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11 -- Part 4: The Americas
During the classic period, growth and imitation of the The Maya were not the only things that created a complex culture.
The great religious center in Monte Alban in southern Mexico was established by Zapotecan-speaking peoples who believed in the wealth of the nobility.
The flowering of a remarkable civilization built by a new people from regions east and south of the Val ey of Mexico can be seen to the north of Monte Alban.
The inhabitants were divided into different social classes.
The houses of palatial splendor were used as residences by the rich and powerful.
Ordinary working people, tradespeople, artisans, and obsidian craftsmen lived in apartment compounds on the edge of the city.
The laborers lived outside the city.
The center of trade and culture was in Teotihuacan.
The Aztecs referred to the pyramids in the center of the city as the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon.
The world's third largest pyramid is the Pyramid of the Sun.
It's not clear what deities were worshiped there, but it's possible that they included the quetzal serpent god, which is worshiped by many people in the Americas.
The great cities of the earlier period were ruled by nature gods and their priests, but now militant gods and warriors are in charge.
The strongest heir to Teotihuacan was the weak union of strong states.
The culture of the pre decessors was admired by the Toltecs and they wanted to preserve it.
They became friends with the Teotihuacan people through intermarriage.
The cultural successor of earlier confederations was the new Mesoamerican confederation.
The hege mony was extended over most of central Mexico.
Problems beset the state after the reign of Topiltzin.
Crop failure was caused by the dry weather.
The Chichimecas attacked the borders.
Weak rulers couldn't quel domestic uprisings.
In 1174, the last king of the state committed suicide.
By 300 b.c.e., the Mexican trading networks extended into southwestern North America.
Many North American groups used agriculture to increase the available food supply and allow more people to live in urban centers.
The Mississippian, Anasazi, and Hohokam are shown here.
The vegetation of North America did not change much from this time period.
The turquoise and other precious stones were exported in return for the balls.
Trade goods came with religious ideas.
The feathered serpent god was important to desert peoples.
Other groups built settlements in this area, including the Anasazi and the Yuma.
Mesa Verde, the largest Anasazi town, had over twenty-five hundred people living in houses built into and on cliff walls.
Mesa Verde was connected to other Anasazi towns by roads.
The decline in both the Hohokam and Anasazi cultures was caused by soil erosion.
Around 2000 b.c.e., the mound building was introduced at settlements along the Mississippi River.
The Hopewell was one of the most im portant mound-building cultures.
For priests, leaders, and other high-status individuals, some mounds were burial chambers.
The larger houses of important people had platforms.
Some of them were large mounds of earth shaped like animals or geometric figures, which may have served a ceremonial purpose.
To honor the gods, to remember the dead, and to make distinctions between leaders and common folk are some of the purposes of a mound building.
The canals included in the earthworks allowed trading networks to expand, bringing products from the Caribbean far into the interior.
The maize was carried by those trading networks due to the more intensive agriculture in the eastern wood lands of North America.
The largest mound of all the mounds has been found at Cahokia, Illinois, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
An important began in the 1100s.
The mounds sippi River to the mountains.
The leaders' male and female were sacrificed in order to assist the leader in the afterlife, and the largest mound served as burial chambers.
The 1,254-foot-long mound in the form of a snake has its "head" at the highest point, suggesting an open mouth ready to swallow a huge egg formed by a heap of stones.
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