Education, study and knowledge

Discover ALL Mesoamerican civilizations

How to effectively deal with bots on your site? The best protection against click fraud.
What are the Mesoamerican civilizations

Image: Lifeder

One of the main historical areas of America is Mesoamerica, a region through which some of the most important pre-Columbian civilizations in history have passed. Mesoamerica is a region that currently encompasses half of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and part of Nicaragua and Honduras. Many civilizations have existed in this area, but there are four that stand out from the rest for their great importance and influence. Therefore, in this lesson from a TEACHER we are going to talk about what are the mesoamerican civilizations.

You may also like: What are the languages ​​of the Incas


  1. Olmec culture
  2. Teotihuacan culture
  3. Mayan culture, another of the Mesoamerican civilizations
  4. Aztec culture, the largest empire in Mesoamerica

Olmec culture.

The olmecare considered as the first relevant civilization of Mesoamerica, being the mother culture of those that emerged later, and that is why they have so much influence. They inhabited southern Mexico between 1200 BC. C. and 400 a. C., these years being comprised within the Mesoamerican preclassic period.

instagram story viewer

The Olmecs were a very advanced civilization for its time, achieving things that had not been created in the West. Its influence was enormous, laying the cultural foundations through which great civilizations such as the Mayan or the Aztec arose.

Characteristics of Mesoamerican civilizations: the Olmecs

To understand the Olmec influence we must talk about its main characteristics, to see the similarities with the civilizations that we will talk about later. Some of its characteristics are the following:

  • Were the creators of the Mesoamerican ball game, a tradition that the later towns maintained.
  • They based their economy on farming, especially producing corn. Although they also carry out other tasks such as crafts or fishing.
  • One of its most recognized characteristics is its "Colossal heads", gigantic heads believed to represent political and military leaders.
  • Religion was very important in the Olmec culture, since the political leader was also important in religion. They were polytheistsThey believed that kings were chosen by the gods, and their deities used to be animals or mixtures between humans and animals.
What are the Mesoamerican civilizations - The Olmec culture

Image: For all of Mexico

Teotihuacan culture.

The Teotihuacan civilization It was another of the Mesoamerican civilizations that is worth highlighting. It was a culture that had its origin at the end of the Mesoamerican pre-classic period and had its peak during the Mesoamerican classic period. Of the 4 most relevant cultures that we are going to comment on, it is the one with the least data, having very few sources on its existence.

Your name means "City of the gods" in Nahuatl, and it was called that way by the Aztecs, since they did not know who the true creators of that city had been. To this day it is not known what the true name of this civilization was, so the term coined by the Aztecs is used.

Characteristics of the Teotihuacan culture

Although there are few sources, studies in recent years have given us some rough idea of ​​what its main characteristics were. Some of these characteristics are the following:

  • It is the Mesoamerican civilization with the greater number of religious ceremonial centers.
  • They took the Olmec deities, although they changed some aspects of certain gods.
  • Its economy was based on the farming, especially corn, beans and squash.
  • It was a very important commercial center, serving as nexus between trade from different peoples.
  • It is thought that the society was theocratic, that is, as in the Olmecs, the political leader was also a religious leader.
What are the Mesoamerican civilizations - Teotihuacan culture

Image: ResearchGate

Mayan culture, another of the Mesoamerican civilizations.

The Mayan civilization It was a culture located in parts of Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that remained alive since 2000 BC. C. until the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. At first the Mayans were not a great civilization, being just a group of small villages located by all of Mesoamerica, and that is why they are not considered to be as influential as the Olmecs during the period Preclassic.

Over the years the Mayans were evolving, surviving numerous cultures such as the Olmecs or the Teotihuacana, the decline of the latter being what allowed the Mayans to reach their highest level, becoming a great civilization during the period classic.

Characteristics of the Maya

The Mayans are one of the more interesting civilizations of history, achieving advances in different media that were years ahead of Westerners. To know this great culture we must name some of its main characteristics, such as the following:

  • The basis of its economy was farming, the main product being corn.
  • They made great inventions to improve crops, such as irrigation or drainage systems.
  • They were great architects, the pyramids being its best-known constructions.
  • His religionit was polytheisticThey believed in reincarnation, and human sacrifices were quite common.
  • Mayan women participated in many fields of society, there being no western society contemporary to the Mayans in which women were so highly valued.
  • Society is divided into the elite and the commoners, being the elite very united to the religion and the policy.
  • His writing was the most advanced of all pre-Columbian cultures, and even had their own numbering system.
What are the Mesoamerican civilizations - Mayan culture, another of the Mesoamerican civilizations

Image: MundoAntiguo

Aztec culture, the largest empire in Mesoamerica.

To conclude this lesson on what are the Mesoamerican civilizations, we must talk about the aztecs, being the largest empire of Mesoamerican cultures.

The Aztecs or Mexica they were a great empire that occupied Mesoamerica during the postclassic period. We can place it chronologically between 1300 and 1521, the second date being the moment when the Europeans conquered the Aztecs. The Aztecs began their rule in the Valley of Mexico, but through successive conquests they took cities around, becoming the largest empire in Mesoamerica.

Characteristics of Mesoamerican civilizations: the Aztecs

The Aztecs were to a great extent influenced by the cultures that we have mentioned previously, as well as by the different tribes that they were conquering in their expansion. Some of the characteristics that define the Mexica are the following:

  • Like other cultures, the Aztecs based their economy on the farming, and its most important product was corn.
  • There were a series of schools in which the Aztec children of the main families were educated.
  • Women also had more functions than in the West, being able to work as priestesses.
  • They were polytheists, having a greater number of gods than other previous civilizations. This is because they took many gods from previous cultures, and from the tribes that they were conquering.
  • They are considered a bloodthirsty people, because the number of human sacrifices to the gods was greater than in the Mayans.
  • The military were the nobility, being located in the superior part of the society, being below the priests, and below the commoners.
  • They were a very bellicoseThis being the reason for its great expansion, while other cultures such as the Mayan did not usually conquer other tribes.
  • His language was the nahuatl, being the classical language most currently spoken by Mexicans.
What are the Mesoamerican civilizations - Aztec culture, the largest empire in Mesoamerica

Image: Slideshare

If you want to read more articles similar to What are the Mesoamerican civilizations, we recommend that you enter our category of Story.

Previous lessonMesoamerican periods and their ...Next lessonWhat is Mesoamerica and its characteristics
What is ethos, pathos, Aristotle logos

What is ethos, pathos, Aristotle logos

Image: Presentarte.comIn a PROFESSOR we are going to explain the meaning of ethos, pathos and log...

Read more

Montesquieu theory: summary

Montesquieu theory: summary

Throughout human history there have been a number of great thinkers who have managed to change th...

Read more

Vitalism in Philosophy - EASY Definition and 5 Characteristics

Vitalism in Philosophy - EASY Definition and 5 Characteristics

Image: SlideshareIn this lesson from a TEACHER, we will explain the meaning of the term vitalism ...

Read more

instagram viewer