The Incas (1200-1535)
Standards: 7.7.4
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Inca Achievements

Key Terms and People

administration: the management of a government or business

quipu: a record-keeping device made of knotted strings

census: population survey

welfare state: a government that takes responsibility for the well-being of its citizens


Section Notes

Administration of the Empire

  • The Inca government was centered in Cuzco. The empire was split into quarters, and each quarter had a governor who was a noble by birth. These officials made up the supreme council and reported directly to the emperor. Below this top level, the administration was based on multiples of 10. Each village was divided into groups of 10 families. The head of one family governed all 10 families in that group. The local group leaders reported to the curaca, or local chief. He was responsible for 100 families. The top curacas reported to Inca nobles. The nobles reported to governors in Cuzco.
    The Incas try to unify the empire in other ways as well. They imposed their own language on conquered peoples. Messengers delivered reports across the empire and used a quipu to record numbers of people or goods. With their efficient administration, the Incas created an early form of what we would call a welfare state. The government would watch over its people and would aid them in times of need.

Master Builders

  • the Incas excelled in architecture and engineering. Buildings were made of large stone blocks that were fitted in place perfectly without mortar or cement to hold them together. They engineered a tremendous road system that stretched for more than 15,000 miles.

Arts and Crafts

  • Inca artist used gold and silver to craft fine objects such as jewelry, dishes, statues, and wall decorations. They also wove fine textiles which they valued more than gold. They wore richly colored and patterned cloth out of cotton, alpaca, and vicuna.


Summary: The Incas' achievements in government, engineering, and the arts placed them among the world's great civilizations.

Study Guide Questions

How was the Inca Empire like a welfare state?

How did the system of Inca roads help tie the empire together?

How do we know what ancient Peruvian textiles looked like?

How was the quipu a key tool of Inca government?

What did the Incas build?

Wide where the Incas considered such good engineers?

Practice Test

Homework: Choose one
  1. Workbook Chapter 8, section 3 (Page 102)
  2. Answer three of the study guide questions using complete sentences.
  3. Draw a picture of something important from this section and summarize this section of the text (three sentences minimum).