The Inca left no written history. Most of what is known of their culture comes from early Spanish accounts and archeological finds.
Stretching 2,500 miles, Inca Empire had a short life of only about a hundred years. When the Spanish conquered the Inca in 1532, they were a small ethnic group based in Cusco, ruling more than 12 million from 100 different cultures and speaking at least 20 languages. The Inca used gifts as well as spears to demonstrate power to potential subjects.
From "Children of Inca Sacrifice Frozen in Time"
National Geographic, November 1999
Highways that Bound the Empire
The Inca Empire was ruled with efficiency in part because of a superb highway system that included intermittently paved roads up to 24 feet wide, tunnels, bridges, and stepped pathways cut into living rock. The principal highland road, atop the spine of the Andes, ran 3,450 miles from the Colombia-Ecuador border to central Chile. Lateral roads linked it to the coastal highway. Ironically, the very roadways that made it possible for the Inca to control their vast empire, rapidly moving an army to quell a rebellion, were the avenue of the empire's downfall, giving the Spanish conquistadors under Pizarro direct access to the heart of the kingdom.
From Mysteries of the Ancient Americas
Historian Maria Rostworowski recounted one version of the Inca creation myth that had Mama Huaco leading her siblings to the capture of the Cusco valley, which later became their capital. "When the Incas attacked the guallas, who occupied the valley, Mama Huaco grabbed a gualla soldier, tore out his lungs with her bare hands and blew them into pulsing red balloons, scaring of the enemy."
Contemporary feminist scholars suggest that before the Conquest, Andean women could be leaders and warriors as well as wives and mothers. After the Conquest, however, ...the testimony in court of one Spaniard was equal to two male Indians, itself worth the testimony of three female Incas. Since women often supervised the worship of pre-Columbian idols, which the Spanish sought to destroy, they were considered sorcerers and consorts of the Devil.
Even wealthy women had to wait until 1956 for full voting rights. Uneducated women could not vote until 1980.
From The Monkey's Paw, Robin Kirk