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Free «The Mesoamerican, Andean, and Bajio Civilizations in between 1500 and 1700» Essay Sample


The history of colonization presents an interesting yet insightful knowledge in the analysis of the emergence of Mesoamerica, Andean and Bajio societies. This indigenous societies experience a complete civilization metamorphosis due to colonization. In turn a new creation of societal outfit emerged. It is prudent to note that, there are positive and negative consequences of this interaction. The three civilizations in the Latin American were related in many spheres. Other than the common practice of income generating activities, they also shared common disasters like the merging of diseases that claimed lives of the natives. The intent of this essay is to analyze the three civilizations in the ancient period ranging from 1500 to 1700 in a bid to draw significant outcomes of the historical periods in the society today.


Emergence of the Mesoamerican Civilization. The Mesoamerican civilization can be divided into four main regions: the central Mexico to the north, the Maya region to the south, Oaxaca along the southern strip, and Olmec region. Economic gains are compatible with high level development and urbanization that were attainable at the more strategic Mexico valley. A city as a development concept is a place with well distinguished typology backed by a functional agriculture land. The development of Mesoamerican region could be due to its centrality and design of edifices. There lived the ordinary people around the edifice in residential estates with sparse population. This kind of city design was meant to offer security to the edifice as the edifice contained palaces and sacred places. In addition, the design could have been motivated by the need to have central access to places of communal gatherings in strategic position for everybody. Commercial centers and manufacturing sites were located in the middle of the city but these activities may not have been core activities of the dwellers. Agriculture was the main economic activity of the residents. The lineage towards an agricultural economy could have been the reason why Mesoamerica had a lower level of labor productivity than those of world economic power houses of the 1500s.



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Mining in the Andes and New Spain and the wider Latin America as practiced by the Iberian conquistadores constitute the bêtes noires in the new orthodoxy. However, this kind of treatment is not worthy compared to the achievement made by New Spain in 1700. The Andeans too never deserved to be part of it after the conquest had gone by. The mining activities of the mining of the New Spain were owned as private properties instead of being extractive lands. The mine land owners, also known as mineros benefited from security of proprietary rights. As such, they never had any fear of confiscation of property. There were still 3,000 mines after the colonization of Mexico and they belonged to the second class people in the social order. The mineros had limited capital. This can be interpreted as the reason why there is still an undeviating needs to borrow from other economic sources for economic survival. The natives had the right to own mines and the mining moguls of New Spain led a more prosperous life than before they got into the mining business. 

In the early 1500, the unity of Mesoamerican society experienced turbulent interferences due to the arrival of Europeans. To begin with, Spanish and Portuguese explorers arrived but they were closely followed by French, British and Dutch. The latter three had much less impact in the region due to a number of reasons. The Spanish and Portuguese came with a completely different motive; to exploit the resources. Therefore, it took a long period of time for the conquistadors to take control of societies in Mesoamerica. However, it took so long to cement their authority in the region, Spanish and Portuguese    and Native American cultures blended into a new Hispano-Mexican-Central American culture.

The Spanish Conquest. The dramatic conquest of Mesoamerica by Spanish during 1500s was basically spearheaded by Cortes in Mexico and Guatemala. There was a legendary battle orchestrated by the European colonialist in a bid to conquer Mesoamerica. The indigenous found it difficult to defend their territory due to lack of complex weapons. In addition, deadly diseases weaken the society and made it easy for colonists to conquer Mesoamerica and establish colonial rule. Several aspects were actually for the Mayan people. For instance, farmers went on with their activities. However, taxes were levied and paid to the colonial ruling elite who were Spanish instead of Mayan. In a bid to consolidate their rule, the Spanish colonialists compelled the indigenous people in rural areas to live in villages. This strategy made it easy for the colonial government asserts their authority on subjects.

The Spanish conquest had a significant impact on the people of Mesoamerica, including the Maya.The indigenous ways of life was seriously affected in some way, from farming to the interference with traditional religion and culture. In addition, weaving industry was affected since the Spanish introduced treadle loom to the people. The treadle loom offered an alternative way to weave fabric and helped most people to specialize in the production of treadle loomed cloth.

Mesoamerica is firmly associated with the emergence of an early civilization (Kamen 14). However, Mesoamerican societies were scattered and connected to one famous river for instance Nile as the other early civilizations were, though there existed several rivers in the New World.  The geographical background Mesoamerica and the separation from Europe, Asia and Africa, made early civilization in the place to appear much later than elsewhere. In this regard, Mesoamerican did not tap from rich the exchange of ideas and objects that took place in civilizations on the other three continents. 

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The interaction between Mesoamerica and the Andes led to the establishment of different in cultural development and the chronology of the emergence of more complex political systems. Much of this was probably achieved through native cultures in Central America (Mangan 68). There were important differences in culture, religion. Peruvian cultures applied the knowledge of metallurgy in a more advanced level than Mesoamerican counterparts. The existence of the llama in the Andes necessitated the establishment of a type of pastoralist culture.

Diseases. Diseases played a pivotal role in the history of Mesoamerica. Mesoamerica was hard hit by diseases which reduced the native population’s activities. The presence of the slave trade in the region added African diseases to the mix, and the climate of the region was well suited to the spread of these epidemics. Smallpox, measles, typhus, yellow fever, malaria, tuberculosis, and pus infections reduced the indigenous populations. The reduction on population had a great impact on both conquest and subsequent exploitation of natural resources. Spanish took advantage of a weakened population to quickly establish their influence in the region.

Silver trade. Trade in Silver greatly influenced the development of Mesoamerica. The discovery of silver in Aztec encouraged the Spanish colonists to build a formidable trade in silver. This is because of high demand from China. Silver propelled the rate of economic growth of cities in Mesoamerica region.

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Modern societies, international relationships and contact. International relationships and contact influence the social fabric of the Mesoamerica societies. Languages spoken in the region have a great influence from the early settlers and colonists. For instance, Spanish and Portuguese languages have a significance influence in Central America. Mesoamerica religion has over the time collapse in favor of foreign religion. The Spanish introduced Christianity with strong catholic principles. The Catholic Church has grown so fast to overcome the indigenous religion which used to exist in the region. In this regard, external interaction of Mesoamerica with the external world has impacted on their culture as well as religion.

In modern Mesoamerica, the common European language is Spanish. Spanish language has become so common even more than Mesoamerican Indian languages.  This influence has created the culture of bilingual among the population. The significance of this influence is seen in the trade relation of Central America and former colonist such as Spain and Portugal. Central America trade relationship has been grown due to the earlier interaction made by some of these European countries.

External interaction influence on native traditions. Invention of tradition due to external interaction with external world in Mesoamerica has positively and negatively influence in societal lifestyle. The innovations such as those that are surrounded a round pageantry, fashion has created a complete new sense of snobbish and ostentation among the people. This is because pageantry and fashion command an immense economic power in most societies now as compared to past centuries. New invention in tradition has made life more convenient and easy however, the same inventions have contributed to the erosion of old cultural heritages.

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In the quest to establish the intention and meaning of new invention in tradition, a cluster of such inventions are important. In the European countries, tradition such; royal jubilee, Olympic Games among have positively created trade relationships with Central America thereby positively influencing the lives of the people. The ruling class and the elite created these traditions with intention of consolidating patriotism or furthering their political or economic power. The introduction of education and modern technological advances also significantly helped Central America in coping with global challenges which call for modern pedagogical education and technology.

Emergence of the Andean Civilization. The Andes region in South America is among the areas where early civilization thrived well due to the mountain range along the western coast of the land. The growth of the Andean civilization can be attributed to the extensive presence of fertile soil and an elevated landscape of the coupled with favorable temperatures. These conditions make the Andes region to be unpopular for urban settlement. The practice of agriculture led to soil exhaustion as farmers adopted terracing and underground channels.   

After soil exhaustion, the population had to look for alternative means of living and this explains why they resorted to the rearing of the Ilama. Ilama could survive at high altitude areas and this explains why it remained the most popular domesticated animal in the early civilization. The Andeans were the only people who obtained animal products through rearing of domestic animals to get animal products like skins and meat without the need to hunt. Another growth parameter of the Andean civilization was their ability to preserve food. The weather of the region was characterized by extreme coldness and hotness seasons. During the hot seasons, the people would preserve their food using the hot temperature and very cold temperatures.

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The modern day Andean civilization is the current Peru and Bolivia, which emerged under two extreme environments of the highly mountainous Andes region and the coastal lowland. The lowland areas survived through fishing in Pacific Ocean, springs, and rivers. Cities in the Andean regions were smaller in size compared to those of the Mesoamerica. Despite the inability to develop mathematics and literacy skills, the Andean region were superior in metallurgy. The superiority of the Andeans in metallurgy made the Inca to quickly move into the Bronze Age. They had unique ways of recording significant numbers; for instance, the use of color-coded knot cords. Messengers were also used to convey messages from one part to another; several miles away. The establishment of the Inca Empire was strong because of food stability, breaking into the Bronze Age, and abundance of food. However, the reign of the Inca Empire was cut short following the intrusion of Francisco Pizarro in 1530. This followed the fall of Aztec Empire to the Spanish conquerors in the 1520.     

Bajio Civilization and the Rise of Capitalist Economy. In the 16th century Bajio was considered the heartbeat of the economy for the world due to availability of fertile soil in northwest Mexico City. Just like the case of Andean region, soil fertility was critical in influencing population growth around these regions. According to Tutino “A little-settled and often contested frontier between Mesoamerican states to the south and independent peoples to the north, Bajio saw everything change with the arrival of Europeans” (29). Disease played a significant role in the penetration of the Europeans as they could occupy land pieces left by natives. The natives had fled due to wars displacement, and most importantly they succumbed to diseases of the time. Bajio too was a region rich with silver and this resource played a part in linking Bajio to the rest of the world in global trade. The Bajio region attracted a massive population due to its resourcefulness. Migrants came from Mesoamerica, Europe, and labor seeking Africans. All the migrant groups had their reasons to settle in Bajio; nonetheless, they were all in pursuit of commercial benefits. The arrival of different people in the region required establishment of a new life, which required the reconstruction of cultural values, and the unification of social values.

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There was contrast between Spanish Mesoamerica and Bajio. Mesoamerica was a ground for settling farmers, home for empires, trading grounds, and state administrations headquarters. In addition, the Mesoamerican region was caught in the complexity of cultural connotations. “The celebrated defect of the Mexica (Aztecs), rulers of the last Mesoamerican states and empire, by Cortes and his gang of entrepreneurial freebooters led to the conquest and subordination of Mesoamerican states and communities” (Tutino 32). On the other hand, the Mesoamerican regime had not only superior military advantage because they had horses and iron to confront enemies but also enjoyed good diplomatic ties with most of Mexica’s enemies. Small pox and other diseases killed many Mesoamericans and the Europeans had to take over and endure the hardship in the region. Ultimately, the Spanish North America located in Bajio region and Spanish Mesoamerica went ahead to develop into two distinct colonial arrays ruled by the New Spain.           

While Tutino (2011) gives an account to why the Mexican Independence War began, Bajio was the epitome of social revolution according to the studies of many historians studying the Latin American early civilization era. The rise of the Bajio civilization can be attributed to the existence of mining activities, industrial and commercial superiority, and the practice of agriculture that gave rise to the capitalist economy. The ideals of capitalism spread o other parts of the wider north to what Tutino calls Spanish North America. Following the Mexican-American War, the Spanish North American was handed over to the US administration. The US inherited a lot economic gains of the Bajio region and this could be the potential source of power and wealth, which led to rapid establishment of the US expansionism. The capitalist ideals of the Bajio civilization did not only boosted the Atlantic World but also economy of the globe; for instance, the East Asian economy that was dominated by the Chinese Empire. The Chinese Empire was very critical to the economic performance of Bajio due to high demand for silver. The demand for this mineral according to Tutino, led to the expansion of silver mining facilities in Bajio; hence, the economic supremacy of the region.

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The study of global capitalism raises more interest from scholars and to this effect, demystifying any possible interrelating assumptions on capitalist development become eminent. It is possible that the capitalist development started in Europe then spread to the rest of the world. Despite the technically in proving this assertion, the study of the Bajio economic development could make a significant case in making a point. It is a possibility that there was an interactive trade period in which the Asian communities and the Atlantic World had a common goal that led to the establishment of the new world economy with adequate systems of production to meet market needs. Consequently, diplomatic, military and economic hitches could also been have started at a point and reverberated to the global level more systematically.

Another approach of comprehending the emergence of global economy from the early civilization of Bajio is based on the assumption the north part of New Spain was part of the Spanish Empire and the empire could have been to center of capitalism due to honor-driven and long chain of command that defined the protocol of the Spanish colonial society. In discrediting the second assumption, Tutino points out that “capitalism emerged precisely in Bajio because, as part of the northern regions where population more fluid; it was, in effect, a sort of tabula rasa onto which capitalism could more easily be engraved” (qtd. in Mallon 392).   

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The Bajio were mining communities and this leads to the analysis of the difficult lives of the workers in the mine fields. Mining has health hazards caused to the workers and this explains why there was profound attachment to the Virgin of Puelblito. The enslaved Africans, the Otomi, and Tarascan among other local communities share a common suffrage. This leads to the creation of hybrid identities on which the people show solidarity. There is a correlation between the availability of free labor from e slaves and the emergence of a capitalist economy. This is because in a capitalist economy, there cost of production has to be kept at minimum possible levels in a bid to raise capital and profit. Therefore, coerced labor was a fundamental practice in Bajio.   


From the discussion above, it is evident that the three empires had many common practices. To begin with, all the empires practiced agriculture as one of the main economic activities. This was due to availability of fertile lands and adequate sources of water that encouraged farming. In addition, farming was boosted by the willing African labor force that formed part of the migrants into the three civilization societies. The second common activity among the three civilizations was silver mining. The regions were rich in resources and this attracted the interests of commercial brokers from Europe who were eager to reap on the benefits of the lands. They took advantage of the diseases that killed the natives to move possess the lands left back. Silver mining was important in encouraging global trade due to ready overseas market; for example, the Chinese market. The proceeds of the silver mining made the economies of the three civilizations to thrive and attract the interest of more immigrants.

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All the three regions are found in the Latin America and the regions have been replaced with modern societies with different names. For instance, the two Andreas regions are Bolivia and Peru. In addition, three regions were close to each other geographically and this explains why they regions had similar economic resources, similar weather patterns except the Andean regions that had extreme hot and cold seasons. The difference in the weather pattern of the Andean region explains why they domesticated the Ilamas and Alpaca for meat and skins.


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