The 6 Civilizations


Olmec means "rubber people" because they extracted latex from rubber trees and mixed it with juice from the local vine to make rubber. The people ran into many challenges but overcame them by burning sections of the jungle to farm on. They communicated with gods for the right and wrong things to do. The Olmecs lived in hot humid lowlands and traded often.


Teotihuacan was one of the largest cities in the ancient world. Most of the population was involved in farming while others were ceramic. Teotihuacan means city of the gods or the place where men become gods. Part of the city was burned due to a civil war and much of it fell to ruin. Centuries later it was revered by the Aztecs. The place was mysteriously abandoned in 700 ad.


Most people think the Mayans were a peaceful civilization but it turns out they are more fierce and warlike. Part of their culture was to make human sacrifices to the gods. The people being sacrificed were enslaved prisoners from war. The major Mayan cities feature temples and palaces with inscriptions of Mayan art. No one knows what happened to them. Some say it was disease and others say it was warfare.


Toltecs was a widespread civilization that lived between 900-1200 AD. Toltec means "urbanite", a "cultured" person and the "reed person". They had skills related to fighting and craftsmanship. Their calendar had 260 days on it based on the lunar cycles. The Toltecs burned down the city of Teotihuacan in 900 CE. They marked the rise of militarism in Mesoamerica.


Aztecs ruled a large empire in the 15th and 16th centuries that is now central in Southern Mexico. Their tradition leads people to believe that they were a tribe of hunters and gatherers. It is said that their migration was a movement that helped trigger the collapse of the Toltec civilization. The alphabet for their language was a form of picture writing. Records were kept on paper or deer skin. Most of the people ended up having a disease which led to death.


Incas were South American indians who ruled an empire along the Pacific coast. Their economy was based on agriculture and they raised many animals because almost every man was a farmer. The Incas created a highway in Peru that had over 18,000 miles of roads. Technology and architecture were highly developed and their irrigation systems, palaces, and temples can still be seen throughout the Andes. The Inca religion worshiped nature gods, like the sun god, creator god, and rain god.