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Mesoamerican civilization explains the emergence and development of complex indigenous cultures in some portions of Central America and Mexico. The study focuses on a period before the Spanish exploration and conquest that took place in the 16th century. During the civilization, the organization of its values of leadership involved empires and kingdoms. The civilization also portrayed sophisticated developments in agriculture, trade, and technology. This is evident from its cities, monuments and other traces. The accomplishments civilization is comparable to other popular civilizations like the Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Chinese, and the Andean civilization ("Mesoamerican Civilization"). The Mesoamerican civilization comprised of the Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and Zapotec civilizations.
Mesoamerica extends from central Mexico southeastward to northern Costa Rica through Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and the Pacific coast of Nicaragua to the Gulf of Nicoya. The earliest civilization in Mesoamerica was the Olmec culture which lived in the gulf coast of Mexico. Their contact and interaction with other culture from Chiapas and Guatemala laid the basis of distinct religious traditions, architectural complexes, art and development of cities and the birth of other cultures such as the Maya, Zapotec, and Aztec. By this time the Mesoamerican art and writing had reached advanced level creating the Maya hieroglyphic script. Mesoamerica, China, and Mesopotamia are the only places in the world where writing was invented and developed independently. The Mesoamerican scripts were combinations of syllabic and logographic characters called hieroglyphics because of the shape of the characters. The Mesoamerican architecture was portrayed in their ceremonial, public and cities that had monumental structures. They encompassed various regional and historic styles. The architectural structures were decorated with icons, writings and images with religious and cultural significance. During 7000BC the ceremonial centers interconnected people and they started trading in form of exchanging luxury items like jade, spondylus shell, cacao and ceramics thus developing trade in the civilization. During this civilization, there was wide spread distinct religious believes which were linked to Mesoamerican god, space and spiritual world. The Mesoamerican played games such as ballgames especially the Aztec as form of entertainment. They also participated in other activities such as gambling other resembling pillow fights and snow ball fights ("Games and Other Amusements of the Ancient Mesoamericans"). These activities translate accurately to the modern times of cause with adjustments and rules to make the games such as ball game better. Other concepts of trade and architecture have evolved but those in the ancient Mesoamerica created a foundation.
The Mayan civilization developed in the area surrounding southeast Mexico, Belize and Guatemala and west portions of Honduras. During the 2000BC-250AD, the Mayan civilization made developments in agriculture cultivating staple food crops fitting their diet of maize, squashes, chili, and beans. The Mayan trade mostly revolved around the food crops honey, turkey. They also sold raw materials such as wood, marble, and weapons. They relied on barter trade for large items and cacao seeds as currency for small goods. The Mayan Religion comprised of many aspects of nature, culture, astronomy, and rituals. The gods represented various forms and periods such as sun god, maize god and yum god. The Mayans used represents periods in combination with astronomical beliefs to create the calendar to use during religious rituals. The same religious beliefs steered architecture thus building of pyramids that were used as temples (Mark).
The Aztecs origin is traced to nomadic tribes in northern Mexico. They arrived in Mesoamerica in the 13th century. They were dominant and developed well established political, social, religious and commercial empire by the 15th century. To build the city they build two big pyramids and expanded the city to occupy about 20 square km. The builder made many urban layout innovations like building the city in the central avenue instead of utilizing public plazas. They implemented orthogonal layout and standard multi-family apartments making it unique for the whole of Mesoamerica (Cartwright). During the war, the conquered people were forced to pay tribute and tax to the emperor. They were also used as sacrifice thus the aim of the Aztecs during the war was to capture as many as possible rather than kill. The Aztecs believed and worshiped many gods such as god of rain, god of war. They believed that their gods required to be fed with blood and human hearts so they usually sacrificed prisoners. The Aztecs believed warriors that die in battle, sacrificed people and women who die during childbirth went to paradise (Lambert). The Aztec empire was conquered by the Spanish in 1492. An army of about 600 men led by Hernan Cortes managed to defeat the Aztecs despite their number. They were faced with several challenges like lack of guns, trained horses and dogs and worse the Aztec had many enemies that they had conquered and were forced to pay tribute. Aztec civilization planted plenty of maize which is a staple food in many countries around the world. They made farming land from swamps and lake which is a modern land reclamation technique. The use of passion flower to treat diseases is also a concept used in modern society the same way as the Aztecs.
The innovations made in the Mesoamerican civilization impact the lives of people in modern society in the day to day activities. The farming techniques, writing system, the Mayan calendar, and architectural techniques laid the foundation to the modern life (Evans). However, religious practices in Mesoamerica were not adopted since most practices such as sacrificing people by the Aztec or believes in many gods are different from modern religions.
Cartwright, Mark. "Aztec Civilization." Ancient History Encyclopedia, 26 Feb. 2014, www.ancient.eu/Aztec_Civilization/.
Evans, Charles T. "Notes on Mesoamerican Civilization." Home, novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/HIS111/Notes/Mesoamerica.html.
"Games and Other Amusements of the Ancient Mesoamericans." Welcome to Mexicolore, www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/home/games-and-other-amusements-of-the-ancient-mesoamericans.
Lambert, Tim. "The Aztecs." An Encyclopedia of World History, 2018, www.localhistories.org/aztec.html.
Mark, Joshua J. "Maya Civilization." Ancient History Encyclopedia, 6 July 2012, www.ancient.eu/Maya_Civilization/.
"Mesoamerican Civilization." Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/topic/Mesoamerican-civilization. Accessed 16 Dec. 2018.
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