Ancient American cultures

How to identify the main ancient American cultures?

The 3 main ancient cultures in America are the Aztec, Mayan and Inca. This is a brief description of some of the main cultures we can find in America:

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In the northern area of America, currently known as Canada and USA, were several indigenous civilizations, with semi-nomadic population, divided into small tribes. Their main characteristic was their pacifist personality.

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They had a huge wisdom and were aware that the world works well only when there is a balance.

Most civilizations divide living beings by a hierarchy. Seeing it as a pyramid: On the base of the pyramid and with a lesser importance, there are the plants, then there are the animals and on the top is the human being (or sometimes a god), and this is who has most importance and privileges over the rest of the creatures. North American aboriginals didn’t see the world that way. They said we live in a net with the shape of a cobweb, where we all depend from each other, we are all connected and nobody can be superior to the others. We must take care of each other because if one of those elements is missing, the cobweb gets broken, the balance is lost and it will unleash a great chaos that will affect every single living being.

Also in North America, in the center of Mexico, there was the Aztec civilization. Also known as “Mexica” (Meshica), that led to the actual name of Mexico. Aztecs amazed everybody by creating one of the biggest cities in the world on a lake. When Spanish conquerors arrived for the first time they sent the message to Spain: “It is like Venice, but much bigger”.


Aztecs learned to build, live and sow over the lake. They had complex irrigation system that includes canals and they even learned to turn salty water into drinkable water.


Aztecs are also famous for being a race of innate warriors. They were really brave and even sadists. They were vicious conquerors. They used to enslave every tribe they found on their way. That way they managed to have one of the biggest and most powerful empires in the history of humanity. Neighbors traditionally feared and hated them.


When the Spanish conquerors arrived to Mexico, they created an alliance with all those smaller civilizations that had the hope of ending the Aztec tyranny. Even now, and after centuries of these aboriginals mixing up with other races, and despite it is impossible to find a “pure race” at present… even now, people from the rest of Mexico or descendants from other ethnicities, still think that people from the center of Mexico (including the capital Mexico city), are much more dangerous, aggressive and insensitive. Aztec descendants are known for having an inner courage to defend themselves more than anyone else, they will never allow others to mistreat, use or humiliate them.

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[Brief parenthesis: I am aware that we all must constantly work against racism and prejudices, but sometimes we can’t avoid having that kind of thoughts. We used to live in a house that had a garden, with a metallic gate. On the next house, a family from Mexico City arrived and opened a small fruit shop. The first problem was that they put boxes with vegetables over the whole sidewalk and it was impossible to walk there, but then they kept using more and more space and used to leave lots of garbage on the street. Suddenly we noticed that they used our house’s gate to tie up their signs and even they hanged pineapples from our door. That’s how much they extended their shop over the street. My mom went to the store trying to talk to the owner, and suddenly the owner came out with a machete on his hands, yelling so angrily and threatening my mom. It was a real problem. My mom went to another neighbor who was a policeman, asking for protection and the policeman said: “I can’t do anything. They use to park their trailer in front of our store, covering it completely, clients can’t see us. I went to him asking to move away his trailer and he said exactly the same. He threatened me and my family, and he knows I am a policeman!”

For us, who are from other areas of Mexico, it is very frightening to go to Mexico City. I can tell you for sure that I feel safer traveling to another country than traveling to Mexico City. People try to avoid going to that area, unless it is totally necessary. If somebody from Mexico City arrives to your neighborhood, you will notice it immediately. They say that we, people from the province, are clearly more innocent and naïve than them, and they are right.]


Also in the center of Mexico, but on the coast side of the Gulf of Mexico, we can find a very ancient civilization, older than the Aztec. It is called “Olmec”. Scientists believe that it was the first great civilization on the area and there was the origin of the Aztecs and Mayans.


Olmec people had a deep love for knowledge, they loved to study and learn on any possible area, going from botanic, mathematics, astronomy, etc. They created one of the first calendars in the world and the explicit use of the number zero in mathematics.

Olmec people loved to write. It was the first American civilization to develop a writing system. Scientists have found inscriptions made before the year 900 before Christ. From that point they wrote absolutely everything that happened. They used write a lot, but abstractly, using lots of symbolisms. In the present days it is really hard to decode those writings, especially the ones related to theology.

That culture was pacifist, mainly focused on studying and sharing that knowledge. One of the main symbols of the culture is the giant sculptures of their governor’s faces sculpted on a single, huge rock. The weird fact about those giant heads is that their facial features are similar to the ones found in black people, when there are no signs of black people arriving to the area until centuries later.

[Note: I come from that area and still now, my hometown is known as “The American Athena” because there are very good schools and people is known for loving knowledge, culture and especially the performing arts].

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In the south-east side of Mexico, we can find the Mayan civilization. In the present it is said, half joking, half seriously, that they are the “aliens” or the ones who were in touch with aliens and that’s how they got all the technology to have such achievements and scientific and technological advancement, completely out of the blue (apparently).

Mayans are different to the rest of American aboriginals. They are much shorter; they have very big heads and huge, almond-shaped eyes. Just like an alien. Their aboriginal language is very difficult and completely different to any other language found in America or Europe. They have an unexplainable knowledge of the space and its movements, especially because they didn’t have any optical instrument like telescopes.

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They appeared in a mysterious way, created huge cities-states very similar to the Roman Empire, with a special political system, unknown in America. Their empire extended around all Central America and suddenly they disappeared in a mysterious way, leaving abandoned cities. Scientists still can’t understand how such huge civilization just disappeared without signals of collapsing, having war, natural disasters or epidemics.

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How is it possible that a civilization, which wasn’t able to develop the wheel, was able to create a calendar with a margin of error of 1 day every [I don’t remember how many] thousands of years and were able to calculate the year in Venus with an error of only 2 hours without having a telescope?

In South America, there is the Inca culture, also known as Quechua. It was one of the biggest empires before the Spanish colony in America. That empire had the territory of the actual Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador.

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They had a very strict political and military organization. Everything was under the government’s supervision. They had a wide network of communication routes that included bridges, well-tended paths, and storages around all the roads where royal travelers could rest and keep all kinds of goods. They also had a complex system of “mail” or messenger service. It was formed by a group of young men, who used to run from their post to the post of the next messenger. That way, as a relay race, messages could reach their destination really fast.

The empire, which settled over the Andes Mountains, had a natural protection against invaders, but still they build huge fortresses making their main cities almost impenetrable. Due to these fortifications, the Inca Empire was the last one to be conquered by the Spanish soldiers in all America.

Also it is very difficult to recover the information about their technology. Nowadays researchers don’t know yet the secret of the “melted” giant rocks used to build the fortresses. There are only legends about some kind of “aliens” who gave natives a special “powder” that made rocks moldable like play dough for a certain time, but there is no scientific information about the construction of the walls. The rocks are huge and fit perfectly to each other. It would be really difficult to build even with the actual technology.


More pictures here

The most important fact of this culture was their agricultural research and all their advances. There was very little land with a proper soil to sow, little water and hostile climate. They thought about new styles of sowing that would help to create more productive soil, to store water and to avoid the erosion of hillsides and slopes. They created irrigation systems with aqueducts and channels.

They even had research centers where they made experiments to obtain better products. They researched about all kinds of vegetables, as an example, they worked with more than 200 types of potatoes. They also simulated more than 20 micro-climates in a single research center and they easily created artificial lakes.

They also researched on different areas and had such scientific developments that they were able to do successful brain surgeries, in a time that was unimaginable in Europe. It was the only culture in the world that could eradicate hunger. The cities were build thinking on a long term. The way streets were build allowed an organized future growing of the cities.



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