Inca Civilization, 1438 – 1533
Episode #3 of the course “Most Advanced Ancient Civilizations”
The Inca civilization is well-known for its inventions and contributions to the development of modern-day civilizations. The Incas were a 13th-century people who lived in southwestern Peru. The history is that they originally lived in the Andes Mountains, but a small group of people left and began a new settlement that became the mighty civilization of the Incas roughly 200 years later. They eventually had an estimated population of somewhere between 9 and 16 million people, and their settlement stretched well into the Andes Mountains. They remained there until the Spanish conquered them in 1532.
Perhaps one of the most valuable inventions they were responsible for was the use of terrace farming. They lived among steep hills, so they had to find a way to farm on ground that was not level. Their terrace farming was intricate but very common, developing large green staircases throughout the mountains. They had retaining walls that helped control temperatures to create the ideal environment for plant growth. They also practiced a version of rotating crops that increased the ground’s productivity.
The Incas also developed a large transportation network of roads and highways. Although they didn’t invent the road, they created the largest system seen in South America at the time—roughly 25,000 miles of road. They were also one of the first civilizations to develop rope bridges. These bridges were far larger than any stone bridge that existed elsewhere at the time. They also created freeze-drying by using the freezing temperatures in the high Andes Mountains. They brought potatoes to freeze and then they would walk on them (with a cloth on top) to remove the excess moisture. Doing this over again created a freeze-dried potato called chuno.
Incas didn’t have much in the way of artistic contribution because their art was so practical. It was made of natural materials that often did not last long. They also used their art in connection with religious practice.
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