Early Civilizations of the Americas (The Britannica Guide to by Michael Anderson (editor)

By Michael Anderson (editor)

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Additional resources for Early Civilizations of the Americas (The Britannica Guide to Ancient Civilizations)

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The largest city was Cuzco, the Inca political and religious capital. It had tens of thousands of inhabitants, perhaps as many as 200,000. ) Most Inca settlements were small villages, however, home to a few hundred people. The Inca reserved their most remarkable architecture for public buildings. They built massive stone palaces, temples, and fortresses without the use of mortar. Some of the walls still stand. They cut the stones precisely, 53 Early cIvIlIzatIons of thE amErIcas Caption TK 54 cIvIlIzatIons of south amErIca fitting them so tightly that not even a knife blade can be inserted into most seams.

But they could not produce reliable harvests until they overcame the region’s dryness using irrigation. S. states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah now meet. Their culture began in about ad 100. At first these people combined hunting, gathering wild plant foods, and some corn cultivation. They typically lived in caves or in shallow pit houses—structures of poles and earth built over underground pits. They also created pits in the ground that were used for food storage. As farming became more important, the Ancestral Pueblo built irrigation structures such as reservoirs and check dams—low stone walls used to catch runoff from the limited rains.

DEA/G. Dagli Orti/De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images 42 cIvIlIzatIons of mIddlE amErIca rural estates. Slaves were used mostly for human sacrifice. A man could move up in class through promotions, usually as a reward for valor in war, and women were similarly rewarded for braving the dangers of childbirth. Certain occupations—such as merchants, goldsmiths, and featherworkers— were given more prestige than others. Trade linked the far parts of the Aztec Empire with Tenochtitlán. Agricultural products, luxury items, and other goods were exchanged at well-organized markets.

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