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The Mayans and The Aztecs

Updated on February 13, 2014
Seckin Esen profile image

Seçkin Esen is working as an English language teacher in Turkey. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in ELT from Hacettepe University in 2010.

Mayan and Aztec civilizations were two of the largest empires in Latin America. There are many similarities between the two different mythologies. They both grew corn, placed a lot of importance on sacrifice, and had similar creation myths. In this article, we are going to discuss the theories about why there are so many similarities between the mythologies of two cultures that were so distinct.

One of the first theories about why Mayan and Aztec mythology are so similar is that they must have descended from the same group of people. That is, some anthropologists believe that since they share all this mythology, they must have once been part of the same tribe that just split up at different points. But, there is a lot of evidence that refutes this theory.

First, anthropologists have been able to reconstruct hundreds of years of history for the Mayans by studying the architecture and tools they left behind. In fact, they estimate that the Mayan civilization got started somewhere around 1800 BCE. Aztec civilization, meanwhile, dates back only seven hundred years. The exact origin of either culture has still not been determined, but it is certain that these two civilizations probably came from two distinct times, though they existed at the same time for a while.

Another theory about why their mythologies are so similar is that the Mayans and the Aztecs inhabited completely different territories. The Mayans were found in the western and southern parts of Mexico, as well as Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador. The Aztecs, on the other hand, lived in Central Mexico. But they did come into contact quite frequently. There was some trade between the Mayans and the Aztecs, and it is believed that in the course of these negotiations, some of their beliefs were transferred. This could easily account for why sometimes archeologists will find statuettes of Mayan gods in Aztec territory or vice versa.

Another significant fact is that even if they inhabited different territories, both cultures moved around over a large expanse of land. It means that they probably ended up seeing a lot of same landscapes while they wandered around. They were both affected similarly by seeing the same landscape since the mythology of any culture is influenced by the world around them.

© 2013 Seckin Esen

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      bob the builder 2 years ago

      thanks this really helped me

    • Seckin Esen profile image
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      Seckin Esen 4 years ago from Ankara, Turkey

      Thanks for your comment sanjay-sonawani.

    • sanjay-sonawani profile image

      Sanjay Sonawani 4 years ago from Pune, India.

      Logical viewpoint. The theorists have determined to show single source of everything which is wrong. Cultures can grow independently with exchanging few concepts. It does not mean that all came from the single stock of the people. Thanks.

    • Seckin Esen profile image
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      Seckin Esen 4 years ago from Ankara, Turkey

      Apocalypto is a very nice film. I love it too. Thank you for the comment nuffsaidstan.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image

      nuffsaidstan 4 years ago

      Love the film Apocalypto which focuses on one aspect of Mayan culture human sacrifice!.