Early Latin America Civilizations
Olmec, Maya, Aztec, & Inca
Introduction & Timeline
The early Latin American civilizations consist of four main cultures, Olmec, Maya, Aztec, and Inca. Each civilization experienced a time of cultural and intellectual achievement that produced lasting contributions in art, literature, and science. During the time period of the classical civilizations of Greece & Rome, there were advanced societies developing in the Americas. These civilizations are some of the greatest ancient civilizations in history, and yet we know very little about them compared to other parts of the world.
Olmecs- lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico. This area is characterized by swampy lowlands punctuated by low hills, ridges, and volcanoes
Mayans- centered in the tropical lowlands of south-east Mexico (Yucatan Peninsula), most of modern day Guatemala, all of Belize, northern tip of Honduras, & northeast piece of El Salvador. The geography in this area varied greatly- arid land, rainforests, swamps, coastal areas, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
Aztecs- developed in the Valley of Mexico in central and southern Mexico. It was wedged between high mountains and surrounded by lakes that provided fish, waterfowl, water and reeds for thatching and weaving. The climate was mild.
Incas- developed in a long strip that reached pretty much north to south along the western side of South America. The geography was rugged - Andes mountains, the coastline deserts, and the Amazon jungle.
The Olmecs are considered the mother of all Mesoamerica civilizations, because many of the other features in other civilizations can be traced back to the Olmecs. We known the least about this civilization.
Go to this link to learn more about the Olmecs & complete the Olmecs section of your notebook
Go to this link to see images of the Olmecs colossal heads
The Mayans are well known for their architecture, their scientific and mathematical achievements and their very accurate calendar. At its peak there may have been as many as 2 millions Mayans.
Go to this link to explore the Mayans. Use the navigation menu on the left side to learn about the Mayan:
The Incas are well known for their well-designed agricultural and roadway systems, rope bridges, and a strong central government. At its peak there was 2 million people.
Go to this link to explore the Incas. Use the navigation menu on the left side to learn about the Incan:
The Aztecs were advanced and prosperous who built beautiful and sophisticated cities. At the peak, there were 15 million people who lived in almost 500 communities. They were culturally developed in music, arts, crafts, and sciences.
Go to this link to explore the Aztecs. Use the navigation menu on the left side to learn about the Aztecs: