Ancient Mesoamerican Civilizations
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Ancient Mesoamerican Civilizations

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Questions and Answers

What was the primary source of power for the Sapa Inca?

The claimed divine right as the son of the sun

What was the primary function of the Inca road network?

To unite the four regions of the empire

What was unique about the Inca's stone temples?

They were built without using mortars

What was the primary deity in the Inca pantheon?

<p>Inti, the sun god</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the purpose of the Inca's practice of cranial deformation?

<p>To indicate social status</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was a significant medical advance of the Inca?

<p>The performance of successful skull surgery</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the role of government officials in Inca society?

<p>They arranged marriages and assigned jobs</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the ultimate cause of the fall of the Inca Empire?

<p>The Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the result of the spread of smallpox in the Inca Empire?

<p>It killed a significant portion of the population</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the organization of Inca society based on?

<p>A system of assigned jobs and community service</p> Signup and view all the answers

Study Notes


  • Mesoamerica refers to Mexico and Central America
  • Some of the greatest civilizations in the Americas developed in Mesoamerica
  • The Maya and Aztec lived in the Mesoamerican region

Theories of American Settlement

  • Theory #1: Bering land bridge - humans migrated into North America from Asia by crossing over a land bridge between Alaska and Siberia
  • Theory #2: Coastal migration - humans migrated to the Americas by crossing the seas, most likely the Pacific Ocean, and settling along the western coasts of the Americas

The Maya

  • Settled on the Yucatan Peninsula in central America
  • Maya civilization was made up of city-states, each with its own ruler
  • Built towering temples and palaces, with ceremonial platforms, temples, pyramids, observatories, and ball courts
  • Practiced polytheistic religion, with human sacrifice
  • Created a writing system of hieroglyphics, a set of numerals, and a 365-day calendar
  • Abandoned many of their cities around 900 A.D., with unknown reasons for decline
  • Over 2 million Maya people live in Guatemala and southern Mexico today

The Aztecs

  • Lived in the Valley of Mexico in central Mexico
  • Tenochtitlan was the capital city of the Aztec Empire, built on an island in Lake Texcoco
  • The city was connected to the mainland by causeways, with canals for navigation
  • The Aztecs created an empire through conquest, with conquered people and local rulers paying tribute
  • Had an emperor, with the main job of leading in war
  • Practiced polytheistic religion, with human sacrifice, and built massive temples and pyramids dedicated to their gods
  • The main Aztec god was Huitzilopochtli
  • The Aztecs were conquered by Spanish conquistadors led by Hernan Cortes in 1521

The Inca

  • Controlled an empire in the Andes Mountain region of South America
  • The Sapa Inca (emperor) had absolute power, claiming to be the son of the sun and the empire's religious leader
  • The empire was divided into four regions, with the capital at Cuzco
  • Built a massive road network through mountains and across rivers and gorges
  • Constructed stone temples without using mortars, with stones fitting together perfectly
  • Practiced polytheistic religion, with the primary god Inti, the sun god
  • Believed in reincarnation, and practiced cranial deformation
  • Performed successful skull surgery, and used medicines to make patients unconscious during surgery
  • Each family in a community was assigned a specific job, with government officials arranging marriages and organizing mandatory public service building projects
  • The empire fell due to civil war, smallpox, and ultimately, the Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro

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Explore the history of Mesoamerica, including the development of civilizations like the Maya and Aztec, and theories on how humans first arrived in the Americas.

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