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The two civilizations of the Inkas (or Incas) and the Aztecs spouted at almost the same time. The Aztecs gradually extended their dominance over the Mesoamerica, while simultaneously; an imperial state was building up at the Inkas’ Andean highlands. The Inkas Empire accumulatively incorporated the cultural aspects of many previous Andean cultures, all of them fused into a new system (Demarest and Conrad 57-59). On the other hand, the Aztec were central Mexicans who dominated most of Mesoamerica from the 14th to 16th Century. The Aztec were inhabitants of Tenochtitlan, which had two principal city-states allies (Acolhuas and Tepanecs). To form the reputed Aztec empire, these two city-states combined with Mexica and formed the Aztec Triple Alliance (Demarest and Conrad 57-59).
While the Inkas had a great ability to harness agricultural and artistic production, the Aztec had a genius for social structure (state organization) especially in the bureaucratic control and reign over the assorted cultures, peoples and languages within the empire. The two differing strengths explain why each empire was able to achieve a social domination and integration that was previously unknown within the Americas and the Adrian region (Schwartz, History World).
In comparing the Aztecs and the Inkas, a few points emerge distinctively. Their empires were built upon earlier civilizations that had preceded their rise. They used the artistic, social and intellectual achievement that the earlier civilizations hade achieved and surpassed their success to gain military and imperial organization. The two empires were primarily based on intensive agricultural production as organized by the state. The surplus production was accumulated by the state, which also controlled circulation of goods and redistribution between social classes.
The social structures of both cultures exhibit an increased transformation with time, where a strict social hierarchy emerged with the nobility being overly predominant. Most of the nobility were state personnel such that the state itself was the image of the society. Due to the differences in climate and geography between the Andean region and Mesoamerica, and the added advantage of being reclusive, the two empires had a host of differences. In trade and market development, the Mesoamerica’s Aztec Empire was more progressive that the Andean Inkas. Social hierarchy was more pronounced among the Aztec as was their metallurgy writing systems (Schwartz).
Architecture of the Inkas was by far, more developed than that of the Aztecs. The Inkas architecture incorporated different arts such as textiles with assorted motifs. This is evident even today especially in their administrative capital of Cusco city. Inka engineers used stones without mortar to build breathtaking temples (Schwartz). They were also remarkable apt in building elaborate road networks, some of which survives to date. Although the Aztecs also used stones in building, their art was less elaborate than that of the Inkas and the craft of masonry was less prestigious.