Ancestors of the Inka

Long before the Inkas reigned, there lived in these regions men like giants,
as large as the figures sculpted in stone reveal.

—Pedro de Cieza de León, chronicler of Peru, 1553

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    Inka trapezoidal doorway, Pisac, Peru, 2014. Photo by Doug McMains, NMAI.

Creation Stories

The Children of the Sun

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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.


According to the Inka myth of origin, Inti (the sun) sent two of his children—Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo—to bring order and civilization to humankind. The pair emerged from Lake Titicaca and headed north to found a city. The city was Cusco, and their path was the first Inka Road. Manco Capac became the first Shapa Inka, ruler of the Inka people.

Origin Story of the Inka

A Quechua nobleman, Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala was the first native Quechua writer and ethnographer. His illustrated manuscript, The First New Chronicle and Good Government, presents the history of the Andes based on the testimonies of Native people. He focused on the Inka government and the dramatic changes brought about by the Spanish invasion.