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Frances F. Berdan

In: 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook

Chapter 12: Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans

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Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans
Aztecs, incas, and mayans

The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans are considered to have developed the most complex civilizations in Latin America during pre-Columbian times. They were not the only complex civilizations in this region, generally called Nuclear America (the area of most complex civilizations in pre-Columbian America), nor were they the first. (See Figure 12.1.)

Nonetheless, the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans have been primary subjects of intense archaeological, ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and art historical research-and many controversial issues have surrounded each of them. These issues, for example, have ranged from the extent of Aztec human sacrifice, to the meaning of historical kingships among the Inca, to the causes of the ancient Mayan collapse. While some of these issues are unique to one group, others ...

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