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History, Technology & Society
Tom Wang

Big Picture/preview Chapter 11 : People and Civilization of the Americas InteractionBetweenHumansand the Environment-Demography and disease Migration, Patterns of settlement Technology DevelopmentandInteractionof Cultures-Belief systems Science and technology, arts and architecture. State-building,Expansion,andConflict-Political structures and forms of governance, expansion. Creation,Expansion,andInteractionof Economic Systems-Agricultural and pastoral production, Trade, Laborsystems. DevelopmentandTransformationofSocial Structures Gender roles and relations, Family and kinship, Racial and ethnic constructions Socialandeconomic classes Topic Heading Info Examples of themes - The Mesoamerican civilization of the period 600 to 9000 was the culmination of several Development of Cultures and Sub centuries of growth involving several people speaking different languages Headings - Building on the earlier achievements of the Olmecs and others the peoples of today’s I. Classic – Era central Americca developed new forms of government and organization Culture and - Populations grew traders exchanged a variety of products over long distances and social Society in hierarchies became more complex - Classic period cities continued to be feature platforms and pyramids devoted to religious Mesoamerica functions 600 – 900 - Political and cultural innovations did not depend on new technologies, some technologies were centuries old but still used - Achievements depended on the ability of increasingly powerful elites to organize and command growing numbers of laborers and soldiers A. Teotihuacan - Located 30 mi north of Mexico city and was at height in 600 CE; largest city in Americas - Religious architecture rose above a city center aligned with nearby sacred mountains Belief Systems - Major gods were, the Sun, the Moon, and the feathered serpent - Human sacrifice practiced - Rapid growth in urbanization resulted from a series of volcanic eruptions that disrupted agriculture; but soon they were forced to move back - The elite used growing labor systems to bring marginal lands into production Statebuilding - As population grew commoners housed in apartment like stone buildings - More than 2 percent of population focused on making obsidian tools and weapons - City’s role as center of religion and trade provided divine approval and a material basis for increased wealth and status of elites - Power not concentrated in hands of single ruler, no clear evidence that individual rulers o a ruling dynasty gained overarching powers - Some scholars believe the city ruled by alliance between powerful families - The city walls that are newer than the rest of the city show relative peace in early development - Unclear what caused the collapse of Teotihuacan but some evidence suggests city overwhelmed by nomadic warriors or a rival city C. The Maya - The Maya developed an impressive civilization in the region that today includes Development of Cultures Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and southern Mexico - Although they shared a single culture they were never unified politically, rival kingdoms fought for dominance - The high population levels of the Maya classical period required more intensive forms of agriculture - Maya living near major urban centers achieved high agricultural yields by draining swamps and building elevated fields - Most powerful cities of the classical period controlled groups of smaller dependent citieBelief Systems and a broad agricultural zone - Bas reliefs painted in bright colors covered most public buildings and beautiful monoliths erected near major temples - The Maya cosmos divided into 3 layers connected along a vertical axis that traced the course of the sun: underworld, earth, heaven; a sacred tree rose through 3 layers - Believed doorways of pyramids were portals to the underworld - Rulers and other members of the elite served both priestly and political functions Statebuilding - Kings communicated directly with supernatural forces and with royal ancestors through bloodletting and hallucinogens - Warfare in particular was infused with religious meaning and attached to elaborate rituals - Typically Maya military forces fought to secure captives rather than territory - Elite captives sacrificed and commoners used as servants - Maya women had major role, consorts of rulers participated in bloodletting rituals and public ceremonies - Women were also healers and shamans - Maya made important contributions to the development of the Mesoamerican calendar and the Math and writing - Their system of math incorporated concept of zero but had no symbol to show - Between 800 – 900 many urban centers of Maya were abandoned or destroyed - Division between classic and postclassic periods is arbitrary and there is no single II. The Postclassic explanation for the collapse of the Maya - Essential cultural characteristics of the classic period were carried over to the postclassic Period in - Difference: evidence that population of Mesoamerica expanded during postclassic period, Mesoamerica intensification of agriculture, increased warfare 900 – 1500 A. The Toltecs - Speculated that Toltecs were originally a satellite population that Teotihuacan placed in Development of Cultures the north to protect against nomads - Toltecs borrowed from Teotihuacan and created new civilization, Aztecs believed that Toltecs were source of nearly all great cultural achievements of the Mesoamerican world - Most important Toltec innovation were political and military, most others existing before - Toltecs created the first conquest state based on military power and extended their political influence from Mexico City to Central America - Toltec culture warlike and violent than earlier Mesoamerican cultures - 2 chieftains rued Toltec states together, division of responsibility weakened Toltec and led to destruction of Tula - Toltec state began to decline in 1156 northern invaders overcame Tula, Toltec capital B. The Aztecs - Aztecs were among the northern people who pushed into central Mexico in the wake of the collapse of Tula - At first Aztecs served neighbors as serfs but soon they relocated to Lake Texcoco - Military success allowed Aztecs to get control of additional agricultural lands Statebuilding - Aztecs transformed their political organization by introducing a monarchial system based off of more powerful neighboring states - Aztec rulers didn’t have total power and next ruler was selected by a council powerful aristocrats - Territorial conquests allowed the warrior elite of Aztec to seize land and peasant labor as spoils of war Social Structures - Aztec lower class lost most of their ability to influence or control decisions due to expansions - The urban plan of Tenochtitlan and Tlateloclo, Aztec capitals, were organized around the clan - Clan members maintained ritual life, accepted responsibilities, and fought together as military units - Aztec kings and aristocrats legitimated their ascendancy by creating elaborate rituals and ceremonies to distinguish themselves - Commoner lived in small dwelling and ate a limited diet of staples, but nobility lived in large 2 story houses and consumed a diet rich in animal protein; commoners monogamous, nobles polygamous - The Aztec state met the challenge of feeding a urban population by efficiently organizing the labor of the clans and the additional laborers sent by defeated people to expand farmland - The imposition of a tribute system on conquered people relieved pressure of growing population, one quarter of Aztecs food requirements satisfied by tributes - A specialized class of merchants con
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