wku logo

ANTH 336  New World Prehistory
Dr. Darlene Applegate
Fall 2006
Andean South America Culture Area
Inca Empire

Inca was the first and only pan-Andean empire in pre-Columbian South America.
Tiwantinsuyu was their name for the empire.


AD 1476 - 1534

Late Horizon


Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador


rooted in earlier south-central highland cultures as far back as AD 1200

development of empire may be related to fights over control of coca producing lands, control of trade, and flexible means of ruling conquered peoples


farming based on extensive terrace system


use of marine resources



(Left) Photograph of Incan Quipu and (Right) Diagram Showing How Numbers Were
Recorded With a Quipu.     http://www.indianer-welt.de/sued/inka/inka-quipu.htm                  

chullpa: elite cemeteries with large burial towers          


most sites on Inca road in low areas, but some sites on hilltops

elaborate road system was developed to connect sites

the 8500-km (5,280 miles) Gran Ruta Inca was a north-south road that linked the two ends of the empire

a series of 30,000 km (18,640 miles) of roads branched off Gran Ruta Inca
ayllu: small villages organized along kin lines
curaca: provincial administrators

monumental public architecture included pyramids, temples, road system, terraces, irrigation system

renowned for dry masonry or mortarless joint architecture


Cuzco - capital of empire

Machu Picchu - mountain-top retreat for elites


empire known as Tiwantinsuyu, or "the land of four quarters" because it was divided into four provinces
mita system for acquiring wealth when rulership changed (based on Huari system?)
well-defined social hierarchy with divine Inca rule at top
twelve age divisions
conformity and obedience stressed


Spanish conquest by Francisco Pizarro confounded by internal strife, smallpox epidemics, and strained political system

Return to Unit 4 Web Notes Listing
Return to New World Prehistory Home Page

Visit the Western Kentucky University Home Page, Western Online
Page composed by Darlene Applegate, darlene.applegate@wku.edu
Last updated on December 7, 2006
All contents copyright (c), 2006. Western Kentucky University.