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Inca Civilization

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Inca Civilization. Background. By the 13 th Century, the Inca had established domination over the regional states in Andean South America In 1438, Pachacuti launched a series of military campaigns that greatly expanded Inca authority Success bred success and the Inca empire expanded

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  • By the 13th Century, the Inca had established domination over the regional states in Andean South America
  • In 1438, Pachacuti launched a series of military campaigns that greatly expanded Inca authority
    • Success bred success and the Inca empire expanded
  • By the late 15th Century, the Inca empire covered more than 2,500 miles, embracing almost all of modern Peru, most of Ecuador, much of Bolivia, and parts of Chile and Argentina


Terraced farm land

  • Intensive agricultural techniques
    • Inca empire spanned many types of environments and required terraces to make farmland out of the mountainous terrain
    • Chief crop was the potato
    • Herded llamas and alpacas for meat, wool, hides, and dung (used as fuel)
social structure
Social Structure
  • In order to rule the massive territory and populations they had conquered, the Incas completely restructured much of Andean society
    • Relocated populations
    • Reordered the economy
    • Constructed an extensive transportation network
    • Created a state religion
social hierarchy
Social Hierarchy
  • Rulers
  • Aristocrats
  • Priests
  • Peasant cultivators of common birth
social hierarchy1
Social Hierarchy
  • Chief ruler was a god-king who theoretically owned everything and was an absolute and infallible ruler
  • Dead rulers retained their prestige even after death
    • Remains were mummified and state deliberations often took place in their presence in order to benefit from their counsel
    • Were seen as intermediaries with the gods
social hierarchy2
Social Hierarchy
  • Aristocrats lived privileged lives including fine foods, embroidered clothes, and large ears spools
    • Spanish called them “big ears”

Inca ear spools

social hierarchy3
Social Hierarchy
  • Priests often came from royal and aristocratic families
  • Influenced Inca society by education and religious rituals
cities cuzco
Cities: Cuzco
  • Inca capital at Cuzco served as the administrative, religious, and ceremonial center of the empire
  • May have supported 300,000 residents at the height of the Inca empire in the late 15th Century
  • Tremendous system of roads were built from Cuzco
new technologies
New Technologies

Major Roads of the Inca Empire

new technologies roads
New Technologies: Roads
  • Built an all-weather highway system of over 16,000 miles
    • Ran “through deep valleys and over mountains, through piles of snow, quagmires, living rock, along turbulent rivers; in some places it ran smooth and paved, carefully laid out; in others over sierras, cut through the rock, with walls skirting the rivers, and steps and rests through the snow; everywhere it was clean swept and kept free of rubbish, with lodgings, storehouses, temples to the sun, and posts along the way.” (Ciezo de Leon)
new technologies roads1
New Technologies: Roads
  • Allowed the Inca government to maintain centralized control by moving military forces around the empire quickly, transporting food supplies where needed, and tying the widespread territories together
  • Rest stations were built a day’s walk apart
  • Runners were positioned at convenient intervals to deliver government messages
economic exchange1
Economic Exchange
  • Inca society did not produce large classes of merchants or skilled artisans
  • Locally they bartered among themselves for surplus agricultural production and handcrafted goods
  • Long distance trade was supervised by the central government using the excellent Inca roads
specialization of labor
Specialization of Labor

Inca textile fragment

religion and education
Religion and Education
  • Main god was Inti, god of the sun
    • In the capital of Cuzco, some 4,000 priests, attendants, and virgin devotees served Inti
  • Sacrificed agricultural produce or animals rather than humans
  • Inca religion taught that sin was a violation of the established or natural order
    • Believed sin could bring divine disaster for individuals and communities
    • Had rituals for confession and penance
  • Believed in life after death where an individual received rewards or punishments based on the quality of his earthly life
art and writing
Art and Writing

Quipu (khipu)

art and writing1
Art and Writing
  • The Inca had no writing
  • Instead they kept records using a quipu
    • A array of small cords of various colors and lengths, all suspended from a thick cord
    • By tying knots in the small cords, Inca could record statistical information

586 on a quipu