North and South America: 1200-1450 Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in North and South America: 1200-1450 Deck (24)
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Where was Cahokia?

The city of Cahokia was located on the banks of the Mississippi River, near modern-day St. Louis, and was characterized by massive burial mounds. Cahokia was the largest urban concentration of Native Americans north of Mexico. Before it was abandoned in circa 1400 A.D., some 40,000 people were estimated to have lived there. 


Prior to the arrival of Columbus, where was most of the population of the New World concentrated?

Most of the population of the New World was concentrated in Central and South America where civilizations such as the Aztecs and Incas flourished.


What civilization was the largest in the pre-Columbian American world?

The largest civilization in the pre-Columbian world was the Aztecs, who rose to power in Mexico around 1300. The Aztecs were fiercely warlike and expanded their power by near constant war with neighboring civilizations. Captured warriors provided many of the human sacrifices that were a hallmark of Aztec civilization.


Describe the Aztec religion.

The Aztec religion was polytheistic and centered around large pyramids that served as temples.

The most important god was the sun god Huitzilopochtli, and the Aztecs believed that their devotion to him ensured the reappearance of the sun each day. The sun god could only be appeased by blood, leading to large-scale human sacrifice of up to 20,000 persons per year.

Also important was the Mayan god Quetzalcoatl, who variously appeared as a serpent or a light-skinned bearded man.


What are Chinampas?

The Chinampas were an Aztec invention that contained beds of aquatic weeds and mud to create floating islands. This was their system of irrigated agriculture. Because of Chinampas, four corn crops a year were possible, dramatically increasing both their food supply and population.


What was a pochteca?

The pochteca was the merchant class of Aztec society often organized into guilds.

The pochteca would be sent by the government for trading expeditions and would bring back valuable geographic information to facilitate Aztec imperialism. 


What is a Calpulli?

A calpulli is a clan in Aztec Society based on family ties and where you lived. There were several hundred calpullis in Aztec society; and the more respected calpullis were made of ruling families or people who lived with nobility. As the Aztec empire became more powerful, the calpullis acted as barriers to social mobility. 


How were women treated in Aztec society?

Women's rights were recognized in economic life, as they were allowed to inherit and own property. However, in social and political life, women remained subordinate to men. 


How did technology affect the life of women in Aztec society?

Because the Aztecs lacked the technology of water or animal powered mills, women were forced to spend six hours per day grinding corn by hand on stone boards called metates. These techniques have been seen around the world, but were eventually replaced by water and animal powered mills. 


How did the Aztec treat their neighoring city states?

The Aztecs demanded tribute (payments) in the form of humans for live sacrifice and important resources such as food. When city states refused to do this, the Aztecs would violently suppress any rebellions. 


How did the Aztec tributary system contribute to the demise of the Empire?

The tributary system weakened the Aztec empire in the long run because it led to resentment by local city states. These city states would in turn help the Spanish during their invasion in the early 1500s. 


Which civilization emerged in the Andes in the 1300s?

In the 1300s, the Incas built a large empire that stretched along the Andes Mountains. Large Incan cities, such as Machu Picchu and Cuzco, were connected by an elaborate road network. 


What are ayllus?

Ayllus are households in Andean society that were organized around family. 


What is the Twantinsuyu?

The Twantinsuyu was land under control by the Incan Empire.

It encompassed most of the Pacific coast of South America. The total population of the Incan empire is estimated by historians to be about 10 to 12 million people


What is Split Inheritance?

When an Incan ruler died, split inheritance meant that all political power went to the successor; but all of his physical property (including royal palces) stayed with the deceased ruler's family. The family would often use the dead remains of the Incan ruler and mummify it, glorifying his life and celebrate him. 


Why did the Incas need to expand, aside from usual political or economic gains?

Split inheritance meant that new Incan rulers needed new lands for a palace. They acquired these new lands through conquest. Incan rulers, for the sake of their family's wealth, were encouraged to go and find new lands for conquest. 


What was the language of the Inca people?

The Quechua language was the major language of the Incan empire. They purposefully tried to spread their language as a way to unite the 4 major provinces of the Twantinsuyu. When conquering a new area, the Incan government would purposefully force Incan families to move into the newly conquered area to speak the language. 


What are Tambos?

Tambos were resting points for Incan runners who existed solely for the purpose of relaying messages. Because horses didn't exist--and because they hadn't discovered the wheel, Incans relied on runners who would run several miles per day to relay a message. Historians estimate that the Incan empire had over 10,000 tambos by 1450. 


What is Mita?

Mita is the labor expected of communities throughout the Incan Empire. Because the Inca were expanding, they expected newly conquered communities to provide laborers to work on the infrastructure of the Empire, maintaining it. 


What is parallel descent?

Parallel descent is a system of inheritance where, among the common peoples, men would pass their property to their male heirs; and women would pass their property to their female heirs. 


How were women treated in Incan society?

Men and women were unequal, with women being subordinate to men. Women were allowed to own property, but only inherited from another woman. The Incan government would send officials into communities and sometimes forcibly take the most beautiful of the young women (and sometimes children) to the Incan temples. Women there would serve for life or be sacrificed at the Temple of the Sun


What is the Quipu?

The Quipu was a system of knotted string which was used by the Inca to keep track of governmentral records such as citizen counts, taxation, and inheritance.


What is a major similarity between the way the Incan peoples and Aztec peoples viewed their rulers?

In both societies, the rulers were seen as divine. 


What are similarities between the way the Aztec and Inca organized their governments?

The Aztec and Inca both allowed local rulers to continue their rule as long as they provided the neccesary labor and human sacrifices to the central government. The local rulers were also given privileges for being loyal. 

The Inca did not demand tribute in the form of resources, unlike the Aztecs. The incas did force newly conquered areas to provide workers.