The common people had no freedom. By
Inca law, they could not travel on the roads. By law, they could
not be idle. They had a little time each day for bathing and eating
and sleeping, and the rest of the time, they had to be working.
The common people lived and worked in
small groups or units. There were a dozen or so people in each unit.
Each person in each unit had a job to do. If you did not do your work,
you were breaking the law, and could be killed.
Most commoners, as usual, were
farmers. The emperor controlled all the land and each group worked a
plot of land given to them by a government official. That official let
them keep food to feed themselves. The rest was given to the nobles
and the emperor.
There was a tax on the food the common
people kept. But the Incas did not use money. This
"tax" was paid in labor. When the farmers were not farming,
they were mining, or fixing the roads (the only time they could walk
on the roads), or building something.
There were many laws that kept
commoners tightly controlled. For example, if a man did not marry by
the time he was twenty, a wife would be selected for him, and he had
to marry her. Babies were left alone all day, by law, because care for
crying babies took time away from work. The only training kids of the
common people received was how to do a job. The job they were assigned
as a child was their job for life.
The common people, except for
craftsmen, did not live in the city. Each unit lived together in a hut
in their field. Homes had no windows and no way to
leave except by the front door. The door was covered only by a piece
of leather or woven cloth. Inspectors checked to make sure all people
were in their homes only when they should be.
Houses, Palaces & the Ayllu
Life in the Inca Empire