Pre-Columbian Civilizations

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What common cultural, economic, political, geographical, and technological traits did the Aztecs and Mayans share?

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Culturally, the Maya and the Aztecs both participated in wars for tribute purposes. They offered the war captives as human sacrifices, a practice that was central to their religious beliefs. The two groups were also polytheist, each believing in a variety of gods based on nature. The two groups also had different social classes within their communities.

Economically, both the Maya and Aztecs were farmers. They farmed a variety of produce which included corn, squash and beans. The two groups also practiced trade and had a merchant class that exchanged their goods in different areas of the region they inhabited.

Politically, they developed organized state/s with a powerful king for the Aztecs and dynastic kings for the Maya.

Geographically, they were both located in Central America.

Technologically, the two groups participated in the building of monumental structures. They also used a detailed calendar system to determine their seasons and guide their ceremonies.

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Culturally, both the Aztecs and Mayans shared a religion.  The Mayan god Quetzalcoatl was said to have left the Mayans and headed east across the ocean, and he would one day return.  The Aztecs believed in this myth, and in 1519 when Hernan Cortes and his men sailed to the Yucatan and marched towards the Aztec capital city at Tenochtitlan, the emperor Moctezuma II believed it was Quetzalcoatl returning.  They also both believed that human sacrifice was necessary into order to feed the gods.  This was done to ensure the gods would be able to keep the world working and in peace.  Both the Mayans and Aztec also built pyramids to honor their gods.  The pyramid was the center of the city, showing religious importance to both civilizations.

Economically, both the Mayans and Aztec had agricultural economies.  They also both bolstered their economy with selling woven goods and jewelry.

Politically, both the Mayans and Aztecs were ruled by a King/Monarch.  This monarch was chosen because of his lineage to the gods; much like in China and Western Europe, we see the importance of connection to the divines in the legitimacy to rule.

Geographically, both the Mayans and Aztecs were based in current day Mexico.  the Mayans stayed moreso on the Yucatan Peninsula, the south western portion of Mexico that juts out into the Gulf of Mexico.  The Aztecs began over Lake Texcoco, but with military expansion, pushed out into much of central and southern Mexico.  Aztec allied states allowed for Aztec control to extend into what used to be Mayan territory.

Technologically, the Mayans and Aztecs both did not have access to iron tools.  Both used stone weapons and tools for fighting or crafting.  Both also used irrigation systems to sustain their agriculture.  

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The Aztecs and Mayans were two Mesoamerican civilizations that had much in common. One similar characteristic had to do with agriculture. Maize was a staple food for both groups and it was cultivated in large amounts to feed the people of their empire.

They also both had a similar social structure that had nobles and religious leaders at the top followed by the warrior class and then peasants and slaves.

Both civilizations observed 365 day calendars with similar markings and day/month symbols. They also both worshipped a pantheon of gods during religious ceremonies, some of which involved human sacrifice.

Both groups also built similar pyramid structures for religious purposes.

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