civilizations consist of three main
Inca. All three cultures built powerful civilizations through the use
traditional economy and limited
The Mayan Civilization (300 - 900 CE) lived
city-states along the Yucatan
Peninsula of Mexico and in much of
Central America. The Mayans built an
impressive agricultural society which led to a strong
traditional economy and the development of trade.
Mayan farmers developed
irrigation systems that allowed them to
amount of food necessary to support their large
population. They also increased their amount of
arable land by clearing large tracts of
rainforest. Mayan farmers produced crops such as, corn,
beans, and squash. Trade in agriculture products was
the basis for the strong Mayan economy. Products such as feathers, honey, and cocoa were traded across
The Aztec Civilization flourished from the
late 1200's until the time of European conquest. The
Aztecs established an
empire that consisted of most of Mexico.
They setup a strong, central government, and received
tribute payments from many of their subject peoples. Similar to earlier Mesoamerican
civilizations, the Aztecs based their economy on
Most people in the Aztec Empire were farmers.
As their population increased, the Aztecs developed new ways of
farming . To overcome a shortage of land, they developed
chinampas, which were floating islands of land anchored to
the lake bottom. On these islands, they grew corn, squash, and
beans. The Aztecs also drained swamps to create good
farmland, and experimented with a variety of
fertilizers to make
the most their land. A strong traditional economy enabled
the Aztecs to build a large, powerful empire.
the 1400's, the Inca conquered an empire that stretched
along the Pacific coast of South America. They
instituted a strong central government, and controlled
their empire through the use of an elaborate road
system. Incan wealth and stability were based on
a strong traditional economy dependent on agriculture.
Due to the lack of flat land, Incan engineers
developed improved methods of terrace farming.
Terrace farming cuts strips of flat land into
hillsides and uses stone walls to support them.
This creates more land for farming, and allowed the Inca
to produce the food necessary to support their
population. The Inca collected agricultural products in
centralized locations before redistributing them across the
empire. To accomplish this task, the Inca carved more than 12,000 miles of roads out
of the South American
rainforests. These roads linked the empire
together using a system of
relay runners. The
effective use of these roads as both a communication system, and
a network for the movement of goods, allowed the Inca to
maintain a very strong, centralized government.