Mayan Civilization Vs Mayan Society

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Long before Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas which led to the eventual conquest of the indigenous peoples by European powers, there existed several civilizations in Mesoamerica including two called the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. The Mayans are the oldest of the two. Their cities and society thrived from around 250 CE until about the 8th or 9th centuries. The Aztec civilization, on the other hand, lasted from around 1200 until the early 16th century.
The Mayans inhabited the area of southern Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. The Mayan peoples developed many independent city-states within their empire and placed great emphasis on agriculture. Mayan society was hierarchical and each city-state had its own king and ruling class of
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Typically, one city-state in the region in which the Maya lived was more powerful than the others. As a result, the rest would be forced to pay tribute to the first city-state's king in order to ensure peace between the two states. As one city-state would falter, another would eventually rise up to take its place. As these city-states flourished, trade relationships developed between them, which encouraged a thriving economy in this region. The Mayan city-states participated in long-distance trade all across Mesoamerica using goods such as salt, precious metals, obsidian, and other goods such as cacao, which the nobility in Mayan society used to brew a bitter, sacred drink. The Mayan people used and refined innovative agricultural techniques in order to adapt to their rainforest climate, and constructed complex, efficient irrigation works to produce more food for themselves. They filled in swamps to create fields to be able to grow crops on and carried mud from low-lying river and lake lands to fertilize their gardens and crops. They created artificial ponds to have access to fish as well as corrals to hold deer and other wild animals that they pushed out from the forests. As they managed to adapt to their environment and prosper, Mayan…show more content…
The largest city in the empire was the capital, Tenochtitlan. At first, life in Aztec society was very difficult given the land they had to work with. The Aztecs had to work constantly to maintain their cities on the swampy land in the region. They adopted an agricultural system of farming called the chinampas, which was to create artificial islands made by weaving giant reed mats and covering them with mudded plants. This helped them to extend their crops into the swamp. They utilized other systems including rainfall cultivation, terrace agriculture to slow soil erosion, and irrigation farming by diverting water from natural springs to their fields. In a relatively short period of time, the land became highly fertile. The Aztecs also used a slash and burn method of farming. These various methods helped them to be able to grow a large amount of chili peppers, squash, corn, and other foods. In Aztec civilization, the warriors, priests, and aristocracy were the most respected in the Aztec social hierarchy. The warrior class was highly valued in Aztec society due to the importance they placed on warfare and warriors would volunteer for important Aztec sacrificial rituals. Aztec religion combined elements of polytheism, shamanism, and animism. They were extremely interested in astronomy as well. Like the Mayan religion, it included human sacrifice along with many religious festivals. Aztec political society was centered

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