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Growth of the Inca Empire
Llamas and alpacas were very valuable to the Incas. Raised for thousands of years before the rise of the Inca Empire, the Incas had huge herds, which they used for fertilizer, fuel, sacrifices, meat, leather, needles, flutes, and beads. Llamas were also used for pack animals. The coarse hair of the llama was woven to make sacks, heavy blankets, and ropes. Alpacas had softer wool, which was woven into clothing.

Many people have heard about the ancient Incas' use of coca leaves as a sacred plant. Grown on large plantations, coca was strictly regulated by the Inca rulers. In the Inca religion, coca leaves were scattered or burned as offerings, or chewed to produce a state of ecstasy during religious ceremonies. Because chewing coca leaves releases small amounts of the stimulant cocaine, workers were given coca leaves to prevent hunger and fatigue when they were doing hard work, and to help prevent altitude sickness in the high Andes. Nobles chewed coca leaves as a luxury, but the Incas discouraged habitual use.