Film Culture Project

The material incorporated in this section is listed with student projects because, although it specifically applies to Mesoamerican empires, it can be adopted and revised for almost any culture/civilization.

The Rise of Mesoamerican Empires:

Teaching about the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas involves making decisions about how best to demonstrate to the students how these well-developed civilizations became as advanced as they did despite the overwhelming environmental obstacles they faced and how their decisions either helped or hindered their survival.

Many teachers turn to videos when it comes to teaching about Mesoamerican civilizations because some very good video sets exist that show the richness and complexity of the pre-Columbian cultures.

Once a teacher has found a good video and then decides to show it, is it best to have the students just watch the video, take notes during the video, or plan on a quiz on the video after it is over? One technique that students seem to like and which leads them to really focus on the film is to go over printed questions before the film and then ask the students to look carefully for evidence during the film so the questions can be answered correctly afterward. Two examples are provided below which serve to encourage both comprehension and post-film discussion as well as to provide a study sheet for later review. The film questions were written to accompany the series Lost Civilizations (Time-Life series, 1995).

The Maya

Maya Timeline

1000 BC 300 BC-AD 250 AD 250-600 AD 600-900 AD 900

AD 900-1500

Rise of Mayan villages

Rise of trading centers

 Early classic period

 Peak of Mayan cities

Mayan cities deserted

Post Classic Period

Film Questions:

Be sure you know about:

  • The Mayan ruins of the Guatemalan jungle

  • The Mayan legacies in math, astronomy, and architecture

  • Why the Mayans may have abandoned their cities

  • The importance of recent scholarship in decoding the Mayan hieroglyphs

The Inca

Inca Timeline

1000 BC AD 100 AD 500 AD 650-800 AD 1200s AD 1470 AD 1531

Rise of Moche in North

Rise of Nazca in South

Height of Moche and Nazca

 Decline of Moche and  Nazca

Rise of Inca

Height of Inca Empire

Pizarro conquers Inca people following capture of Atahualpa

Film Questions:

  2008 NYSED