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The Differences Between the Maya, Aztecs and Inca

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    Mayan, Aztec, Inca The Maya, Aztec, and Inca were three civilizations that lived in Latin America during the middle ages. It is hard to overlook the fact that they had remarkable similarities, but also some differences. Their class structures were similar, and they all valued religion. However, when it came to the roles and expectations of men and women, there are differences between the three races. The Maya, Aztec, and Inca all had a similar class structure. An emperor or ruler was at the top of the pyramid. Following him were the nobles, priests, and in the case of the Aztec, the military commanders.

    The next level was a bit different. In the Mayan society, it was the merchants and artisans. In the Aztec and Incan societies, it was the commoners. After this level came the peasants, but only in the Aztec and Mayan societies, as the Incan class structure ended at the commoners. The last level was the low-ranking slaves. As one can see, more than half of their class structures were the same. Religion was an important part of life for the Maya, Aztec, and Inca. A distinct similarity was in which god was the most important.

    Both the Aztec and the Inca believed that the Sun God was the most important god. Although there was no clear god that was the most important in the Mayan society, as the primary gods were forces or objects in nature that affected their daily lives, it can be assumed that the Sun God was very important to the Mayans. In all three civilizations, priests conducted rituals. Another trait of the three civilizations was that they all made sacrifices to the gods. Both animals, and sometimes humans, for more important rituals, were given as offerings.

    One big exception, however, was the case of the Aztecs. The Aztecs believed that the sun fought daily battles against darkness, and that blood nourished him. Blood of warriors were believed to be especially nourishing. As a result of this, several thousand people were sacrificed each year to the gods, and a lot of them were prisoners of war. During the sacrifice, they were slaughtered in a brutal way. Their living hearts were cut out while four people held on to the limbs. Women who were sacrificed to the God of Corn had their heads cut off.

    Although the Aztec practiced human sacrifice much more often than the Maya and Inca, there is no doubt that religion was something inescapable in their daily lives. The Maya, Aztec, and Inca all had different expectations for men and women. The Incas had particularly different expectations. Families lived in groups called ayllus. Girls took care of babies, cooked meals, fetched water, made clothing, and learned how to weave. Boys generally looked after animals and helped in the fields. They were given a loincloth at the age of 15. The sons of nobles, however, were treated rather differently.

    They were taught religion, geometry, history, military strategy, public speaking, and physical training from tutors called amautas. At the age of 15, they endured tests of courage, strength, and discipline that lasted a month. After passing the tests, the boys swore loyalty to the emperor and received weapons of a warrior. In the Mayan and Aztec societies, people were not as segregated as the people of the Incan society. Women cooked, looked after livestock, and cared for children. In addition to that, Aztec women tended gardens, wove beautiful clothes, and were expected to bear children.

    Men farmed and hunted animals. Mayan men also helped construct large buildings such as temples and served as soldiers at times of war. The Aztecs, though, had a bit of segregation when it came to schooling. Boys were trained to be soldiers while nobles’ sons learned skills of being priests, government officials, or military commanders. Armed with this information, one can see that the three races live their lives rather differently. In conclusion, all three civilizations were very similar and shared many traits.

    One pair that stood out, however, was the Mayans and Aztecs. They had a similar class structure, a similar family life, and had only the difference of one practicing human sacrifice more than the others. A possible explanation for this similarity is because their empires were situated near each other. The Aztec empire was in central Mexico. The Mayans were just South of them, controlling most of the Yucatan peninsula and present-day Guatemala. The Incas, on the other hand, lived way down on the east coast of South America, mostly in present-day Chile.

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