Chapter 11 Outline Peoples and Civilizations of the Americas (600-1500

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I. Classic-Era Culture and Society in Mesoamerica A. Teotihuacan -The Teotihuacan were located 30 miles from now-day Mexico city and it reached its peak in about 600, although its decline came shortly after in 650. -The Teotihucan had a polytheistic society and believed in many gods. They also believed in human sacrifice and they thought that this was necessary in order to lead a good and prosperous life. -The peak of the Teotihuacan were believed to have been brought about by volcanic activity. This means that many of the suburban areas were disrupted or destroyed, forcing many farming families to move to urban areas. This led to rapid growth of the city elite class, although it forced many farmers to live in the city and walk to their fields every day. -Eventually the cities began to get overpopulated and the people began to build apartment-like buildings, housing not only family units but also people of the same trade. -The overcrowding also led to agricultural innovations such as swamp draining and dredging, or the formation of Chinampas. -Chinampas were man made islands, built basically the same way they are today: piling mud or waste under water and securing it to the mainland. These “floating farms” helped to sustain the population because they were invulnerable to frost. -The overcrowding did however lead to economic growth and posterity because of the large labor class. This wealth was reflected in the Teotihuacan’s diets and clothing. At its peak, Teotihucan was the largest city in America, and one of the largest cities in the world. -Wealthy aristocrats or upper class ruled the Teotihucan because there were no idols or art honoring one person or a king found. -The reason for the downfall is unclear, however the theories are that the Teotihucan were either overwhelmed by the outside invaders or political and internal strife led to the downfall. B. The Maya -The Mayans were very similar to the Teotihucans in agriculture. They too had to support a large population and so they needed to find innovative ways to get more farmland. -They also had a strong polytheistic religion centered on warfare and pyramids. The pyramids were symbolic of the path to heaven and the underworld, and the Mayan kings were regarded as gods. Their ceremonies would center on their ancestors and warfare, and often sacrifices and bloodletting took place. The Mayan elites and kings almost always took a role in war, and if capture were sacrificed, whereas commoners would be enslaved. -Mayan women were not treated as poorly as in Europe, and they often stayed home and did common house chores. Elite women took part in ceremonies and were used to verify their husbands blood authority and lineage. -The Mayans improved upon the Olmec’s calendar system and also on math (ex: the number zero)

-Very little is known about the Mayan decline, although some scholars suggest that epidemic may have played a role. II. The Post-Classic Period in Mesoamerica A. The Toltecs -The Toltecs were believed to have started as a colony in place to protect against nomadic invasions. They eventually developed into a large empire, controlled not by one, but two kings who shared the ruling power. The Aztecs labeled the Toltecs as wise and innovative people, and their capital and influence dominated most of central Mexico. -The Tolltec society was much like the Teotihucans and much of their social values and religious values were adopted from them. B. The Aztecs -The Aztecs, also known as the Mexica, were originally made up of small clans that came from the northern territories down to central Mexico after the collapse of the Tula. -At first, the Aztecs were under the influence and control of its powerful neighbors, but through military conquest they gained power and land. They eventually established twin capitals called Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco. Additional military campaigns led to more farmland and increased political security. -The Aztec’s government was a monarchy, however it was not based on kinship, rather on the choice or a council. This council was made up of the wealthy elites and they had much influence over the government. -War was a central theme in the Aztec society and religion, providing further backing for all of the warfare led by the kings. The booty or rewards gained from these campaigns mostly went to the elites, although some of it reached the lower classes. -The Aztec’s clan-like society led to feuding between clans, and led to much political, wealth, and privilege inequalities. Aztecs set themselves apart from other societies by performing elaborate and distinct ceremonies that surprised and confused the Spanish conquistadors. -The lower class of Aztecs ate a diet of mostly staple food and lived in small house. They also grew much of the food they ate right outside of their homes. The rich however, lived in large two-story house and ate local and foreign delicacies. -In order to support such a large and growing population, the Aztec government organized an agricultural labor force of more than 150,000 peasants. They also used agriculture technologies to their advantage, building great dikes to separate salt and fresh water for irrigation and also built many Chinampas. -The Aztecs also created an efficient tribune system, combining their military skills with their need for food. They demanded and collected foods and trading items from their conquered countries. They also demanded sacrificial victims, enforcing their war-like authority. -There was a special merchant class in Aztec society, and because of the lack of draft animals and large ships, trade was made up of light, valuable items like gold. The merchants also served as the Aztecs intelligence service, reporting on other countries they traded in. They were not allowed to have the influence that the nobles had though, because the nobles were jealous of their wealth and power. -The Aztecs decline may have been brought about by political and social up heaving. Scholars believe that the thousands of human sacrifices that took place

each year may have upset or anger the Aztec peoples and their opposition. These ceremonial killings took place in public places and the victims were prisoners of war, criminals, or sometimes even just a random commoner. III. Northern Peoples A. Southwestern Desert Cultures -The Hohokam culture, located in southern Arizona shows some of the most distinct Mexican cultural influence. Archeologists classify the people living in this area and the area of the “four corners” (New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona) as the Anasazi. The Anasazi had a firm agricultural community based on staple crops like maize, beans, and squash. The successful integration of these crops led to larger towns and cities. -Archeologists found kivas in the areas where the Anasazi lived. They were small underground rooms though to be used for ceremonies, pot-making, or some other craft. The Anasazi did make pots with amazing geometric patterns and learned to weave cloth, both used in trade. -The Anasazi also started to make large multi-story buildings by the 900s. B. Mound Builders: The Mississippian Culture -The Mississippian culture was created from the early mound-building societies. The mound builders were hunters and gathers, supplemented by a scarce supply of staple crops like maize. The mounds were actually burial areas for the elite. -The Mississippians continued the political structure of chiefdom. A chief would rule an area, managing trade, gift giving, and throwing feasts to ensuring a stable supply of crops and craft goods. These chiefs were the political and religious leaders of their people. -The urbanization of the Mesopotamia societies resulted from increases in agricultural posterity and technological advancements. They also prospered from expanded trade and trading networks. -Most of the towns were laid out in the same way, with the town center in the middle surrounded by many large platform mounds. The largest of these towns was Cahokia, near St. Louis with a population of 20,000. -The town was made up of commoner’s housing, ringing the elite’s housing and town center. The town’s leaders controlled farmland around the town and thanks to its location close to the Mississippi river; it also could trade with the coast. The town was very wealthy and the elites controlled most of it. -Cahokia’s decline was not due to military defeat or rebellion, instead to climate changes that led to deforestation and agricultural decline. The town then shrunk and disbanded, as the agriculture could not support the population. IV. Andean Civilizations A. Cultural Response to Environmental Challenge -Due to the different and unstable climates some cultures had to live in, new technologies and innovations were spurred. In the colder areas where their were many frosts, people learned to plant different things at different altitudes, how to create microenvironments in the steppes of a mountain, and how to freeze-dry meat and vegetables. The domestication of llamas also helped because it served as a pack and transportation animal, and it also created a source of meat and wool.

-The need for an accurate calendar and counting system became apparent to the Andean peoples and they responded by creating new calendars and something called a khipus. It was a system of knots in a string cord that helped to count, and was used in government administration, like in a census or crop yield. -There was also the creation of an organized labor system, where the government would rotate workers from certain clans onto public works projects such as maintaining roads. B. Moche -By 600, the Moche were able to control the Peruvian coast politically and socially. They were supported by a strong agricultural and pastoral economy, growing staple crops like maize while maintaining large herds of Alpacas and llamas. They also grew coca (grown best at this high altitude) was used for religious ceremonies and held in high value as a trade item. -The textile industries thrived due to the wool and cotton produced, and Moche women mostly dominated the industry. -The Moche organized huge groups of organized laborers for public works projects like roads and irrigation systems, and this helped to create more of a visible difference between the social classes. -There was a small but distinctly wealthy elite class, with high quality homes, clothing, and privileges. -Moche’s decline was due to large-scale natural disasters

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