Essay on Pre-Columbian civilizations

1533 Words 7 Pages
Long before any white man ever set foot in this hemisphere, there were fully functional and highly developed societies here. These civilizations were sophisticated, could even be considered more advanced than the European nations at the time. While the rest of the Eastern world was in the dark Middle Ages, the people here were flourishing.
The Aztecs were the Native American people who dominated northern México at the time of the Spanish conquest led by Hernan CORTES in the early 16th century. According to their own legends, they originated from a place called Aztlan, somewhere in north or northwest Mexico. At that time the Aztecs (who referred to themselves as the Mexica or Tenochca) were a small, nomadic, Nahuatl-speaking aggregation
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The Maya were also a farming society like the Aztecs. They too, worshiped many gods, whom they felt were responsible for their survival. Gods of rain, wind, and sun were among the ones most worshiped. Mayan leaders went to war to try and capture the ruler of another city. If they did they would sacrifice the prisoner, again much like the Aztecs (Mexico).
     The Mayans created many things to affect the world. They created a 365 day calendar. They also made great strides in mathematics and astronomy. They used the number zero, which was very advanced for their time period. The astronomers were able to tell what day of the week a date would fall on in future years (Encarta). And they were able to calculate the length of years of other planets with remarkable precision given the instruments they had to work with (Mexico).
Contrary to popular belief, the Mayan civilization was not one unified empire, but rather a multitude of separate entities with a common cultural background. Similar to the Greeks, they were religiously and artistically a nation, but politically sovereign states. As many as twenty such states existed on the Yucatan Peninsula, but although a woman has, on rare occasions, ascended to the ruling position, she has never acquired the title of 'mah kina' (one of the highest titles that can be achieved)(Encarta).
     Music was central to both