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World History

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Through my studies in World History, I have researched the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations of the Mayans and the Aztecs. I have discovered that the Mayans and the Aztecs civilizations have many similarities, and many differences. In this report, I will identify the main aspects of the culture, lifestyle, geography, religious ceremony, warfare, trade, writing systems, education, art, architecture, and political structure.

The Mayan civilizations started to develop around 300 A.D. in present day Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. The Mayan territory was very dry and mountainous, they didn't get a lot of rain and the soil was thin and quickly lost fertility. Much of their crops were maize, cacao beans and cotton. Because the terrain was very mountainous and dry, the Mayans used a very effective method of agriculture where they would take out pieces of mountain to put plots of land where they could grow crops called terracing.

The Mayans were distributed in small towns around the area and weren't communicated with other towns, but they have one great city named Tikal which was the most important political center around the 600 to 900 centuries. It had about 40,000 people inside the city and around 500,000 people around the city. The city had one great temple that dominated the city that was built for the ruler at that time called Lord Cacao; the temple was called "Temple of the Jaguar". Mayan religion reflected the fundamental role of agriculture in their society where they would sacrifice someone on dry season because the bloodletting ritual symbolized that the gods would be happy and in return the would get rain. Another ritual was the ball game, which consisted of propelling an 8 inch ball of solid baked rubber through a ring or onto a marker without using your hands or feet. The courts averaged 120 by 30 feet and some were small enough to fit two people. At the end of the game, the captain or the individual itself of the losing team was sacrifices as a form of respect for the winning team.

Another advanced innovation the Mayans had was the use of some kind of currency or trading. The Mayans mainly traded exotic and luxury goods such as rare animal skins, cacao beans, and finely crafted works of art which rulers coveted as signs of special status, cacao was used as money and only people of high rank were allowed to eat it. Mayans also were making discoveries in the science field, they had observatories were they tracked the moon and Venus every day, they developed a calendar that consisted of 365 days the solar year and had also ritual years of 260 days and twenty months. Mayans also had a form of writing with drawing that depicted the actions and was the form in which they communicated. Mayans usually fought over land very bloody and fought with spears and knives to gain power, lastly their decline was because population began to desert the cities and disease and natural disasters lead to the destruction



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