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Inca empire

OLogy Series
anthropology
card
228

Inca empire

OLogy Series
anthropology

Five hundred years ago, a great empire stretched along the Andes mountains and the Pacific coast of South America. Ruled by a group called the Inca, this empire united many diverse cultures of the mountain and coastal regions. In just over 100 years, this well organized empire built an impressive system of bridges and roads, linking high mountain valleys with dry desert coasts and tropical lowlands.

For the Inca, the gods could be seen and felt in nature. The most important god of the Inca empire was:

the Moon

the Sun

the stars

Are you right?

Correct!

The Incas believed that the Sun god, called Inti, was the most powerful god. This god also was thought to be the father of the Inca king, who was called the Sapa Inca.

Farming in the Andes had many challenges, such as little rain and steep slopes. To farm on steep slopes, they:

built steps, or terraces, into the mountainside

planted only small plots of potatoes

planted lighter crops at the top and heavier crops near the bottom

Are you right?

Correct!

Terraces particularly were useful in areas where corn could be grown but where there was little open land. Corn was one of the most important Inca crops. To solve agricultural problems, the Incas built channels to carry water from nearby rivers.

The Incas kept records by writing on stone tablets.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

The Incas didn't have a writing system. They kept records on khipu (key-poo), a system of knotted strings. The knots were “read” based on their size, placement, and string color.

Smoke signals were used to deliver important news throughout the Inca empire.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Runners lived in huts placed every mile and a quarter along main roads. Each runner relayed messages to the next person, until it finally made it to the right person's hands.

Ruler: Sapa Inca
Capital: Cuzco
Years:1400-1525
Organization: divided into four areas called “suyus,” each run by a governor
Population: estimated to be about 10 million people
Cool fact: The Incas built enough roads to stretch from New York to Los Angeles more than eight times.

Image credits: AMNH, Craig Morris.