Armed with razor-sharp spears, the Sapa Inca Guards are formidable from high ground.
The institution of the mita, or forced labor for most of the male population over the age of 15, was an important cog in the workings of the Inca Empire. A key component in the elites’ ability to undertake major construction projects, this system was also central to mobilizing part of the imperial armies.
Along with these recruits, the Inca army was made up of a professional, permanent corps whose members constituted a distinguished and privileged caste. All these units were under the command of the Emperor – the armies’ supreme leader – and relied on very tight organization and strict discipline.
These troops generally overcame their opponents through sheer numbers. For example, more than 200,000 men were assembled to conquer the northern provinces. Inca soldiers fought from a distance with javelins, spears, slingshots, and bows and arrows, and in close combat with maces and copper axes.