Pre-Columbian Civilizations II
Aztecs and Incas

I. Aztecs
  1. Last in a series of civilizations to develop in Valley of Mexico
    1. Teotihuacan
      1.  ruled Valley 200 BC-650 AD
      2.  mysterious -- no writing
      3.  very powerful for long time
      4.  evidence of a great fire near time of collapse
    1. Tula
      1. City-state of the Toltecs; ruled Valley of Mexico 968-1200
      2. warrior culture
      3.  Aztecs would claim descent from Toltecs
      4.  Collapse in 1100s of Tula, complete by c. 1200, opened space for Nahuatl speakers to migrate south
  2. Mexica (Aztecs) arrived in valley c. 1218.
    1.  Last Nahua group to arrive in Valley
    2.  trouble finding land
    3.  worked as mercenaries for other Nahua city-states
    4.  Founded Tenochtitlan on islands in lake Texcoco c. 1325
  3. D. Creating the Empire
    1. Begin big push outward in 1430, gaining subservience of north Mesoamerica.
    2. Begins as a "Triple Alliance" with Texcoco and Tlacopan, but Tenochitlan come to dominate thoroughly
    3. Assert descent from T
  4. Economy and Society
    1. Complex system of agriculture based on irrigation, chinampas produced wealth
    2. Extensive trading system all over Central and North America
    3.  As empire expanded, tribute vitally important to trade
      1. Vassal states tribute turned in to trade goods
      2. Yearly tribute included
        1. 14 million lbs corn;
        2. 8 million lbs beans;
        3.  2 million cloaks;
        4.  weapons, gems
      3. This tribute vital to Aztec economy
      4.  Spaniards found an enormous market in Tenochtitlan
      5.  Traders/merchants also important as spies
    4. Major social unit was the calpulli - ward/clan 
    5.  Rapid expansion of empire brought enormous social disparities
      1. Offering a feast was a key social ritual for all classes
      2.  those unable to offer feasts were not able to meet social obligations
      The poorest "had nothing to use, with which to gather and assemble people. He in no way excelled others...He had no bowl or jar. He visited and inflicted pain, misery and suffering on one."
      1.  At certain times, before the harvest, the rich gave out food.
        1.  poor lined up to receive it
        2.  lined up on basis of rank in the capulli
        3.  expected to be docile and passive
        4.  fate blamed as reason some got none when food ran out
        5. no provisions for those unable to get to distribution point
      2. beggars were know as "bumblebees"
    6.  A socially controlled society
      1. severe punishments for public drunkenness
      2.  people out of control thought to be risking an eruption of the sacred
      3.  but also social conflict - many brawls in the marketplace
  5. E. Religion and Empire
    1. Mexica imagined a fragile cosmology
      1. Man is rootless, without foundation
      2. Current existence fated to end
      3. cycles of sun, each must end - 5th Sun must die
    1.  Huitzilopotchli - God of War and the Sun
      1. Huitzilopotchli - the chief tribal god of Aztecs
      2. The sun formed by a god sacrificing himself on coals each day - reborn as sun
      3. Nourishment comes only from human heart (purity) - must be physically freed
      4. Thus human sacrifice vital to religion
      5. Number increase dramatically; tens of thousands each year
      1.  Increasingly common on community, family level
    1.  Sacrifice taken to new heights as part of statecraft
      1.  intimately tied to expansion
      2.  War both religious and political.
    2. All nations must serve Huitzilipotchli
      1. tribute cities must give over sacrificial victims
      2.  Flowery war
        1. meant to take captives, not kill
        2. Often orchestrated
        3. hurt them with Spaniards
    3. An empire based on fear
      1.  Aztecs did not govern their conquests directly
      2.  left them intact as source of tribute
      3.  left them intact as source of "war captives" for sacrifice
      4.  Need to constantly ratchet up the fear
      5.  sacrifice and war become a self-reinforcing obsession
      6.  life of nobles a constant preparation and participation in war
      7.  yet also a society that valued speech, dance, poetry
    4.  This empire of fear left them vulnerable to Spaniards

II. Inca

  1. "Peru" has seen an astonishing array of civilizations, of which Inca are the last
  2.  Ayllu
    1. System for organizing resources in difficult enviroment
    2. Importance of the four zones - sea coast, irrigated valley, mountains, tropical
    3.  Kin groups (ayllus) worked land together
    4.  Required resources from all zones
    5.  Ayllus would often send out colonists to each zone
  3. "Inca" Empire
    1.  Between 1438 and 1532, went from city-state Cuzco to empire stretching from Ecuador to Chile
    2.  Tawantinsuyu - the land of the four corners ("Inca" is the title of the emporer)
    3.  Based on efficient organization, extensive bureaucracy
    4. Unlike Aztecs, more direct rule
    5.  Used re-settlement to shatter old loyalties
    6.  Co-opted conquered ruling classes, incorporating them into bureaucracy
    7.  Made extensive use of mita for construction and other tasks
      1. used to build massive fortresses, granaries, and strategically placed towns
      2. also helped developed road system vital for messengers and troops movments
    8.  Village land divided into three parts: Sun (religion), government, and village
    9.  Religion
      1. Ancestor worship, preservation of mummies common in Andes
      2.  Inca were polytheistic
      3.  Most important god was Inti - the sun god
      4.  Emperor claimed descent from Inti
    10. Rapid conquest created resentments. Civil war and smallpox lead to defeat