They began to expand in the twelfth century and in the early sixteenth century, they exercised control over more territory than any other people had done in South American history. The empire consisted of over one million individuals, spanning a territory stretching from Ecuador to northern Chile.
At the top was the Inca who exercised, supposedly, absolute power. Below the Inca was the royal family which consisted of the Inca's immediate family, wives, and all his children. beneath the family was the tribes. Each tribe had tribal heads; each clan in each tribe had clan heads. At the very bottom were the common people who were all grouped in squads of ten people each with a single "boss."There was always enough for everyone; but the system of authority meant that there was no chance of a individual moving up (This was not valued). Conquered people were required to pay a labor tax (mita ) to the state; with this labor tax, the Incas built an astonishing network of roads and terraced farmlands throughout the Andes.
The Incan civilation started in 1200.The Spanish gained control of the Inca empire in the 1560's.
The Mayans were not one empire. There were many Mayan "states" spread throughout Central America. They did not have the type of ruling system.
Agriculture was the main basis of the Mayan economy in the pre-Colombian era.(2000 B.C.-250 A.D) Maize was the primary crop of the Maya. Cotton, beans, squash and cacao were also grown. They had many techniques of spinning, dyeing and weaving cotton. The Mayan culture also domesticated the dog and the turkey, but had no larger animals or machines with wheels.
The Maya had a system of writing. It was developed in order to record their order of power through the generations. This writing was composed of inscriptions on stone and wood, and was used on the inside or outside of their architecture. They made books called folding tree books, made from fig tree bark and placed in the royal tombs. Few of these books have survived due to the tropical climate of the region and because of the Spanish Invasion. Cortez and others claimed their symbolic writing system was the devil's work. Four of these books survive today. The Dresden Codex, The Madrid Codex, The Paris Codex, and the Grolier Codex.
The art of the Maya reflected their lifestyle and culture. Their art was composed of diagrams and painting upon paper, building plaster, wood, stone, clay, stucco molds and terra cotta figurines. The advanced process of working with metal was also developed by the Maya, but was of not used often. Much of Mayan art were statues and insriptions ordered by the kings who wanted to have it done of themselves. They did this to ensure their place in Mayan history. They also produced fine pottery. Art was encouraged by men and women of power who strove to create the history of the Mayan people.
Cacao beans, copper bells and many other things were used as units of exchange. Copper was not only used for exchange, but for ornamentation as well. Other things, such as gold, silver, jade, shell and colorful plumage were also used as ornaments. The use and making of metal tools was unknown.
The reason for the downfall of the Maya is unknown.