“In The New World”
Written By Travis B. Moore
Reference: Microsoft Encarta
“Conquistadors In the New Word” is a game suggestion based on the Spanish exploration of South America and the Caribbean islands. The goal of the game is to explore the new world, conquer or convert natives to Christianity by learning their language and using special skills to communicate these ideas to the natives.
Other Goals include making landfall and colonies or settlements will be built by the Spaniards as time progresses from camps, to forts, than Settlements. This happens automatically in the game as new islands are explored.
There are four main factions in the game Spaniards as the main character group, Aztecs as the richest native group, Maya as a second native group, Inca as the last of the main Indian groups. Indians a lesser group are found on the islands of the Northern Caribbean Sea; and hostile cannibals in the Southern Islands of the Caribbean Sea.
Spaniards: Spanish Empire, overseas territories in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania that were colonized and administered by Spain. The Spanish Empire began in the 15th century as Europe began to expand overseas. Spain lost much of its empire as a result of the Latin American independence movement in the early 19th century. It lost control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam in 1898 as a consequence of the Spanish-American War. Today, only the Canary Islands, off the northwestern coast of Africa, and the North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, across the Strait of Gibraltar from the Spanish mainland, remain part of Spain.
Spanish Empire By colonizing the Americas, Spain became one of the richest and most powerful countries of the 16th century. At the height of its power in 1588, the Spanish Empire included the West Indies, Cuba, Florida, Mexico, Central America, much of South America, and the Philippines.© Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
At its greatest extent in the Americas, Spanish territory stretched from Alaska through the western United States, Mexico, and Central America to southern Chile and Patagonia, and from the state of Georgia south to the Caribbean islands, Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina. In Africa, at various times Spain occupied territories in the Western Sahara (present-day Morocco), and along the coast of what is now Equatorial Guinea, including the offshore island of Fernando Póo (now Bioko). In Asia, Spain ruled the Philippine Islands, which the Spanish named after King Philip II in 1542. In Oceania, Spain held the Mariana Islands and later the Caroline Islands. Gibraltar, a rocky promontory connected to the Spanish mainland by a sandy isthmus, is a British dependency still claimed by Spain.
II ORIGINS OF THE EMPIRE
Ferdinand V the reign of King Ferdinand V was most notable for the voyages of Christopher Columbus to America, which were financed by the king and his wife, Queen Isabella. Columbus’ discovery was the first step in the creation of the Spanish overseas colonial empire. Hulton Getty Picture Collection
Spain's overseas empire dates from the joint rule of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragón, whose marriage in 1469 began the process of uniting their separate Iberian kingdoms into one Spanish nation. It was during their reign as Isabella I and Ferdinand V that the newly united country began to build an empire. Spanish expansion overseas began for a number of reasons. The monarchs wanted to secure neighboring areas for defense against Muslim raids originating from North Africa, to protect Castile's shipping activities and trade in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and to use the neighboring areas as ports for export of gold and enslaved Africans. They also supported exploration of distant areas primarily to spread Christianity and to increase Spain’s potential for trade with the Far East, thereby gaining wealth and international prestige.
Spain's overseas empire dates from the joint rule of Isabella and Ferdinand.
The concern to increase Spanish trade centered on the desire to overcome the advantage Portuguese explorers and traders had gained by establishing similar bases on the African continent and islands off of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier in the 15th century Portuguese explorers had discovered and settled two of the small island groups, the Madeiras and the Azores. Between 1456 and 1460 Portugal occupied the Cape Verde Islands and soon established fortified trading posts in the Gulf of Guinea. In 1488 Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias sailed around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa and opened a sea route to the Far East.
Portugal’s growing international influence encouraged Spain to match its neighbor’s achievements. Although claimed by both Portugal and Spain, the Canary Islands came under Spanish control through a 1479 treaty. In the 1480s and 1490s, papal decrees assigned the Canaries to Spain. Despite fierce resistance from the indigenous Guanche people, by 1496 all seven islands had come under Castilian control.
Like the Portuguese islands in the Atlantic, the Canaries under Spain were essentially military enclaves and trading centers where paid laborers or sharecroppers worked for a few merchant proprietors. The Spanish introduced cows, pigs, horses, sheep, and Mediterranean plants to the Canaries. The islands proved valuable for their supplies of sugar and fish, as well as their proximity to the West African coast.
In 1492 Spain’s exploration took a dramatic turn when Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand sponsored an expedition led by Italian navigator Christopher Columbus. Columbus and his crew left Spain with three ships in search of a westward route to reach India or Asia. More than two months later, Columbus reached land in the Caribbean Sea. Because Columbus thought he had reached India, the Spanish called the area the Indies.
Spanish Ships of Exploration On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos de la Frontera, Spain, with three small Spanish sailing-ships, the Pinta, the Niña, and the Santa María, on a voyage that eventually led him to America. Small ships such as these were used by the Spanish and Portuguese in their explorations in the 15th and 16th centuries.Archive Photos/Kean Archives
Columbus’s voyage occurred at an opportune time for Spain. In January 1492 Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand had conquered Granada, the last Muslim kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula, completing what is called the Christian reconquest of Spain from Moorish control. Still, Islam was advancing elsewhere and posed a threat to Europe. Spain’s rulers planned to extend Spain’s Christian crusades overseas. They readied an armed expedition to North Africa, declaring Muslim-held Jerusalem as the ultimate goal, but that army was ultimately diverted to war in Italy. They also sponsored Columbus, who proposed to reach India or Asia by a westward route and so give Spain an alternate route to Jerusalem. They also hoped his voyage would bring Spain international prestige and fabled riches.
Thus, Spain justified its imperial expansion on four grounds: to spread its religion; to reinforce national unity and identity by keeping alive a sense of national mission; to enhance Spain's international power; and to compete with Portugal for trade, territory, and glory.
Columbus laid the foundation of the Spanish overseas empire by claiming for Spain the lands he explored in the Caribbean islands and establishing the first European colony there. At that time Europeans simply assumed that if representatives of Christian nations discovered previously unknown lands and peoples, they had the right and the responsibility to take charge of them. In 1493, to formalize their claims to the lands that Columbus discovered, Spain began diplomatic negotiations with Portugal and with the papacy, which served as a sort of international mediation agency. Because Spain and Portugal had similar desires to expand, the papacy helped reduce conflict between the two nations by establishing formal boundaries.
A series of papal decrees confirmed Spain's claim to sovereignty in some of the lands that became known as America. The papacy based these decrees on what was considered to be the Spaniards’ responsibility to spread Christianity and Christian ways of life to the inhabitants of those newly discovered lands. In 1493 Pope Alexander VI formally approved the division of the unexplored world between the two countries. This was incorporated into the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) between Portugal and Spain. This treaty established the so-called Line of Demarcation, which set the boundaries between areas that would become Spanish territories and those that would be Portuguese. As it turned out, the treaty determined where Hispanic culture would gain a foothold and where Portuguese culture would take root.
III SPANISH AMERICA
Kalico Beach, Haiti In 1492 Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and his crew reached the Americas. They first landed on the island Columbus called Española, now known as Hispaniola, which comprises the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Columbus claimed the territory for the Spanish monarchs and set the course for the growth of the Spanish Empire. The Stock Market/Michele Burgess
On his first voyage, Columbus sighted Cuba and landed on Española (now Hispaniola), the island now occupied by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He returned to Spain with small quantities of gold, native plants and animals, and six men of the indigenous Taíno people. Columbus made three more voyages to the Americas between 1494 and 1502. At that time the area was called the Spanish Indies because Columbus continued to claim that he had reached India. For this reason, the inhabitants of the Caribbean area were all called Indians, despite their diverse cultures.
On Columbus’s second voyage, he took 17 ships carrying about 1500 colonists.
Many of the people who accompanied Columbus on his four voyages were veterans of the Spanish wars to take Granada from Muslim control. Others included peasant farmers, royal officials, a few priests and friars, some women, as well as a few Africans, most of who were enslaved. On Columbus’s second voyage, he took 17 ships carrying about 1500 colonists, to establish a permanent settlement on Española. Most of those people were peasant farmers, but some early immigrants to the Caribbean neither farmed nor settled. Instead, they relied on plentiful Indian labor and sought to find gold and return home rich. These immigrants were soon in conflict with both the native peoples and Columbus. By late 1494 many colonists opposed Columbus’s policies, such as his handling of the native people’s hostilities. They even filed grievances to the Spanish monarchy against Columbus in his role as administrator of the new lands.
Columbus with His Benefactors European explorer Christopher Columbus spent years trying to win funding for a voyage to the Indies. He planned to take an unconventional westward route on the journey, claiming that it would prove more direct. It took almost ten years, however, before Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, pictured with Columbus in this lithograph, agreed to his requests—three ships, titles, honors, and a percentage of any riches he acquired for Spain. Culver Pictures
Spain’s royal government quickly imposed its own officials, first to collect taxes and then to administer the colony. Its goal was to assert royal control over both settlers and indigenous peoples. In Spain the government established a House of Trade to supervise colonial affairs and to oversee, license, and tax all trade and commerce. As the royal government asserted more authority over colonial activities, Columbus lost effective power, and was eventually replaced by other colonial governors.
Early European Explorers After Christopher Columbus returned to Spain from his 1492–1493 expedition to San Salvador, Cuba, and Hispaniola, other European explorers began voyages to North America. In 1497 John Cabot explored the coasts of Labrador, Newfoundland, and New England. Juan Ponce de León explored Florida and part of the Yucatán Peninsula in the early 1500s. In 1519 Hernán Cortés invaded Mexico and subsequently spent several years conquering the Aztecs.© Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Within a decade of Spanish settlement, only perhaps one-tenth of the original population of Española remained. Many Taínos died from European diseases and the disruption of their communities and daily lives; others were killed in battles with Spaniards or died from overwork.
A. The Conquistadors
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition in 1540 into the American Southwest in search of the legendary Seven Cities of Cíbola. Although Coronado found several Native American villages, he discovered no gold. Discouraged, Coronado returned two years later to what is now Mexico.Culver Pictures
During the early 1500s, Spaniards used the major Caribbean islands as a base for expeditions to the mainland of Venezuela and Central America. Men called conquistadors recruited, equipped, and led these expeditions, often with the financial backing of merchants. Most hoped to find great riches or legendary places, such as the Seven Cities of Cíbola, which were supposed to have streets and houses adorned with gold and jewels, and the fountain of youth, a spring whose waters were said to have the power to restore youth.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa In 1510 Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa helped establish a colony in what is now Panama. Three years later, Balboa sighted the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean from a mountaintop near the colony. Days later he stood on its shores, the first European ever to reach the Pacific. He claimed it and all the land within it for Spain.Hulton Deutsch
The conquistadors came from areas of Spain where fighting was a way of life. The wars against Muslims in Spain had lasted for centuries, and clashes between rival clans were common. These men were accustomed to achieving their goals of fame and fortune through military endeavor. By taking treasure, territory, and subjects for their country, they won recognition from the king. Many explorers also felt it was their moral responsibility to convert people to Christianity.
The conquistadors’ expeditions increased Spain’s territory, wealth, and power.
With the blessing—but not the financial support—of the Spanish government, these conquistadors made their way through Central and South America claiming territory for Spain. The conquistadors’ expeditions increased Spain’s territory, wealth, and power. In 1513 Vasco Núñez de Balboa and his men crossed Central America and became the first Europeans to see the Pacific Ocean. Six years later Hernán Cortés led an expedition into Mexico and in 1521 captured Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec Empire. In the early 1530s Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire in Peru. Even so, native resistance to Spanish rule continued for years.
Francisco Pizarro A Spanish explorer and military officer, Francisco Pizarro was known for both his courage and his cruelty. As a member of Vasco Núñez de Balboa’s 1513 expedition to the Isthmus of Panama, Pizarro became one of the first Europeans to sight the Pacific Ocean. Pizarro later gained fame for conquering the Inca Empire in Peru during the mid-1530s, opening the way for Spanish colonization of South America.Culver Pictures
From Peru, expeditions pushed north into Ecuador and Colombia and south into Chile. Conquistadors founded Buenos Aires, in what is now Argentina, in 1536 and Asunción, in what is now Paraguay, in 1537. Francisco de Orellana first explored the Amazon Basin in 1541 and 1542, searching for legendary chief El Dorado and his kingdom, which was rumored to abound in gold and precious stones. Other explorers ventured to the borderlands of northern Mexico and the Guiana Highlands, where they generally established only isolated and often temporary outposts. In the 16th century the major permanent settlements were in central Mexico and the Andes Mountains. By the 1550s Spain controlled the areas that are now Mexico, most of the South American continent, Central America, Florida, and Cuba.
Hernán Cortés A Spanish explorer of the 16th century, Hernán Cortés conquered the great Aztec Empire in 1521. His white skin and beard convinced Montezuma II, the ruler of the Aztec Empire, and the Aztec people that Cortés was actually the god Quetzalcoatl returning as prophesied. After he captured and razed the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, Cortés built Mexico City. Today, ruins of the Templo Mayor, or main temple, of the Aztec capital are all that remains of Tenochtitlán.THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE
The European explorers of Central and South America encountered native civilizations far richer and more sophisticated than the Caribbean cultures—for example, the Maya and Aztec peoples in Mexico and the Incas in Peru. They came upon technology allowing relatively abundant crops and encountered forms of empire where city-states dominated smaller satellite communities. Their conquests brought dramatic changes to both the Americas and Spain. The conquistadors and colonizers introduced European culture and religion to the Americas, while Spain gained enormous wealth from the spoils of its conquests and from silver and gold mines in the newly conquered lands.
B. Spain’s New Leaders
Upon the death of Ferdinand in 1516, his grandson Charles of Ghent inherited Spain—which he ruled as Charles I—as well as its colonies and parts of Italy. Charles was also heir to the Habsburg possessions in what are now Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria. In 1519 he became emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as Charles V, and he ruled the largest Western empire since the Roman Empire. By the time Charles abdicated in favor of his son, Philip II, in 1556, the empire also included the kingdoms of New Spain (now Mexico) and Peru. When Charles abdicated, however, he divided his empire between his brother, Ferdinand, and his son Philip. As king of Spain, Philip held Spain, the Italian possessions, the Netherlands, and the Spanish Indies. Despite the division of lands, the Spanish Empire remained too large to be governed effectively.
Spain tried to monopolize commerce within the empire. But by the 1520s the ships of the seafaring nations of northern Europe—England, France, and the emerging Netherlands—were intruding into the Caribbean Sea to pirate and trade. As the native peoples died, some of these European nations helped supply the Spanish colonies with African slaves. But for more than a century, other Europeans made few serious attempts to establish colonies of their own in the Americas.
C Life in the American Colonies
Spanish Settlers in Texas The first European explorers and settlers in Texas were the Spanish. From 1542 until 1690, however, they exerted little influence over the type and number of settlements in the region. In the early 18th century, they established many settlements in order to lay claim to the land and keep the French from encroaching upon it. These settlements passed into Mexican hands when that country gained its independence from Spain in 1822. This depiction by Theodore Gentilz shows Mexicans dancing the fandango in the house of the Spanish governor in San Antonio in the year 1844.Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo
In America, relatively few Spaniards dominated a vast indigenous population. To gain control of Native American labor, the Spanish initially introduced the encomienda, an official grant giving a Spaniard jurisdiction over one or more native communities. They justified this practice as instructing Native Americans in Christianity, and they governed these communities by relying on existing native hierarchies and chiefs.
The Spanish colonists tended to settle where the native population was most plentiful. These tended to be urban areas and many were sites where the Spanish had built their own city on an existing native city or town. Cortés provided a model for this when he built Mexico City over the conquered Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán. He introduced to Mexico many crops and industries familiar to Spaniards, such as sugar, silk, cattle, wheat, and cotton, and he instituted gold and silver mining and the slave trade.
By the 1550s, Spanish settlements spread from Chile north to Mexico. Other Spaniards had ventured into Florida, California, and the present southwestern United States. Eventually, a chain of 250 Spanish towns spread through the Americas. About 2000 people a year sailed to Mexico and Peru from Sevilla, the only Spanish port allowed contact with the Americas.
By mid-century the area was governed as two large administrative regions called viceroyalties. The viceroyalty of New Spain encompassed Mexico, most of Central America, and Spanish territory in the Caribbean; the viceroyalty of Peru included what is now Panama and almost all of Spanish South America.
D. Religion and the Church
Colonial Church, Cuzco, Peru much of the colonial architecture built during the 16th century in Latin America is still standing. This late Renaissance church in the city of Cuzco dates from the Spanish occupation. D. Donne Bryant Stock/Roberto Bunge
Representatives of the king called viceroys governed the viceroyalties. However, outside the cities, priests and friars were the most direct Spanish authorities. These clergy had the most ongoing contact with Native Americans through instructing native peoples in Christianity and European ways. Some early friars, such as Bartolomé de Las Casas, were among the greatest defenders of and advocates for the native peoples. Although some argued against mistreatment of the indigenous peoples, the presence of the clergy, as well as their devotion to Christian faith and Spain’s king, strengthened imperial control over all segments of colonial society.
Some early friars… were among the greatest defenders of and advocates for the native peoples.
The church played a vital role in the Spanish colonies. It served as a bank, a social welfare agency, and as a center of education. Spanish clergy furthered study of natural science and natural history. They learned native languages, produced dictionaries, studied indigenous societies, and taught Native Americans to write in their native languages. They also preserved a record of native societies, of the Spanish cultural elements flooding into them, and of the ways in which the native peoples adapted to the Spanish.
The native peoples adapted the new European ways as they saw fit. Even after contact with Europeans, Native Americans continued to see their state as autonomous, with its own territory and traditions. As before, they viewed the ruler and the gods as embodiments of the people as a whole, but after the arrival of the Spanish, the emperor became a Spaniard and the gods had new names. Religion in the indigenous societies was inseparable from the culture, government, and social order. In addition, religion defined their understanding of the cosmos, human origins, destiny, social order, and their place in the universe. It also helped them to come to terms with the unknown. Catholic missionaries were most successful where they encountered practices or symbols similar to those in European Christianity.
E. Economics in the Colonies
Slaves in a Sugarcane Mill Slaves are depicted here carrying sugarcane for processing in the rollers of a sugarcane mill. Most of the more than 10 million Africans brought to the Americas as slaves spent their days as farm laborers. Many toiled long, strenuous hours on the sugar plantations and other agricultural estates that sprang up in the warmer climates of the western hemisphere. Culver Pictures
The colonial system of agriculture shifted in the mid-1500s as great estates called haciendas replaced encomiendas. These estates depended on a system of plantation slavery, which relied heavily on the labor of African slaves. Africans were brought into the colonies to replace the indigenous peoples who had died in large numbers following contact with the Europeans. In the Caribbean islands, these plantations produced mostly sugarcane.
At first, most of the Africans who were brought to America arrived by way of the Seville slave market. Eventually, slaves were imported directly from Africa, mostly to the Caribbean and the tropical coasts of the mainland. Many were taken to America on the ships of other Europeans. Foreigners imported slaves both legally, as licensed by the Spanish government, and illegally, through smuggling. Slaves did a variety of work. Some became overseers, skilled artisans, herders, farmers, teamsters, miners, or domestic workers. Slaves also cut sugarcane and built and worked sugar mills. Some slaves even escaped to found communities of their own. There were also non-African slaves, including Muslims and Jews from Spain, most of them women. Although there were many slaves in the Spanish colonies, many were also freed, and at one point in the 18th century there were more free blacks than slaves in Spanish America.
The American colonies also provided Spain with valuable gold and silver from mines worked by forced native labor. Together with agriculture, mining maintained Spain’s empire in the Americas. The most noted silver mines were in Mexico and Potosí, a boomtown in present-day Bolivia at the eastern edge of the Andes. There, Native Americans worked the mines suffering harsh conditions and under a system of forced labor.
America's precious metals (some gold but mostly silver) revolutionized European economies; banking prospered, commerce expanded, and prices soared. Spain, however, was unable to keep much of the silver. Large amounts of it left Spain to pay for costly wars, campaigns against heresy, luxuries for its kings and nobles, and administration of its global empire. In addition, a general European recession beginning in the 1620s hit Spain especially hard. Ultimately, much of the precious metals from Spain’s colonies ended up in Asia to pay for Asian goods bought by Europeans. Potosí silver streamed through the Philippines, Turkey, Sumatra, and China, where Spain’s ruler was known as the Silver King. Silver from the Americas sustained a global economy.
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Aztecs: Aztec Empire
Aztec Empire, Native American state that ruled much of what is now Mexico from about 1428 until 1521, when the empire was conquered by the Spaniards. The empire represented the highest point in the development of the rich Aztec civilization that had begun more than a century earlier. At the height of their power, the Aztec controlled a region stretching from the Valley of Mexico in central Mexico east to the Gulf of Mexico and south to Guatemala.
The Aztec built great cities and developed a complex social, political, and religious structure. Their capital, Tenochtitlán, was located on the site of present-day Mexico City. An elaborate metropolis built on islands and reclaimed marshland; Tenochtitlán was possibly the largest city in the world at the time of the Spanish conquest. It featured a huge temple complex, a royal palace, and numerous canals.
After the Spanish conquest, the empire of the Aztec was destroyed, but their civilization remained an important influence on the development of Mexican culture. Many contemporary Mexicans are descended from the Aztec, and more than 1 million Mexicans speak Nahuatl, the native Aztec language, as their primary language. In Mexico City, excavations continue to uncover temple foundations, statues, jewelry, and other artifacts of the Aztec civilization.
Aztec refers both to the people who founded the empire, who called themselves Mexica, or Tenochca, and, more generally, to all of the many other Nahuatl-speaking ethnic groups that lived in the Valley of Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest. The name Aztec is derived from Aztlán, the mythical homeland of the Mexica; according to tradition, Aztlán was located northwest of the Valley of Mexico, possibly in west Mexico. The name Mexico is derived from Mexica.
Long before the rise of the Aztec, the Valley of Mexico was the center of a highly developed civilization. A fertile basin, the valley was located 2400 m (7800 ft) above sea level. In its center lay five interconnected lakes dotted with marshy islands. From about ad 100 to 650 the valley was dominated by the city of Teotihuacán, center of a powerful religious, economic, and political state.
After the decline of Teotihuacán, the Toltec people migrated into central Mexico from the north and established a conquest state there. The Toltec civilization reached its height in the 10th and 11th centuries. In the 13th century wandering bands of Nahuatl-speaking warriors, often called Chichimec, invaded the valley. They took over Toltec cities, such as Atzcapotzalco, and founded new ones, such as Texcoco de Mora. The Chichimec combined their own culturaltraditions with those of the Toltec to form the early Aztec civilization, whose social structure, economy, and arts would reach their height under the rule of the later empire.
ORIGINS AND GROWTH OF THE AZTEC EMPIRE
The group that eventually founded the Aztec Empire, the Mexica, migrated to the Valley of Mexico in the middle of the 13th century. As late arrivals, the Mexica, a hunter-gatherer people, were forced by other groups in the valley to take refuge on two islands near the western shore of Lake Texcoco (one of the five lakes in the area). The Mexica believed in a certain legend, which held that they would establish a great civilization in a marshy area, where they would first see a cactus growing out of a rock with an eagle perched on the cactus. After the Mexica arrived at the swampy site on the shore of Lake Texcoco, their priests proclaimed that they had seen the promised omen. The site turned out to be a strategic location, with abundant food supplies and waterways for transportation.
The Mexica began farming for a living, and in 1325 they founded the city of Tenochtitlán on one of the lake islands. For the next 100 years they paid tribute to stronger neighboring groups, especially the Tepaneca of the city-state of Azcapotzalco, whom they served as mercernaries.
As the Mexica grew in number, they established superior military and civil organizations. The Mexica of Tenochtitlán formed a triple alliance with the city-states of Texcoco and Tlacopan. In 1428 the triple alliance defeated the Tepaneca. Under the Mexica ruler Itzcoatl, his successor Montezuma I, and the Texcocan ruler Netzahualcóyotl, the three states waged a series of conquests. They eventually established an empire that extended from central Mexico to the Guatemalan border and included many different states and ethnic groups, who were forced to pay tribute to the alliance. Tenochtitlán became the dominant power within the alliance.
Aztec society was highly structured, based on agriculture, and guided by a religion that pervaded every aspect of life. The Aztec worshiped gods that represented natural forces that were vital to their agricultural economy. Giant stone pyramids topped by temples where human sacrifices were dedicated to the gods dominated Aztec cities. Aztec art was primarily an expression of religion, and even warfare, which increased the empire’s wealth and power, served the religious purpose of providing captives to be sacrificed.
The basic unit of Aztec society was the calpulli, sometimes, at least for early Aztec history, thought of as a clan, or group of families who claimed descent from a common ancestor. Each calpulli regulated its own affairs, electing a council and officers to keep order, lead in war, dispense justice, and maintain records. Calpulli ran schools in which boys were taught citizenship, warfare, history, crafts, and religion. Each calpulli also had a temple, an armory to hold weapons, and a storehouse for goods and tribute that were distributed among its members. Within each calpulli, land was divided among the heads of families according to their needs. Each family had a right to use the land but owned only the goods that it produced.
In Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital, calpulli fulfilled the same functions but gradually took a different form. As the city grew large and complex, the calpulli were no longer based on family relationships, but became wards, or political divisions, of the city. Each calpulli still had its own governing council, school, temple, and land, but its members were not necessarily related. There were 15 calpulli in Tenochtitlán when the city was founded in 1325; by the 16th century there were as many as 80.
In Tenochtitlán and other Aztec city-states, the most capable leaders of each calpulli together composed a tribal council, which elected four chief officials. One of these four officials was selected as the tlatoani (ruler). After Tenochtitlán became the center of Aztec civilization, its ruler became the supreme leader of the empire, to whom lesser rulers paid tribute. This ruler was considered semidivine, a descendant of the Aztec gods, and served as both military leader and high priest. His title was huey tlatoani, meaning “great lord” or “great speaker.”
A noble class of priests, warriors, and administrators supported the ruler. Below these nobles were the common people, including merchants, artisans, soldiers, peasant farmers, and laborers. Aztec merchants formed a hereditary class, called pochteca. They lived in special quarters in the cities, formed guilds, and had many privileges.
Aztec rulers and nobles owned land on private estates. Most land for commoners was owned by a calpulli, which assigned its members plots to use. Landholders paid tribute to the empire in agricultural products, which were used to finance public projects. All able-bodied men owed military service to the empire. Citizens could also be drafted to work on public lands or build temples, dikes, aqueducts, and roads.
Although Aztec society had strict classes, a person’s status could change based on his or her contribution to society. Commoners could improve their rank, especially by performing well in battle, and become prosperous landowners. Young people of some classes could study to become priests or warriors. Warriors who captured many prisoners gained prestige and wealth and might be admitted into one of several elite military orders. A person who committed a crime or did not pay his debts became a slave; however, such slaves could eventually regain their freedom, and their children were born free.
Tenochtitlán was the center of the Aztec world the marvels of the island city were described at length by the Spanish conquistadors (conquerors), who called it the “Venice of the New World” (in reference to Venice, Italy) because of its many canals. At its height, the city had a population of about 200,000, according to modern estimates, making it one of the most populous cities in the ancient world.
Tenochtitlán was connected to the mainland by three well-traveled causeways, or raised roads. During the rainy season, when the lake waters rose, the causeways served as protective dikes. Stone aqueducts brought fresh drinking water into the city from the mainland. Tenochtitlán’s canals served as thoroughfares and were often crowded with canoes made from hollowed logs. The canoes were used to carry produce to the public market in the city’s main plaza.
At the center of Tenochtitlán was a ceremonial plaza paved with stone. The plaza housed several large government buildings and the palace of the Aztec ruler, which was two stories high and contained hundreds of rooms. The most important structure in the plaza was a large, terraced pyramid crowned with two stone temples dedicated to the most important Aztec gods—the sun god (also the god of war) and the rain god. A surrounding enclosure contained buildings for priests and elite military groups, courts for sacred games, and smaller pyramids topped by temples where incense and sacrificial fires burned before enormous idols. Other temple pyramids were built in every section of the city.
Residents of Tenochtitlán lived in houses built around open courts, or patios. Houses of the nobility were made of plastered brick or stone and painted bright shades of red or white. The houses of the common people were smaller, made of interwoven twigs and mud, and thatched with grass.
Farming provided the basis of the Aztec economy. The land around the lakes was fertile but not large enough to produce food for the population, which expanded steadily as the empire grew. To make more land suitable for farming, the Aztec developed irrigation systems, formed terraces on hillsides, and used fertilizer to enrich the soil. Their most important agricultural technique, however, was to reclaim swampy land around the lakes by creating chinampas, or artificial islands that are known popularly as “floating gardens.” To make the chinampas, the Aztec dug canals through the marshy shores and islands, then heaped the mud on huge mats made of woven reeds. They anchored the mats by tying them to posts driven into the lake bed and planting trees at their corners that took root and secured the islands permanently. On these fertile islands they grew corn, squash, vegetables, and flowers.
Aztec farmers had no plows or work animals. They planted crops in soft soil using pointed sticks. Corn was their principal crop. Women ground the corn into a coarse meal by rubbing it with a grinding stone called a mano against a flat stone called a metate. From the corn meal, the Aztec made flat corn cakes called tortillas, which was their principal food. Other crops included beans, squash, chili peppers, avocados, and tomatoes. The Aztec raised turkeys and dogs, which were eaten by the wealthy; they also raised ducks, geese, and quail.
Aztec farmers had many uses for the maguey plant (also known as the agave), which grew in the wild to enormous size. The sap was used to make a beerlike drink called pulque, the thorns served as needles, the leaves were used as thatch for the construction of dwellings, and the fibers were twisted into rope or woven into cloth.
In the Aztec empire, some manufactured goods were produced for the ruler or sold in the local markets. These included pottery, tools, jewelry, figurines, baskets, and cloth. Other goods, especially prized luxury items such as lake salt, gold ornaments, and rich garments, were carried by traveling traders to distant peoples in the lowlands along the Gulf coast and south toward what is now Guatemala. There they were exchanged for luxury items native to those regions, such as tropical-bird feathers, jaguar skins, cotton, rubber, and cacao beans for chocolate. The Aztec had no metal coins. They used cacao beans, cotton cloth, and salt as a form of money.
The Aztec had no wheeled vehicles or draft animals, so trading goods were carried by canoe or on the backs of porters, who marched in long caravans led by merchants. In dangerous areas, Aztec warriors would protect the caravans. Merchants would often act as spies for the empire when trading in towns that had not been conquered by the Aztec.
As an agricultural people, the Aztec depended heavily on the forces of nature and worshiped them as gods. Most important was their patron deity, the sun god, Huitzilopochtli, who was also considered to be the god of war. Other important gods were Tlaloc (the god of rain) and Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent (the god of wind and learning, also associated with resurrection). The Aztec believed that the benevolent gods must be kept strong to prevent the evil gods from destroying the world. For this purpose they conducted human sacrifices. Victims of sacrifice were usually prisoners of war, although Aztec warriors would sometimes volunteer for the more important sacrificial rituals. The god Tlaloc was believed to prefer children as sacrificial victims.
The sacrificial rituals were elaborate in form, calculated according to the stars to please specific gods at specific times. A victim would ascend the steps of the pyramid. At the top, a priest would stretch the victim across a stone altar and cut out the victim’s heart. The priest would hold the heart aloft to the god being honored and then fling it into a sacred fire while it was still beating. Often many victims were killed at once. In 1487, according to legend, Aztec priests sacrificed more than 80,000 prisoners of war at the dedication of the reconstructed temple of the sun god in Tenochtitlán.
Aztec priests sought to win favor with the gods by fasts and self-inflicted bloodletting. Some of them ran schools called calmecacs in which they taught religious rituals to boys studying for the priesthood. One of the most important functions of the priests was to determine which days would be lucky for engaging in activities such as war and baptism. A religious calendar of 260 days provided this information. The dates of ceremonies to honor the gods were determined by a solar calendar of 365 days. Variants of both calendars were developed by earlier Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Olmec, Maya, and Zapotec. The meshing of the two calendars produced a 52-year cycle, at the end of which the Aztec would let their hearth fires go out. To begin the next cycle, they would hold the important “new fire ceremony,” in which priests lit a sacred fire in the chest cavity of a sacrificial victim, and the people rekindled their hearth fires and began feasting. See also Pre-Columbian Religions.
Most of the art produced by the Aztec expressed aspects of their religion. Brilliantly colored paintings, done mainly on walls and amatl (paper made of pounded bark), depicted religious ceremonies and stiff, angular gods as art and religion. The Aztec carved freestanding idols and bas-relief wall sculptures on their temple-pyramids. Stone sculptures were often made to represent gods and sacrificial victims.
One of their most famous surviving Aztec sculptures is the so-called calendar stone, which weighs 22 metric tons and measures 3.7 m (12 ft) in diameter. The calendar stone represents the Aztec universe. The face of the Aztec sun god is carved in the center. Surrounding it are circular bands of designs that symbolize the days and the heavens. The Aztec also carved small, realistic figures of people and animals out of quartz, obsidian (volcanic glass), and jade.
The Aztec wrote in pictographs, or small pictures symbolizing objects or the sounds of syllables. They also used pictographs in their counting system, which was based on the number 20. A picture of a flag indicated 20 items; a fir tree represented 20 times 20 items, or 400; and a pouch indicated 400 times 20 items, or 8000. Pictographs could not express abstract ideas but were useful for recording history, conducting business, and maintaining genealogy and landholding records.
Tools and Crafts
Although the Aztec had only simple hand tools to work with, they were expert craftspeople. Women spun cotton and maguey fibers into thread by twisting them onto a stick weighted by a clay spindle whorl. They dyed the thread in vivid colors and wove it into cloth with elaborate geometric designs. From this cloth they made clothing—loincloths and capes for men and long skirts and sleeveless blouses for women. Specially trained craftsmen knotted feathers into webs to make mantles (cloaks), headdresses, and banners.
The Aztec layered strips of clay to make storage jars, griddles, goblets, and other kinds of vessels, which were fired in open kilns. These clay vessels were generally red or white, with finely drawn black-and-white geometric designs. Unlike the early civilized peoples of the Middle East, the Aztec had no iron or bronze. Their cutting tools were made of obsidian and chert, and by the time of the Spanish conquest, they had begun to experiment with tools made of copper. The Aztec fashioned jewelry using gold, silver, copper, emerald, turquoise, and a kind of jade that they prized above all other materials. They cut stone for use in construction using rawhide cord and an abrasive of sand and water. Axes were made of blades of stone or copper, set in wooden handles. Drills were made of bone or reed.
In 1519 Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés and more than 500 Spaniards landed in eastern Mexico were in search of land and gold; Advised by Malinche, his Native American mistress, Cortés formed an alliance with one of the rivals of the Aztec, the Tlaxcalans, and set out for Tenochtitlán. After wavering about how to respond to the Spanish force, Aztec ruler Montezuma II allowed Cortés to enter the city in order to learn more about him and his intentions.
Finding large amounts of gold and other treasure, and fearful that the Aztec would attack his vastly outnumbered Spanish force, Cortés seized Montezuma as a hostage. The Spaniards melted down the intricate gold ornaments of the Aztec for shipment to Spain and forced Montezuma to swear allegiance to the king of Spain. The Spaniards remained in the city without opposition until about six months later, when, in Cortés’s absence, Spanish officer Pedro de Alvarado massacred 200 Aztec nobles who had gathered for a religious ceremony. After Cortés returned, the Aztec rebelled, fighting to drive the Spaniards out of Tenochtitlán. The Aztec warriors tore up the city’s bridges and chased the Spaniards into the canals, where three-fourths of them, weighted down with stolen gold, quickly drowned. Montezuma was killed during the revolt. Montezuma’s successor, Cuitlahuac, ruled only a few months before dying of disease. Montezuma’s nephew Cuauhtémoc became the next Aztec ruler.
Cortés retreated to Tlaxcala and gathered more Native American allies for a siege of Tenochtitlán. The Aztecs’ crude weapons were not able to match the iron, steel, and gunpowder of the Spaniards, who also had the advantage of a large number of indigenous allies. After three months of desperate and bloody fighting, Cuauhtémoc surrendered in August 1521. Cortés tortured and hanged him while on an expedition to Honduras in 1525. The Spaniards conquered the remaining Aztec peoples and took over their lands, forcing them to work in gold mines and on Spanish estates.
The fall of Tenochtitlán marked the end of the Native American civilizations that had existed in Mesoamerica since the first human settlement of the region. On the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the Spaniards built Mexico City. The city’s present-day cathedral rises over the ruins of an Aztec temple, and the palace of the Mexican president stands on the site of the palace of Montezuma. See also Mexico: History.
William R. Fowler
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Maya Civilization, an ancient Native American culture that represented one of the most advanced civilizations in the western hemisphere before the arrival of Europeans. The people known as the Maya lived in the region that is now eastern and southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and western Honduras. The Maya culture reached its highest development from about ad 300 to 900. The Maya built massive stone pyramids, temples, and sculpture and accomplished complex achievements in mathematics and astronomy, which were recorded in hieroglyphs (a pictorial form of writing).
After 900 the Maya mysteriously declined in the southern lowlands of Guatemala. They later revived in the north on the Yucatán Peninsula and continued to dominate the area until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Descendants of the Maya still form a large part of the population of the region. Although many have adopted Spanish ways, a significant number of modern Maya maintain traditional cultural practices.
Many aspects of Maya civilization developed slowly through a long Preclassic period, from about 2000 bc to ad 300. By the beginning of that period, Mayan-speaking Native Americans were settled in three adjacent regions of eastern and southern Mexico and Central America: the dry, limestone country along the north coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula; the inland tropical jungle in the Petén region of northern Guatemala; and an area of volcanic highlands and mountain peaks in southern Guatemala near the Pacific Ocean.
The earliest Maya were farmers who lived in small, scattered villages of pole and thatch houses. They cultivated their fields as a community, planting seeds in holes made with a pointed wood stick. Later in the Preclassic period, they adopted intensive farming techniques such as continuous cultivation involving crop rotation and fertilizers, household gardens, and terraces. In some areas, they built raised fields in seasonal swamps. Their main crops included maize (corn), beans, squash, avocados, chili peppers, pineapples, papayas, and cacao, which was made into a chocolate drink with water and hot chilies. The women ground corn on specially shaped grinding stones and mixed the ground meal with water to make a drink known as atole or to cook as tortillas (flat cakes) on flat pottery griddles. The Maya also drank balche made from fermented honey mixed with the bark of the balche tree. Rabbits, deer, and turkeys were hunted for making stews. Fishing also supplied part of their diet. Turkeys, ducks, and dogs were kept as domesticated animals.
When they were not hunting, fishing, or in the fields, Maya men made stone tools, clay figurines, jade carvings, ropes, baskets, and mats. The women made painted pottery vessels out of coiled strands of clay, and they wove ponchos, men’s loincloths, and women’s skirts, out of fibers made from cotton or from the leaves of the maguey plant. They also used the bark of the wild fig tree to make paper, which they used primarily for ceremonial purposes. Since the Maya had neither draft animals nor wheeled vehicles, they carried goods for trade over the narrow trails with tumplines (backpacks supported by a strap slung across the forehead or chest) or transported them in dugout canoes along the coasts and rivers.
The early Maya probably organized themselves into kin-based settlements headed by chiefs. The chiefs were hereditary rulers who commanded a following through their political skills and their ability to communicate with supernatural powers. Along with their families, they composed an elite segment of society, enjoying the privileges of high social rank. However, these elites did not yet constitute a social class of nobles as they would in the Classic period. A council of chiefs or elders governed a group of several settlements located near one another. The council combined both political and religious functions.
Like other ancient farming peoples, the early Maya worshiped agricultural gods, such as the rain god and, later, the corn god. Eventually they developed the belief that gods controlled events in each day, month, and year, and that they had to make offerings to win the gods’ favor. Maya astronomers observed the movements of the sun, moon, and planets, made astronomical calculations, and devised almanacs (calendars combined with astronomical observations). The astronomers’ observations were used to divine auspicious moments for many different kinds of activity, from farming to warfare.
Rulers and nobles directed the commoners in building major settlements, such as Kaminaljuyú, in the southern highlands, and Tikal, in the central lowlands of the Petén jungle. Pyramid-shaped mounds of rubble topped with altars or thatched temples sat in the center of these settlements, and priests performed sacrifices to the gods on them. As the Preclassic period progressed, the Maya increasingly used stone in building. Both nobles and commoners lived in extended family compounds.
During the Preclassic period the basic patterns of ancient Maya life were established. However, the period was not simply a rehearsal for the Classic period but a time of spectacular achievements. For example, enormous pyramids were constructed at the site of El Mirador, in the lowlands of Guatemala. These pyramids are among the largest constructions in the ancient Maya world. By about 400 bc El Mirador was a major population center that served as the seat of a powerful chiefdom.
The highland and the lowland regions were in close contact at this time. Obsidian, a smooth volcanic rock used to make weapons and tools, from highland Guatemala has been found at El Mirador, and a sculptural style that originated in the Pacific lowland region of Chiapas and Guatemala was common in the southern highlands. Kaminaljuyú was the most powerful chiefdom of the highlands, and it probably controlled the flow of obsidian to the lowlands. Control of this important resource allowed Kaminaljuyú to dominate trade networks. Economic and political institutions during this period were more advanced in the southern highland area.
Classic Maya civilization became more complex in about ad 300 as the population increased and centers in the highlands and the lowlands engaged in both cooperation and competition with each other. Trade and warfare were important stimuli to cultural growth and development. The greatest developments occurred in the Petén jungle and surrounding regions of the lowlands where major city-states, such as Tikal, Palenque, Piedras Negras, and Copán, arose and developed from ad 300 to 900.
Society became more complex, with distinct social classes developing. Families of nobles formed a hereditary ruling class that stood apart from the common Maya. At the top of society, a hereditary king ruled over each Maya city. Kings were similar to the earlier ruling chiefs except that they formed a distinct social class along with other nobles. Under the direction of their kings, who also performed as priests, the centers of the lowland Maya became densely populated jungle cities with vast stone and masonry temple and palace complexes. The core area of Tikal, for example, covered about 9 sq km (about 3 sq mi) and included about 2700 structures with an estimated population of 11,300. The total area of Tikal, including the core, peripheral, and rural areas, is estimated at 314 sq km (121 sq mi) with an estimated population of 92,000.
During the Classic period, warfare was conducted on a fairly limited, primarily ceremonial scale. Maya rulers, who were often depicted on stelae (carved stone monuments) carrying weapons, attempted to capture and sacrifice one another for ritual and political purposes. The rulers often destroyed parts of some cities, but the destruction was directed mostly at temples in the ceremonial precincts; it had little or no impact on the economy or population of a city as a whole. Some city-states did occasionally conquer others, but this was not a common occurrence until very late in the Classic period when lowland civilization had begun to disintegrate. Until that time, the most common pattern of Maya warfare seems to have consisted of raids employing rapid attacks and retreats by relatively small numbers of warriors, most of whom were probably nobles.
Lowland Maya centers were true cities with large resident populations of commoners who sustained the ruling elites through payments of tribute in goods and labor. They built temples, palaces, courtyards, water reservoirs, and causeways. Walls, floors, and other surfaces in a lowland Maya city were smoothly covered with red or cream-colored limestone stucco, which shone brilliantly in the tropical sun. Sculptors carved stelae, which recorded information about the rulers, their family and political histories, and often included exaggerated statements about their conquests of other city-states.
Society and Economy
Classic Maya kings carried the title k’ul ahau (supreme and sacred ruler). In the latter part of the Classic period, kings were assisted in governing by a hereditary ruling council. The power of the king existed as both a political and religious authority in this period. In contrast, the king’s religious power declined during the Postclassic period (ad 900 to 1521) because the institution of priesthood appeared.
Merchants were important to Maya society because of the significance of trade. Principal interior trade routes connected all the great Classic lowland centers and controlled the flow of goods such as salt, obsidian, jade, cacao, animal pelts, tropical bird feathers, and luxury ceramics. In the early Classic period Teotihuacán in central Mexico emerged as the greatest city in Mesoamerica, an area that included modern Mexico and most of Central America. The religious and political power of Teotihuacán radiated throughout Mesoamerica. One result of Teotihuacán’s influence was a highly integrated network of trade in which the Maya participated.
Highland Maya from the southern region carried obsidian for tools and weapons; grinding stones; jade; green parrot and quetzal feathers; a tree resin called copal to burn as incense; and cochineal, a red dye made from dried insects. Those from the lowlands brought jaguar pelts, chert (flint), salt, cotton fibers and cloth, balche, wax, honey, dried fish, and smoked venison. People either bartered goods directly or exchanged them for cacao beans, which were used as a kind of currency. Wealth acquired from trade enabled the upper classes to live in luxury, although there was little improvement in the lives of the lower classes.
A Maya nobleman wore an embroidered cotton loincloth trimmed with feathers; a robe of cotton, jaguar skin, or feathers; sandals; and an elaborate feather headdress that was sometimes as large as him. His head had been crossed in childhood by having objects dangled before them. His nose was built up with putty to give it an admired beak shape, and his ears and teeth were inlaid with jade. A noblewoman wore a loose white cotton robe that was often embroidered. Her head was also elongated, and she filed her teeth to points.
Nobles lived in houses of cut stone with plastered walls that often bore brightly painted murals. In the living room nobles gave banquets of turkey, deer, duck, chocolate, and balche. The guests were expected to bring gifts and to give a banquet in return. A dead noble was buried in a stone vault with jade and pottery ornaments, and occasionally with human sacrifices, which were provided to serve him in the been fashionably elongated by being pressed between boards when he was a few days old, and his eyes had purposely afterlife.
Most of the Maya people were village farmers who gave two-thirds of their produce and much of their labor to the upper classes. Commoner men wore plain cotton loincloths and simple tunics. Women wore woven cotton blouses and skirts or loose-fitting sack dresses with simple embroidered patterns. Women and girls wore their hair long and took care that it was always combed and arranged attractively. Different hairstyles signaled the marital status of women. Both men and women tattooed their bodies with elaborate designs.
At the bottom of Maya society were slaves who were convicted criminals, poor commoners who sold themselves into bondage, captives of war, or individuals acquired by trade. Slaves performed menial tasks for their owners and they were often sacrificed when their owners died so that they could continue to serve in the afterlife.
The Maya cosmos comprised a wide range of diverse and varied supernatural beings or deities. The chief god, Hunab Ku, the creator of the world, was considered too far above men to figure in worship. He was more important in his manifestation as Itzamna, a sky deity considered lord of the heavens and lord of day and night who brought rain and patronized writing and medicine. Especially the priests worshiped him, and he appears to have been the patron deity of the royal lineages. Closer to the common people were Yum Kaax, the maize deity, and the four Chacs, or rain gods, each associated with a cardinal direction and with its own special color. Women worshiped Ix Chel, a rainbow deity associated with healing, childbirth, and weaving. All the Maya revered Ixtab, goddess of suicide, and thought that suicides went to a special heaven. The Maya also recognized the gods who controlled each day, month, and year. See also Pre-Columbian Religions.
The Maya performed many rituals and ceremonies to communicate with their deities. At stated intervals, such as the Maya New Year in July, or in emergencies—such as famine, epidemics, or a great drought—the people gathered in ritual plazas to honor the gods. They hung feathered banners in doorways all about the plaza. Groups of men or women in elaborate feathered robes and headdresses, with bells on their hands and feet, danced in the plaza to the music of drums, whistles, rattles, flutes, and wood trumpets. Worshipers took ritual steam baths and drank intoxicating balche. Participants often ingested other hallucinogenic drugs, such as mushrooms, and they smoked a very strong form of tobacco with hallucinogenic effects. Young Maya nobles played a sacred ball game on specially constructed courts. Without using their hands, players tried to knock a rubber ball through one of the vertical stone rings built into the walls of the court. On special occasions players who lost the game would be sacrificed to the gods.
Many ceremonies focused on sacrifices to gain the favor of the gods. The sacrifices took place on the great stone pyramids that rose above the plazas, with stairs leading to a temple and altar on top. The temple, a resting place for the god, was deeply carved or painted with designs and figures and was topped with a carved vertical slab of stone called a roof comb. Some had distinctive corbeled arches, in which each stone extended beyond the one beneath it until the two sides of the arch were joined by a single keystone at the top. Before the altar, smoke rose from copal incense burning in pottery vessels.
Worshipers sometimes gave the gods simple offerings of corn, fruit, game, or blood, which a worshiper obtained by piercing his own lips, tongue, or genitals. For major favors they offered the gods human sacrifice, usually children, slaves, or prisoners of war. A victim was painted blue and then ceremonially killed on top of the pyramid, either by being shot full of arrows or by having his arms and legs held while a priest cut open his chest with a sacrificial flint knife and tore out his heart as an offering. Captured rulers were sometimes ritually sacrificed by decapitating them with an axe.
Science and Writing
Although Maya builders possessed many practical skills, the most distinctive Maya achievements were in abstract mathematics and astronomy. One of their greatest intellectual achievements was a pair of interlocking calendars, which was used for such purposes as the scheduling of ceremonies. One calendar was based on the sun and contained 365 days. The second was a sacred 260-day almanac used for finding lucky and unlucky days. The designation of any day included the day name and number from both the solar calendar and the sacred almanac. The two calendars can be thought of as two geared wheels that meshed together at one point along the rim, with the glyphs for the days of the sun calendar on one wheel and the glyphs for the days of the sacred almanac on the other. With each new day the wheels were turned by one gear. The name for each day was formed by combining the name for the sun calendar day with the name for the sacred almanac day.
Maya astronomers could make difficult calculations, such as finding the day of the week of a particular calendar date many thousands of years in the past or in the future. They also used the concept of zero, an extremely advanced mathematical concept. Although they had neither decimals nor fractions, they made accurate astronomical measurements by dropping or adding days to their calendar. For example, during 1000 years of observing the revolution of the planet Venus, which is completed in 583.92 days, Maya astronomers calculated the time of the Venusian year as 584 days. The Maya method of reckoning time involved counting forward from a hypothetical fixed point and expressing the date in time periods based on the number 20 and counted in intervals of 1, 20, 360, 7200, and 144,000 days. Such dates appear on carved stone monuments dating to as early as the late Preclassic period, and they are prevalent throughout the lowlands on monuments from the Classic period.
The Maya developed a complex system of hieroglyphic writing to record not only astronomical observations and calendrical calculations, but also historical and genealogical information. Many recent advances have occurred in the decipherment of the Mayan script. These breakthroughs made it possible to conclude that Mayan hieroglyphs were a mixture of glyphs that represent complete words and glyphs that represent sounds, which were combined to form complete words. Scribes carved hieroglyphs on stone stelae, altars, wooden lintels, and roof beams, or painted them on ceramic vessels and in books made of bark paper.
Collapse of Classic Civilization
From about ad 790 to 889, Classic Maya civilization in the lowlands collapsed. Construction of temples and palaces ceased, and monuments were no longer erected. The Maya abandoned the great lowland cities, and population levels declined drastically, especially in the southern and central lowlands. Scholars debate the causes of the collapse, but they are in general agreement that it was a gradual process of disintegration rather than a sudden dramatic event.
A number of factors were almost certainly involved, and the precise causes were different for each city-state in each region of the lowlands. Among the factors that have been suggested are natural disasters, disease, soil exhaustion and other agricultural problems, peasant revolts, internal warfare, and foreign invasions. Whatever factors led to the collapse, their net result was a weakening of lowland Maya social, economic, and political systems to the point where they could no longer support large populations. Another result was the loss of inestimable amounts of knowledge relating to Maya religion and ritual.
After the collapse in the central and southern lowlands, Maya civilization continued and even flourished in the northern lowlands of Yucatán and in the southern highlands of Guatemala. The decline of the older powers in the south led to unprecedented growth in the Yucatán Peninsula and the rise of a number of new cities in that region. Among these were Uxmal, Sayil, and Labna, characterized by a distinctive architectural style known as Puuc, which features elaborate mosaic decoration.
In Postclassic times (ad 900 to 1521) the city-states of Yucatán were ruled by a hereditary halach uinic (also called ahau) who was also the highest religious authority. The halach uinic had very broad powers. He formulated domestic and foreign policy and appointed batabs (lesser lords), who administered the surrounding towns and villages. Local the education of priests and nobles. He was assisted by a hierarchy of priests who took part in ceremonies, kept vigils in the temples, performed healing rituals, taught, and served as oracles for the gods. Although similar features and patterns existed in the Classic political structure, the institution of priesthood appears only in the Postclassic.
At the same time, during the 9th century, a new group of Maya, known as the Putun (or Chontal) Maya, began to arrive in Yucatán from their homeland in the Gulf Coast region of Mexico. The Putuns were warriors and traders without equal in the Maya area. At first they were interested in trade along rivers and overland routes. Eventually they became seafaring people whose merchants plied coastal trade routes around the peninsula and beyond in canoes. These large oceangoing canoes traveled the coast councils made up of clan leaders aided the batabs. Other local Maya officials collected taxes and kept order. Postclassic merchants and professional craftworkers composed a kind of middle class.
A high priest, known as ahaucan, conducted major ceremonies and was in charge of transporting huge loads of heavy and bulky goods much more efficiently than was possible in earlier times. Italian-Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus encountered such a canoe off the Caribbean coast of Honduras on his fourth voyage to the Americas in 1502.
Ports of trade, such as Xicalanco (now in Tabasco, Mexico), served as international meeting places that attracted not only Maya but also traders from highland Mexico to the west and Central America to the south. Wealthy Maya merchants organized expeditions that traveled great distances in fleets of canoes or over well-constructed stone roads and causeways. Along the routes they built warehouses for goods and rest houses for their carriers. The need to protect the trade networks led the Putuns to develop very aggressive military forces.
Ethnically Maya, the Putuns adopted many stylistic influences from central Mexico in their art and architecture. Especially common was the image of the feathered serpent representing the deity known as Quetzalcoatl in Mexico and as Kukulcan to the Maya. One very powerful Putun group, the Itzá, founded their capital at Chichén Itzá.
The Itzá brought their Mexicanized Maya culture to Chichén Itzá in the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. During their rule, Mexican-influenced cultures produced certain changes in the traditional Maya way of life. In the social structure military lords rose in power, and the institution of a formalized priesthood separated from political rulers. This change was echoed in religion, in which the feathered serpent-god Kukulcan dominated all others. The use of human sacrifice in worship became increasingly important. There were also new forms of sacrifice; the Itzá threw victims into a sacred cenote, or natural well, along with offerings of pottery, gold, jade, and other valuables. This cenote, in fact, determined the location of Chichén Itzá and was responsible for the city’s importance as a pilgrimage center.
Chichén Itzá was a very large city with a central area covering about 5 sq km (2 sq mi). Its architecture shows the introduction of columns, wider rooms and doorways, and sloping zones around the base of the buildings. The core area includes numerous temples and ball courts, one of which is the largest known in Mesoamerica. One distinctive structure of the city is a round temple that functioned as an observatory. Statues and motifs of Kukulcan appeared on buildings, staircases, roofs, columns, and doorway lintels. Life-size stone figures supported the altars, and great reclining stone figures, called Chacmools, were sculpted. Warriors depicted in bas-relief columns lack the Classic Maya distortion of head and eyes. Pottery became monochrome, or single-colored, instead of multicolored, as it had been in the Classic era, but it was often carved or incised with intricate designs. Gold, copper, turquoise, and onyx were used in jewelry. Painted books, called codices, were made of bark fiber or deerskin. Trade and commerce, especially maritime exchange, increased.
In about 1221 Mayapán, which became the dominant state in the northern lowlands, conquered Chichén Itzá. Mayapán was smaller than Chichén Itzá but more densely settled. Among its 3500 buildings were houses for nobles and commoners, and it was surrounded by a fortified stonewall 8 km (5 mi) long to protect it against neighboring groups. Structures were packed very tightly in the 4 sq km (1.5 sq mi) area of this walled city. Warlords and merchants continued to gain in importance, and the continual call to arms took up the time of the common people, who spent less and less time on their crafts. Architecture, pottery, and carvings of the period are crude in comparison to those of earlier periods. Finally, in about 1450, a competing lineage defeated the rulers of Mayapán, and the entire peninsula fell into civil war. The following 100 years of warfare left the Maya vulnerable to the invading Spaniards.
The first Spaniards to encounter the Maya were a party of shipwrecked sailors who landed in Yucatán in 1511. Next came the expedition of Francisco Fernández de Córdoba in 1517. In 1527 Francisco de Montejo attempted to conquer Yucatán, and in 1546 his son succeeded. By 1524 Spanish explorer Pedro de Alvarado had conquered the southern highland area, which had also fallen into tribal warfare. Spanish domination of the entire Maya region was achieved in 1697, when the small group of Maya in the central Petén area was conquered by Martin de Ursua, the Spanish governor of the Yucatán. Many Maya were killed or died of European diseases that the Spanish brought with them. The Spanish forced most of the remainder to labor on Spanish farms or in gold and silver mines.
The modern descendants of the Maya still live as peasant farmers throughout the Maya region. They speak a mixture of Mayan and Spanish. One group, the Lacandón people of Mexico, still retains some ties with the past. They make pilgrimages with copal-burning incense pots to worship the old gods among the ruins of ancient pyramids and temples.
William R. Fowler
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Inca Empire, vast kingdom in the Andes Mountains of South America that was created by the Quechua, a Native American people, in the 15th century ad. The Inca Empire was conquered by the Spanish in the early 16th century. The Incas built a wealthy and complex civilization that ruled between 5 million and 11 million people. The Inca system of government was among the most complex political organizations of any Native American people. Although the Incas lacked both a written language and the concept of the wheel, they accomplished feats of engineering that were unequaled elsewhere in the Americas. They built large stone structures without mortar and constructed suspension bridges and roads that crossed the steep mountain valleys of the Andes.
The Incas conquered a number of neighboring peoples as they expanded their area of influence outward from their home in the Cuzco valley of highland Peru. Inca lands eventually totaled about 906,500 sq km (about 350,000 sq mi). This territory centered on the peaks of the Andes, but extended to the Pacific Coast and the Amazon basin. The political center of the empire was in what is now Peru, and its territory included parts of present-day Ecuador, Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwest Argentina. The terrain included high grass plateaus, low-lying jungles, deserts, and fertile river valleys.
ORIGINS OF THE INCAS
Most of the major ideas and institutions incorporated within Inca culture developed from a series of earlier Native American civilizations in the Andes. According to legend, the people later known as Incas began as a small group of warlike people and lived near Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru sometime before the 13th century. According to Inca myth, the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac, and his three brothers and four sisters emerged from caves in the earth. Around the year 1200, Manco Capac led ten Inca ayllus, or clans, from Lake Titicaca north to the fertile valley of Cuzco. The Incas conquered the people of the area and took it over for themselves. They founded the city of Cuzco as their capital. Manco Capac married one of his sisters to establish the royal Inca bloodline. He and succeeding emperors increased their power through marriage alliances and the conquest of neighboring groups. By the reign of Viracocha Inca, the eighth emperor, the Incas dominated an area stretching about 40 km (about 25 mi) around Cuzco. Recent archaeological evidence, however, shows that Inca culture was developing in the Cuzco Valley for centruries.
The Incas dramatically expanded and unified their territory after the conquest of the Chancas, under Viracocha's son, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. Pachacuti (whose name means "earthquake" or "cataclysm") reorganized the Inca social and political system. He and his son, Topa Inca Yupanqui, were brilliant soldiers and statesmen who extended the empire from northern Ecuador to central Chile. Under their leadership, the Incas united the diverse native peoples along 4800 km (3000 mi) of coast into a far-flung empire with a common Quechuan language and way of life. These leaders brought Inca civilization to its peak: They made the capital city of Cuzco into the center of Inca society and government, developed a state religion, and set up an elaborate administrative system to control their widely scattered subjects and territories.
Inca society was strictly organized, from the emperor and royal family down to the peasants. The emperor was thought to be descended from the sun god, Inti, and he therefore ruled with divine authority. All power rested in his hands. Only the influence of custom and the fear of revolt checked the emperor’s power. The emperor had one official wife, but he had many royal concubines and his children by these wives often numbered in the hundreds. The emperor chose his most important administrators from among his sons.
Just below the emperor came the aristocracy, which included descendants and relations of all the emperors. These pure-blooded Incas held the most important government, religious, and military posts. The nobles of conquered peoples also became part of the governing aristocracy and were considered Inca by adoption.
For administrative purposes the empire was divided into regions known as the "four suyus (quarters) of the world," with Cuzco at its center. The Incas called their empire Tawantinsuyu, a Quechuan word meaning “Land of the Four Quarters.” One suyu, the Antisuyu, stretched to the east of Cuzco and contained deep, forest-covered valleys that gradually descended into the jungles of the Amazon basin. Indian groups in this region, many of whom were only partially pacified, continued to launch attacks against the Incas. Cuntisuyu included all the land west of Cuzco, including the coastal regions of Peru from Chan Chan to Arequipa. Collasuyu was the largest of the quarters. Located south of Cuzco, it took in Lake Titicaca and regions of Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Chincasuyu contained the remaining land to the north of Cuzco.
A blood relative of the emperor served as governor of each quarter. The Incas further divided each quarter into progressively smaller units, with officials of descending rank overseeing the activities of these units. Serving under each governor were ten district governors, each of whom ruled over a district containing about 10,000 peasants. Another official, ideally a leader of a large village, ruled over a smaller area containing about 1000 peasants. At the level below, ten foremen each supervised a total of 100 peasants. At the lowest organizational level, an official oversaw a group of ten peasants. For every 10,000 people, there were 1331 officials.
Inca state affairs were complex and tightly controlled. Whole native populations were at times uprooted and resettled in other communities. Often groups were relocated to areas where they were needed for agricultural or mining activities. Sometimes relocations were politically motivated. Placing Quechua-speaking populations in newly conquered areas impaired the ability of local groups to unite against the Incas. Furthermore, these relocations facilitated the spread of Inca ideas and culture and promoted unity in the empire.
In order to deal efficiently with such matters, government officers kept strict accounts of all the people, gold, land, crops, and projects of the empire. Since the Incas had no system of writing, they kept records by means of a quipu—a series of short, knotted strings hung at intervals from a long top string. By varying the colors and kinds of string used and the spacing of the strings and knots, the Incas could record populations, troops, and tribute, as well as information about their legends and achievements. The quipu was a complex memory aid rather than a literal record, and only a trained quipucamayo, or memory expert, could create or interpret it. An oral comment accompanied each quipu and allowed the quipucamayo to make sense of its meaning. Following the Spanish conquest and the introduction of records written in Spanish, the Incas lost the ability to read quipus. Modern scholars still have not deciphered the codes used in the creation of quipus.
The Incas’ public works were built through a labor tax known as mit’a. This tax required most people incorporated into the Inca Empire to provide labor for public works during certain portions of each year. This labor tax supported large-scale public works that required the marshalling of large labor forces, such as for the building of forts, roads, and bridges, or the mining of metals and gems. It also allowed the emperor to raise large armies to undertake wars of conquest.
Road building was important to establishing communication throughout the huge, complex empire. The Inca emperors built a 16,000-km (10,000-mi) network of stone roads. Trained runners carried official messages, working in relays to cover up to 400 km (250 mi) per day. Government officials traveled on two main north-south roads and lesser crossroads that ran to every village in the empire. Local government officers managed tambos, or rest houses, which were spaced a day's journey apart and stocked with food and equipment.
To span the deep river gorges separating cities, the Inca built suspension bridges of rope that were marvels of engineering. Some of these rope bridges were nearly 100 m (330 ft) in length. One of the Incas’ greatest engineering feats was a bridge that crossed a dangerously steep gorge along the Apurímac. Constructed in 1350, this bridge—made from ropes of twined plant fibers—survived for more than 500 years, until it was abandoned in 1890.
To increase agricultural production, the government commissioned stone terraces in the steep, narrow Andean valleys. Officials also oversaw the construction of grain warehouses, which served as storage centers for a portion of each year’s grain harvest. The government distributed this grain to the people during times of scarcity and famine, and also as forms of payment for labor.
Among the most impressive of the Incas’ building projects were their vast temples, palaces, and fortresses. Massive stone buildings, such as the fortress at Sacsahuaman near Cuzco, were skillfully erected with a minimum of engineering equipment. The wall of Sacsahuaman was made of enormous stones, the largest of which weighed 200 tons. Stones were transported with the help of wooden rollers, and they fitted together so exactly that no mortar was necessary.
Cuzco itself was a marvel of Inca building and metalwork. The great Temple of the Sun was almost entirely sheathed with gold plate. In its courtyard, figures fashioned of gold depicted scenes from Inca life. Gold corn appeared to grow out of clods of earth made of gold, and golden llamas grazed on gold grass. Other cities included Machu Picchu, whose ruins were discovered in 1911.
The basis of Inca society was the ayllu, typically ayllus were families living together and sharing land, animals, and crops. The ayllus varied in size, from small farming villages to larger towns. Everyone belonged to an ayllu. An individual was born into an ayllu and died within it. Even the choice of a mate could be determined by the ayllu. If an Inca man did not marry by the age of 20, the head of the ayllu selected a mate for him.
Most Incas were farmers who worked the land. The emperor owned all the land in the empire. He administered its use through the ayllu, which divided land into allotments large enough for a family to farm. Families planted and harvested the land communally. Each autumn the ayllu adjusted land allotments to match increases or decreases in the size of each family. Aside from producing their own food, each ayllu worked additional fields to support the emperor and the state religion.
The daily life of the people of the Inca Empire varied widely according to social class. The emperor lived in a dazzling palace with gold and silver walls, plates, and cups. He wore a gold fringe around his forehead as the emblem of his office. His throne was merely a low stool, possibly of red wood, although sometimes of gold. Although his blankets were made of soft vicuna wool, he slept on the floor like his lowliest subjects.
Although the emperor and other nobles often had many wives, the emperor traditionally married his sister as his principal wife. The next emperor would be chosen from among the sons born of this union. Since both the emperor and his sister were considered direct descendents of the god Inti, this union guaranteed that the son who succeeded to the throne would also be a pure-blood descendant of Inti. The heir was given strict training to make him able to outdo other boys in strength and endurance. Royalty and nobility were exempt from taxation and had such privileges as land, llamas, fine clothing, and litters, which were mats upon which the royalty and nobility would sit and be carried around by people of lesser social levels.
Inca farmers, in contrast, led a life of hard work. After breakfasting at daybreak on chicha, a kind of thick beer made from fermented corn, the entire family worked in the fields until midmorning. Then they ate the day’s main meal, consisting of such foods as corn kernels boiled with chili peppers and herbs; soup or stew of guinea-pig meat thickened with potato flour; or cornmeal mixed with water and baked in hot ashes into a hard bread. Potatoes were a staple, especially in the mountains. In addition to working in the fields, women made chicha, ground corn and potatoes into flour, and produced cloth by spinning and weaving cotton or wool. If an Inca man were not a noble, he could have only one wife.
A typical Inca house was a one-room rectangular building of adobe brick or stone with a thatched, gabled roof, and without windows or a chimney. At night people slept on the floor around a crude stove, which was made of stone cemented with mud. During the day, people spent most of their time outdoors. Upper-class houses were often larger and partitioned into several rooms.
Although the quality of clothing varied, poor and rich and even the emperor dressed in the same basic fashion. Men wore breechcloths, sleeveless knee-length tunics, and cloaks or ponchos. Women wore long dresses and capes fastened with a pin of copper, silver, or gold. All garments were of woven cotton or wool cloth. The men fixed their hair in a distinctive style to signify the allyu to which they belonged and wore decorative earplugs of shell or metal.
Although there was little social mobility, some Inca peasants escaped the grinding labor and harsh life of their class. Specially gifted boys were trained in crafts or in keeping records and used their skills to serve the emperor. Also exempt from menial labor were the yanacona, unusually intelligent boys who were trained and employed by the emperor as servants, pages, or temple attendants. They were slaves, but they made important contacts and might rise high in government service. Some Inca girls also received education and distinction as “chosen women.” The most beautiful 10-year-old girls of each ayllu were selected. After studying religion and domestic arts, they were placed in the households of the emperor and his nobles. Sometimes they were sacrificed to the gods and buried atop Andean mountain peaks.
Agriculture was the basis of the economy, producing almost all the foods in the Inca diet. Each ayllu had its own self-supporting farm community. Ayllu members worked the land cooperatively to produce food crops and cotton. All work was done by hand because the Incas lacked wheeled tools and draft animals. Their simple implements included a heavy wooden spade or foot plow called a taclla, a stone-tipped club to break up clods, a bronze-bladed hoe, and a digging stick.
The inhabitants of the Andean region developed more than half the agricultural products that the world eats today. Among these are more than 20 varieties of corn; 240 varieties of potato; as well as one or more varieties of squash, beans, peppers, peanuts, and cassava (a starchy root); and quinoa, which is made into a cereal. By far the most important of these was the potato. The Incas planted the potato, which is able to withstand heavy frosts, as high as 4600 m (15,000 ft). At these heights the Incas could use the freezing night temperatures and the heat of the day to alternately freeze and dry the potatoes until all the moisture had been removed. The Incas then reduced the potato to a light flour. They cultivated corn up to an altitude of 4100 m (13,500 ft) and consumed it fresh, dried, and popped. They also made it into an alcoholic beverage known as saraiaka or chicha.
The Incas faced difficult conditions for agriculture. Mountainous terrain limited the land that could be used for agriculture, and water was sometimes scarce. To compensate, the Incas adopted and improved upon the terracing methods invented by pre-Inca civilizations. They built stone walls to create raised, level fields. These fields formed steplike patterns along the sides of hills that were too steep to irrigate or plough in their natural state. Terraces created more arable land and kept the topsoil from washing away in heavy rains.
Although rain generally falls in the Andes between December and May, there are often years of drought. The Incas constructed complex canals to bring water to terraces and other patches of arable land. They also made use of natural fertilizers. Guano, the nitrate-rich droppings of birds, was plentiful in coastal areas. In the highlands, farmers used the remains of slaughtered llamas as a fertilizer.
Camelids, such as llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas, were very important to the economy. In addition to carrying burdens, llamas and alpacas were raised as a source of coarse wool and of dung, which was used for fuel. The finest-quality wool came from the wild vicuña, which was caught, sheared, and set free again. The Inca also raised guinea pigs, ducks, and dogs, which were the main sources of meat protein.
The Incas mined extensive deposits of gold and silver, but this wealth ultimately brought disaster in the 16th century, when Spanish soldiers came seeking riches for themselves and their king.
The supreme god of the Incas was the creator god, Viracocha. The Incas also worshiped the sun god, Inti, from whom the royal family was believed to be descended, and a number of other nature gods that were vital to the success of their crops. The Incas also believed that certain objects and places were sacred. They called these objects and places huacas. A huaca might be a great temple built by humans; an object found in nature, such as a hill, spring, stream, or rock; or a small amulet, or charm. Every Inca family had a huaca, some object of worship that was put in a niche in the home. Offerings were repeatedly given to the huacas to maintain balance in nature and society.
The Incas also believed in an afterlife and worshiped the spirits of their ancestors. The bodies and tombs of the dead were treated as huacas. The bodies of dead rulers were among the holiest shrines in the empire. These rulers were treated as if they were still alive, attended to by servants in their palaces and consulted for advice on daily affairs. Rural people practiced simpler rituals of ancestor worship. When a person died, the body was embalmed and placed in a beehive-shaped tomb with vessels of food and chicha. The family of the deceased held funeral ceremonies for eight days and wore black clothes for as long as a year, and women in mourning cut their hair. The Incas also made above ground tombs called chullpas. They would enter and reenter these tombs, providing more food and precious goods and offerings to their mummified ancestors.
The Inca state religion was highly formal, with a large number of priests to conduct its many rituals and ceremonies. In many rites, live sacrifices were offered to the gods. The sacrificial offerings were usually llamas or guinea pigs, but on the most sacred occasions or in times of disaster, human children or chosen women might be sacrificed. Priests prophesied the future and treated the sick, since illness was thought to result from the ill will of a person or a god. The chosen women served the gods, especially the sun god, and certain of them, called virgins of the sun, took vows of chastity for life. See also Pre-Columbian Religions: Inca Religion.
Science and Arts
Although priests treated most illness with healing ceremonies, the Incas were capable of amazing feats of surgery, including amputations and perhaps even bone transplants. The patient was first made unconscious by drugs, intoxicants, or possibly hypnotism. Many of these surgeries were successful, and the patients lived for years after the operations.
The Incas seem to have reckoned time by a lunar calendar. They had accurate standards of measurement, including a fathom that equaled about 163 cm (64 in) in length, and they used a balance beam for measuring weight.
The Incas were skilled in such crafts as textiles, pottery, and metalwork. They wove wool and cotton into intricate geometric patterns. In addition to painted pottery vessels, the Incas made small objects of clay that were sometimes decorated with animal forms. They created a few standardized forms, chiefly llamas and human figurines, in stone and metal. Goldsmithing was an Inca specialty. Smiths who worked gold and silver lived in a special district and did not have to pay taxes. The best examples of their art have not survived, because the Spanish melted most Inca articles made of gold and shipped them to Spain. Craftsmen made wide use of copper and bronze for tools and ornaments, while fashioning gold and silver into jewelry and other items for use by the nobility or the priests. See also Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture.
The Incas produced a rich body of music, of which only fragments survive. Inca music often accompanied ritualized religious dancing. Musicians used repetitive rhythms and dissonant tones to induce an almost hypnotic state in the dancers. Inca instruments were made of wood, reeds, pottery, bone, shell, and metal. The Incas played two basic kinds of instruments: wind and percussion. Wind instruments, such as horns and flutes, produce a sound when a musician blows into a tube or hollow chamber. Percussion instruments, such as bells or drums, produce a sound when a musician strikes the instrument. Drums and flutes were the most common instruments used by the Incas. Flutes came in many varieties. The panpipe—a series of cane or pottery flutes tuned to different notes and tied together in a row—are still common in the Andes today.
The Inca civilization was at its height around 1493, as Spaniards began arriving in the Americas. In that year, the great ruler Topa Inca was succeeded by Huayna Capac, who continued to expand the empire. In about 1525 the Inca Empire survived an attack by a band of Chiriguano, Native American people from nearby Paraguay. The attackers were accompanied by Portuguese explorer Aleixo García, the first white man the Incas had ever seen. Then stories reached the Incas of other white men exploring the Pacific coast.
About 1525 both Huayna Capac and his appointed heir died within a few days of each other, probably from one of the European diseases that accompanied the arrival of the Spaniards. Their deaths set off a struggle for power between two of Huayna Capac’s remaining sons, Huáscar and Atahualpa. Civil war weakened the empire until Atahualpa captured Huáscar and ordered his execution in 1532. That same year, Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro and 180 Spanish soldiers landed on the coast of Peru. The Incas at first believed Pizarro to be their creator god Viracocha, just as the Aztecs of Mexico had associated the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés with their god Quetzalcoatl (see Aztec Empire).
Pizarro, however, launched a surprise attack on Atahualpa's followers and seized the emperor. Atahualpa tried to buy his life by giving Pizarro enough gold to fill a room. His efforts were not successful; in 1533 the Spaniards executed Atahualpa by strangulation, and then they chopped off his head.
The Spaniards extended their control over Inca territory in the following years. Pizarro tried at first to maintain the appearances of a continued Inca state by placing Manco Capac II, a son of Huayna Capac, on the throne at Cuzco. Disagreements soon broke out among the Spanish over how to divide the wealth taken from the Incas. Manco Capac II took advantage of this situation. He escaped from Cuzco in 1536 and launched a revolt against Spanish rule.
The Spanish quickly defeated an attack by four Inca armies at Lima, Peru, which Pizarro had made his capital. After an unsuccessful three-month siege of Cuzco by another Inca army, Manco Capac II and thousands of his followers took refuge in the mountainous region of Vilcabamba to the northwest of Cuzco. There he created a new Inca state, from which he led his warriors in attacks on the Spanish.
The Inca kingdom at Vilcabamba survived for another 36 years, protected by the difficult terrain of the region. In 1572 the Spanish made a determined attempt to destroy the Inca stronghold. They overwhelmed the Inca forces and captured the last emperor of the Incas, Tupac Amarú. The Spanish beheaded Tupac Amarú in 1572, ending the Inca dynasty.
The conquerors then introduced the encomienda system, which put Native Americans to work at forced labor on great agricultural estates. Thousands died of European diseases, and many others fled the land of their ancestors, causing the population to drop rapidly. Today about 8 million descendants of the Incas inhabit the lands of the former empire, speaking the Quechuan language and following many of the ancient Inca beliefs and customs.
William R. Fowler
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Iron, Steel, Bronze, chert and obsidian are the main materials each weapon is made from. Each weapon has a class, poor being of low quality, Just the name of a weapon is normal, and Great is of the best quality, Blessed is of great quality and adds some sort of stat bonus.
Swords come in one hand, dagger, knife, short sword, two handed and great sword.
Spears are long poles with some sort of spearhead, such as iron or so on.
Bows use arrows and bow can be either primitive or cross bow made by the Spaniards, arrows or bolts are made from different materials
Guns used bullets made of either copper, tin, steel, lead, and need a powder horn to refill for each shot used by Spanish only.
Muskets or rifled guns are longer and do more damage.
Spanish Characters classes:
Priests are catholic Christians and are good at healing and using prayer casting same as priest spells. With some exceptions to priest spells in the game. Priest convert natives to Christianity and will help relations with natives and allows you to coexist peaceably together.
Monks are similar to priest but are better at making medicines same as potions. Monks also use some prayer cast and can also convert natives to Christianity.
Conquistador is a Spanish worrier with a gun and good with heavy steel armor.
Settler is a Spaniard with basic herb finding, food gather such as native fruits, nuts, and farms the land while also a colony ship full of these will randomly build a settlement sent by the main land Spain.
Imbue by saying prayer blessing into items by use of a bible to increase a stat, or provide a defense or resistance bonus.
Bless will also work to improve armor and weapons and will help increase character stats during combat.
Convert by quoting the bible priest and monks use this to permanently convert Indians and natives to a peaceful productive life. But requires a high level of native languages to translate to other Natives.
Carve: Add a gem slot to belts, helms, rings, bracelets, shields, and weapons, armor. Gems give bonuses; Blue adds to energy, green to health, yellow to dexterity, red to strength and clear to intelligence.
Pick locks, opens doors while using energy, which is recharged by reading a bible.
Float: Allows you to move across rivers up to 7 spaces and reach high mountain places.
Faith powder: instead of a powder horn energy can by used with this tool skill. Consumes five of your energy instead of your gunpowder.
Mining: will help find gems
Herbs: will help find herbs for medicines
Traps: will help avoid traps.
Other useful skills and abilities:
Native languages: will help you understand what natives say.
Native lore: will help in reading native writing
Cash crop: will plant a cocoa been or other random crop near your home to gather and sell for gold.
Latin: need to read some catholic bibles
Chocolate bar is a special skill the combines’ milk and sugar cane with cocoa to make this valuable item worth 900 gold to sell or improve one star worth also 50 knowledge points.
Crops and animals: Agave, cocoa, maize or corn, tomatoes, potatoes and cows, pigs, lamas, cotton, horses, red beetles, wheat, of squash, beans, peppers, peanuts, and cassava, mushrooms, tobacco, chili peppers, avocados, and turkeys and dogs sugar cane and more.
Gems include obsidian, chert or flint, turquoise, amethyst, crystal quartz, glass in any color, emerald, blue turquoise, sapphire, yellow diamond, clear diamond, citrine, ruby and garnet.
Game styles are free form to explore and conquer as you wish or campaign from Columbus to Magellan, Aztec stage, Maya campaign, and Inca Campaign. To explore all the Caribbean and central and south America and visit the spice islands.
Free form lets you try and conquer and explore the entire new world from central to South America.
Campaign lets you play out parts of history.