The Aztec and Indians

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The Aztecs and Incans are two Columbian civilizations that show many similarities with one another, but also have their own distinct differences and characteristics. The two groups were both rapidly expanding civilizations that lasted for only a short period of time, making it interesting to compare the striking similarities that led to their rise and downfall. However, it is also important to recognize what made the Aztecs and Incans unique in their own ways. Although history has revealed certain facts regarding their political, economical, religious, and social systems, we do not know exactly how and why the Aztecs and Incans expanded and became such a dominant force in their respective regions. Many theories have been formed to explain the reason why expansion occurred, but it is still a highly debated question that needs further exploration. For both the Aztecs and Incas, the origin of expansion can be traced back to imperial ideology. There are other factors that are also very important when looking at what initiated expansion, but ideology is arguably the dominant reason that encompasses them all and connects the pieces together. The onset of expansion for both peoples can be traced back to some kind of war in which the Aztecs and Incans emerged victorious and claimed the superiority for their region. For the Aztecs, defeating the Tepanecs was the turning point that marked the beginning of their expansion; for the Incans, defeating the Chankas. As a result, the Aztecs and Incas claimed superiority within their regions and began to present themselves as such, by creating a glorious past and revamping the social and religious structure that was previously in place. These reformations modified the Mesoamerican and Andean institutions that were already in place, and according to the text, formed nationalistic and militaristic policies which fueled expansion because they promoted war and conquest. The escalation of human sacrifice and split-inheritance demonstrate this very clearly. Practices such as these, which stemmed from honoring the cult of Huitzilopochtli and the cult of the ancestors , began to set the Aztecs and Incas on a course of expansion for more sacrificial victims and tribute, because it created a need to grow. This is important to recognize because expansion became more like a necessity; there was a need to expand due to nationalist fervor and religious duty. For the Aztecs, previous beliefs were used to create the cult of Huitzilopochtli and the majestic mission of helping him fight the battle against darkness with human blood sacrifice. For the Incas, Pachacuti modified the institution of split-inheritance to create the Malquis, consequently heightening the scale of the cult of ancestors and requiring more acquisition of land and resources. Furthermore, to honor the idea of reciprocity, the Sepa Inca restrained from asking more labor of the existing population and chose to expand instead. Since these new ideologies came with economical aims that reinforced political authority, it is possible to question whether religious changes prompted this dramatic shift, or if credit should be given to the political and economic environment. It could be that the new national cults were created by figures of authority who sought power and wealth and consequently pursued ways to fulfill their self interests. However, it would be incorrect to apply westernized thinking and assume that these grand religious cults were made solely out of selfish ambitions and motivations. It is more likely that these cults were very real to the Aztecs and Incas, and not only beneficial to the leaders but to society as a whole. The text comments on this concept, saying that the ideological changes were highly “adaptive” to society as whole”, defining adaptation as “the body of ideas and strategies that constitute its culture” and its value the measurement “of overall benefit to society as a system”. Essentially, this contradicts the...
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