Infographic titled Inca hierarchy, arranged in pyramid with apex at the top.
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Analyze Information

The highly structured Inca society allowed the government to regulate the lives of the millions of people who lived within the empire. Who had a higher position in Inca society, Tocricoq or Hatun Runa?

Within these broad features of civilizations, the Maya, Aztec, and Inca developed different political and economic patterns. While the Maya ruled city-states, the Aztecs and Inca built large empires. Although all three were polytheistic, each had its own gods, goddesses, and religious rituals. The Maya and Aztec developed their own form of the popular ball game that originated with the Olmec.

Each of these three civilizations adapted to its particular environment—like civilizations in Africa and Asia. The Maya built raised beds along flood-prone rivers. The Aztecs created chinampas in their swampy lake bed, and the Inca constructed terraced fields on steep mountainsides. All three depended on farming, but the Inca developed some different crops and were less involved in trade than the two Mesoamerican civilizations.

A Breakdown of Power

At its height, the Inca civilization was a center of learning and political power. But in 1525, the emperor Huayna Capac (WY nuh kah PAHK) died suddenly of illness. Civil war broke out over which of his sons would reign next, weakening the empire at a crucial moment—the eve of the arrival of Spanish invaders.


  1. Solve Problems How were the Moche able to farm along the arid north coast of Peru?
  2. Cite Evidence Why do scholars think that the cities of Huari and Tiahuanaco were affiliated by either trade or religion?
  3. Explain What features and policies of the Inca government helped the emperor control his empire?
  4. Identify Supporting Details What were the major medical advances developed by the Inca?
  5. Identify In what crafts and technical achievements did the Inca excel?

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments