Inca vs. Aztec vs. Maya: What’s The Difference Between Inca, Aztec, And Maya?

What are the differences between the Inca, Aztec, and Maya? What are the pros and cons of each? We'll compare the three ancient civilizations so you can decide which is best for you.
Inca vs. Aztec vs. Maya: 5 Key Differences, Pros & Cons, Similarities

Inca vs. Aztec vs. Maya: Inca, Aztec, and Maya are three old civilizations famous in history. All three civilizations had great achievements in their time. But the difference between Maya and Aztecs and Incas is that the Incas arose in the 12th century and built an empire in the mountain range of South America. Aztecs showed up in Mesoamerica at the beginning of the 13th century. And Maya established the Yucatan Peninsula in Central America. All three of these had their religions and political views.

Let’s take a closer look at Aztec vs. Inca vs. Maya

WorshipsOnly Aztecs, and Inca were true worshipers of God
AdvancedMayas were most advanced and focused on science and mathematics
Human SacrificeHuman sacrifice was only part of Aztec culture
LocationAztec and Maya empires were located in Mesoamerica, while Inca, along with the Andes mountain range.

Table of Contents

What Are Aztecs?

What Are Aztecs? Aztecs were present in Mesoamerica at the beginning of the 13th century; at that time, they were like nomadic tribes from northern Mexico. There is not much evidence about the beginning of the Aztecs, but they have been considered to have originated as a northern tribe of hunter-gatherers. Aztecs were also known as Tenocha or the Mexica. Aztecs had a very famous history due to their high interest in the arts. They participate in different art activities like dancing, music, and poetry.

Aztecs were present in Mesoamerica at the beginning of the 13th century; at that time, they were like nomadic tribes from northern Mexico. There is not much evidence about the beginning of the Aztecs, but they have been considered to have originated as a northern tribe of hunter-gatherers. Aztecs were also known as Tenocha or the Mexica. Aztecs had a very famous history due to their high interest in the arts. They participate in different art activities like dancing, music, and poetry.

What Are Incas?

What Are Incas? Incas are well known due to their founding of the Inca Empire in pre-Columbian America. This empire lasted from 1438 to 1533 and was the pinnacle of the Inca civilization. The Inca Empire used conquering and peaceful internalization to integrate the region of Peru under the leadership of a massive Emperor of Western South America. But, right after the civil war, the final Spa Inca of the Inca Empire was caught and executed by conquistador Franciso Pizzaro. After that, a neo-Inca State was founded, which was defeated in 1572 by the Spanish.

Incas are well known due to their founding of the Inca Empire in pre-Columbian America. This empire lasted from 1438 to 1533 and was the pinnacle of the Inca civilization. The Inca Empire used conquering and peaceful internalization to integrate the region of Peru under the leadership of a massive Emperor of Western South America. But, right after the civil war, the final Spa Inca of the Inca Empire was caught and executed by conquistador Franciso Pizzaro. After that, a neo-Inca State was founded, which was defeated in 1572 by the Spanish.

What Are Maya?

What Are Maya? Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization that commenced in 2600 B.C by the Maya people. It comprises Southeastern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and the Western portion of El Salvador and Honduras. This civilization I knew for its hierological script. Maya had no one emperor, but a prince and priests ruled it. Maya was very advanced and had a great knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. They were able to track the movements of planets and stars. They also have great achievements in arts, like paintings and building an array of structures.

Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization that commenced in 2600 B.C by the Maya people. It comprises Southeastern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and the Western portion of El Salvador and Honduras. This civilization I knew for its hierological script. Maya had no one emperor, but a prince and priests ruled it. Maya was very advanced and had a great knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. They were able to track the movements of planets and stars. They also have great achievements in arts, like paintings and building an array of structures.

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5 Key Differences between Inca, Aztec, and Maya

ComponentsIncaAztecMaya
ExistenceInca arose in the 12th century, and they comprised an empire in the Andes mountain range of South America.Aztecs lived in the valley of Mexico. They were a Mesoamerican civilization, around 1300-1521.Maya were mainly settled around Yucatan Peninsula in Central America
ReligionIncas were polytheistic. They worship their God, known as “Sun God.”Aztecs were also religious; they built huge temples and pyramids for their gods.Maya was polytheistic. And human sacrifice was a part of their religion
Political ConditionInca was ruled by a very powerful emperor, Sapa Inca. This emperor was also a religious leader of an empire.Aztecs were ruled by an emperor whose main purpose was to lead during the wars and huge battles.Maya had city-states and was not united politically. There was an independent ruler for each city-state.
Art and ArchitectureThe architecture of the Inca consists of natural beauty and an amazing mixture of geometrical and natural forms. Their building was in uniform with massive imperial structures.Monumental sculptures were the favorite of Aztecs; they built statutes. They also art courtyard all different subjects, most famous were animals, plants and Gods.Maya left a considerable architectural heritage, as they built a huge array of structures. They also reconstructed a classic period city, “Tikal.”
DeclineInca was defeated by  Francisco Pizarro, leading a Spanish conquistador. Moreover, smallpox spread also killed many IncasAztecs were defeated by the Hernan Cortes, leading Spanish conquistadorsThere is not much evidence about the defeat of Mayas, but more than 2 million Maya still live in Southern Mexico and Guatemala

Aztec vs. Inca vs. Maya Similarities

  • Whether it’s Aztec or Inca, or Maya, all of these had full control of massive empires that ceased to exist.
  • These three groups have unique languages and provide specific religious views to their people.
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Inca vs. Aztec vs. Maya Pros and Cons

Inca Pros and Cons

Inca Pros and Cons

Pros of Inca

  • Incas have their greatest technological skill, engineering, which makes them able to build roads across the length and width of their empire.
  • Inca also shows their technological skills in agriculture. They planted different crops and made them grow the best.

Cons of Inca

  • Due to their location, the Incas faced many physical obstacles, like high mountains, raging rivers, and tropical forests.
  • Incas did not have any advanced weaponry system, which became one of the causes of their fall.

Aztec Pros and Cons

Aztec Pros and Cons

Pros of Aztec

  • One of the best achievements of the Aztecs was that they built up their island city, “Tenochtitlán.”
  • Aztecs performed various arts, including dance, sculpture, poetry, and music. Music and dance were important features of their events.

Cons of Aztec

  • During the Aztec empire’s rise, the community faced major problems like diseases, ritual sacrifice, political issues, and feeding a large population.
  • Aztecs had no immunity to European diseases. Smallpox spread and devastated the Aztec people.

Maya Pros and Cons

Maya Pros and Cons

Pros of Maya

  • Mayas have some important achievements in mathematics and astronomy. They were able to track the movements of planets and stars.
  • Maya people were also gifted in the arts. They were great painters and painted using plants and minerals. They were also a good constructors.

Cons of Maya

  • From late night till the end of the ninth century, something terrible happened to the Maya civilization, which shook it completely. And the Mayas region collapsed during this time.
  • In the ninth century, some cities like Tikal were completely devastated due to the drought as rainwater was necessary there to drink and for crops.

Inca vs. Aztec Comparison Chart

What are the differences between the Inca, Aztec, and Maya? What are the pros and cons of each? We'll compare the three ancient civilizations so you can decide which is best for you.

Aztec vs. Maya Comparison Chart

What are the differences between the Inca, Aztec, and Maya? What are the pros and cons of each? We'll compare the three ancient civilizations so you can decide which is best for you.

Comparison Video

Maya, Aztec, and Inca Societies

Conclusion

If we make the Maya and Aztec Inca comparison, they are like each other in many ways. Like they all have a history of building pyramids; all were polytheistic and worshiped God. But if we look at the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayas difference, these are different in their political and religious views. These all have different achievements in history as well. The main difference between Aztecs and Maya and Incas is that the Aztecs were a Mesoamerican civilization that lived in a valley of Mexico around  1300-1521. Maya were mainly settled around the Yucatan Peninsula in Central America. And the Inca arose in the 12th century, comprising an empire in the Andes mountain range of South America.

Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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