Inca Culture


The Inca civilization or culture developed in ancient Peru between the years of 1400 and 1533 and its empire managed to spread through western South America, from Quito in the north to Santiago in the south, which is why it is considered the largest empire ever seen in America and the largest in the world so far. Despite the generally strong Andean environment, the Incas conquered people and exploited landscapes in settings as diverse as plains, mountains, deserts, and rainforests.


What is the Inca culture?

The Inca culture is one of the sophisticated cultures of pre-Columbian America that gave rise to one of the largest empires in the world. Known as Sapa Inca , it had its origins in the city of Cusco in the 1200s.


Famous for their unique art and architecture , they built imposing and elegant buildings and their spectacular adaptation of natural landscapes with terraces, roads, and mountaintop settlements continues to impress modern visitors at such famous places as Machu Picchu.



The Inca culture was an important culture of pre-Columbian times that developed in the Andean area . He was born in the early 13th century in the Cuzco basin in what we know today as Peru . At its peak it managed to reach Colombia, Argentina and Chile .

It is considered one of the great empires of Ancient America , and its ruler was the Supreme Sapa Inca . It was “conquered” by the Spanish under Francisco Pizarro in 1532.

Characteristics of the Inca culture

Among its main characteristics we can mention the following:

  • They had a king whose position was hereditary and contests were held among the emperor’s sons to choose the fittest.
  • They made human sacrifices as offerings to the gods.
  • Its inhabitants were small , skin brown , hair black and lank .
  • The leader of the Inca empire was Túpac Amaru .
  • The governors used gold objects to decorate their costumes.
  • The Inca Empire begins with the territorial expansion known as Tahuantinsuyo .
  • They used barter as a form of payment.
  • They believed that stones had special powers and that is why they worshiped them


The religion practiced by the Incas was polytheistic and at the same time a pantheistic religion , since they venerated rivers or mountains. They believed in the existence of three different worlds: the Hanan pacha (upper world), the Kay pacha (middle world) and Uku Pacha (lower world).


and their main god was the sun whom they called by the name of Inti . They also worshiped Pachamama , who was the goddess of the earth, Quilla , who was the goddess of water, and the god of lightning called Illapu . For the Incas, there was also the god who had created everything around them and they called him Viracocha .


The agriculture was the most important activity of the Inca culture, farming techniques used to improve the production of their products and improve the food . Cultivation platforms or terraces were created that allowed the use of the slopes of the mountains to plant their products. They were a type of staircase with stone walls that prevented the rains from washing the crops.

They also used the ridges , which were elevated areas to grow their products. In the highlands they used the cochas , hollows full of furrows for planting. They used the human plow for their crops and a pointed stick for harvesting. They used sardines and seabird manure as compost .

Cultural manifestations of the Inca culture

  • Architecture: it was characterized mainly by its symmetry and simple designs . The pyramids without points were constructions typical of the Inca culture. They used bricks made of adobe or stone, the roofs were made of straw and among their important constructions the city of Cuzco can be mentioned . The buildings had administrative or religious functions , for example, Machu Picchu.
  • Art: They had paintings in the form of murals and geometric designs to adorn their ceramics, they used bird feathers to adorn fans and clothes, and they developed extensive experience in textiles. They handled metals very well and there is evidence of some musical instruments .
  • Sculpture: it had religious motifs and was based on their gods with anthropomorphic human figures . They also made sculptures for their llamas, which were indispensable to their religion and culture.


The language of the Inca culture was Quechua . Grammar classes were given in schools for children to learn intonation and meanings.

Customs and traditions of the Inca culture

They were peoples who lived in thatched- roof, windowless, one-room huts . When a child was born his parents took him to the nearest river to bathe them and then they fasted and prayed for good luck to accompany him. Mothers used to put two boards on the head of newborns to lengthen their heads , a characteristic of the culture.

The trips were controlled by the state. When the children had their birthday, a godfather from the council of elders was assigned to them, and he was the one who gave them a name. They received education depending on their social level.

They worshiped the sun and the priests were astronomers . The emperor was very wealthy and covered his body with gold once a year.

Political and social organization

Inca society was well stratified and the first place was occupied by the royal family . Then there was the class belonging to the nobility made up of officials and priests . The curaca was another social class that was made up of the local authorities . The peasants, fishermen and artisans had to pay the tributes and they were cataloged as Hatun-runa . Last were the servants of the nobility, conquering groups , servants and slaves , who were prisoners of war.

The state created a tax system in which they collected taxes to help the elderly and infirm and to save crops in times of crisis. They had an accounting system through the quipu , which were cords tied in knots that they used to mark their accounts.


The main source of economy for the Incas was agriculture . They specialized in planting and harvesting potatoes and corn , squash, quinoa, cotton, and peanuts. The state was in charge of directing all activities related to agriculture and it was the state itself that made the distributions among the families depending on the number of members they had.

The mountains and slopes of their villages were used for planting through a system known as terraces . They also made cotton cloth and clothing and raised alpacas to use as a means of transportation and for livestock .


The Inca people’s diet was based mainly on plants and seeds, although thanks to the livestock they practiced, they enjoyed meat to obtain proteins.

Main cities of the Inca culture

The main cities of the Inca culture are the following:

  • Cuzco, the place where the state capital was founded.
  • Quenko, contains remains of shrines and temples.
  • Sac Sayhuaman
  • Rumicola
  • Tipon
  • Machu Picchu, place of religious retreats.
  • Ollan Tay Tambo

Inca culture location

The Incas were located in the western part of South America , mainly in the place known as Los Andes , between Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Its border limits were the following:

  • North: Ancasmayo river, north of the city of Pasto.
  • Northeast: the Amazon rainforest between the current of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.
  • Southeast: they covered the current province of Tucumán.
  • South: they extended to the Maule river.
  • West: the Pacific Ocean.

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