Who Are The Inca?

Actually the question should be ‘who was the Inca?’ While the indigenous peoples centered geographically on Peru are often referred to as Inca, the word Inca itself refers to the individual emperor – Inca or Inka means king or emperor of the empire.

But as the name is most popularly used, the Inca are everywhere.

The Central Square In Cusco

The Rise Of The Inca Emperors

The Inca Empire started from its capital in Cusco, and expanded to control most of Peru, parts of Chile, Ecuador and Columbia. It was hugely successful because it integrated the knowledge of the societies they conquered and developed an administrative, political, military, economic and ideological system that allowed it to reach its peak in just a little more than a century and a half.

The Inka Museo In Cusco

Interested in learning more about the Inca and other civilizations centered on Peru? The Inka (Inca) Museo is one of the best collections of artifacts from The Inca Empire along with collections representing additional significant civilizations in the region. The exhibits provide an excellent insight into Inca culture featuring ceramics, textiles, tools and even Inca burial chambers with half of the exhibits being in both Spanish and English. The museum is located a few steps from Cusco’s main square with admission costing US$8. About

The Short Lived Inca Empire

The Inca Empire first appeared in modern-day Peru sometime during the 12th century, arising from earlier pre-Inca indian groups in the region. These early groups are credited with creating the ancient Nazca Lines, immense drawings etched into the landscape and the pyramids of the Lima culture.

The Inca began expanding their lands with their fourth emperor, Mayta Inca Capac. However, they did not truly become a large empire until the eighth emperor, Viracocha Inca, in the early 15th century when he defeated the Ayarmaca kingdom to the south and took over the Urubamba Valley. He also established the Inca practice of leaving military garrisons to maintain peace in conquered lands.

Other Regional Indian Civilizations

Around 1000 BC the Chavin civilization developed in the northern Andes mountains from farming villages that dotted the region. The culture grew slowly at first, but in about 850 BC, it began to reach its peak when the Chavin people established their city, Chavin de Huántar on a coastal plain about 160 miles north of modern Lima, Peru. The Chavin peoples were skilled at metalwork, stonework, ceramics, tile work, textile weaving, dyeing methods, pottery, and bead making. After 500 BC, they started using llamas as pack animals to carry their goods up and down the mountains to Chavin de Huántar, which grew into a prosperous center for trade as well as religion. By about 300 BC, the influence of Chavin de Huántar was in decline and by 200 BC, the region contained only small, independent communities.

The Mochica culture arose about 200 BC to 600 AD and was located on the coast of northern Peru. These people left massive drawings of animals, birds, and geometrical patterns on the coastal plain that are known as the Nazca Lines. The people of the cities of Tiwanaku and Wari in the highlands were active from about 400 AD to 1000 AD, while along the coast the Sican culture, famous for its great pyramids, sprang up from the descendants of the Mochica peoples about 800 AD. Around the same time, more Mochica descendants further south developed their own culture, the Chimú. The Chimú were craftspeople, builders, and traders, but by 1470 AD, they were overrun and integrated into a more powerful culture, the Incas.

Early in the 16th century the Spanish began the conquest of the Inca Empire reaching Cusco around 1532 and by 1572, the last Inca outpost was conquered.

The Inca left behind evidence of an amazing culture and some of the worlds most amazing structures and altered landscapes, but left little little information about how they lived. The Inca had no written language except a complex system of tying knots in collections of string which is believed to be an accounting system. What they did leave is a bloodline that survives today in the people of Peru.

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