Inca society was exceptionally hierarchical, with various castes afforded certain ranks, privileges and duties within the empire. Additionally, Inca society was expansionist, meaning that it not only conquered, but also assimilated the cultures of the people absorbed into Inca society.Continue Reading
At the top of Inca society was the king, Sapa Inca, and the high priest, followed by anyone who was related to the king by blood. These people commonly enjoyed the most favored social and civic positions. The next caste in the hierarchy was the Inca-by-privilege, usually Quechua-speaking residents of Cuzco, who often were given governorship over people in the periphery of the empire. After them was a sizable class of administrators and then the artisans or crafts-persons. At the bottom of Inca society were the common farm laborers. While the staple food of Inca society was maize, farmers also grew such diverse foodstuffs as potatoes, tomatoes and avocados.
Because life was extremely difficult, Inca children were severely disciplined to toughen them, and misbehavior was not tolerated. Everyone in Inca society was required to marry, though no cultural premium was placed on the virginity of the bride. While noblemen often were allowed to marry more than one woman, commoners were not. All marriages were life-long commitments, and no divorce was permitted. By custom, marriages were allowed a testing period to ensure compatibility.
As with many ancient civilizations, the Inca religion was polytheistic. The Inca people believed that the king was the incarnation of the most important deity, Inti, the Sun god. The moon goddess, Quilla, was the sun's wife, and the Inca people worshipped her, as well. Both women and men performed important ritual duties in Inca society as priests and priestesses.Learn more about Ancient America