People of the Inca civilization lived close to the western coast of South America. They lived in the high regions of the Andes Mountains. The Andes Mountains run down the side of South America for 4,500 miles. There are many high peaks. To cross the peaks, the people made strong bridges of vines.
Normal people were not allowed on the roads. Only warriors, roadrunners, animals, or government officials could travel on them. If they wanted to defeat an enemy, the Incas abandoned them on a mountain peak by burning the bridges on either side. The enemy would just starve or freeze to death.
On the eastern side of the Andes Mountains is the Amazon jungle. On the western side is the desert along the coast. Both were barriers to other peoples.
The Inca empire began in the early 1400's AD when a younger son of the ruler in a town defeated a neighboring town. The conquering went on with his son called Topa Inca. After another 50 years, the Incas controlled 2500 miles down the western side of South America. Their victories seem great when it is known that they had no horses or wheels.
The Incas had no writing. Everything was communicated by voice through runners. They used a quipu as a recording device. They took a length of rope and tied knots in different ways. They hung threads from this rope in different sections. This device could indicate quantities of goods and time. Without writing, though, the Incas could not record their history.
The rulers gave the common people land. In return, the people took turns working on government projects. Sometimes a mitmakuna, a whole group of families, moved together to another area to form a new town.
There are two groups of people in an Inca society which are kept separate. The yamakuna are males who are chosen to take care of the herds, mainly llamas. These males would be seen on roads or in markets. They could get married.
Females which are kept separate are called mamakuna. Their number is greater than the yamakuna. They are involved in being priestesses in the religious ceremonies of the Incas. They also do much of the weaving and brew beer.
The Incas were very skilled in cutting out huge slabs of stone and fitting them together to make massive buildings. Remains of these huge stone buildings can be seen today in modern cities.
The rulers are called the Incas and believe that they are the representation of the sun. The Incas have religious ceremonies celebrating the sun, lasting many days. The largest one of these is an eight-day celebration at the end of the maize harvest. A chanting begins in a low tone at sunrise, grows louder as the day progresses and down again at sunset. Offerings of llamas and maize beer are made to the sun. The rulers dress in fancy robes decorated with gold and silver.
One of the most amazing sites is the ancient town of Machu Picchu. It is high on a mountain in the jungle, but somehow the Incas could put up buildings made of huge blocks of stone. The last ruler of the Incas was Manco Inca. He was killed in 1544 by the Spanish as they explored South America.
To link to this Inca Civilization page, copy the following code to your site: