The Aztec and Inca were among the earliest known forms of civilizations. The essay will examine the heritage of Aztec's and Inca's civilization on the eve of their encounter with the European societies.
The Aztec's civilization had a well developed mythology with wide pantheon of God. The Aztecs created massive buildings made of stone. The buildings were skillfully made with stone engravings and pottery. An advanced and prosperous civilization was the Aztecs who built beautiful and sophisticated cities. At the peak of civilization, the Aztec had a population of about 15 million inhabitants who lived in 500 communities. The Aztecs were culturally built in various ways; from music, arts, crafts and sciences. In worshipping their many gods, music played an important role in Aztec religious rituals.
The capital of the Aztec was Tenochtitlan where the government controlled all aspects of the civilizations economy and was responsible for agriculture and punishment. There were specially taught people whose work was to cause religious works, managerial and economic questions. The Aztec society was also known for a hierarchical type of leadership; that of plebs and inherited aristocracy (Aztec Civilization).
The Aztecs practiced several sacrifices to appease their gods. One of the bizarre acts involved sacrificing and killing of their own people the feed the gods. In accordance with the Aztec legend, the world should die from hunger and to prevent that from happening was only feeding the sun with the heart of live men. The Aztec political interests were based on the desire to create a government which was based on supremacy and very strict obedience. The most important sphere of the Aztecs' life was war, if the empire went through successful wars, then it enriched the empire and the warriors had the possibility of getting promotions. For Aztecs, they were very courageous and young boys were earlier trained as future careers and subordinated almost the whole of Central America (Aztec Civilization - Crystalinks).
Despite the harsh and strictness of the Aztec government, the Aztecs had a rich culture with great success in science. The Aztecs excelled in such works like in all genres of oral literature as epic, lyrical poetry, drama, hymn and religious songs , dramas and in legends. The Aztecs were also skilful builders, stone engravers and sculptors, jewelers, and weavers.
The fall of the Aztec empire
There were many reasons for the fall of the Aztec empire which contributed to its weakening. These include;
The ritual Aztec sacrifices contributed greatly to the fall of the Aztec empire. Killing thousands of people as sacrifices does not go well for the society. These people killed could have done great things for the empire and infact their children whom they could bore. The fact that the Aztecs did sacrifice an incredible number of humans led to the hatred of some of the surrounding people. Many of their own people had been killed and later they joined the Spaniards to fight the Aztecs. Also, the horror of human sacrifices highly motivated the Spaniards to attack what they considered an evil culture (The Fall of the Aztec Empire).
Naturally, religion played a part in the sacrifices. The Aztecs also did not completely destroy the Spanish army because they wanted some to remain so that they could be offered as sacrifice. This was a big tactical error that hastened the fall of the Aztec empire (The Fall of the Aztec Empire).
The Inca civilization is one of the ancient and most interesting civilizations. The Inca were among the earliest people to form civilized groups with set morals, rules of conduct and a form though primitive, governance. The members of the Inca tribes called commoners were divided into small groups which varied in size and with certain responsibilities (Inca Civilization - New World Encyclopedia).
Like the Aztec, Inca (also Inka) was a high developed civilization and its center was located in the modern Peru in South America. The Inca people built beautiful cities and roads over the high Ands Mountain. In the capital of Inca, a majestic sun temple was built. The temple was decorated with gold. The Inca developed the original system of the letter, they kept books and they made the letters with the help of colored small knots where each knot had its definite meaning. The most spectacular projects done by the Incan was the roads. The roads symbolized the power of the Incan state and with bridges spanning and traversing the whole rugged mountains and harsh deserts, the roads allowed easy movement of troops to bring control to any troubled place (The Inca create a mountain empire).
Another notable civilization that strengthened the Incan people is their government. They are said to be extraordinary organizers and administrators who controlled huge empror by dividing its people against manageable units. People were identified by a certain clothing pattern and the reason was to unify the variety of people who were controlled by the Inca. The Inca also built many cities in conquered areas whose architecture was all the same (The Inca create a mountain empire).
The Inca social organization involved a family and clans which lived together in special territory. This family shared cattle and crops and did not recognize individual property. The Inca Empire was theocratic; the emperor was a semi-god and was regarded as a priest and the only supreme governor. The society was well organized and developed, there were well connecting and developed roads which allowed the Incas to be obedient to the empire (Inca Civilization - New World Encyclopedia).
The Inca civilization people were very smart and intelligent, only those children from the emperor received formal education. The children of the commoners received no formal education although when they did grow they were assigned some formal duties and roles. Agriculture was the main forte for the Inca people at the time and the people used to work very hard. They had between two to three meals a day. They had heavy meals during the night and a heavy breakfast. The men and women were allowed to marry earlier and by 20 years one was expected to have married or else the community could look for a prospective wife for unmarried men (The Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyo)).
For the Incan arts, they used to incorporate war ideas with that of arts and other societies in an incan standardized form. The reason was that the culture and arts could be carried off easily to the next generation. This was especially after the Incan could win a war. Incan used gold and silver to make potteries and that was the reason the people searched for gold and sometimes they used copper, bronze and tumbago. They used images on the potteries with very bright colors like red, orange and yellow.
Weaknesses of the Incan empire
In the early 1500s the Incan empire was at its peak. The emperor on a tour of the empire stopped in Quito and opened a gift box. Surprisingly the gift box was full of butterflies and moths which were considered a bad omen and few days later he died. After his death, civil war broke out between his two sons who wanted to claim the throne. The war weakened the empire and tore it apart. Within a few a years when the Spaniards came, they attacked an already weakened side and soon divided and conquered the empire (The Inca create a mountain empire).
The two earliest forms of civilization are the Aztec and the Inca. They were very organized and had a form of government that controlled their empire. We have looked at what made them strong and how they later fall to Spaniard attacks and eventually being defeated.