Aztec and Mayan map
|Introduction (from Wikipedia)||The Aztec Triple Alliance or Aztec Empire (Nahuatl: Ēxcān Tlahtōlōyān) began as an alliance of three Nahua city-states or "altepeme": Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. These city-states ruled the area in and around the Valley of Mexico.||The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, and for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems.|
|Historical era||Pre-Columbian||Preclassic Period|
|Language(s)||Nahuatl, still spoken by about 1.5 million people, mostly in central Mexico.||Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name and Mexico recognizes 8 more.|
|Religion||Aztec religion||Maya religion|
|Capital||Tenochtitlan||Many city states over time. One major Mayan city was Chichen Itza, 1000 to 1450 CE.|
|Today part of||Mexico||Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.|
|Government||Monarchy||Government was an important part of the Maya civilization. Priests ran governments, ruled cities, led ceremonies and performed many other jobs.|
Where They Lived
The Mayas spread from southern Mexico, through to Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras and northern El Salvador.A map of the Aztec Empire before the Spanish conquest. Location of the Mayan civilization in Central and South America.
According to legend, the Aztecs saw a vision telling them to settle on an island in Lake Texcoco, which they did in 1325 CE. The city lasted until 1521 CE.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence that the Mayas lived in Belize in around 2600 BCE, and it’s generally accepted that settlements existed around 1800 BCE. The civilization saw its peak between 250 and 900 CE.
Rise and Peak of Civilization
The Aztec Empire began with an alliance between Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan in order to defeat Azcapotzalco. Tenochtitlan became the dominant city in the alliance, and their empire spread through both trade and military conquest. It controlled its states through installing rulers, constructing marriage alliances, and asking for tribute. The Empire reached its greatest spread in 1519 CE, just prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the area.
Maya civilization existed from 1800 BCE, but these settlements were widely abandoned around 100 CE. There was large scale reconstruction between 250 and 900 CE, known as the Classic period, when the Mayans built many independent city states, built temples and palaces, developed a hieroglyphic writing system, and developed long distance trade with other Mesoamerican cultures.
Causes of Decline
Hernan Cortes conquered Tenochtiltan in 1521, supported by a large number of indigenous allies. The city was destroyed. The Spanish then founded a new settlement, Mexico City, on the site of the capital, and began colonizing Central America. Smallpox broke out in 1520-21 and played a vital in the fall of the city, with between 10% to 50% of the population succumbing to the disease.
The Maya southern lowlands went into decline in the 8th and 9th centuries and were abandoned. There are many theories for this decline, including overpopulation, foreign invasion, revolt, and the collapse of trade routes. The Northern Maya cities continued to flourish until the Spanish conquest. It took the conquistadores 170 years to establish control over all of the Mayas.
The Aztecs created a large empire across Mexico through tribute and trade. They built many pyramids, some of which still stand today.
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