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Lecture 2

HIST 1F96 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Egyptian Pyramids, Cultural Assimilation, 18 Months

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Tami Friedman

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Native Societies in Latin America
September 24th, 2013
1. Teotihuacan
-Sophisticated highly stratified society existed from 200 AD to 800 AD in the
central valley in Mexico
-Tribute system of agricultural production (farmers gave some crops to
government in exchange for government services) created huge crop surpluses
and allowed formation of huge cities
-Teotihuacan had about 250 000 people – one of the largest cities at the time
-Had massive temples on each end of the public square dedicated to gods of the
Sun and the Moon (larger than Egyptian pyramids)
-High population density because of multi-unit residential dwellings providing
housing for hundreds of families
2. Mayan Civilization
-Mayan civilization peaked between 250 AD and 900 AD – it was along the Gulf
Coastline in present day Mexico and Guatemala
-Efficiency in agriculture and tribute system of crop redistribution created a highly
stratified society (rulers, priests, merchants, artisans, bureaucrats, farmers)
-Created large urban centres/cities (Tikal (Guatamala) – covered 50 square miles
and had population of 50 000)
-Cities had large ceremonial pyramids, palaces, public markets and huge ball
playing fields
Mayan Culture:
-Artisan class was busy constructing palaces and pyramids (decorated with fresco
style painting with dyes) – conspicuous consumption (have enough money to
spend on something we don’t necessarily need)
-Bureaucrats developed an accurate calendar (based on 365 days divided into 18
months of 20 days plus a five day rest period)
-Mathematicians used symbols, dots and bars with a place value (more similar to
moderns maths than the Roman numeral system used in Europe)
-Developed a form of hieroglyphic writing for religious purposes and to record
tribal history
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