Ancient Mayans. KP Classroom

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1 Ancient Mayans The Mayans were an ancient American group of people that lived in areas of Central America and Mexico from 1500 BC until around 900 AD. Because the Mayans were untouched by other people for many years, they were able to build an amazing culture. The Mayans started as farmers in villages. They grew maize (corn), squash, beans, chili peppers, cacao, and cotton for clothing. After many years their population grew and the villages became cities. With many cities in different areas, the people in one city were able to trade with people in another city. They developed a calendar based on the stars that had 365 days and used it to help with their farming. The Mayans created their own number system which they used for mathematics for many things, including trade. They also studied astronomy. As their culture flourished, the Mayans made stone-cutting tools to help build more solid plazas and buildings in their cities, as well as religious structures including stepped pyramids! The Mayans developed their own written language and wrote books detailing their history. The Mayan empire began a slow decline after 900 AD. When people began moving away to other lands, the cities became abandoned. Over time, leaves, trees and dirt grew over many cities and buried them for many years. Some of these Mayan cities have only been recently found by archaeologists.

2 Name Ancient Mayans Reading Response 1. Read Ancient Mayans again. 2. Circle the names of the two lands where the Mayans existed. 3. Draw a box around the number of days on the Mayan calendar. 4. Underline six things the Mayan farmers grew. 5. Draw a squiggly cloud around what a Mayan religious structure is called. Why do you think the Mayan culture ended?

3 Ancient Aztecs The Aztecs were an ancient American group of people that lived in central Mexico from 1250 AD until around 1500 AD. Legend has it that they came from Aztlan, a land in Central America, and were traveling north into what is now Mexico because their most divine god had promised them a new land. When the people arrived at the shore of Lake Texcoco, they saw an eagle devouring a snake while perching atop a cactus. This was the clue they were looking for, and the Aztec civilization began there, in a town they called Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs spoke a language called Nahuatl. Their main activity was farming. Because they did not have much good farming land, they made small islands made of reed mats called chinampas. The mats would be covered with soil and set upon shallow portions of the lake. On top of the mat they farmers grew all sorts of vegetation such as corn and tomatoes. The Aztecs built mud huts with palm and reed roofs. Aztec warriors wore animal skins. They were very religious and it is believed they performed human sacrifices to please their gods. In 1519, Spanish conquistadors led by Hernan Cortes landed on the west coast of what is now Mexico and, over the course of twelve years, defeated many tribes of people in the area and, eventually, conquered the Aztecs and took over Tenochtitlan, which is now the location of Mexico City.

4 Name Ancient Aztecs Reading Response 1. Read Ancient Aztecs again. 2. Circle the name of the land in Central America where it was thought the Aztecs came from. 3. Draw a box around the name for the reed mats that were set on the lake to grow crops. 4. Underline the name of the main Aztec city. 5. Draw a squiggly cloud around the name of the conquistador from Spain who led the Spanish who defeated the Aztecs. How do you think the conquistadors from Spain were able to defeat the Aztecs?

5 Ancient Incas The Incas were an ancient American group of people that lived in the western lands of South America from 1230 AD until around 1572 AD. Legend has it that they developed their first city, Cuzco, when a golden rod was pushed into the ground and disappeared, as told by a high priest. When the Incas first settled in Cuzco, they were a small tribe of people. They had a code they lived by: do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy. Over the next two hundred years, their settlements slowly grew to a point where they needed to expand their lands. Although the Incas did not have a written language, their history is known through the stories passed down to each generation. The Inca kingdom spread into four provinces. The people of the Inca civilization lived high in the Andes Mountains. They had to learn to plant crops on hillsides and so developed terrace farming. They were also able to construct buildings without using any mortar to seal the stones together. The temples at the Inca city of Machu Picchu are a standing monument to the engineering genius of the Incas. In 1526, a Spanish expedition led by Francisco Pizarro traveled to the Inca lands in search of gold, known by legend as El Dorado. The Spanish reached the outskirts of the Inca Empire and were convinced they had found El Dorado, They came back six years later and killed the Inca leader and slowly conquered all of the Inca provinces.

6 Name Ancient Incas Reading Response 1. Read Ancient Incas again. 2. Circle the name of the continent where the Inca people settled. 3. Draw a box around the name of the town where the Incas first settled. 4. Underline the name of the mountains where the Incas lived. 5. Draw a squiggly cloud around the name of the conquistador from Spain who led the Spanish who defeated the Incas. What do you think the code do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy means?

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