Early Societies of Mesoamerica

Early Societies of Mesoamerica

The Aztec and the Inca AZTEC WORLD EARLY AZTECS The Mexica The Aztec empire Known as Aztecs, arrived in central Mexico about mid-13th century Rough-tough people, wandering, fighting for a century in central Mexico

Settled at Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City) about 1345 Plentiful food supplies and chinampas by Lake Texcoco Military campaigns against neighboring societies, mid-15th century Conquered and colonized Oaxaco in southwestern Mexico Made alliance with Texcoco and Tlacopan Empire ruled 12 million people and most of Mesoamerica Tribute and trade Tribute obligations were very oppressive Empire had no bureaucracy or administration Allies did not have standing army Tribute of 489 subject territories flowed into Tenochtitlan MEXICA SOCIETY Warriors

Aztec women Ranked among the Aztec elite; specialized in calendrical and ritual lore Advisers to Aztec rulers, occasionally, became supreme rulers themselves Cultivators and slaves No public role, but enjoyed high honor as mothers of warriors Honor of bearing children was equal to that of capturing enemies in battle Priests

Military elite at top of rigid social hierarchy Mostly from the Mexica aristocracy Enjoyed great wealth, honor, and privileges Cultivators worked on chinampas (small plots of reclaimed land) Often worked on aristocrats land Paid tribute and provided labor service for public works Large number of slaves, worked as domestic servants Craftsmen and merchants Skilled craftsmen enjoyed some prestige Tenuous position of merchants: Supplied exotic goods and military intelligence Under suspicion as greedy profiteers MEXICA RELIGION

Aztec gods Tezcatlipoca: giver/taker of life, patron deity of warriors Quetzalcatl: supporter of arts, crafts, and agriculture Ritual bloodletting: common to all Mesoamericans Huitzilopochtli: The war god Human sacrifice encouraged by devotion to Huitzilopochtli Large temple at the center of Tenochtitlan Hundreds of thousands sacrificed to this war god Rivalry between Huitzilpochtli, Quetzalcoatl

Quetzalcoatl protector of humans, tricked by some gods Driven into exile with promise to return THE INCA WORLD THE INCA The Inca empire Settled first around Lake Titicaca among other peoples Ruler Pachacuti launched campaigns against neighbors, 1438 Built a huge empire stretching 4000 kilometers from north to south Ruled the empire with military and administrative elite Inca bureaucrats relied on quipu Mnemonic aid made of an array of small cords to keep track of

information Cuzco and Machu Picchu Capital of the Inca: had 300,000 people in the late 15th century Machu Picchu hidden in mountain, jungles: last retreat of Inca Inca roads Two major roads linked the south and north Runners carried messages across empire Paved with stone, shaded by trees Supported centralized government, facilitated spread of Quechua INCA SOCIETY Trade

No large merchant class Incas bartered agricultural surplus locally Not much specialization The chief ruler Chief ruler was viewed as descended from the sun In theory, the god-king owned everything on earth After death, mummified rulers became intermediaries with gods Aristocrats and priests Aristocrats enjoyed fine food, embroidered clothes, and wore ear spools Priests led celibate and ascetic lives, very influential figures Peasants Delivered portion of their products to bureaucrats Besides supporting ruling classes, revenue also used for famine relief Provided heavy labor (mita) for public works

Society ruled as a socialist type centralized state INCA RELIGION Inca gods: Inti and Viracocha Venerated sun god called Inti Considered some other natural forces divine Also honored the creator god, Viracocha Sacrifices of animals, agricultural products, not humans Moral thought Concept of sin: violation of established order Concept of after-death punishment and reward Rituals of absolving sins through confession, penance

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