The Incas Essay

This essay has a total of 1820 words and 6 pages.

The Incas

The Inca were South American Indian people who ruled one of the largest and richest
empires in the America's. The Inca Empire began to expand about 1438 and occupied a vast
region that centered on the capital, Cusco, in southern Peru. The Empire extended more
than 2,500 miles (4,020 kilometers) along the western coast of South America. It included
parts of Present - Day Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The Inca
Empire was conquered by Spanish Forces soon after their arrival in 1532. Inca emperors
ruled their far - reaching territory through a complex political system. The Inca took
over many areas by military force. Their political system kept a balance between the
central authority of the emperor and local rulers. The name Inca was originally the title
of the emperor. The peoples he governed had many names. But after the Spanish conquest,
all people under the emperor's rule were called the Inca. Inca is a group name which
covers a large numbers of tribes. The original Incas were Quechua speakers who lived in
South - Eastern Peruvian highlands. Tribes later conquered by the Incas tended to
assimulate Inca culture, to the exclusion of their own. In the 15century, led by Pachacuti
Inca Yupaqui and his son Topa Inca, the Inca Empire exploded over the Andes. Both leaders
claimed to be descendents of the sun, the most important symbol in Inca religious life.
When Topa Inca died in 1493 Pachacuti's Andean domain ran nearly 2,500 miles from North
Ecuador into Chile and covered some 350,000 square miles. The Incas are famous for their
intricate gold work and elaborate weaving. For subsistence they relied on terraced and
irrigated cultivation, and very little on hunting and fishing. In the mountain areas the
main crop was quinoa, and in lower areas maize, beans, peanuts, and squash. They kept
llamas, alpacas, dogs, guinea pigs, and dogs. Men worked copper and gold and women made
fabrics and pots. Inca towns had massive public buildings. Most of their technological
achievements were grand - scale copies of ideas from earlier civilizations. The skilful
farmers who preceded the Inca, harnessing the melting snows of the Andes, dug irrigation
ditches across the desert; they also deflected rivers for the same purpose. Nothing which
the Minoans, Egyptians, and Sumerians did, agriculturally, equalled this achievement. They
also demesticated animals. From the Native American camal the guanaco, they bred the llama
and the alpaca for their wool, and guinea - pigs for food.Most people lived in square
stone houses with thatched roofs. The Inca political system was headed by an absolute
divine king and was subdivided into a territorial organization with hierarchy of
bureaucrats. There were no written records, despite the advanced technology, and history
was preserved through narrative poems and genealogies. The empire began to crumble with
the Spanish conquest of Cuzco in 1533. Archaeological remains are a major source of
information about the Inca civilization. The Inca did not develop a writing system, and so
there are no sources about them written before the spanish conquest. But the scientists
and historians have reconstructed a picture of Inca life and history from well - preserved
archaeological remains in Peru. Written materials from the period of and after the spanish
conquest provide another important source of information about the Inca civilization. The
Inca used several methods to make their farms more productive, even though they did not
use wheels or plows pulled by animals. They build irrigation networks in the coastal
desert. In the highlands, they cut terraces into the hillsides to reduce erosion and make
irrigation easier. The Inca divided their fields into three groups. The harvest of the
other two fields supported the state religious activities.Family and social life in Inca
society was determined by social rank. The rank of an Inca's family determined his or her
social position for life. A man's status could be changed only by performing some
outstanding service for the emperor. The people were grouped in units called ayllus, which
it was based on kinship and land ownership. The members of an ayllu owned an area of land
in common. The leader of an ayllu gave each family as much land as it needed to produce
its own food. Men with noble rank could have no more than one wife,and many marriages were
arranged for political reasons. Emperors sometimes gave chosen women to favored nobles or
men who had performed a service for the emperor. These women, who were selected by
government officials, had great beauty and intelligence. Nobles had to marry within the
ayllu. Husbands and wives were expected to help each other with work in the fields and
other tasks. Inca children had little time for play because their families kept them very
busy. Most children helped with the family work after learning to walk. Boys were
initiated into manhood when they were 14 years old. Girls were initiated into womanhood
after they started to menstruate. Boys and girls received permanent adult names during the
initiation ceremonies. However, young people did not achieve full adult status until they
married and started to pay taxes.Religion for the Inca played an important role in the
public and private lives of the Inca. The people believed that nature was created by their
most important god, Viracocha. The ruling family prayed chiefly to Inti, the sun god.
Important goddesses included the earth and the sea. The Inca believed the will of the gods
could be learned through divination, an attempt to gain knowledge of the unknown through
magic signs. Sacrifices and offerings accompanied by prayers were a main part of the Inca
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