The Incas conquered a number of neighboring peoples as they expanded their area of influence outward from their home in the Cuzco valley of highland Peru. Inca lands eventually totaled about 906,500 sq km (about 350,000 sq mi). This territory centered on the peaks of the Andes, but extended to the Pacific Coast and the Amazon basin. The political center of the empire was in what is now Peru, and its territory included parts of present-day Ecuador, Bolivia, northern Chile, and northwest Argentina. The terrain included high grass plateaus, low-lying jungles, deserts, and fertile river valley.
Most of the major ideas and institutions incorporated within Inca culture developed from a series of earlier Native American civilizations in the Andes. According to legend, the people later known as Incas began as a small group of warlike people and lived near Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru sometime before the 13th century. According to Inca myths, the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac, and his three brothers and four sisters emerged from caves in the earth. Around the year 1200, Manco Capac led ten Inca ayllus, or clans, from Lake Titicaca north to the fertile valley of Cuzco. The Incas conquered the people of the area and took it over for themselves. They founded the city of Cuzco as their capital. Manco Capac married one of his sisters, Mama Ocllo, to establish the royal Inca bloodline. He and succeeding emperors increased their power through marriage alliances and the conquest of neighboring groups. By the reign of Viracocha Inca, the eighth emperor, the Incas dominated an area stretching about 40 km (about 25 mi) around Cuzco. Recent archaeological evidence, however, shows that Inca culture was developing in the Cuzco Valley for centruries.
The Incas dramatically expanded and unified their territory after the conquest of the Chancas, under Viracocha's son, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. Pachacuti (whose name means 'earthquake' or 'cataclysm') reorganized the Inca social and political system. He and his son, Topa Inca Yupanqui, were brilliant soldiers and statesmen who extended the empire from northern Ecuador to central Chile. Under their leadership, the Incas united the diverse native peoples along 4800 km (3000 mi) of coast into a far-flung empire with a common Quechuan language and way of life. These leaders brought Inca civilization to its peak: They made the capital city of Cuzco into the center of Inca society and government, developed a state religion, and set up an elaborate administrative system to control their widely scattered subjects and territories.
Heritage History of the Inca Empire
Cuzco itself was a marvel of Inca building and metalwork. The great Temple of the Sun was almost entirely sheathed with gold plate. In its courtyard, figures fashioned of gold depicted scenes from Inca life. Gold corn appeared to grow out of clods of earth made of gold, and golden llamas grazed on gold grass. Other cities included Machu Picchu, whose ruins were discovered in 1911.
Machu Picchu is a heritage of historic Inca empire. Machu Picchu can be defined "lost city", the form of temples building complex , fortresses, temples, palaces and residential areas. The most impressive of the Incas’ building projects were their vast temples, palaces, and fortresses. Massive stone buildings, such as the fortress at Sacsahuaman near Cuzco, were skillfully erected with a minimum of engineering equipment. The wall of Sacsahuaman was made of enormous stones, the largest of which weighed 200 tons. Stones were transported with the help of wooden rollers, and they fitted together so exactly that no mortar was necessary.
Machu Picchu, located in the Andes Mountains, about 80 km (about 50 mi) northwest of Cuzco, Peru. Located at a high altitude on a ridge between two peaks, about 600 m (about 1950 ft) above the Urubamba River, the ruined city covers about 13 sq km (about 5 sq mi) of terraces built around a central plaza and linked by numerous stairways. The majority of buildings are one-room stone houses (now roofless), arranged around internal courts; some larger structures were evidently used for religious purposes. All are distinguished by engineering skill and fine craftsmanship. The city was discovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham; it is not mentioned in the writings of the Spanish conquerors of Peru, and the time of its occupancy is uncertain. Bingham believed that Machu Picchu might have been the last refuge of Incas from Cuzco fleeing the Spanish invaders, but nothing is actually known of its history.
Thanks to Encarta
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