Ancient South American religion consists primarily of the Incan religious tradition and its precursors from the Andean region. These ancient traditions can be traced as far back as 2500 B.C.E. and include not only religious traditions, but the beliefs and practices that helped define the civilizations. The Inca worshiped many gods linked to the forces of nature. People offered food, clothing, and drink to the guardian spirits of the home and the village. Each month has its own festivals.
The Inca were some of the most skilled metalworkers. They learned to work and alloy, or blend, copper, tin, bronze, sliver, and gold. They also mastered the art of weaving, a practice passed down to them from earlier Andean people. They raised cotton and sheared the wool from llamas and alpacas to create colorful textiles to be worn as clothing. The Inca developed important medical practices, including surgery on the human skull.
The Way of Life
Thousands of years ago, people settled in fishing villages along the desert coast of Peru and Chile. They expanded inland, farming the river valleys that run up into the highland plateaus. Using irrigation they grew maize, cotton, squash, and beans. On the mountain slopes cultivated potatoes, producing 700 varieties.
The Creation Story
Con was in the form of a man without bones. He filled the earth with good things to supply the needs of the first humans. The people, however, forgot Con's goodness to them and rebelled. So he punished them by stopping the rainfall. The miserable people were forced to work hard, drawing what little water they could find from stinking, drying riverbeds. Then a new god, Pachachamac, came and drove Con out, changing his people into monkeys. Pachachamac then took earth and made the ancestors of human beings.
The government was an Monarchy. Which meant the king or emperor was chosen, however, from among members of the royal family, whether brothers or nephews of the preceding sovereign, by the four appointed electors.