Who were the Incas?

Print anything with Printful

The Inca civilization began in the 12th century and quickly expanded to control a vast territory in South America. They spread their culture through conquest and had a rigid social hierarchy. They were skilled in agriculture, architecture, and engineering, and their language was Quechua. The Spanish invaded in 1531 and eventually conquered the Incas in 1570.

The Incas were an ancient people who lived in South America. Their unique culture began to spread during the 12th century, and within 12 years they controlled a larger territory than any other South American cultural group had ever controlled. At its peak, more than 400 million lived in a territory that spanned the western coast of South America from Ecuador in the north to what is now Chile in the south.

Inca culture spread by conquering other cultural groups. Placing local leaders in government, they were generally generous to anyone who defended themselves against intruders. They also made a point of providing leniency to all people who did not resist the conquest.

The head of the core group of the Incas was called Inca and was considered a divine descendant of the sun god, the most important god of their polytheistic religion. The Inca held absolute power, and immediately below him in the social hierarchy was his royal family, which consisted of his brothers, parents, wife, children, and concubines. Below the royal family were chieftains, each of whom led a clan. Below them were the commoners, organized in groups of dozens, with a leader for each group. This rigid hierarchy strongly discouraged individual social progress and created a highly centralized society.

The Incas managed some impressive feats, such as the large-scale terracing of mountainsides and the construction of many stone structures without the aid of mortar. They were so successful in terracing that, during their heyday, there was more cultivated land in the Andean highlands than there is in modern times. Perhaps their best-known terraced mountain ridge is Machu Picchu in Peru.

Members of this culture also constructed many large buildings with stones cut so precisely that they required no mortar. Because of their building prowess, many of their buildings still stand today. They also used their stone-cutting skills to build roads complete with tunnels and bridges across the Andes, and built aqueducts to bring water to their cities.

Their language is called Quechua, which is still spoken by many indigenous peoples living in the Andes. Instead of writing, the Incas used colorful knotted ropes called quipu to keep records. They were also highly skilled in mathematics, medicine and astronomy.
In 1531, the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro invaded their territory. With only 200 soldiers, he managed to kidnap Atahualpa, the then current Inca. Atahualpa resisted Pizarro’s attempts to use him as a puppet ruler, so Pizarro executed him in 1533. After another 40 years of fighting, the Spanish finally conquered the group in 1570.

Protect your devices with Threat Protection by NordVPN

Skip to content