Life In Latin America Before The Europeans Arrived

1193 words - 5 pages

Before Europeans discovered Latin America, there were some civilizations that already lived and died on that land. The first known civilization sometimes referred to as the “mother culture” or the Olmec lived throughout Mexico for about 1,700 years and vanished in 300 B.C. The three civilizations that thrived after the Olmec before the Europeans arrived throughout Mexico and Latin America were the Maya, the Aztec, and the Inca. Life in Latin America prior to the European contact insinuated a paradox because they had an organized leadership and were spiritual, yet they caused mayhem through violence and war. Being as methodical as they were, having an organized leadership kept peace in the city states but didn’t keep peace throughout the other city-states. The rulers were power-hungry and wanted to conquer many city-states to create an empire which caused war. Also, these civilizations were very spiritual throughout their common day lives, but believed in some gods from the underworld that wanted blood through human sacrifice. This was a very violent way of worshiping their gods that they embraced it.

Organized leadership existed in each civilization before the Europeans arrived. The ruling king or queen came from same bloodline as the rulers before them. The Aztecs leadership was vital to the life of each and every person in the Aztec civilization. The rulers set everyday laws that affected people’s lives every day, these rules were followed because they came directly from the gods. For example, the king that lived during the time of the Spanish conquest, named Montezuma was seen as an actual god by many but at the end of his life, his people were disgusted with him and reportedly threw stones at him that ended up killing him. The Mayans had a different type of organized leadership. There were about 40 city-states with a dynasty of kings. To stay on top, the rulers had to appease the gods by bloodletting and human sacrifice to give them the precious thing called life. But it wasn’t just the townspeople and prisoners of war who had to partake in these acts. Sometimes the kings and/or queens also had to partake in bloodletting because of all the blood that was given, the rulers was the most precious. Many city-states fought king’s battles through brutal warfare.

There was many a war fought before the Europeans arrived in Latin America, especially between city-states in the Mayan and Inca civilizations. Kings provoked allies and attacked neighbors for appeasing the gods to stay on top. There was an especially powerful city-state in the Mayan civilization called Tikal ruled by Yikin Chan Kawiil that had a sixth century rival city-state called Calakmul that threatened Tikal. But in 743 A.D and 744 A.D, Tikal attacked two of Calakmul’s allies, El Peru and Naranjo conquering them under rule of Yikin Chan Kawiil. Before the Spanish came to Latin America, the Inca were in a civil war so when the Spanish did conquer the Inca in 1532, they did...

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