Chapter 5

Unit 2 World History

The Step Pyramid of El Castillo near current day Cancun Mexico. (From my personal files)

View from just inside the ball court in Chichen Itza looking toward the Pyramid. (From my personal files)

Many history classes have a tendency to get caught spending far too much time covering European history at the expense of other civilizations. Among the civilizations that get short changed in this process are the civilizations of the Americas. This chapter covers the civilizations of the Americas prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. We cover the rise of each of the three major civilizations of the area at the time (Aztec, Inca, Maya) as well as a handful of other civilizations that often get left out of the conversation. A great deal of time is taken to explain the differences between the “New World” and the “Old World” in terms of culture and technology. This allows the students a better understanding of dynamics of conquest in the next unit. Lastly, we cover the old thought processes of American cultures being less advanced or inferior to the the cultures of the “Old World.” While this is partially true, the truth is far more complex than people talk about in usual conversations. 

Essential questions

The following questions are meant to be studied during the chapter as possible essay questions for your exam.
Please be ready for any of the following questions.
  1. Can you think of anyone who was more important to the history of the Americas than Tlacaelel I during this time period? Why or why not?
  2. In what ways were Inca leaders treated differently than their counterparts in the Americas?
  3. Is the name “noble savage” an inadequate way to describe the people of the Americas prior to Columbus? Why or why not?
  4. What were the specific practices and justifications for Meso-American sacrifice rituals?

Chapter Content

Use the following links to find the content you are interested in or use the search bar at the top right to look for specific concepts.

Under Construction

This area is in the process of being created. In the meantime, please see the class notes for any information you may need for this chapter. An example of a completed page can be found in chapter 11.


The following are a list of helpful resources that can be used in studying for this chapter.

Class Notes

These are the notes that I use for class. All information found in these notes lead directly to the test so they should be used in studying if you want the correct answers. This can only be accessed by students logged into their school account.

Chapter Powerpoint

This link will lead you to the PowerPoint for this unit. Those who missed class can use this to catch up on what was taught in class and what specific concepts to focus on in your studying.

Exam Review

This is the review that should be used to prepare for the exam. All exam questions will be connected directly to this document. Students are expected to answer all questions and are encouraged to know the rest also.