In 1532 Spanish conquistadors stumbled into the largest and richest empire of the prehistoric Americas—a new world never dreamed of by 16th century Europeans. The Inca Empire stretched from what is today northern Ecuador down to central Chile (4,300 kms.), and included Amazon jungle, snow-capped mountains, and the rainless deserts of the Pacific coast. In this vast domain, the Inca emperor—Son of the Sun—ruled 12 million subjects organized into 100 provinces and oversaw some 25,000 kilometres of prepared roads replete with bridges, rest stations, and the most efficient messenger service in the world of the 16th century. This course traces the origins of the Incas, their rise to dominance in the Andean world, Inca law, government, art, and architecture, and the collapse of their empire before the Spaniards arrived.