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Comparing the Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations

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There were three main civilizations in the Pre-Columbian era, the Maya, Inca and the Aztec civilizations. They took places in different time periods. despite the difference in time, they had a lot of things in common such as their governmental social classes. Both Inca and Aztec ended the same way. The three civilizations were well developed for their time.

The maya civilization took place in Mesoamerica also known as central America and existed for almost three thousand years, from 1800 B.C to 900 A.D. Inca was spread across Peru and Aztec was located in Northern Mesoamerica. Both Inca and Aztec lasted the same time. Inca existed for almost one hundred years from 1440 A.D to 1532 A.D. Aztec lasted for around eighty years starting from 1440 A.D to 1521 A.D.

Government social class at the time impacted a big part of the citizen’s daily lives and culture. The Maya’s social class consisted of a ruler, commonly a king, then the nobles such as priests and warriors, merchants, peasants and lastly slaves. The social classes affected Mayans’ lives in multiple ways. For example, the noble priests were taught to read and write and treated with respect. They also could wear expensive clothes with gold jewelry and skins of jaguars. In addition to that, they carried out important decisions and lived in luxury.

In comparison, the second lowest class in Maya’s social class, peasants, farmed all day and spent most of their days in the field. The only tool they used were wooden hoes. The times where they weren’t farming, they helped build pyramids. The peasants were allowed to attend royal balls but were treated with the least amount of respect. The peasant also weren’t able to read nor write. Despite that, being a slave was preferable than being a slave.

The Inca civilization’s social classes weren’t really similar to Maya’s. The highest social classes of Inca was Sapa Inca, the supreme leader. Then came the large class of public administrators and local leaders. After them was the artisans and the merchants. Artisans were like factory workers of the modern world. Historians believe that everything the artisans made were controlled by Inca’s administrators. Surprisingly, Inca’s did not have slavery, unlike Maya and Aztec. The lowest social class of Inca was the large group of peasant who were farmers. Social classes like in every other civilization, affected Inca’s citizen’s daily lives.

For instance, Sapa Inca (the ruler of Inca), also lived in imposing and extravagant conditions. The Sapa Inca could wear special hat made of gold and decorated with feathers and his clothes were covered in jewels and wore it only once. He also had many wives and over hundred children. Sapa Inca was no just a ruler, he was considered the direct descendant of the sun god and everything he said was law that must be followed. When he went out of his palace, he was too important to be seen alone and for that reason he always had an entire parade of hundreds of servants and nobles. While Sapa Inca was enjoying his luxurious life, the lowest governmental social class known as the peasants, had a hard time living. Their life wasn’t easy. Inca had a lot of rules towards them and almost no freedom. If they were caught breaking the law, they were supposed to be tossed off a mountain to die. They had little time to themselves and could not travel roads. They had to work all the time. Unlike the emperor, if the peasants did not choose a wife by the time they turned twenty, a wife would be selected for them. Although their life was hard, no one was left hungry.

Aztec’s social classes were similar to the Maya’s and Inca’s. Their people was also identified as nobles, commoners, serfs and slaves. Aztec was ruled by an emperor who has a class himself. The nobles class consisted of high level priests and military leaders. Priests had their own class system. they expected to regain from alcohol and if they were caught they would face serious consequences. Noble classes were proposed to receive tribute from commoners. Only nobles were allowed to wear decorated capes and jewelry to show off their wealth just like the nobles of Maya and Inca. But, female nobles had limited leadership within the Aztec empire. The commoners class involved farmers, artisans, merchants and low leveled priests. Artisans and traveling merchants had the highest amount of wealth among the commoners class. Aztec similar to maya unlike Inca, had a large amount of slaves and serfs. To become a slave you would have to commit a crime or not pay the tribute. Slave owners were responsible for the housing and the food of their slaves. Unlike Maya, Aztec’s children attended school but their education varied depending on their social class and gender.

Despite that they were a well developed civilizations, they all came to an end. The Maya, from the late eighth through ninth century, unknowingly disappeared. Some believe that Maya had drained out the environment around them to the point where it could no longer maintain the large amount of Maya’s population. Others believe that the ceaseless warfare between the competing city-states where the trade between them broke, a complicated military developed and everything turned into chaos leading to the end of their civilization. Lastly, some believe that a catastrophic environment change happened and lasted a long period of time which also led to their end.

Unlike Maya, Inca collapsed due to Spaniards who transmitted their disease to the local citizens who then spread it across Inca’s land. It is believed that the diseases that were spread was mainly smallpox but there also was typhus, diphtheria and measles. The disease did not only affect the working classes but the nobles too. After the arrival of Spaniards, the development of the civilization has stopped. Until 1521 A.D, the Incas fought against the conquerors for four decades. Then, the son of Manio Inca, Tupac Amaru and the last rulers were executed along his family leaving no heir.

The civilization of Aztec ended like the Inca. In fact, they both ended almost in the same time. Between 1519 A.D and 1521 A.D, Herman Cortes, the Spanish conquistador allied against Aztec with Aztec’s rebels and defeated them. In Addition to that, smallpox was also spread around by a group of african slaves of the Spaniards. No one knew how to sure or treat smallpox which lead to massive amount of death and no time to bury the dead bodies. A lot people’s houses were ruined over the dead bodies.

In conclusion, the three civilizations are quiet similar but they still do have their differences. Both Maya and Aztec practiced slavery but Inca did not. Inca and Aztec both collapsed due to the Spaniards who brought the disease smallpox. Unlike them, the reason of Maya’s disappearance isn’t clear but there are multiple different theories on how the civilization ended. They were all advanced in different ways and were high developed nation for their time.

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