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Maya, Inca, and Aztecs

How they arrived They came

across a land bridge from
Siberia to Alaska and . . .

Where located Andes

Mountains west coast of
South America

Eventually across the Isthmus of

Panama into South America.

Capital was at Cuzco, Peru

Inca civilization extended 2500
miles from Ecuador to Argentina

Highly advanced civilization

(20,000 miles of roads built)

Language of the Inca

Spanish attempted to replace Quechua

Never successful millions of native
peoples still speak Quechua

Remains of massacre by
Pizarros men unearthed
in Peru.
Conversion to
Catholicism was
mandatory for Inca to
live under Spanish rule

Speaking Quechua
meant death

Where southern Mexico into

northern Central America -


Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, &


Structures of the Mayans- The

pyramids at Tikal (northern

Tallest structures in the Americas until

the 20th Century

Mayan Culture

The Mayan culture dates back to

3000 BC. They developed a
system of writing called glyphs.
They combined these glyphs
into groups. The Mayans used
more than 800 glyphs.
They created a very
sophisticated system of
mathematics. In fact, they were
the first ones to use zero. This
system was more advanced than
those being used by the ancient
Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians.


Mesoamerica encompasses the

bottom two-thirds of Mexico,
all of Belize, El Salvador,
Guatemala, and parts of
Honduras, Nicaragua, and
Costa Rica.

Characteristics that
differentiated Mesoamerica
from its neighbors were:
agriculture based on maize,
beans, and squash,
heiroglyphic or pictographic
writing, astronomical
knowledge, a 260 day ritual
calendar, human sacrifice and
bloodletting, and urbanism.

Mayan Demise
When Spanish arrived in early
1500's there were few Mayan
cities still thriving.
Most had been wiped out by
the introduction of European
Initially, some Mayan villages
offered fierce resistance.
However, chicken pox, smallpox,
and the flu soon followed.

Pyramid #1 @
Tikal Mayan ruins

Tallest Structures
in the Americas
until 20th century

Where Present day Mexico

& Central America
The Valley of Mexico (app.
AD 1200) Capital Tenochtitlan
Migrated from northern
Montezuma Aztec emperor
at the time of Cortes
conquest of the Aztecs

Quetzalcoatl was a god

worshipped by Toltec and
Aztec peoples.
Was believed that
Quetzalcoatl had traveled
east across the sea and
would one day return,
bringing peace
When Hernando Cortes
arrived in 1519 Montezuma
believed that it might be the
return of Quetzalcoatl and
allowed the Spanish easy
entry into Aztec land.

Reached Caribbean in 1492

Began European colonization of the Americas

Why Indians? Columbus believed he had reached East

Indies in Asia
Native inhabitants called themselves Taino
C.C. renamed them Indians
Spanish attempted to enslave the Taino, though most
died from disease and mistreatment

Spanish conqueror of Aztecs

Landed on east coast of Mexico in
Destroyed most of Tenochtitlan
Built Mexico City on top of the ruins

Actual excavation of Tenochtitlan Downtown Mexico City