Incas vs Aztecs

Last Updated: 28 Jan 2021
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Incas vs. Aztecs Prior to Cortez landing, there were many civilizations that held power in the Americas. These groups included the Olmecs, Zapotecs, Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs, and Incas. The two of these civilizations that had some of the most lasting effects were the Aztecs and the Incas. These two civilizations had many similarities and differences. One of the major differences between the two civilizations is their location. The Aztecs lived in Central Mexico while the Incas lived in the Andes Mountains.

The location of the civilizations affected many of their customs. The Incans mummified their dead by leaving them on a mountain cliff side where the winds would dry the moisture out of their skin. Then they would take the mummies to large events and carry them around. The Aztecs did not mummify their dead or have any customs like this. Because the Aztecs lived in Mexico which is a fairly dry area, they needed a way to irrigate crops. They built chinampas which were floating farms that were always irrigated by the body of water it was floating in.

The Incas used a form of agriculture called terrace agriculture were they would build flat layers into the slope of a mountain out of specific materials so they could grow food on mountain sides. That was another technique they formed because of where they lived. Another difference between the two civilizations was the size. The Inca civilization covered over 50% of the East coast of South America and had a population of about 20 million people. The Aztec civilization only controlled Central Mexico and only had a population of 15 million people. Because the Inca civilization was so big, they needed a way to get messages around.

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They developed a large messaging system with messengers called chasquis that used a way to get messages around called quipu. The Aztecs did not have anything like this. Inca was so large because it conquered many other civilizations that had their own languages. This made it difficult for some people to understand each other. That’s why they developed a unified language called Quechua that everyone had to learn. The Aztec civilization was more like the Persian Empire and allowed anywhere they conquered to stay the same and keep their language as long as they paid their taxes and accepted that the Aztecs’ rule.

Another difference is the punishment that a village would get for disobeying the Incan or Aztec civilization. The Aztecs would go into the village and burn it to the ground. They would take everyone inside and either kill them or enslave them. The Incans would go into the village and relocate them. In Inca this is just as bad as killing them because the civilization is in the mountains and it is very hard to start living in the mountains with nothing to start off with. If they try to go back to their village they usually have to cross many mountains which was also very difficult.

Something else that was different was the merchant class of the empires. While they both had good economies, the Incas did not have a large merchant class and the merchant class they did have only traded locally. The Aztecs had a large merchant class that would take very long journeys to distant lands. The Inca government controlled all long distance trading and they did not allow the merchants to have a lot of freedom. Also, the Incas did not have a currency system while the Aztecs used cocoa. The two civilizations also formed differently.

The Aztecs started from three large cities forming an alliance and together they conquered land and people to establish their powerful civilization. The Incans started as a nomadic family or clan that settled down and started a trading colony. Then more and more people came and it eventually turned into a civilization. Those were the many differences between the Aztec and Inca civilizations. The Aztec and Incan civilizations also had many similarities. One of the major similarities was that they both flourished at about the same time.

The Aztecs flourished from 1300 A. D. to 1521 A. D. The Inca flourished from 1300 A. D. to 1533 A. D. Another similarity is that they were both ruled by an emperor. They also both thought gold was very important. Incas used gold for everything because it was so common in the mountains. Aztecs called gold the sweat of the sun and their sun god was their most powerful god so they must have thought gold was important. They were also both monotheistic, worshipping many nature gods and goddesses. They also both thought their sun gods were very important.

The Aztec sun god was named Huitzilopochtli and the Inca sun god was Inti. Inti was the most powerful god in Incan religion. It was thought that the people in the originally family that started the Inca civilization were children of Inti and they said all future rulers must be a descendant of Inti. Huitzilopochtli in the Aztec religion was the god that supposedly told the Mexica to find a place where they would see an eagle sitting on a cactus with a snake in its mouth and that was where they were to settle. This place was Lake Texcoco. Both of these gods were very important to them.

Another religious similarity was that they both perform sacrificial rituals. They also had the same style pyramids that had a wide square base that lead to a point at the top with stairs going up the side. Those were the similarities between the Aztec and Inca civilizations. The Aztec and Inca civilizations are still some of the most powerful civilizations that have ever existed. They had a huge impact on the countries that exist there today. The Mexican flag is even based off an Aztec myth. They had many similarities and differences which made them the civilizations that they were.

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Incas vs Aztecs. (2017, Dec 14). Retrieved from

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