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Mesoamerica Powered By Docstoc
 The Olmecs were the first real
  civilization in the Americas.
 Beginning around 1200 BCE, they
  lived in the Gulf Coast of southern
 Olmec society was based on
  agriculture and had two groups:
     The elite group lived in small urban
      centers. They were priests and also
      traded in luxury items
     The commoners lived in rural areas and
      were primarily farmers.
   Around 300 BCE, the Olmecs
    vanished and no one knows why.
   The Olmec are famous for carving huge
    stone heads.
   Archeologists believe the heads were of
    Olmec kings.
   The Olmec were the first main group in
    the history of Mesoamerican culture.
   The map shows their location.
 The Maya lived from 300AD to
  900AD in urban religious centers.
  In about 900AD, they left their
  great stone cities and went back
  into the jungle. They are still there
 The Maya lived in central Mexico,
  in the Yucatan peninsula and into
  Guatemala and Honduras.
 They were farmers and warriors,
  and were unusual for having a
  society in tropical rainforest.
   The Maya were a very advanced and
    sophisticated people:
     As mathematicians, they invented zero.
     As astronomers, they had a very complex and
      accurate calendar, as accurate as anything we
      have today.
     They had a written, hieroglyphic alphabet,
      much like the ancient Egyptians.
   Many historians consider them to be
    quite similar to the ancient Greeks.
   The Mayan language is still spoken
    widely in central America.
   Teotihuacan is the name of a great city
    very close to modern Mexico City, it is not
    the name of a tribe.
   It is an Aztec word that means “the place
    where men become Gods.”
   It’s culture started in 200 BC and lasted
    almost 1000 years
   Most of the people were farmers, who
    were ruled by a priest class.
   At its height, it had 100,000 people and
    was the greatest civilization in
    Mesoamerica. Its pyramids are famous
    today all over the world.
   Around 700AD, the people vanished;
    scholars think the city was invaded for
    there is much evidence of fire.
   The Toltec were warriors. Their
    culture began in 950AD, two
    centuries after the fall of
    Teotihuacan and lasted till
   The Toltec conquered much of
    central Mexico, the Yucatan and
   They spread the culture of
    Teotihuacan throughout the areas
    they conquered.
   They expanded the mythology
    and worship of Quetzalcoatl (the
    sovereign plumed serpent).
   The Toltecs conquered large
    areas controlled by the Maya.
   The most famous Mayan-Toltec
    city is Chichen Itza on the
    Yucatan peninsula.
   Both the Maya and the Toltec
    practiced human sacrifice to
    please the gods.
   The Aztec legend says they came
    from the north, from Aztlan.
   About 1168, the Sun God told them
    to go south until they found an
    eagle, perched on a cactus, killing a
    snake. This is the symbol on the
    Mexican flag
   Here, on lake Texcoco, they built
    the great city of Tenochtitlan which
    was the capital of the Aztec
    empire, the greatest of all the
    empires in Mesoamerica.
 They did not call themselves Aztec, they
  were called the Mexica (hence the name
 If the Maya were the Greeks of
  Mesoamerica, then the Aztec were the
 They were farmers, traders, skilled
  engineers, and fierce warriors who
  conquered all of the tribes around them
  and made them pay tribute, which did not
  make them popular with their neighbors,
  and this led to their downfall.
 In 1519AD, Hernan Cortez and a group of
  Spanish Conquistadores contacted the
   The Spanish soldiers had never seen a city
    as beautiful as Tenochtitlan, they were
    awed by it.
   But they were horrified by the Aztec
    practice of human sacrifice. Thousands of
    victims were sacrificed in a single day.
   This, and their quest for gold, led the
    Spanish to join with the tribes the Aztec
    had conquered and whom hated the
    Aztec, and defeated the Aztec and
    destroyed Tenochtitlan. The Aztec had
    never seen horses or guns and cannons.
    By 1522, the Aztec were gone as a power
    in Mexico
   The ruins of Tenochtitlan are still being
    discovered under Mexico City.

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