The Incas
By Payton Smith

The Atlantic World, which was a time period between the 1400s and 1600s, was impacted by the Incas because of its wealth and developed culture. This impact started when the Spanish conquered the Incan Empire in 1532, and brought back some of their culture and most importantly Incan gold to Spain. The Inca’s were very important to South America.

Incas ruled one of the largest and richest empires in the history of the world. They did not earn this title through luck, but through a strict government and a great amount of land. Stretching over an area of over 2,500 miles along the western coast of South America, the empire included parts of present day countries such as Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Peru which is where the capital, Cusco, was located. The name Inca was originally the name of the group that formed the royal court. Inca’s also spelled Inka's, were also known as the Tiwantinsuya's. Their empire lasted just a little over a hundred years and may have lasted much longer, if the Spanish had not conquered the Inca's in 1532.

The everyday life for the Incas was monotonous. Everyone worked except for the young and the old. Once the children were old enough, they starting working. However, some young children were put to work out in the farm lands to scare the animals away from the crops. The Inca people had many different jobs. For example, some were in the military, the government, mining, farming, craft making, cotton growing, and some had to work in the mountains. Scientists are baffled as to why the Inca's could survive in mountainous climates. Even with our modern day technology it is hard for us to be able to do that. Not many people lived in cities, most lived in small, nearby villages, only visiting the big cities for festivals or business. Their everyday life was repetitive.

The Inca social structure was very basic. The ruler, or Sapa Inca, and his wives, the Coyas, had the most control over the Inca's. Next in line were the High Priest and the Army Commander in Chief. After them, were the Regional Army Commanders, also known as the Four Apus. Following them in the social structure were the temple priests, architects, administrators and army generals. Then it was the artisans, musicians, army captains, and the Incan accountants, also known as the quipucamayoc. At the bottom of the social standings were sorcerers, farmers, herding families, and conscripts. This social structure was used for a hundred years following when the first ruler established the Incan Empire.

Inca's were very advanced in their technology. However, one of the most advanced aspects of their life was their systems of roads. There roads are referred to as an “all-weather highway system.” Over 14,000 miles of these roads are still used today. These roads were crucial to the Inca's for communication, and transport. If a bridge failed, a whole road would be rendered useless. The locals would work as quickly as possible to fix the bridge, so that communication all over the empire could be maintained. There is one road that stretches almost the entire length of the South American Pacific coast. Since the Inca's did not know about the wheel, all of their travel was done on foot, so the every few kilometers a rest house was built. The Inca's were a very highly developed group of people and their road system reflects this.

Religion was a major part of the Inca's lives. They believed that the world was created by the god, Viracocha. They also believed that the ruling family were descendants from the Sun God, Inti. Although most of the gods were men, the earth goddess, Pachamama, was a very important female deity. The same thing applies with the Sea and the Moon, they were both goddesses too. They thought that the gods and goddesses spoke to them through oracles, and would express or show their anger by sending natural disasters or storms. Items or people who were sacred were regarded as Huaca. For example, mummies of important ancestors, temples and historical places where all regarded as Huaca. One of the major traditions was to have the mummies of the dead Inca Kings in the palaces they had once lived. Sometimes they would even bring them in for council meetings. Another thing the Inca's thought was important was sacrifice. They would sacrifice crops, animals, lots of llamas, and only under special circumstances, children. It was considered a great honor to be chosen to be sacrificed. Before they were killed, they would be blessed by the emperor, and then they would be sent back to their province to be killed. Today, our beliefs maybe different, however, religion was just as important back then as it is now.

The Incas were exceedingly important to the Atlantic World. Their culture, religion, and political standards are still used today, only in a more modern, diplomatic way. Their mark on civilization is seen not only in South America, but in European countries too. The Spanish were not that wealthy when the first came to the Americas, but when the brought all of the Incan gold back to Spain, it made them far more powerful than all of the other countries.