The Inca Empire included about 12 million people at its peak in the early 1500s. It lasted less than 100 years, from 1438 to 1532, but it was the biggest and richest empire in America. Their capital was Cuzco. It was a beautiful city. There were palaces, temples, schools, houses, and government buildings.
The Inca grew corn, squash, tomatoes, peanuts, and cotton. They were the first to grow potatoes. The Incas worshipped the coca plant. They thought that it was magical and used it for religious and health purposes. They made clothing from llama wool and cotton.
The Incas were wonderful engineers. In less than a hundred years, they built over 22,500 km of roads, and hundreds of bridges. A complex aqueduct system used to bring water to farms, villages and towns. Machu Picchu is one of the most amazing archaeological sites in the world. Located high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu was never found by the Spanish invaders.
The Inca built their houses using stone. They often consisted of just one room and had no furniture. People sat and slept on reed mats or animal skins.
They spoke a language called Quechua.
The Incas invented many musical instruments.
There were lots of priests in the Incan Empire. They were very powerful because people believed that they could communicate with the gods and read the omens. Priests were also surgeons who performed small operations.
Their most important god was Inti, the sun god. Each Incan town had a Sun Temple, where they made sacrifices to Inti.
The Incas were known as the ‘Children of the Sun’.
The Incas had 2 calendars – a religious calendar and a solar calendar. Their solar calendar had 365 days, but the months started in December.
Like the ancient Egyptians, the Incas believed in afterlife. They mummified their dead. The family held a funeral for eight days. The mummies of dead rulers remained in their palaces.
They mined lots of gold and it was the reason for their downfall. By 1533 Spanish soldiers led by Francisco Pizarro had captured Cuzco.