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Mesoamerican Civilizations

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There were many various civilizations in Mesoamerica approximately 3000 to 500 years ago. Though they were different civilizations, they had some similarities. One may think that ancient civilizations could not have been as advanced as we are today. Yet, who knows? They might have even been more advanced than we are in modern times in many various fields such as Inventing, Astronomy, Mathematics, Technology, Art, and maybe even more. Religion portrayed an important role in early Mesoamerican civilizations. These civilizations were all polytheistic. Mayan cities featured giant pyramids, temples, palaces, and elaborate stone carvings dedicated to the gods and to important rulers (O.I). In the Aztec society of Tenochtitlan there were hundreds of temples and religious structures dedicated to the gods. The Aztecs had a warrior culture; therefore they believed that they were protected by a war god. Religion helped reinforce the power of the Incan state (O.I). They worshipped in temples to praise their head god, the sun-god.

The Olmec grew and harvested rubber, which they used to make balls for a religious ballgame that they played. The Mayas, Aztecs, and Incans used performed human sacrifice as an offering to the gods. Government and social class weren’t really important to the Olmec. The Maya were ruled by aristocratic nobility. This means that Mayans had to be born into an upper class, while the lowest class in the Mayan society was made up of slaves. At the bottom of the Aztec society were the slaves. They had no rights, but they got a chance to go to school. In fact, all children had to attend school, so that there would be enough skilled workers to run the Aztec empire. The Incans were divided into classes where kings ruled, and farmers and slaves were at the bottom. If nothing else, these civilizations all had brilliant and advanced inventions. The Aztec didn’t really have any physical inventions, but they were one of the first civilizations to have mandatory education or everyone (children). The Maya developed a 260-day calendar, which consisted of twenty 13-day months.

A second 365-day solar calendar consisted of eighteen 20-day months, with a separate period of five days at the end (O.I). They also developed the most advanced writing system in the ancient Americas. The Olmec developed the first written language and numbering skills. They mastered beautiful art in the form of jade masks, and statues of giant heads. The Incans were famous for their medical practices such as surgery on the skull and anesthesia. Also, their most sacred shrine, the Temple of the Sun in Cuzco, was heavily decorated in gold; the temple even had a garden crafted entirely from precious metals. This shows their advanced knowledge of metal technology. How were they so similar if they were completely different civilizations, in vaguely various regions of Mesoamerica? Well, they had similar resources, since some of them lived around the same time. Also, some shared the same climate which may explain how they their clothes might have been slightly similar. They shared the same flora and fauna, which explains why they may have had similar crops, or ate the same kind of food.

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