Chapter 11 Outline Peoples and Civilizations of the Americas (600-1500) I. Classic-Era Culture and Society in Mesoamerica
* The Teotihuacan were located 30 miles from now-day Mexico city and it reached its peak in about 600, although its decline came shortly after in 650. * The Teotihucan had a polytheistic society and believed in many gods. They also believed in human sacrifice and they thought that this was necessary in order to lead a good and prosperous life. * The peak of the Teotihuacan were believed to have been brought about by volcanic activity. This means that many of the suburban areas were disrupted or destroyed, forcing many farming families to move to urban areas. This led to rapid growth of the city elite class, although it forced many farmers to live in the city and walk to their fields every day. * Eventually the cities began to get overpopulated and the people began to build apartment-like buildings, housing not only family units but also people of the same trade. * The overcrowding also led to agricultural innovations such as swamp draining and dredging, or the formation of Chinampas. * Chinampas were man made islands, built basically the same way they are today: piling mud or waste under water and securing it to the mainland. These “floating farms” helped to sustain the population because they were invulnerable to frost. * The overcrowding did however lead to economic growth and posterity because of the large labor class. This wealth was reflected in the Teotihuacan’s diets and clothing. At its peak, Teotihucan was the largest city in America, and one of the largest cities in the world. * Wealthy aristocrats or upper class ruled the Teotihucan because there were no idols or art honoring one person or a king found. * The reason for the downfall is unclear, however the theories are that the Teotihucan were either overwhelmed by the outside invaders or political and internal strife led to the downfall. B. The Maya
* The Mayans were very similar to the Teotihucans in agriculture. They too had to support a large population and so they needed to find innovative ways to get more farmland. * They also had a strong polytheistic religion centered on warfare and pyramids. The pyramids were symbolic of the path to heaven and the underworld, and the Mayan kings were regarded as gods. Their ceremonies would center on their ancestors and warfare, and often sacrifices and bloodletting took place. The Mayan elites and kings almost always took a role in war, and if capture were sacrificed, whereas commoners would be enslaved. * Mayan women were not treated as poorly as in Europe, and they often stayed home and did common house chores. Elite women took part in ceremonies and were used to verify their husbands blood authority and lineage. * The Mayans improved upon the Olmec’s calendar system and also on math (ex: the number zero) * Very little is known about the Mayan decline, although some scholars suggest that epidemic may have played a role. II. The Post-Classic Period in Mesoamerica
* The Toltecs were believed to have started as a colony in place to protect against nomadic invasions. They eventually developed into a large empire, controlled not by one, but two kings who shared the ruling power. The Aztecs labeled the Toltecs as wise and innovative people, and their capital and influence dominated most of central Mexico. * The Tolltec society was much like the Teotihucans and much of their social values and religious values were adopted from them. B. The Aztecs
* The Aztecs, also known as the Mexica, were originally made up of small clans that came from the northern territories down to central Mexico after the collapse of the Tula. * At first, the Aztecs were under the influence and control of its powerful neighbors, but through military conquest they gained power and land. They eventually established twin capitals called...
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