Life in the Incan Empire

Life in the Incan Empire
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  • 0:00 Life in the Incan Empire
  • 0:15 Inca Home Life
  • 1:10 Traveling to Cusco
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will be able to experience a day in the life of a subject of the Incan Empire, an advanced civilization of South America. Then, you will test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Life in the Incan Empire

Hi there! My name is Chris. What's yours? Okay, nice to meet you. I'm changing your name now. Your name is Chaci, and you are now a member of the highly sophisticated empire in the Andes Mountains of South America called the Incan Empire. This is a day in your life as an Incan.

Inca Home Life

Wake up Chaci; it's time for you to start your day. You get out of bed in your small house built of wood, and you look out the window at the edge of a cliff. Yes, you live on the side of a mountain, overlooking a cliff that drops hundreds of feet. Don't worry; you're an Incan now. You're used to it. In fact, your entire farm is built on the side of the mountain. By using long retaining walls to create a series of flat platforms, you've created enough space for your farm. This is called stepped agriculture, and as an Incan, you're really good at it.

On your farm, you have several alpacas and lamas, who provide wool for your clothing. That one's named Cora; she's your favorite. Running around are a bunch of cute little creatures called guinea pigs; those are going to be dinner tonight. Most days, you'd spend your time working on your farm, but today you have to go to the capital of the entire empire, Cusco.

Traveling to Cusco

So, Chaci, you have a bit of walking ahead of you. You live in Anti Suyu, one of the four provinces of the Incan Empire, but luckily, you live on the side closest to Cusco. To start your journey, you start chewing on a wad of coca leaves, which helps your body handle the altitude and gives you energy. With that, you're off on a journey that takes you on a sophisticated trail of rope bridges over the mountains. On the way, you pass offerings to the sacred gods of the mountains, many more alpaca farms, a few troops passing by, and official runners for the empire delivering messages. These runners are carrying knotted strings that record information called quipus. Since the Inca don't have a form of writing, these quipus are pretty important for keeping information.

Finally, Chaci, you arrive in Cusco. You are pretty excited about this because, as any Incan would know, Cusco is the center of the universe. And the leader of the Incan Empire, the Sapa Inca lives here. In your polytheistic religion that worships multiple deities, the Sapa Inca is a descendant of the sun god, which is pretty cool.

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