Engineering an Empire: The Maya and The Aztecs
At the height of its glory, this mysterious civilization ruled a territory of 125,000 square miles across parts of Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. What began as a modest population of hunters and gatherers expanded into more than forty flourishing city-states who engineered sky-high temple-pyramids, ornate palaces and advanced hydraulic systems.
Where did they come from and what catastrophes caused the collapse of this innovative civilization? From the Temple-Pyramids at Tikal, to the royal tomb at Palenque, to the star observatory at Chichén Itzá, this episode will examine the architecture and infrastructure that enabled the rise and fall of the ancient Maya civilization.
In less than 200 years the Aztec's transformed themselves from a band of wandering nomads to the greatest civilization the New World had ever known. What records remain of this amazing feat indicate they did it through brilliant military campaigns and by ingeniously applying technology to master the harsh environment they faced.
They built their capital city where no city should have been possible: in the middle of a lake. The Aztec also practiced human sacrifice on an unprecedented scale and made many enemies. By the time the Spaniards landed they had no trouble recruiting tribal allies to destroy the Aztecs. Watch with host Peter Weller as we examine the architecture and infrastructure behind the New World's greatest, and last, indigenous society.
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