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Retelling Inca History

The Inca Empire was the largest pre-Columbian civilization in the Americas. Stretching from present-day Ecuador to Chile, the empire spanned a total of 3,000 miles and included about 13 million people. The empire was highly organized with official tax and postal systems, roads, a large military, and a single language called "Quechua." The people were loyal to the supreme ruler who was known as "the Inca." However, the empire did not have a written language. Administrators kept records with counting devices called quipus and noted history through stories. Inca historians were known as official rememberers. These people memorized stories and details of the Inca past. Rulers could alter or delete history simply by ordering these rememberers to change their stories. Although many of these stories were recorded by the Spanish, much of Inca history remains uncertain and unknown.

Review the list of events in Inca history. These events have been pieced together by the Incas' Spanish conquerors and later historians. Place each event in the correct sequence on the timeline below. Use an encyclopedia, books about the Inca, and the Internet to help you uncover the correct order of events.

  • Inca Empire founded by Manco Capac
  • Emperor Pachacuti takes the throne
  • Topa Inca doubles the size of the Empire
  • Huayan Capac consolidates the government of the Inca Empire
  • Huascar and Atahualpa fight a civil war
  • Arrival of Francisco Pizzaro

Visit your local library or use the Internet to help you complete the timeline. Here are two sources that might help you fill in the chart:

Encyclopedia: Look up "Inca Empire" or "Pre-Columbian Civilizations"

The Internet: Use a search engine such as Yahooligans! ( Type "Inca" into the search field and click on the Search button.

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