An American Inca

Portrait of Life Changes

Inca Culture


As narrated before, the Inca Culture was not the first civilization in Peru. There were a few other intelligent and successful cultures in Peru, spanning over a few thousand years before the appearance of Christ. There is not doubt that the Inca was one of the largest and most advanced civilization on the American Continent during that era. It created one of the largest empires on the Americas, the Tahuantinsuyo Empire, which occupied areas not only in Peru, but also extended to what is now known as parts of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia.

The meaning of the word "Tahuantinsuyo" is derived from a Peruvian dialect, spoken by the Incas, the "Quechua". "Tahuantin" translates into "Tawa", meaning four, and "suyo" meaning state. The four suyos (states) had Cuzco as their territorial or geographical center, where the leaders (Incas) had their seat, and were distributed as follows: in the northwest was Chinchaysuyo, reaching to the Ancashmayo river in Pasto (Colombia); in the northeast was the Antisuyo; in the valleys occupying part of the low Amazonian jungle; in the southwest, the Contisuyo occupied part of the coast up to the river Maule (Chile); in the southeast, the Collasuyo,  which now occupies a large part of Bolivia with extensions into Tucuman in Argentina.

The Incas' civilization was well organized socially. During its existence, the empire had four known social classes or casts. The Incas were the elite, the Nobles were something equivalent to the upper middle class, the "Runas" were the ordinary inhabitants and the "Yanaconas" were the servants.

Like in the Ten Commandments, there was something of a similar nature at the empire. The Incas established a environment of moral principles, and they were, "Ama Sua" meant "do not steal", "Ama Llulla" meant "do not lie" and "Ama Kella" meant "do not be lazy".

There were thirteen Incas:

    Manco Capac
    Sinchi Roca
    Lloque Yupanqui
    Mayta Capac
    Capac Yupanqui
    Inca Roca
    Yahuar Huaca
    Tupac Yupanqui
    Huayna Capac

The last two fought in a civil war against each other a short time before the arrival of the Spaniards to Peru.
Huascar was killed by Atahualpa, who became the last Inca of the Tahuantinsuyo Empire.

The Incas were masters on working and cultivating their land . Despite the hilly and abrupt terrain, they were able to create terraces on the hills, with sophisticated irrigation systems for planting and growing vegetables, corns and tubercles. They also created, tested and blue printed on stone, scaled version of their projects.

They did extensive work on large size stones. It is incomprehensive to understand how they were able to move, carve, bond, seal junctions and mount with precession those large stones (some of them were the size of a small house).

In 1532 Francisco Pizarro, who was one of the leaders during the Spanish Conquest, reached the city of Cajamarca. Atahualpa was captured by Pizarro in Cajamarca and the Inca offered a ransom for his release. The ransom constituted for Atahualpa to completely fill up rooms to the reach of his outstretched arm, one room with gold pieces and another two rooms with silver pieces.

Atahualpa was executed soon after the payment of the ransom. The claim for the execution was that him and his followers could not be trusted and his people were planning an attack with purpose of rescuing Atahualpa. The story is that Atahualpa was given a Bible with the intention of converting him to Christianity and he threw it to the ground. This marked the beginning of the end of the empire.


 Return to Civilizations