The Three Great American Cultures
Central and South America is said to have been first discovered in the late fifteenth century; however, to say that the land before this time was unknown to all of humanity would be a fallacy and a great insult to the three great ancient cultures that ruled before their European conquest. The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans were three distinct groups of people that thrived in the Americas prior to their “discovery” and all have a diversely rich background full of people, tradition, and culture. Recorded Aztecan history begins at the start of the twelfth century when the Aztec people first moved out in search of a new homeland. In 1325 they founded their new home with the creation of Tenochtitlan, a large city which is now the location of common-day Mexico City. The life of the Aztec people was multifaceted – filled with school systems, laws, clothing fashions, and traditional food. They had different scholastic buildings in place for children depending on their economic and noble rank among the people. Noble children would attend a school called a calmecac that would teach them history, religion, and the ways to govern. Meanwhile, the common children could go to a telpochacalli where they would learn aspects of war and trade work, but if a child showed enough promise and intelligence he or she could be sent up to one of the calmecacs to prepare for a higher future career. Crime and punishment was a severe topic for Aztecs; the breaking of many of their laws resulted immediately in death, some of which included: adultery, treason, theft, drunkenness, and even cutting down a living tree. Interestingly as well, if a commoner were to wear cotton clothing (something reserved only for nobility) they too would be put to death. Nobles dressed most lavishly among their people, opting for the brightest colors, and often used bird feathers to make headdresses that indicate their high status. The staple food for the Aztecs was corn. They also...
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