No one knows much about the Olmec, but here are some of the most interesting things about them
Olmec means “rubber people”. They were not named this for nearly 3000 years after the Olmec times.
No one Knows what they called themselves in their times.
The Olmec made massive heads of their rulers made from volcanic rock. Some of these are three metres high and weigh as much as 40 tonnes!!
The Maya used these symbols for numbers:
A shell is zero
A dot is one
A bar is five
Here are some examples of Maya numbers (2 Digits or more):
Dot with bar under is six
Two bars on top of each other (like =) is ten
Three dots on top of two bars is thirteen
One of their calendars was 365 days long (Like ours).
They used the stars and moon to predict the weather.
Their other calendar was 260 days long, the same time as the average time a baby takes to grow inside its mother.
Mayan pyramids were step pyramids, and instead of being sloped like Egyptian pyramids they were built like a layer cake.
The Mayans tried to build the pyramids very high so they were close to the heavens, and god.
Until recently people thought Mayan pyramids were not used as tombs, but recently remains of a king and his riches and jewels have been discovered.
The Aztec were a wandering tribe, and their gods told them to make their city somewhere where an eagle perched on a cactus holding a snake in its mouth. The Aztec called their city “Tenochtitlan” which means “Place of the fruit of the prickly pear cactus”. Half a million people ended up living there.
The Aztec thought that the sun died every night when it set and they had to offer it humans’ blood and hearts or it would be gone and the world would be destroyed.
The Aztec were very religious and they had a god for nearly everything. They believed their gods were all powerful and made the sun rise, the crops grow and the rain fall.
There were strict rules about clothing in Aztec times. If people disobeyed those rules they were killed.
Men wore loincloth which is a cloth tied around the waste.
Men also wore a cloak knotted on the right shoulder. Can you imagine what they’d do to you if you knotted it on the left shoulder?
Nobles were allowed to wear cotton cloaks, which were brightly coloured, often decorated with stripes and other patterns.
Moctezuma was an Aztec leader who was chosen to be the leader of the Aztec in 1502. The Aztec leader drank fifty cups of chocolate each day!!
When the Spaniards invaded, Moctezuma thought they were messengers from Quetzalcoatl, so he gave them gifts of gold and invited them to Tenochtitlan. They held Moctezuma hostage in his own palace. No one knows if the Spanish killed him or if the Aztec were so fed up with him they killed him.
The fall of the Aztec
In 1519 Cortez, a Spanish soldier – adventurer landed in search of gold. Cortez took his small army to Tenochtitlan, and the Aztec ruler Moctezuma let them into the Aztec palace thinking that Cortez was Quetzalcoatl. The Aztec gave Cortez gifts of gold and other jewellery, trying to persuade him to leave. But, determined after six months Cortez had to leave to sort out some trouble on the coast.
While Cortez was gone the soldier he had left in charge ordered to kill many Aztec Nobles during a festival. The Aztec were furious and they attacked the Spanish , but the Spanish killed most of the Aztec, and some died of thirst and hunger or through diseases. This left only a fifth of the Aztec population left.
Pictures of my Ancient Mexico Lap book: