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Terms in this set (36)
1. According to their religion, the Maya believed that
kings and priests could communicate with the gods.
2. The first Mesoamerican civilizations began
once people learned how to farm in poor rain forest soils.
3. A major breakthrough of the Maya was
developing the concept of zero.
4. How did the Aztecs take control of the basin known as the Valley of Mexico?
They conquered their neighbors with a powerful army.
5. At its peak, the Aztec Empire
extended from central Mexico to Guatemala.
Who ran the everyday operations of the Aztec government?
The chief minister
7. The group that ruled the Aztec empire was known as
the Triple Alliance.
8. To increase the land available for farming, the Aztecs built
9. Many feats of Aztec engineering were made necessary by Tenochtitlan's location
on a small island in a shallow lake.
10. By studying the glyphs on Maya stela, scholars have learned about
the deeds of Maya rulers.
11. Maya astronomers created three major types of
12. Many Maya pyramids were topped by
13. The Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica developed in
the tropical lowlands.
14. Which of the following statements best describes Maya cities?
Maya cities had pyramids and palaces in their centers.
The Aztecs built artificial islands called ______________ to add farmland around their capital city of Tenochtitlan.
Aztec kings ruled an ____________________ with total power over their people.
The Aztecs built _______________ to carry fresh water across Lake Texcoco.
The Olmecs used _____________________ to farm the rain forest.
The Maya developed an advanced writing system based on symbols called _____________.
Maya astronomers built __________________ to follow the paths of objects in the sky.
What were the challenges and advantages of settling in the lowlands of Mesoamerica?
The lowland regions had a hot, wet climate that supported a dense rain forest. This meant there was little open land available for farming and that the soil was poor. However, the lowlands had abundant rainfall and valuable plant and animal resources, such as prized quetzal feathers. Agriculture was possible with slash-and-burn methods.
How were the religion and the government of the Maya connected?
Only nobles could become priests and many nobles were priests. In addition, the majority of kings served as priests before taking office. Both priests and kings were responsible for carrying out rituals that the Maya felt were necessary to keep the universe in balance. Common people believed that priests and kings could communicate with the gods. This gave the king and nobility power, because people feared the displeasure of the gods.
How were Maya advances in mathematics related to their interest in astronomy?
Maya astronomers made detailed observations of the sky and developed advanced mathematics to calculate the paths of objects in the sky.
Why have Maya ruins been so important in learning about their culture?
The Maya built many cities filled with hundreds of stone buildings that have survived over the ages. These cities reveal that the Maya had a well-organized society. The temples provide information about Maya religion, their observatories help us understand their science and astronomy, and the writing found on stela monuments tells scholars about the history of the Maya people.
How did the first civilizations of Mesoamerica influence the Maya?
The smaller Olmec and Zapotec civilizations both preceded the Maya, with the Olmec civilization coming first. The Olmecs developed slash-and-burn agriculture and built cities out of stone, a method that the Maya adopted. The Zapotecs developed what may have been the first writing system in the Americas, which might have inspired the Maya hieroglyphics.
What have scholars learned about the Maya from studying their written records?
Scholars have learned how to read most Maya glyphs, but the majority of Maya books have been lost or destroyed. So scholars are left to study the records carved into stone on the pillars called stela or to study Maya calendars. These sources teach scholars about Maya rulers and major events, but tells them little about daily life for most Mayans.
What role did warfare play in Aztec society and history?
The Aztecs used military conquest to build their empire. Following their conquest, they used frequent small wars to intimidate rivals into offering tribute and to collect prisoners for the human sacrifices that were a key part of Aztec religion. In spite or perhaps because of their warlike nature, the Aztec empire faced many revolts.
How did the Aztecs apply their engineering skills to the challenges of living on an island?
The Aztecs used their engineering talents to control the flow of water, first by building a dike to hold back Lake Texcoco and then by creating an aqueduct to bring fresh water to the city of Tenochtitlan. They also built the artificial islands known as chinampas to create more farmland to help feed the huge city. And they built causeways to connect the city to the mainland.
Compare the power of the Aztec king to that of the rulers of other city-states.
Under the Triple Alliance, the Aztec king shared some power with the kings of Tlacopan and Texcoco, neighboring cities along the lake. They supported each other with soldiers and collected tribute from lesser city-states that they conquered. However, the Aztec king was the most powerful member of the Triple Alliance, making all decisions having to do with war or conquest. And he was much more powerful than the rulers of city-states not belonging to the Triple Alliance.
How did the Aztecs build the great wealth of their empire?
The Aztecs used a combination of tribute and trade to collect wealth. All the city-states ruled by the Triple Alliance had to send regular payments of valuable goods such as jewelry, quetzal feathers, and chocolate to the Aztec king. In addition, Aztec traders traveled throughout the empire, exchanging goods made in Aztec towns for precious items.
Contrast the lifestyles of Aztec nobles with those of Aztec commoners.
Aztec nobles lived in large houses, ate good food, and often owned slaves. Most commoners were farmers who lived in small homes and ate simply. A few were artisans who made fine craft goods such as feathered artwork, while the wealthiest commoners were traders who traveled around the empire.
Why might Europeans have been impressed upon seeing the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan?
The city was very large and at the center of an area populated by about one million people. It was surrounded by artificial islands that provided extra farmland and had many bridges and canals to move goods into and out of the city. Within the city itself were magnificent buildings, including a Great Temple surrounded by palaces and temples in a large central plaza.
1. How might the violent nature of the Aztec empire contributed to its downfall?
Possible answer: The Aztecs created and maintained their empire through warfare, the threat of force, and demands for tribute and prisoners. They practiced a religion that demanded regular human sacrifices, and they took prisoners for this purpose. Throughout their history the Aztecs had to deal with revolts from peoples resisting these demands. When the Aztecs were eventually conquered by European invaders, it was with the help of native people who resented Aztec demands for tribute and feared being taken prisoner and sacrificed by the Aztecs.
2. How were the Aztec and Maya civilizations shaped by their geography?
Possible answer: The Aztecs lived on limited land area surrounded by brackish water. They had to build chinampas to overcome the lack of soil and use dikes and aqueducts to get fresh water. The Maya lived in a hot region with poor soils and few rivers. They had to practice slash-and-burn agriculture to nourish the soil and use sinkholes or cisterns to get water. They believed their gods controlled the weather that they relied upon for rain.
3. Were the Aztec and Maya religions more similar to each other or more different?
Possible answers: Students who argue for similarity will note that religion played a key role in each society. Each civilization built massive stone temples in its cities. In addition, each religion had many gods and sometimes required human sacrifices to appease these gods. In each religion, such sacrifices were needed to ensure that the world remained as it was.
4. Which Maya achievements stand out from those of the Aztecs?
Possible answer: Both civilizations developed agriculture and advanced architecture, building cities with sophisticated engineering and many large stone structures. Neither of them used metal tools. However, students should note that the Maya developed a true system of writing using their glyphs, while the Aztecs had a simpler system of pictorial symbols. The Mayan advances in astronomy and mathematics also distinguish them from the Aztecs. While the Aztecs had a solar calendar, the Maya developed three different calendar systems as well as mathematics that included the concept of zero. Because the Maya came before the Aztecs, their culture also influenced Aztec culture to some degree by influencing the cultures of Central America that the Aztecs came into contact with.
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