Pre-Columbian civilizations

What is "Pre-Columbian"?
Pre-Columbian refers to the prehistoric and historic American history prior to the discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Often thus incidents are described, which are indeed happen after the discovery by Columbus, but without European influence. Pre-Columbian the time from the first settlement of America in the Upper Paleolithic to European colonization includes the early modern period. Pre-Columbian is used especially often in the context of the early civilizations of the Americas, such as the Aztecs, Toltecs, Maya and Olmec in Mesoamerica and the Inca and Moche in the Andes. Many of the pre-Columbian civilizations were sedentary, developed agriculture buildings, monumental and formed complex social hierarchies. Several civilizations had perished at the time of European discovery of America, and already were known only through archaeological investigations. Others are due to historical documents from the period of the late 15th Century 16th to early Century known. Only a few of the crops, such as the Maya, had their own historical records. These texts were, in the eyes of the Spanish conquest, however heretical and therefore were burned.

The civilization of the AZTEC
The Aztecs had built since the end of the 14th Century an advanced civilization in Mexico. Their capital Tenochtitlán was the largest and most splendid city of its time. But the Aztecs had not least through her numerous conquests many enemies. With their help, the Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés could destroy the Empire in 1521, with a merciless massacre. Until the mid-13th Century, the Aztecs, according to legend, lived as hunters in their homeland Aztlan ("the land of herons"). But then they appeared in 1168 the god Huitzilopochtli, and sent her on a long journey. They should search for a sign, then their people would be big and powerful. The Aztecs went from place to place until 1370 when they were finally at the destination. They found an island in Lake Texcoco, where an eagle perched on a cactus and eating a snake. This image is found today on Mexico's national flag. The Aztecs called themselves "Mexica". Hence the current name of country Mexico. They built in 1325 on the island their capital Tenochtitlán with imposing pyramids, temples and magnificent palaces made of stone. On the mainland lived simple farmers and craftsmen and warriors who supplied the city and its inhabitants with all the necessities. Few dams led to the markets of the city, which were well guarded and could be shut off in case of danger. The city of Tenochtitlan grew more and more until it had 250,000 inhabitants making it the largest city of its time was. The Aztecs organised more ground for buildings and gardens watered by the swamps around the island. Such a magnificent capital could only afford because they were founded by skillful negotiations and also by bloody wars and a big league of cities. The neighboring Indian nations could only decide whether they became voluntarily or involuntarily allies of the Aztec people. All members of local authorities had to pay high taxes and were in return protected by the mighty Aztec warriors from enemies. Thus, the Aztec were ruler of a vast empire. They were among the other indigenous peoples feared and hated rulers. Not least because of their religious beliefs demanded many cruel human sacrifice. They sacrificed every year about 50,000 captive warriors, slaves, but also children for the sun god Quetzalcoatl.

The civilization of the Maya
Many myths surrounded the Maya, who once had the most advanced culture in the Americas, and then seemingly disappeared suddenly. Suspected long drying times have caused armed conflicts between the nations. What remains are many mysterious characters on numerous magnificent buildings that attract and fascinate tourists from around the world. It was built exclusively for the homage of the gods. This included the sacrifice of humans and animals. Sun, Moon and Stars played  a big role in the faith and in everyday life of the Maya. Sun and moon were considered as shuttlecocks with which the gods played in the sky. Therefore they built a ball court in every city for the gods. Their reference to the sky was very dominant and thus their affinity for astronomy. The Maya were also famous by the production of maize, their mathematics and their sophisticated calendar. The Maya writing was until the arrival of the Spaniards the only written medium in America. Consisting mainly of the icons font could be deciphered by now largely. In the areas of arts and crafts and painting the Maya also had unique abilities. The metal processing which served mainly for ritual purposes and less for tool-making, was added later. The Mayan culture centered around the Yucatán Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. The entire area of the Maya is distributed today to five countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. The area of the former Mayan empire that consisted of around 50 small states, is roughly comparable to the size of Germany. To date there are more theories than real knowledge about the life of the Maya. Why did they just located in the tropical climate of Yucatan, is as mysterious as their subsequent disappearance. There is a widespread misconception that the Maya are extinct. Only the culture of the first line so-called "classical phase" dissapeared. Until the 16th Century, the descendants of this civilization lived in self-determination. Then in 1523 came the first conquerors of Spain, who used bloody wars to adopt and subjugated the population. The Spaniards does not hesitate to destroy unique relics of the Mayan time. 1697 to Tayasal the last major free Mayan city was conquered. Thus ended the story of these individual and unique culture. The descendants of the Maya live today mostly in Guatemala. Researchers are still discovering new cities come from the Mayan era. This is thanks to financial support from abroad, including from Germany explored, and saved from further decay.

The civilization of the Inca
Today "Inca" referred an indigenous urban culture in South America. The respective ruling people of this culture are also referred as Inca. The Incas ruled between the 13th and 16 Century over a vast empire of over 200 ethnic groups. At the time of greatest expansion (950,000 square kilometers), her influence stretched from present-day Ecuador to Chile and Argentina. Historically the Incas are compared with the Bronze Age cultures of Eurasia. The ritual, administrative and cultural center was the capital Qusqu (Cusco) in the high mountains (3,500 m) of present-day Peru. What was originally meant by the term "Inca" is the name of a tribe of the sun god Inti. The Inca ("Daughters and Sons of the Sun") spoke Quzechua which means as much as "the language of the people." The rulers of the tribe were worshiped as gods. They were called Sapa Inca ("unique Inca"). As with the Aztecs and Maya, there was a strict social order, headed by the Inca rulers. Officials were used to capture the great empire numerically, and to monitor the work of the farmers. They presented the amount on births, deaths, the amount of corn and potato crops and the number of llamas and guinea pigs to the Sapa Inca. Counting was done by using colored strings and knots, called "Quipus", cause they knew no money. Instead of taxes the inhabitants contribute  their work force to the prosperity of the empire. One third was worked for the empire, the second third was invested in the military or the nobility and the last third was spent for their own livelihood and families. The Incas were excellent farmers and knew 20 different varieties of maize, 240 potato species, beans, various grains such as quinoa and amaranth, squash, tomatoes, peppers and exotic fruits. Their pets included llamas, alpacas, ducks and guinea pigs. The Incas place value to a good diet thus as education and science. They built the Yacha Huaci, the House of Knowledge, to taught the young noblemen in languages, religion, astronomy, astrology, philosophy, mathematics, architecture, and warfare. Yet all the knowledge did not help, when on November 15, 1533, the Spanish conqueror and adventurer Francisco Pizarro took with only a few hundred men, the capital of Cuzco almost without any resistance from the people. Previously, he had taken with cunning and caught in a surprise attack well before the gates of the city the Inca ruler Atahualpa and killed. The death of her Sapa Inca made the Inca headless. Thus their fate and the fall of the Inca Empire were sealed. The Spanish conquerors destroyed the city of Cusco almost completely. The last Inca ruler died in 1572, and with him the last resistance against Spanish conquerors and the great empire of the sun god Inti.