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

  • More

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

Creation Stories

Inka | AD 1200–1533

The Inka began their rise in the early 1200s. Based in Cusco, they grew first into a small kingdom, adapting many practices and policies of earlier cultures. In 1438 Inka rulers began to conquer neighboring territories, eventually creating the largest empire in the Western Hemisphere.