Long before 1492, great civilizations rose and declined in the Americas, completely unknown to the rest of the world. One of the earliest was the Maya, which reached its height between AD 300 and 900, a period that included the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages in Europe. The Aztec of Mexico and the Inca of Peru flourished during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and early sixteenth centuries before being destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors. These and other civilizations built sophisticated and complex cities comparable to urban centers in other parts of the world at that time. They included large stone buildings, such as temples, athletic facilities, and large spaces for public ceremonies. This section compares views of two Native American cities, the Inca capital, Cusco, and the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City), with fifteenth- and sixteenth-century urban centers from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
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