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This information comes from the History Alive! Medieval World textbook.


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The Incas

Rise of the Inca Empire:

Rise of the Inca Empire @ height of empire in around 1500 A.D., was 2,500 miles north to south Modern-day countries that exist in former Inca empire- Peru, Ecuador ; parts of Bolivia, Chile, Argentina Incas first settled in this area around 1200 A.D.

Beginnings of the Inca:

Beginnings of the Inca Two stories a) people were descendents of Inti, the sun god & his son (Manco Capac) founded the Incas b) Inti appeared before a later Inca ruler & Inti told him that Incas must become a strong power & educated the people he met

Growth of the Inca empire:

Growth of the Inca empire occurred when Pachacuti (meaning “earthshaker”) led Incas against neighboring group & then began to fight against other tribes By 1500s, empire covered approximately 350,000 square miles (Massachusetts is 7,838 square miles; 45 MA= Inca Empire)

System of Roads:

System of Roads Linked all parts of the empire; approximately 15,000 miles of road Every 15-30 miles, there were shelters for travelers to rest Running messenger stations placed every couple of miles along main roads w/ relay system, messages traveled over 250 miles a day (from Boston to NYC )

Messages & Quipus:

Messages & Quipus messages= memorized words + set of strings called a quipu knots at different places & on different colored strings stood for numbers could keep track of population, troops , tribute quipus = good substitute for a written language

PowerPoint Presentation:

Google Image Result for Google Image Result for Quipus

Class Structure:

Class Structure EMPEROR - servants carried him everywhere on a golden litter; people did not look him in the eye may have many wives & hundreds of children; had one “primary” wife, called the Coya (who was frequently the Sapa Inca’s full sister to ensure purity of the royal blood) heir chosen from Sapa Inca’s children

Class Structure:

Class Structure NOBLES - enjoyed privileges like gifts of land, servants, llamas, fine clothing could marry more than one wife all nobles were NOT created equal; were three different groups


Nobles Highest group- Capac Incas Believed to be descendents of the founder of the Inca empire controlled empire’s land & valuable resources like llamas & gold had most important positions in military, government, priesthood

More on nobles:

More on nobles 2 nd highest- Hahua Incas as Inca empire grew, more nobles were needed to lead the government considered “Incas by privilege” Leaders from Cuzco & sometimes commoners gained this status

More on nobles again!:

More on nobles again! 3 rd group- Curacas were local leaders of conquered peoples jobs included- collecting taxes, inspectors who made sure everyone followed Inca laws & customs (like keeping clean homes-  uh oh Ms. Morgan)


Commoners Most in empire were commoners who were farmers & herders had to support government with their own labor & on special projects men- built roads women- wove cloth food they grew given to warriors, priests, people who couldn’t work (elderly, sick)


Food Squash, peppers, beans, peanuts, 20 types of corn, 200 types of potato potatoes = their most important crop because they could survive frosts @ altitudes as high as 15,000 ft. above sea level

Family Life:

Family Life ayllus- an Incan clan (a group of related families) ayllus were basis of Incan society ayllus varied in size , just like towns do today all people in ayllu had to work , except very young & very old leaders of the ayllus made sure all of the work got done

Family Life- II:

Family Life- II curacas (one of the groups of nobles) were in charge of households in the ayllu 1 curaca in charge of 10 households 1 curaca in charge of 50 households 1 curaca in charge of 100 households and so on. . .500 then 1,000 then 5,000 then 10,000 households

Family Life:

Family Life curacas made sure ayllus paid taxes (like Aztec nobles made sure people paid tribute) no money system so taxes paid with goods & labor men had a special public duty tax & they had to work for gov. projects each year (ex. repair roads)

Life for children:

Life for children started working young girls- took care of babies, cooked, made clothing boys- helped in fields, looked after animals did not receive formal education (different from Aztec commoner boys); learned skills & customs from elders

Life for children- II:

Life for children- II sons of nobles- had tutors that taught them religion, geometry , history , military strategy, physical training boys’ coming of age ceremony for all Inca boys (like Maya boys)- when 15 yrs., had to pass month-long tests of courage, strength, discipline After passing tests, boys swore loyalty to the Sapa Inca & got weapons of the Inca

PowerPoint Presentation:

On your half sheet, write a fact related to the two topics that you are given. B. Stand up and circulate around the room. Share one of your facts with a classmate that needs one and get a fact from classmates that wrote different facts than you. You need to write down the facts that you get from other people. Give one, get one


Marriage male commoners only had 1 wife men- married in early 20’s women- could marry @ 16 yrs. marriages arranged by families, the men/women , gov. officials if a man hadn’t married yet every year curaca had a “marriage market” where young men could chose brides


Religion thought gods influenced their daily lives (like Maya & Aztecs ) thought gods controlled parts of nature (ex. Illapu was weather god & rain giver) sun god most important (like Aztecs) WHY? A) believed emperor’s family descended from him b) the sun was the god of agriculture which was basis of Inca life

Religion- II:

Religion- II needed many priests to perform rituals & ceremonies most important temples were dedicated to Inti the high priest , a close relative of the Sapa Inca, was in charge of the Sun Temple in Cuzco


Sacrifices offered some sacrifices daily, ex. priests threw corn on a fire each day to encourage the sun to appear in many rituals , live animals like llamas & guinea pigs were sacrificed

Sacrifices- II:

Sacrifices- II human sacrifice ONLY on the most sacred occasions or in times of natural disaster children might be sacrificed @ this time because Incas believed that the purity of children honored the gods

“Chosen Women”:

“Chosen Women” gov. officials visited towns each year to find the most beautiful & talented girls between 8 & 10 years old these girls then taken to live in convents learned Inca religion , how to prepare food & drink for religious ceremonies , to weave clothes for the Sapa Inca & Coya

Chosen Women- II:

Chosen Women- II @15 yrs., some left their convents & went to work in temples, teach at the convents others went to Cuzco & became wives of nobles or secondary wives of the Sapa Inca some were sacrificed @ important religious ceremonies

Relations with Other Peoples:

Relations with Other Peoples When adding new groups to the empire, Incas first sent someone to meet with a tribe who explained the tribe could join the Incas & enjoy peace, prosperity Other tribes knew the other alternative was to go to war w/ the Incas (just like the Aztecs )

Joining the Inca Empire:

Joining the Inca Empire usually Incas won against tribes who initially resisted joining the empire (same as the Aztecs ) What happened when new groups became part of the empire? had to build a sun temple had to accept Inca gods as the most powerful

Joining the Inca Empire:

Joining the Inca Empire Local leaders brought to Cuzco & learned the Incan language , Quechua (local leaders later went back to their people & were curacas) Incas took an important religious object of the tribe’s & brought it to Cuzco (claimed it was showing respect for local religion, but it was actually being held “hostage” in case the tribe rebelled later then the Incas would destroy the object)

Why did the Incas conquer such a large empire?:

Why did the Incas conquer such a large empire? Incas believed that the Sapa Inca ruled over the lands he’d conquered even after he died new emperors had to establish their own power & source of wealth ; they did this by conquering new lands

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The End!

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