Inka Universe

The city of Cusco is the principal one of all the cities and is the residence
of the nobles, and is so great and beautiful that it would be worthy of Spain.

—Pedro Sancho de la Hoz, secretary to Francisco Pizarro, 1534

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    Paratia District, Peru, 2014. Photo by Doug McMains, NMAI.


A Road for Integration

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    Select highlighted words to hear them spoken in Quechua.

    The Inka spoke the Quechua language, which is still spoken today in the Andes.


Tawantinsuyu was made up of four suyus (regions), each with diverse populations, environments, and resources. With its network of roads, storehouses, religious sites, and administrative stations, the Qhapaq Ñan integrated the suyus into one empire.

To acquire territory, Inka rulers employed various strategies, from war to diplomacy and marriage alliances. The Inka state provided security, goods, and services; conquered communities gave the empire allegiance and labor.

The Inka Arybalo

This distinctively shaped Inka vessel is a symbol of the Inka Empire. Arybalos are found in every territory that the Inka conquered, with regional variations in decoration. The largest arybalo shown here was used to store chicha (corn beer).