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Macchu Picchu

Inca history: Macchu Picchu

Before the Inca

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 lived there. Then the Moche, the Chavin and the Mapuche took over.

Who were the Norte Chico people?
Who were the Moche?
And the Mapuche?
South American history
All our South America articles

How did the Inca get power?

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.

What is an empire?
What is a city-state?

Inca gold mask

Inca gold mask

What did the Inca call themselves?

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).

Is there a movie about them?

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).

What did Inca people do?

Most people in the Inca empire were farmers. They grew potatoes and peanutstomatoes and avocados and pepperscotton for clothing, and coca leaves for medicine. Spinners and weavers made fancy fabrics to sell to their neighbors.

More about coca
Where do potatoes come from?
Where do peanuts come from?
The history of cotton
History of fishing

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.

The Inca traded with their neighbors to the south, the Mapuche in Chile. They sold them cloth and bought dried fish. And the Inca sold cloth and coca leaves to their east, into the Amazon rain forest. In exchange, they bought medicines. They sold cloth to the people of Ecuador, to their north, too. They bought fancy sea-shells from Ecuador to use for jewelry.

More about the Aztec
More about the Maya
What happened to the Inca?

Bibliography and further reading about Inca history:


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