(Upper-Intermediate level vocabulary exercise.)
In the north-west of South America lies Peru. This is a land where the Incas built up their civilisation and their cities hundreds of years ago. The land they controlled stretched 2,500 miles from north to south along the coast.
Their civilization from about 1200 to 1532, when it was destroyed by soldiers from Spain. The Incas built many fine cities and the way in which they laid the huge stones for their walls and temples is still a mystery. They new ways of farming and transported the crops quickly along an excellent network of roads. Messages could be sent along these roads very using runners in relays.
They had no system of writing, which was perhaps surprising. However, they developed a method of keeping records using different kinds of knots for different kinds of things and this worked very well.
In 1532, a Spaniard called Pizarro arrived in Cajamarca, the Inca's summer capital, with about 180 soldiers, some horses and guns. The Incas had never seen horses before. Pizarro insisted on meeting the king, Atahualpa. Pizarro demanded that the king convert to Christianity and come under the control of Spain.
When the king , the soldiers started firing. The Incas were terrified by the horses and the guns and they fled. Hundreds were killed and the main army was destroyed. Atahualpa now tried to buy his freedom by the Spaniards a treasure in gold and silver. Over the next few months, a fabulous collection of Incan treasure - eleven tons of gold objects alone - was delivered to Cajamarca from all of the empire. Atahualpa agreed to be baptized as a Christian but this did not him. Once Pizarro had the Incas' gold, he executed the Inca king.