idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
And Europeans hadn't invented any of it. They learned it all from the Ottomons. It wasn't until Newton was born, a century later, that they made any significant contribution to mathematics. The Aztecs and Mayans actually pioneered every mathematical advance independently of outside bodies (as it is is believed the Maya and Aztec devised it separately).
That's an incredibly unfair comparison to make though. We're not discussing who discovered what, but what discoveries (or advancements if you will) were known and used by the cultures in question. One of the reasons why the old world was more advanced was because of the interaction of many more cultures. This meant that advancements in one, spread to another, which might combine that idea with one from yet another to make something new, then that would spread back, etc. This sort of process was very much slower in America.
Um... And the Aztec didn't invent that stuff. They inherited it from the folks in the area before them, who got it from those before them. We could argue that the Mayans did develop a lot of that stuff and the Aztecs of the day simply learned it from them through time (and not a lot of innovation since then). I already acknowledged that the Mayans were pretty good at developing stuff. But they had died off as a culture long before the Aztecs of Cortez's day gained power in that region.
The Aztec and Mayan understanding of Astronomy was also superior.
That's questionable really.
They were more accurate in their measurement of the year than the Gregorian calendar was (though for some reason didn't base their calendars on this figure, possible for easy--theirs was a 365-day basis, so it has the same error our own does).
So their understanding was more accurate than a calendar, but their calendar wasn't more so. What? Europeans have had an understanding of the time between solstices and the fact that this changed over time (ie: leap years) for thousands of years. This is not some knowledge that was unique to the Aztecs (or the Mayans). Pretty much everyone knew this. And pretty much everyone's calendars ignored it because it was easier to write a calendar that contained a consistent and regular number of days.
The Maya are also the first known civilization to discover the Orion Nebula, making them the first civilization to ever detect a stellar body without a pinpoint effect.
Lol. What? Your statement doesn't even make sense. Stellar body means a lot of things. There's some evidence to suggest that they may have been able to detect that Orion wasn't a single point of light, but a collection of smaller ones. Whether that's true or just speculation after the fact is still in doubt. Absent a telescope, it would be hard to make that observation. So either they did develop telescopes or they somehow managed to detect this without one, or modern historians are completely misinterpreting the data.
Better trade? The Aztec Empire was a trade based society. And they were actually able to barter. Europeans were having significant problems in this period because no one wanted anything they had. They could make it all, and they could make it better.
Yeah. Because the Aztecs were sailing ships thousands of miles away and conducting trade with them. You do recall *why* Columbus took his journey in the first place, right? It was because the Spanish were getting cut out of the trade routes to China and the Far East and figured they'd sail West and get there that way and make tons of money with their secret route.
Comparing that with a trade system not much more advanced than that used in ancient Mesopotamia is kind of absurd.
They had better construction. But vastly worse urban planning, which is needed to actually make USE of construction. Their adobe-based communities were far better maintained than the wood-based ones of Europe. And I say wood, when most peasants were still living in huts that were primarily earthen.
We're talking about advancement though. You're cherry picking examples. You honestly don't think that Madrid in 1500 was an example of greater technological advancement than anything the Aztecs had at the time?
Europeans had NO chemical knowledge during this period. Chemistry didn't exist yet. Alchemy did, but that's all.
And yet, somehow they managed to make gunpowder. You sure you're not getting caught up on the terms? Let's not forget that the Europeans were the last in the old world to learn to make gunpowder, and they'd been making it for 2-3 hundred years before showing up in America.
The Ottomans were pioneering science, which wasn't imported at all until the intellectual class of the Renaissance started to form.
This is just plain false. You're acting like there wasn't massive trade going on between Europe, Asia, and all points in between for centuries before Columbus took his voyage.
In some areas of science, Europeans were better. In others, the Aztec and Maya were definitely better. Europeans were no better at physics than they were, and they were only just starting to take an interest in the natural world (which is another defining feature of Renaissance change).
Except with regard to applied physics of course. Europeans were vastly more advanced in terms of engineering. Look, I know that you've been told that there's no real difference between a culture that can build standing stone structures like pyramids and one that can make use of domes, arches, flying buttresses and other techniques to make structures just as tall but with a fraction as much stone, but it's just not true. The reality is that those differences represent a couple thousand years of technological advancement. Lots of folks in history figured out how to cut large stones and pile them on top of each other. Some even developed this to make really large and evenly placed piles. But that only requires the most basic aspects of physics and engineering to do.
Human sacrifice is neither here nor there. It's a religious practice and doesn't apply to any definitions of civilization. They believed that the gods were demanding those lives, so they killed them. It wasn't all that different from the Inquisition, truth be told. Inquisitors believed that God was calling for the death of heathens, and that any innocent burned at the stake was acceptable, as they would obviously gain entrance to heaven for their martyrdom.
Um... Sure. I said that the Europeans were not perfect. However, they didn't include human sacrifice as part of their required worships. That they punished criminals and enemies with brutal means is a completely different story (and the Aztecs did as well). That you would equate them is frankly desperation on your part.
And I think it is telling. If you're trying to fall back on something other than technology to conclude that the Aztecs were an advanced people, then I think it's fair to examine those other things (like culture). And that includes their religious practices.
The Aztecs did the same thing. Except that they saw everyone who wasn't them the way that Europeans saw gypsies and Jews. It's not significantly different in any way relating to the value of civilization. Horrific and appalling, but not something that applies to that definition.
Yes. Both killed their enemies. Sometimes in deliberately brutal and public ways so as to scare others. But the Aztecs *also* practiced human sacrifice. And they also held death games for public entertainment. Not just as a form of capital punishment but because it was part of their culture to kill their own people as a means of appeasement to various gods. That is a practice that is "old" and most cultures grew out of over time. You'll have a hard time convincing anyone that it's a sign of advancement. Edited, Feb 3rd 2012 6:21pm by gbaji