Inca empire

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Inca Empire INTRODUCTION Inca Empire, vast kingdom in the Andes Mountains of South America that was created by the Quechua, a Native American people, in the 15th century AD. The Inca Empire was conquered by the Spanish in the early 16th century. The Incas built a wealthy and complex civilization that ruled between 5 million and 11 million people. The Inca system of government was among the mostcomplex political organizations of any Native American people. Although the Incas lacked both a written language and the concept of the wheel, they accomplished feats of engineering that were unequaled elsewhere in the Americas. They built large stone structures without mortar and constructed suspension bridges and roads that crossed the steep mountain valleys of the Andes. The Incas conquered anumber of neighboring peoples as they expanded their area of influence outward from their home in the Cuzco valley of highland Peru. Inca lands eventually totaled about 906,500 sq km (about 350,000 sq mi). This territory centered on the peaks of the Andes, but extended to the Pacific Coast and the Amazon basin. The political center of the empire was in what is now Peru, and its territory includedparts of present-day Ecuador, Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwest Argentina. The terrain included high grass plateaus, low-lying jungles, deserts, and fertile river valleys. ORIGINS OF THE INCAS Most of the major ideas and institutions incorporated within Inca culture developed from a series of earlier Native American civilizations in the Andes. According to legend, the people later known asIncas began as a small group of warlike people and lived near Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru sometime before the 13th century. According to Inca myths, the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac, and his three brothers and four sisters emerged from caves in the earth. Around the year 1200, Manco Capac led ten Inca ayllus, or clans, from Lake Titicaca north to the fertile valley of Cuzco. The Incasconquered the people of the area and took it over for themselves. They founded the city of Cuzco as their capital. Manco Capac married one of his sisters, Mama Ocllo, to establish the royal Inca bloodline. He and succeeding emperors increased their power through marriage alliances and the conquest of neighboring groups. By the reign of Viracocha Inca, the eighth emperor, the Incas dominated anarea stretching about 40 km (about 25 mi) around Cuzco. Recent archaeological evidence, however, shows that Inca culture was developing in the Cuzco Valley for centruries. The Incas dramatically expanded and unified their territory after the conquest of the Chancas, under Viracocha's son, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. Pachacuti (whose name means 'earthquake' or 'cataclysm') reorganized the Inca socialand political system. He and his son, Topa Inca Yupanqui, were brilliant soldiers and statesmen who extended the empire from northern Ecuador to central Chile. Under their leadership, the Incas united the diverse native peoples along 4800 km (3000 mi) of coast into a far-flung empire with a common Quechuan language and way of life. These leaders brought Inca civilization to its peak: They made thecapital city of Cuzco into the center of Inca society and government, developed a state religion, and set up an elaborate administrative system to control their widely scattered subjects and territories. INCA CIVILIZATION Political Organization Inca society was strictly organized, from the emperor and royal family down to the peasants. The emperor was thought to be descended from the sun god,Inti, and he therefore ruled with divine authority. All power rested in his hands. Only the influence of custom and the fear of revolt checked the emperor’s power. The emperor had one official wife, but he had many royal concubines and his children by these wives often numbered in the hundreds. The emperor chose his most important administrators from among his sons. Just below the emperor came the...
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