History for Kids: The Inca

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The first emperor, Pachacuti transformed it from a modest village to a great city laid out in the shape of a puma. He also installed Inti, the Sun God, as the Incas' official patron, building him a wondrous temple. A new ruler had to create his own income. The only way to do that was to grab new lands, subdue more people, and expand the Empire of the Sun. How was this done?

The Incas Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Life in traditional Andean villages was fragile. One married couple would help another planting or harvesting crops.

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They would receive help in their own fields in return. The Inca tailored this practice of reciprocity — give-and-take — to their own needs.

The rise and fall of the Inca Empire - Gordon McEwan

Their cities centered on great plazas where they threw vast parties for neighboring chiefs. Festivities continued for days on end, sometimes lasting a month. Dignitaries were fed, and given gifts of gold, jewels, and textiles. Only then would the Inca make their requests for labor, to increase food production, to build irrigation schemes, to terrace hillsides, or to extend the limits of the empire.

The Inca were great builders.

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They loved stone — almost as much as they revered gold. At magical Machu Picchu, a frontier fortress and a sacred site, a mystic column, the hitching post of the Sun, is carved from the living rock.


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Another slab is shaped to echo the mountain beyond. Temples and fortifications at Machu Picchu were constructed from vast, pillowy boulders, some weighing tons or more. Constructed without mortar, the joins between them are so tight as to deny a knife-blade entry.

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A vast labor force was required. There are records of 20 men working on a single stone, chipping away, hoisting and lowering, polishing it with sand, hour-by-hour for an entire year. A network of highways allowed Inca emperors to control their sprawling empire. One ran down the spine of the Andes, another along the coast. Inca builders could cope with anything the treacherous terrain required — steep paths cut along mountain sides, rope suspension bridges thrown across steep ravines, or treacherous causeways traversing floodplains.

Every mile and a half they built way stations as resting points. Bands of official runners raced between them covering miles a day. A message could be sent miles from Cuzco to Quito in under a week. Everyone was expected to contribute to the empire. Land was divided in three. Spanning a the continent lengthwise, the Inca road network covered approximately 22, miles of roads and trails with about half of that paved.

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They built stone surfaced roads where the terrain required it, but merely marked the way and distance on dessert or flat coastal terrain. Many miles of the Inca roads were captured from the civilizations they conquered. Some were built purely for ceremonial purposes, but the primary purpose of the roads was to hold the Empire together by providing vital arteries for communications and troop movements. The Inca Empire was less than a century old when conquered by the Spanish although Inca civilization before imperial expansion was significantly older.

To measure tracts of taxable land, Aztec mathematicians had to develop their own specialized arithmetic, which has only now been decoded. Mayan hieroglyphic writing Mayan hieroglyphic writing, system of writing used by the Maya people of Mesoamerica until about the end of the 17th century, years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

With the 21st-century discovery of the Mayan site of San Bartolo in Guatemala came evidence of Mayan writing that pushed back its date of origin to at least or bc. It was the only true writing system developed in the pre-Columbian Americas. David Epstein: Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger? When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way.

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Inca Empire

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