Inca History - History of Peru - South America answers questions


ruined stone buildings on a mountain
Macchu Picchu

October 2016 - Until the 1400s AD, the Pacific coast of South America was made up of a lot of small independent kingdoms: first the Valdivia and Norte Chico people, then the Moche, the Chavin and the Mapuche. These kingdoms often raided each other, but then they went home again and made peace. This was like the city-states of ancient Greece, or the Etruscan period in Italy. Then one of those kingdoms, the Inca, began to take over the others and keep control of them, instead of just raiding them (like Philip of Macedon, or like the Romans). Gradually the Inca put together an empire.

The Inca did not call themselves the Inca; they actually called themselves the Tawantin Suyu, which means The Four United Regions (like the United States). The capital was Cuzco (in modern Peru).

gold mask of a man
Inca gold mask

The Inca are the people that are in the movie, The Emperor's New Groove (the one about the emperor who gets turned into a llama). Most people in the Inca empire were farmers, growing potatoes and peanuts, tomatoes and avocados and peppers, cotton for clothing, and coca leaves for medicine. Many other people spent their time fishing from boats. Some people made pottery, built big stone palaces and temples, collected taxes, and built roads paved with stone.

More about the Aztec
More about the Maya

Bibliography and further reading about Inca history:

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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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