The Inca lived in the Andes Mountains in South America. Their range stretched from southern Chile through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador and into southern Colombia.
The Inca were very warlike and often attacked their neighbors to take their land. In this way, the Inca Empire, which started out small, grew to be very large. In fact, the Inca Empire was the largest empire ever in South America, and one of the largest in the world.
What did their buildings look like?
The Inca lived in stone houses varying in size. They were all built in the Andes on flat plateaus. Their temples, however, were built on circular mounds made by the Inca, sort of like a slanted cylinder. At the top there was a plateau. On this plateau the main buildings were built.
A strange thing about the Inca was that they didn't use any iron tools to help them cut and shape the stone for their houses. Instead, they used round balls of stone to pound out blocks of stone for their buildings. The blocks of stone were not usually rectangles, but were very strange looking shapes that fit together much like the pieces of a puzzle. Many of the stone walls the Inca built are still so strong and well made that it is impossible to slide the blade of a knife between the stones.
What did they eat?
The Inca ate potatoes and corn. They drank llama milk and water and ate llamas and alpaca for their daily protein because they didn't have pigs, cows, sheep or turkeys. The Inca Empire had crops including maize, coca, beans, grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ulluco, oca, mashwa, pepper, tomatoes, peanuts, cashews, squash, cucumber, quinoa, gourd, cotton, talwi, carob, chirimoya, lúcuma, guayabo, and avocado.
What did they wear?
Typical Inca clothing would consist of a lightweight finely made poncho covered by a heavier, blanket-like poncho. They wore sandals and hats, some with fuzzy chinbands. Many rich Inca men wore large golden earrings as a symbol of how rich they were.
What did they believe?
The central god of the Inca religion was the sun-god Inti, the only god that had temples built for him. The sun-god was the father of the royal family. There were many gods among the Inca, but the sun-god outshone them all. The Inca also believed that there was a heaven, a hell, and a resurrection of the body after death. The Inca worshiped the dead, their ancestors, their king whom they regarded as divine, and nature and it's cycles.
What did their writing look like?
The Inca did not have a system of writing with letters or symbols. Instead, they used a special system called quipu (pronounced KEE-poo), tying knots in ropes of different colors. The ropes were kept on special belts that the quipu writers would always wear. The different colored ropes could show deaths, weddings, trade, and other things. Being a quipu writer took many years of schooling, and because very few learned, quipu readers were very important.
Are some of them famous even today?
Yma Sumac is a singer who performed Inca and South American folk songs beginning in the 1940s. She is claimed to be an Inca princess directly descended from Atahualpa.
What is left of them today?
The Inca are famous for their abandoned cities in the Andes Mountains. Some major cities like Cuzco and Machu Picchu, located in Peru, are major tourist attractions. Although many cities have been found, there are still many hidden in the jungles and under the desert floor. Archaeologists hope to one day know more about these people through their amazing artifacts!