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Chapter 16 Lesson 2

Life in the Americas: Part 1

Main Ideas

Maya: adjusted to life in the tropical rain forest and built a culture based on their religious beliefs Aztec: moved into the Valley of Mexico where they created an empire based on conquest and war Incan rulers set up a highly organized government and society to unite their huge empire Geography in lands north of present-day Mexico shaped the development of many different Native American cultures


Quipu: a rope with knotted cords of different lengths and colors

Igloo: dome-shaped homes made from blocks of ice and snow

Adobe: apartment-like homes made of sundried mud brick

Confederations: governments that link several groups

Main Idea #1

The Maya adjusted to life in the tropical rain forest and built a culture based on their religious beliefs

Where did the Maya first settle?

Present-day Guatamala

Why was this area appealing?

Swamps and sinkholes provided water year-round

What were the negative parts of the region?

Dense forests blocked out the sun Stinging insects Poisonous snakes

Life in Mayan Cities

Rulers said they were descended from the sun Claimed they had the right to rule as godkings and expected every person to serve them Huge monuments were built to serve them Taught their subjects how to please the gods

Life in Mayan Cities Continued

One way to please gods was human sacrifice Wanted captives more than land Captives were kept enslaved and put to work until they were sacrificed Believed gods controlled everything that happened on Earth; religion was the center of Mayan life

Were women honored in Mayan civilization?

Yes. At least two women served as queens. One may have helped found the city.

Why was astronomy important to the Mayans?

Mayan priests thought gods revealed their plans through movement of the sun, moon, and stars Watched the sky to know when to plant crops

Developed a 365-day calendar to track heavenly movements Predicted eclipses, scheduled religious festivals, plantings, and harvests

On what is the Mayan counting system based?

Based on 20

Did the Mayans have a written language?

Used to record numbers and dates Hieroglyphics that only the nobles could read Scholars have just now begun to unlock the stories told

Main Idea #2

The Aztec moved into the Valley of Mexico, where they created an empire based on conquest and war Explain the legend of how the Aztecs settled here

Aztecs were not welcome. One king thought he would get rid of them by giving them a patch of snake-filled land. They ate the snakes and built their own kingdom. Sun god Quetzalcoatl had promised a home for the Aztecs. They searched for hundreds of years for the place where an eagle screams and spreads its wings, and eats...the serpent A.D. 1325 in Lake Texcoco they saw an eagle with a snake in its beak and believed they found home

New city- Tenochititlan= place of the prickly pear cactus Dreamed of conquest and wealth Collected payment from conquered people for protection

How did the Aztecs choose a king?

Kings were chosen from those who claimed to be descendants of the gods Council of warriors, priests, and nobles picked kings from the royal family Usually picked king's last son, but not always Expected king to prove himself by leading troops into battle

Aztec classes

King Nobles Commoners- largest group- worked as farmers, artisans, or traders Unskilled laborers Enslaved people How could commoners join the noble class?

By performing an act of bravery in war If the soldier died the children received land and the rank of noble

Developed two calendars

Religious calendar 260 days Kept track of religious rituals and festivals

365-day calendar Kept track of when to plant and harvest crops Divided into 18 months with 20 days each 5-day week at the end of the year

Aztec view of the afterlife

Saw death as honorable if serving the gods Who was worthy of an afterlife?

Soldiers who died in battle Captives who gave their lives in sacrifice Women who died in childbirth

Duties of boys and girls



Taught they were born to be warriors

Taught to stay in the home Those who gave birth were honored as heroes

Why do you think the girls would be considered heroes for giving birth?

Tenochtitlan- largest city in Mesoamerica

May have held 400,000 people with a million more in other cities and villages under Aztec control Supporting a large population was a challenge- much of the area was unsuitable for agriculture Used irrigation and fertilization, drained lakes, encouraged trade and paid for government and military actions through taxes and conquest

The Great Temple

In the center fo Tenochtitlan to honor the Aztec gods Rose more than 135 feet and had more than 100 steps Thousands of victims were taken to the top where they were sacrificed to the gods

Source Credit

Pictures courtesy Google Images

Text information taken from Glencoe's World History: Journey Across Time Chapter 16 Lesson 2: Life in the Americas