Ancient Central American Cultures Compared Essay

Ancient Central American Cultures Compared Essay

Maya vs. Aztecs

When it comes to civilizations that have come and gone over the years, there are many that can be mentioned. Many people point to the Ottoman Empire, the Romans and others. However, there are other civilizations that are often skipped and the lost home of these civilizations is often the West. Just two of those would be the Aztecs and the Maya. There are many similarities between these two civilizations including where they were generally located and the patterns they took on when it came to their existence and prospering. However, there were also some marked differences including how long they lasted and the specifics of what ended up happening to their existence on this planet. This report will focus on one aspect of both cultures and how they were alike and different. For this report, that shall be religion. While the Aztecs and Maya were very similar in many regards, they were also quite different as well.


Before getting into religion, the history of the two civilizations in question will be touched upon. The Maya and Aztecs were both in what is now Mexico. The Aztecs were mostly in the center portion of what is now Mexico while the Maya were largely on the Yucatan peninsula and the island that is now known as Belize (Carrasco) (Johnson-Britton). The Maya were present much earlier than the Aztecs. The latter did not come around until about the 1300’s while the former existed during the latest part of the BCE years, roughly three thousand years ago (Sharer) (Smith). Despite being around in a much earlier time, the Maya had an exquisite sense of time and art. When it comes to time, they used a 260-day calendar. Beyond that, the often pointed-to “long day” calendar came to a conclusion as of late in December 2012 (Zorich). While many things have changed since the days of the Maya, other things have not including vicious coups (such as those in Guatemala) and murder (Kistler, 2014).


Even with the stark differences of history, where they were and so forth, the Maya and Aztecs shared some obvious common strands. These two compare noticeably and one could also loop in the Olmecs, the Toltecs and the Chichimecs. It is fairly obvious that all of these cultures influenced each other over time. Indeed, both the Aztecs and the Maya have what are known as “ancient” gods as well as “younger” gods. For example, the God of Fire is a common god that is seen throughout ancient Central American culture and it manifested in similar ways with the Maya and the Aztecs. There was also the god of the travelling merchants. This is a god that the Aztec took very seriously. The Maya took to the ancient gods quite easily. Just one example was the great god Quetzalcoatl, otherwise known as the plumed serpent. This was actually an adaptation from what the Toltects believed before them (Meta Religion).

Both the Aztecs and the Maya held…


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