Monday, November 9, 2009

A Brief Comparison of Ancient Incan and Mayan Cultures

A Brief Comparison of Ancient Incan and Mayan Cultures


    The ancient Inca and Maya had many common traits as societies. Location probably contributed too many of these reasons. These societies, due to their geography, both developed independently of any other societies that they may have been able to borrow ideas from and develop similar cultural or technological advancements. Maturity and isolation of these societies also contributed to their ultimate demise. Within a fifteen year time frame, the Spanish conquered both of these major empires. The ease of this domination was made possible by their use of archaic technology, the absence of immunities to European diseases like smallpox and an absence of domestication of animals used for transportation and moving supplies. Both of these empires left power and authority to an emperor, who, through no fault of his own, was naive to the outside world and not sophisticated enough in the art of war to stave off attack when opportunity first arose. The Inca and the Maya were both polytheistic societies and believed in human sacrifice.

    Conversely, these two civilizations had different thoughts on human sacrifice. The Maya followed the Cosmic Mission Theory which justified human sacrifice and they were really not selective about whom they sacrificed. In fact this was a very common practice. Unlike the Maya, strong and fierce warriors who sacrificed the majority of their human prisoners of war, the Inca tried to assimilate and integrate the peoples they conquered through a practice called Mitima. The Inca also announced intentional take overs and only used force if they could not persuade the group to join their ranks. The Inca also had fewer and more relaxed rules for their social classes than the Maya. Another difference was the Inca's lack of an organized, written language. The Maya had become fairly sophisticated with writing and timekeeping while the Inca used a stick with attached cords in a series of knots and tangles, called a quipu, to keep track of information. The Inca Empire was also huge in comparison to the Maya, stretching about 3,000 miles from north to south.

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