At the same time that the Renaissance unfolding in Europe, the Aztecs were creating a world-class society in the Americas. The years were 1350 to 1519. The place was the present day site of Mexico City

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At the same time that the Renaissance unfolding in Europe, the Aztecs were creating a world-class society in the Americas. The years were 1350 to 1519. The place was the present day site of Mexico City.
The Aztecs lived in a small basin about the size of Rhode Island. Surrounded by high mountain peaks, the basin extends 120 kilometers from north to south, and 80 kilometers from east to west. In Aztec times, basin collected water that formed five inter-connected lakes. These shallow lakes were one to three meters in depth and provided splendid irrigation for farming.
The Aztecs were a group of about ten thousand people who migrated to the shores of Lake Texcoco two or three centuries before 1325 CE. When they arrived, there were already many groups of farmers living in the lake area of central Mexico. The Aztec newcomers were distrusted and dislike because they tended to push others out of their way. People in the basin saw the Aztecs as tough warriors and fanatical followers of their Aztec gods. And the Aztecs did take over. By 1434 they were demanding tribute and military support from people in the entire region. While population estimates for the empire vary, historians believe that the Aztec rulers came to control more than ten million people.
The most important Aztec god was Huitzilopochtli, the sun god. He needed strength in order to carry out his duties and the Aztecs believed that human blood and hearts provided the necessary nourishment. This led to human sacrifice on a large scale.

Like the Aztecs, the Inca would come to dominate a large portion of the Americas. However, the environment could not have been more different. The Inca empire stretched for over 2000 miles, from modern day Bolivia and Peru, and down through Chile. The empire was located high in the Andes mountains, which provided unique challenges for Incan engineers and farmers.
The Empire was ruled over by a king, known as the Sappa Inca. Messages were sent throughout the empire by runners who by delivered complex, coded strands of knotted string, known as quipu. Each year, every Inca subject was expected to provide labor for projects dictated by the Sappa Inca for a period of six weeks. This was in addition to any other tax they had to pay.
To feed an empire of at least 6 to 10 million people, the Inca relied upon the potato. They developed nearly 300 types of potatos, of all shapes, sizes and colors, that could grow at different altitudes of the Andes mountains. Without the potato, the empire would not have been possible, as corn, the major crop relied upon by all other Native Americans, could only be grown in small portions of the empire. The potato would transform Europe when it was discovered by Spanish conquistadores in the 1500’s. The Inca also had the only large domesticated animal in the Americas – the llama. Its wool was essential for warm clothing in the mountains, but it could not pull a cart or wagon and provide labor. Thus, the Inca never created a wheel.
Inca religion was complex, but did not rely upon mass human sacrifice like the Aztecs. However, some human sacrifice was practiced, as the mummies of women, children, and young men have been found high in the Andes mountains, preserved by the cold and thin, dry air. They appear to have been taken into the mountains to die of exposure as a sacrifice to the gods.

NAME: _______________________

Aztec Introduction

  1. Based upon the passage what is the meaning of ‘tribute’?

  1. What advantages did the environment of the Aztec Empire provide?

  1. How could the religion of the Aztecs contribute to conflict with their neighbors?

Inca Introduction

  1. Based upon the information, why would the Andes mountains present a challenge for Inca farmers?

  1. Why was the potato essential for the Incan Empire?

  1. What information supports the conclusion that no Native American group in either North or South America invented the wheel?

DBQ Questions
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