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Inca Empire

Glossary and Terms

History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids



Apu - One of four officials in charge of a quadrant, or suyu, of the Inca Empire. Each Apu was also part of the imperial council to the emperor.

Ayllu - The basic unit of the community, an ayllu was made up of a number of families. Land was allotted to an ayllu based on the number of people in the group.

Chaski - A runner who carried messages throughout the empire mostly for the emperor. The chaski ran between checkpoints on a vast network of roads passing on their message to the next runner. Messages were generally memorized and passed by mouth.

Chimu - A powerful tribe in Peru that came to power around 900 AD. The Inca conquered them around 1470 AD.

Conquistador - A Spanish military leader and explorer. The conquistadors were in search of new lands for Spain as well as treasure.

Coya - The queen of the Inca Empire and primary wife of the Sapa Inca.

Cuzco - The capital and birthplace of the Inca Empire. For the first several hundred years it was a city-state controlling just the immediate land around the city. It is still a major city in Peru today.

Huaca - The huaca was a sacred object to the Inca that was inhabited by a spirit. It could be manmade or natural. Examples of huaca include stones, mountains, amulets, statues, and mummies.

Huayna Capac - The eleventh emperor of the Inca, it was under his leadership that the Inca Empire reached its peak. He died from smallpox about the time the Spanish arrived.

Inca - Within the Inca Empire the Inca were the people descended from the original founders of Cuzco. They were the nobility of the empire and lived lives of luxury.

Inti - The Sun god and the most important god of the Inca.

Intihuatana - A ritual stone associated with the sun and the Inca calendar.

Manco Capac - The first Sapa Inca, Manco Capac founded the Kingdom of Cuzco.

Machu Picchu - The "lost city" of the Inca that was never discovered and destroyed by the Spanish.

Mit'a - A type of labor tax that each male citizen of the Inca Empire had to pay by doing labor for the government. This included such jobs as serving as a warrior in the army and working on temples or other government buildings.

Pachacuti - The ninth Inca emperor, Pachacuti started the expansion of the Kingdom of Cuzco into the Inca Empire. He established the Tawantinsuyu.

Peru - The modern country where Cuzco and the center of the Inca Empire was located.

Pizarro - Francisco Pizarro was the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Inca.

Quechua - The language spoken by the Inca.

Quipu - A series of strings that recorded numbers and codes by using various sizes of knots.

Sapa Inca - The leader and emperor of the Inca Empire.

Suyu - A major division of the Inca Empire. The empire was divided up into four suyu each ruled by an apu. At the center of the four suyu was Cuzco.

Tawantinsuyu - The Inca name for their empire. It mean the "Land of the Four Quarters".

Thatki - A unit of measurement for distance equaling "one pace".

Tokoyrikoq - The tokoyrikoq were inspectors who worked for the government. They made sure that all the rules were being followed by the people in the empire.

Vilcabamba -The last refuge of the Inca Empire. When it fell to the Spanish in 1572, the Inca Empire was gone forever.

Viracocha - The creator god of the Inca who made the Earth and was father to the Sun god Inti.

Willaq Umu - The high priest of the Inca. Typically the brother or a close relative of the Sapa Inca.



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  • Inca
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    History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids






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