral

  • Economic systems

  • Labor systems/ organizations

  • Industrialization

  • Technology/industry

  • Capital/money

  • Business organizations

  • Agrarian villages (maize, beans, and squash as well as sweet potatoes and manioc when possible)

  • Subsistence economy

  • Used crop rotation to prevent soil depletion

  • Created terraces and drained fields where possible combined with slash and burn (swidden) agriculture in the dense jungle areas

  • Cotton – basic fiber and textile

  • States/kingdoms connected by trade


  • Belief systems/ teachings

  • Philosophy

  • Holy books

  • Conversion

  • Key figures

  • Deities

  • Theocracy; ruler part god (ancestry)

  • Shared religious beliefs

  • Cities – dominated by platforms and pyramids for religious functions; centers of religious ritual and spiritual experience

  • Spilling blood – way to pay homage to gods

  • Rulers shed blood at intervals set by the calendar; royal wives drew blood from their tongues; men pierced penis with stingray spine or sharpened bone; all examples of bloodletting


  • Family/ kinship

  • Gender roles/relations

  • Social and economic classes

  • Racial/ ethnic factors

  • Entertainment

  • Lifestyles

  • “Haves” & “have nots”

  • Highly stratified w/ elaborate class structure

  • Shamanistic king – extolled lineage, which reached back to a founding father and the gods; promoted public ceremonies to honor him and his ancestors

  • Ornate processions down the city streets

  • Blood sacrifice to feed ancestors

  • Priestly ruling caste

  • Scribes (had a caste), legal experts, military advisors, & skilled artisans rose to high political positions (glorified rulers)

  • Rural peasantry

  • Left ancient centers deserted and provinces depopulated after collapse

  • Noble bloodline of women helped legitimize ruler

  • Little known of ordinary women; thought to manage family life


  • War/conflict

  • Diplomacy/treaties

  • Alliances

  • Exchanges between individuals, groups, & empires/nations

  • Trade/commerce

  • Globalization

  • Developed trade networks over large distances

  • Villages linked together though tribute payments, from lesser villages to larger, central, sacred towns

  • Chronic warfare among high-ranked members of rival dynasties to capture victims for bloodshed

  • Warfare consolidated control over subjects and brought tribute, sacrificial victims, and honor to military leaders.


  • Art

  • Music

  • Writing/literature

  • Philosophy

  • Math

  • Science

  • Education

  • Architecture

  • Technology

  • Innovations

  • Transportation

  • Mathematical advancements – devised a calendar using precise lunar and solar cycles; concept of zero and place value (limited notational signs)

  • Science – Study of astronomy; charted regular celestial movements with great accuracy – used in calendars

  • Arts – pottery and carvings in stone columns and buildings

  • Excelled at skyscrapers, especially as tombs (Tikal)

  • Shared the same Mayan language

  • Writing system (form of hieroglyphics) taught people they shared common histories, beliefs, and gods; also glorified the rulers and their ancestors


  • Location

  • Physical

  • Human/environment

  • Migration/movement

  • Region

  • Demography

  • Neighborhood

  • Urbanization

  • Settlement patterns

  • Disease

  • Cities (2 major ones)

  • Mesoamerica (Central America)

  • Caribbean region of the Yucatan & its interiors

  • Present-day southern Mexico to western El Salvador

  • Hot climate with periodic hurricanes

  • Lacked large navigable rivers and irrigation systems

  • Infertile soil

  • Did not found a single great metropolis (large, capital city)

  • May have numbered 10 million people at their peak

  • Early form of urban sprawl; cities lacked street grids; simply added onto existing neighborhoods

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