I learned in a Latin Studies class (with a chill white dude professor) that when the Europeans first saw Aztec cities they were stunned by the grid. The Aztecs had city planning and that there was no rational lay out to European cities at the time. No organization.
When the Spanish first arrived in Tenochtitlan (now downtown mexico city) they thought they were dreaming. They had arrived from incredibly unsanitary medieval Europe to a city five times the size of that century’s london with a working sewage system, artificial “floating gardens” (chinampas), a grid system, and aqueducts providing fresh water. Which wasn’t even for drinking! Water from the aqueducts was used for washing and bathing- they preferred using nearby mountain springs for drinking. Hygiene was a huge part if their culture, most people bathed twice a day while the king bathed at least four times a day. Located on an island in the middle of a lake, they used advanced causeways to allow access to the mainland that could be cut off to let canoes through or to defend the city. The Spanish saw their buildings and towers and thought they were rising out of the water. The city was one of the most advanced societies at the time.
Anyone who thinks that Native Americans were the savages instead of the filthy, disease ridden colonizers who appeared on their land is a damn fool.
They’ve also recently discovered a lost Native American city in Kansas called Etzanoa It rivals the size of Cahokia, which was very large as well.
here are some reconstructions of Tenochtitlan
just a note, we don’t think of old european cities as ruins, because those civilizations continued and kept building over the old–there are no abandoned ruins for us to visit & photograph. when we picture those old cities, we have only mental images drawn from our own assumptions & prejudices–images that tend to glorify ‘civilized’ europe.
since victors write history, our image of native american cities was created by colonizers motivated to uphold the ‘native savage’ myth. when we think of these civilizations now, we think of ‘uncivilized’ (rough, broken, abandoned) ruins, because that’s what remains. ruins are the only thing left. because of the destruction wrought by western invaders, these civilizations never had a chance to continue building. they were destroyed, and all we have left is an unimaginative shadow of their former glory.
went to peru and visited some of their museums and learned inca history that american schools don’t teach you. basically you know why they were beaten out by the spanish invaders? because incas were mostly scientists and not warriors. they had advanced medicine, farming and science technology. THATS what they were good at - tech - not building weapons to most efficiently kill people. the spanish were good at that. so they won. basically the real savages and thugs won and murdered a bunch of scientists, and their technology and advancements are lost forever. it took into the 20th century for colonizer technology to advance in the field of medicine and agriculture to the level of the incas. colonizers literally set human knowledge back like 500 years.
It’s crazy to me that, literally everyone in the world was doing just fine until Europeans showed up flipped the script