Peru: Inca Civilization                                   

For more in depth history of Peru navigate your way through different time periods here (scroll to Peru, Ecuador & Bolivia and click the down arrow to start)!


Cuzco (also Cusco, or Qosq’o in the Quechua language) is an ancient city located in the Andes Mountains that was ruled by an Inca king. Cuzco was once the capital city of the Inca Civilization that was founded around 1200. Now Cuzco (top photo) is a historical site as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. (See middle photo of women in present-day Cuzco.)


Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (bottom photo), near Cuzco, is an ancient hidden city that was never found by the conquering Spaniards. The city remained tucked away until the early part of the 20th century. Now thousands of tourists and archaeologists visit the mysterious city each day.









Inca Agriculture 

The Incas carved mountains into terraced farmlands (photo). They were so successful that in 1500 there was more land in cultivation in the Andean highlands then there is today. The Incas cultivated corn and potatoes, and raised llama and alpaca for food and for labor.


Inca Engineers

The Incas were brilliant engineers. The Huari-Tiahuanaco performed amazing feats of fitting gigantic stones together, and the Nazca designed huge earth-drawings that still exist today. The Inca built massive forts with stone slabs so perfectly cut that they didn't require mortar—and they're still standing today in near-perfect condition. They built roads through the mountains from Ecuador to Chile with tunnels and bridges. They also built aqueducts to their cities as the Romans had. They were also skilled in medicine and surgery.

Inca Language
The language they spoke was Quechua which they imposed on all the peoples they conquered. Because of this, Quechua is still spoken among large numbers of Native Americans throughout the Andes. They had no writing system at all, but they kept records on various colored knotted cords, or quipu (image). 

Inca Religion 

The central god of the Incan religion was the sun god (image)—the only god that had temples built for him. The sun god was believed to be the father of the royal family. There were many gods among the Incas, but the sun god was supreme. The Incas also believed that there was a heaven, a hell, and a resurrection of the body after death.


The Arrival of the Spanish

In 1521, at the height of the Inca Civilization, Herman Cortés conquered the Aztecs. The conquest inspired Francisco Pizzarro to invade the Incas in 1531. He only had two hundred soldiers, however, he convinced the ruler of the Incas, Atahualpa, to come to a conference at the city of Cajamarca. When Atahualpa arrived, Pizzarro kidnapped him and killed several hundred of his family and followers. Atahualpa attempted to ransom himself, but Pizzarro tried to use him as a puppet ruler. When that failed, in 1533, Pizzarro simply executed him. Over the next thirty years the Spanish struggled against various insurrections, but, with the help of native allies, the Spanish finally gained control of the Inca Empire in the 1560's.