Similarities Between Incas and Aztecs

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The Aztecs and the Inca were the two mighty empires the Spanish first encountered when they arrived in the New World. However, the Inca and the Aztecs employed different strategies to rule their empires, particularly in state religion and finance. 

Read on to learn more about the Incas and Aztecs and the similarities between both empires.

Who Were the Incas?

The Quechua people formed the Inca civilization, often known as Amerindians in South America. They were a small highland tribe in 1400 AD. One hundred years later, in the early 16th century, the Incas came to power to conquer and rule the biggest empire in the Americas, establishing the mighty Inca Empire.

Starting around 1100 A.D., the Incas established their empire on South America’s Pacific Coast between Columbia and Chile, hundreds of miles distant from the Aztecs. Their operational hub was in what is currently Peru. 

Following are some facts related to the Incas:

  • The Incas used diplomacy rather than violence to win over their adversaries, but a civil war between its two governing princes eventually ended their empire. 
  • Their architecture was highly developed, and the ruins of their irrigation systems, temples, and fortifications can still be seen across the Andes. 
  • They also built a huge network of roadways. 
  • The Spanish conquistadors, who extensively used the Incan Road network during their conquests, overthrew the Incan kingdom in 1532.

Who Were the Aztecs?

The Native Americans who ruled northern Mexico during the Spanish invasion in the early 16th century were known as the Aztecs. The nomadic Aztecs finally made their way to numerous little islands in Lake Texcoco, where they constructed Tenochtitlan, the forerunner of present-day Mexico City, in 1325.

The Aztecs, courageous warriors and practical builders, established an empire in the 15th century that was only equal in size in the Americas to the Peruvian Incas. 

Following are some facts related to the Aztecs:

  • Of all the Amerindian civilizations during European encounters in the 16th century, the Aztecs have the most historical evidence.
  • Their unique agricultural system, whose high production resulted in a prosperous and populous society, was the cornerstone for the Aztec success in forging a vast state and, eventually, an empire.
  • When the Spanish adventurer Hernán Cortés captured Montezuma II as a prisoner and seized control of Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire, the Aztec empire was dissolved. 
  • Thousands of Native American warriors participated in the Spanish invasion due to their hatred for the Aztecs. The Spanish invasion most likely would not have been successful without them.


Despite having diverse systems, both the Incan and Aztec empires had several similarities. Some of these are given below.


The Incas and the Aztecs revered the sun deity despite having different mythologies. They also performed human sacrifices and took part in them. The Inca and Aztec rulers were also revered and regarded as gods.

Aztec religion and calendar were closely related, and a large priesthood carried out an intricate series of rituals and ceremonies on each calendar day (each temple and god had its attendant priestly order). 

The Incas used two separate calendars, one for daytime and another for nighttime. The night calendar, which was created to mark significant rites to the moon and stars, which were sacred deities to the Incas, was crucial to their religion.


The Inca and Aztec empires shared many characteristics. Originally founded on clans, the Incas and the Aztecs developed into powerful empires. In addition, both cultures served as examples of the effectiveness of imperial and military institutions.

The foundation of the Aztec and Inca cultures was a long-standing civilization that came before them. Additionally, the foundation of both empires was based on intensive agriculture, managed by a state that gathered surplus produce and then regulated the flow of products.

The Inca and Aztec empires recognized the local political and ethnic leaders, and they permitted variance amongst communities if their sovereignty was acknowledged and paid tribute.

Although both empires were exclusively composed of infantry, they were well-equipped, well-run, and incredibly aggressive and militaristic. In battle, javelins, slings, spears, and maces were used.

Human Sacrifice

The religions of both Incas and Aztecs demanded human sacrifices, but how they were carried out was completely different.

The Aztecs thought that the gods required human blood and hearts to survive. Thus they made horrific sacrifices. Numerous individuals were present when these sacrifices were made since they happened during festivities.

They waged war on their neighbors to capture prisoners they might sacrifice to their gods as sacrificial victims.

The Incas, however, did not practice public sacrifice since they thought that the act of making the sacrifice itself provided the gods with energy. Thus, they drugged young women and carried them to the top of a mountain, where they were left to freeze as their sacrificed victims.

Warfare for the Incas was more about taking over territories for land than sacrificing people because they did not require as many sacrifice victims.


The same catholic empire, i.e., the Spanish, conquered both realms. Both empires’ conquests of several cities in the area that opposed their control and taxation were major factors in their decline.

Spanish invasions used sickness, native divisions, steel, horse, and cannon technology. Although Herman Cortes led the expedition against the Aztecs and Francisco Pizarro led the expedition against the Inca, the outcomes were similar.

Although the Inca fought more than the Aztecs, both empires eventually fell to Spanish military might. Subsequently, European illnesses started to spread like wildfire in both empires, drastically reducing the population.


Undoubtedly, the Inca and Aztec civilizations were very developed, and each had a complex but extremely well-organized culture. There are similarities between these two civilizations, even though they had different political ideologies, distinct languages, and lifestyles.

The Incas and Aztecs had many common characteristics, including similarities in their foundations, their fall at the hands of the Spanish, and their practices of sun worship and human sacrifice.


Are Incas and Aztecs the same?

No, Incas and Aztecs are not the same. 

Who came first Aztec or Inca?

The Aztec and Inca empire existed around the same period. From the 1400s until the coming of the Spanish in 1519, the Aztecs governed the region. Similarly, the Incas ruled from the 1400s until the advent of the Spanish in 1532.

Did the Incas and Aztecs ever meet?

Although isolated or intermittent contact could have occurred, most historians believe there was little to no contact between the two groups. Additionally, no documentary or archaeological evidence shows that the Aztecs and Inkas ever interacted.

Who are the Incas and the Aztecs?

The Quechua people formed the Inca civilization, often known as Amerindians in South America. In contrast, Aztecs were the Native Americans who ruled northern Mexico during the Spanish invasion in the early 16th century.

What race are Incas?

The Incas were South American Indians who governed an empire that covered the Andean highlands and Pacific coast in 1532, just before the Spanish conquest.

Did the Mayans and Incas ever meet?

Even though they traded with various peoples, the Incas did not travel as far north as Mesoamerica. Hence they had no interaction with the  Mayans.

Author: Syed Hasan

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