Ancient Inca Geography
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Overview:Every civilization is affected by its geography. This influence was perhaps even greater in ancient civilizations. In this lesson, students will explore the geography of the Inca Empire and consider how geography affected the Inca way of life, from government to agriculture to transportation. Finally, students will consider how geography affects their own way of life and discuss the reasons geography may not be as influential today as it was in ancient times.
Connections to the Curriculum:
Geography, world history
Connections to the National Geography Standards:
Standard 15: "How physical systems affect human systems"
Two to three hours
- Computer with Internet access
- Wall map of North and South America
- Books and Web sites about the Inca civilization
- use print and online resources to research the Inca civilization and way of life;
- discuss the geographical features of the region ruled by the Inca;
- explain how geography affected the Inca way of life, including government, architecture, agriculture, transportation and communication, and clothing; and
- consider how geography affects their own way of life, and discuss the reasons geography is not as influential now as it was in ancient times.
Acquiring Geographic Information
Analyzing Geographic Information
S u g g e s t e d P r o c e d u r e
Ask the class to share what they know about the Inca Empire. Encourage them to share images that come to mind, both for the culture and the land the Inca ruled. Explain that around A.D. 1200, a powerful South American tribe began to conquer weaker tribes and united them into one empire, known as the Inca Empire. The Inca Empire was a large and successful one that stretched along the western part of South America, down the Andes Mountains, from what is now Colombia to Chile. (Point out this area on a map of South America.)
Development:Have students explore the varied geography of the Inca Empire. Encourage them to use topographical and/or climate maps to consider the different types of terrain of the Inca Empire. As a class, discuss some of the possible challenges faced by the Inca.
Next, have students research the Inca civilization and way of life. Ask them to focus on Inca government, architecture, agriculture, transportation and communication, and clothing. For each topic, students should explain how geography has affected that aspect of Inca life. What geographical hurdles did the Inca have to overcome? How did they solve each problem? Have students create a written report, briefly explaining how geography influenced the Inca.
To learn more about the Inca, have students use books and online resources, such as:
A Brief Overview of Inca Life and History
The Civilization of the Incas: The Craftsmen
Eyewitness: Aztec, Inca and Maya by Elizabeth Baquedano (DK Publishing, 2000)
Ask students to consider how geography affects their own way of life. How does the geography of their own town or region affect its government, architecture, agriculture, transportation and communication, and clothing? If geography does not play a role, why not? As a class, discuss the reasons geography may not be as influential today as it was in ancient times.
Suggested Student Assessment:
Using what they learned in class, have students write a brief overview of both the challenges and the advantages presented by the Inca geography.