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B5. Inca and Aztec Empire (political, economic, religious, social, intellectual, geography)
Most powerful figure in the Inca Empire was the Sapa Inca (the Unique Inca) and for one to ascend to the level of Inca, one must be descended from the original Inca tribe. He was also considered a deity descended from the sun who in theory owned everything.
The Empire was a federalist system with four provinces ( Chinchay Suyu (NW), Anti Suyu (NE), Kunti Suyu (SW), and Qulla Suyu (SE)) and a central government centered on the Sapa Inca. The four corners of the provinces meet at Cusco, the capital.
The four suyus (provinces) of the Inca
Each province had a governor who oversaw local officials who supervised agricuturally-productive river valleys, cities, and mines in each area. The local officials also ran most of the day-to-day happenings in the towns such as local disputes.
There were separate chains of command in the government for religious, military, and civil branches creating a partial system of checks and balances.
The main classes in Incan society were the ruling elites, the aristocrats, priests, and peasants.
The ruler of Inca society was seen as a sort of god-king, descended from the sun. Every rulers remains were mummified and the mummies counsel was sought often times by the current Sapu Inca.
Aristocrats had very priveleged lives of luxury. They were often identified by the large ear spools in their ear lobes, so much so that Pizarro and his men referred to them big ears.
Priests came from the ranks of the royals and aristocrats. They were ascetic and celibate but recieved a profound education allowing them to provide extreme influence of society.
The peasants made up the bulk of Incan society. They lived in communities called ayllu, much like the Aztec's calpulli. Instead of taxes, the peasants worked on state lands that provided for the priests, aristocrats, and ruling elites.
Women were expected to work in fields as well as weave cloth and also care for the household. Women were allowed to pass property onto to their daughters and also played a role in relgion.
Many ancient Andean peoples traced their origins to ancestral deities.The Inca claimed descent from the Sun and the Moon, their Father and Mother.
Incas were polytheists. The most important Inca diety was Inti, the sun god. Inti Raymi was the most important Inca festival that honored the sun god.
Inti-the sun god
Inti the sun god
While the Inca generally allowed or even incorporated local deities and heroes of the ayllus they conquered, they did bring their gods to those peoples by incorporating them in laws such as required sacrifice.
Huacas (sacred sites or things), were deific entities that resided in natural objects such as mountains, boulders, streams, battle fields, other meeting places, and any type of place that was connected with past Incan rulers. They were also inanimate objects such as pottery that were believed to be vessels carrying deities. Spiritual leaders in a community would use prayer and offerings to communicate with a huaca for advice or assistance. They usually sacrificed a child or a slave, which was considered an honor.
The Inca also practiced cranial derformation by wrapping tight cloth straps around the heads of newborns in order to alter the shape of their soft skulls into a more conical form; this cranial deformation was made to distinguish social classes of the communities, with only the nobility having cranial deformation.
The Incas had an agricultural based economy. They were mainly self-sufficient farmers who used advanced tools. More than a half of agricultural products today were developed by the Inca or their neighbors.
Inca used Quipu, or knotted ropes, for census and accounting.
Unrest among newly conquered territories, civil war, and small pox had weakend the Incan empire. Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro were determined to conquer the empire and impose Christianity upon them.
When Atahualpa, the Inca emperor, refused, he was imprissoned. Atahualpa offered the Spaniards enough gold to fill the room he was imprisoned in, in order to be freed. The Incas fulfilled this ransom, but Pizarro refused to release him, and executed him on August 1533. The Spanards's domination brought the Inca empire to an end.
The Inca Empire was located in the Andes Mountain range on the western side of South America
Mountains separated coastal
and jungle and were natural barriers that kept enemies out.
As the Inca Empire expanded
population grew which created a more stable system of government and agriculture
Worked with rough and steep terrain and made farming developments such as terraces to work with the land they inhabited.
There were two types of land; sandy plateaus and wetlands made a harsh environment for crops.
Inca's had advanced metallurgy technology. It was the most advanced in the Americas.
Inca's are renowned for the art, textiles and ceramics.
The made many important inventions and numerical systems like the Quipu explained above.
They devised new ideas for government and military but never had a functioning writing system.
Inca architecture is incredibly accurate and demonstrates
precision in art and mathematics.
Extensive road systems were also created that connected the vast and treacherous empire. It also increased mobility of military and unification amongst the empire.
The Inca's various agricultural successes also demonstrates
intellectual prowess because they had harsh conditions to work with yet were still successful.
The Inca civilization also had physicians who could perform surgeries and used herbal remedies to treat citizens.
The Aztecs did not rule directly over their empire, but indirectly through hegemony. It would conquer a city-state (altepetl in Nahuatl) but then reestablish the local ruler, only interfering with his governing when they did not pay their tribute to the Aztecs.
The Empire was established in 1428 after a period of competition between the altepetl which was followed by a time of growth and conquest. The Aztecs implemented the altepetl in the regions they conquered, allowing for efficient use in their hegemonic empire.
Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztecs
The Emperor of the Aztecs was more so the king (tlatoani) of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Empire.
(doesn't really make sense)
Like the Romans, they were able to get ideas from conquered peoples
Aztec society was extremely hierarchal. The main groups were the nobility (pipiltin), the peasants/artisans (macehualtin), the merchants (pochtecah), and the slaves (tlacotin).
All males in Aztec society were seen as potential warriors and from there they could become nobility. However, nobility stayed generally within the same families as noble children were able to recieve better education and training in military affairs so they could become better warriors.
Originally, the bulk of the macehualtin were peasants but towards the peak of the Empire only about 20% were peasants and the rest devoted themselves to artisan work to enrich the Empire. The peasants were mostly organized around calpulli (clan/family groups) who took care of local affairs in the farm towns and chinampas (Floating gardens of Tenochtitlan).
The slaves made up the other signifcant portion of Aztec society with the peasants. They were typically domestic servants and could own some things, even other slaves. They could buy their liberty and were
set free upon the death of their masters if they had performed outstanding service.
The merchants made up a small but important portion of Aztec society. They facilitated contact between parts of the empire and were sometimes even used to gather intelligence for the government.
Aztec society revered military service and warriors. If you performed courageously you were rewarded greatly and if you died in battle it was one of the highest honors one could recieve. So long as you were a warrior, society looked after you and you lived comfortably.
Aztec women had little public role due to the military nature of the society. They had great power in their families though and the best way to gain respect was through children. If your sons became great warriors than you were recognized for rearing them and gained much of the respect they did. Dying in childbirth was akin to dying in battle in Aztec society.
Priests were another minority class, but did have a good amount of influence on the society as evidenced by some emperors being priests (i.e. Motecuzoma II).
Women's main concern was to run the household but they also were invovled in skilled crafts, especially weaving, and also commerce.
Aztecs were polytheists. Their religion had elements of human sacrifice and religious festivals were held according to patterns of the Aztec calendar. It had a large and ever increasing pantheon; the Aztecs would often adopt deities of other geographic regions or peoples into their own religious practice. For example, Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror) and Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) had roots in earlier civilizations of Mesoamerica and were worshipped by many cultures.
Religion was controlled by the high priests governing the main temples in the ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
Religion also was tied to military becuase war was an incentive to capture humans for human sacrifice rituals.
Aztecs spoke the Nahuatl language. The Mexica people of Tenochtitlan, situated on an island in Lake Texcoco and the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan's two principal allied city-states, the Acolhaus of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan, formed the Aztec Triple Alliance which has also become known as the "Aztec Empire".
Hernan Cortes, along with a large number of Nahuatl speaking indigenous allies, conquered Tenochtitlan and defeated the Aztec Triple Alliance under the leadership of Moctezuma II; In the series of events often referred to as "The Fall of the Aztec Empire". Subsequently the Spanish founded the new settlement of Mexico City on the site of the ruined Aztec capital.
Purchases were made with cacao beans, which had to be imported from lowland areas
As shown in the map above the Aztec empire was bi-coastal. It stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Empire was located in current Central and Southern Mexico.
Tenochtitlan the capital city was in island. This made great agricultural conditions with moist fertile soil and easy irrigation with a close proximity to the city.
Aztecs gained territory through battle, friendly alliances and familial arrangements.
Meso-America contained a great climate for crops and development
Aztecs created a unique and accurate calendar.
Architecturally advanced with large pyramid like temples. These temples were the largest structures in the Americas until 1903.
They had an advanced technology in terms of medical procedures. The Aztecs had physicians who could treat a variety of ailments such as broken bones and rotting teeth.
The Aztec civilization also had aqueducts that made irrigation simpler and more effective.
The Aztecs had sophisticated school system as well as thorough records of their history.
Edited by Sam Jones, Beccy Yim and Greg Cotten
Edited by: Nicole Davies, Glory Norman, Chad Mata (i highlighted some of my spelling corrections)
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