The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu), was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century.
From 1438 to 1533, the Incas used a variety of methods, from conquest to peaceful assimilation, to incorporate a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean mountain ranges, including, besides Peru, large parts of modern Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, north and north-central Chile, and southern Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia.
The official language of the empire was Quechua, although hundreds of local languages and dialects of Quechua were spoken. The Inca referred to their empire as Tawantinsuyu which can be translated as The Four Regions or The Four United Provinces.
There were many local forms of worship, most of them concerning local sacred "Huacas", but the Inca leadership encouraged the worship of Inti - the sun god - and imposed its sovereignty above other cults such as that of Pachamama. The Incas considered their King, the Sapa Inca, to be the "child of the sun." As ancient civilizations sprang up across the planet thousands of years ago, so too the Inca civilization evolved. As with all ancient civilizations, its exact origins are unknown. Their historic record, as with all other tribes evolving on the planet at that time, would be recorded through oral tradition, stone, pottery, gold and silver jewelry, and woven in the tapestry of the people.
The Inca of Peru have long held a mystical fascination for people of the western world. Four hundred years ago the fabulous wealth in gold and silver possessed by these people was discovered, then systematically pillaged and plundered by Spanish conquistadors. The booty they carried home altered the whole European economic system. And in their wake, they left a highly developed civilization in tatters. That a single government could control many diverse tribes, many of which were secreted in the most obscure of mountain hideaways, was simply remarkable.
No one really knows where the Incas came from that historic record remains carved in stone for archaeologists to unravel through the centuries that followed.
The Inca Empire was short-lived. It lasted just shy of 100 years, from ca.1438 AD, when the Inca ruler Pachacuti and his army began conquering lands surrounding the Inca heartland of Cuzco, until the coming of the Spaniards in 1532.
In 1438 the Inca set out from their base in Cuzco on a career of conquest that, during the next 50 years, brought under their control the area of present-day Peru, Bolivia, northern Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador. Within this area, the Inca established a totalitarian state that enabled the tribal ruler and a small minority of nobles to dominate the population.
Most of the accounts agree on thirteen emperors. The Inca emperors were known by various titles, including "Sapa Inca," "Capac Apu," and "Intip Cori." Often, an emperor was simply referred to as The Inca.
The first seven were legendary, local, and of slight importance. During this period the Inca were a small tribe, one of many, whose domain did not extend many miles around their capital city, Cuzco. They were warriors, almost constantly at war with neighboring tribes. Ritual sacrifices were common, evidence of which is found by archaeologists to this very day.
Cusco was the center of the Inca Empire, with its advanced hydraulic engineering, agricultural techniques, marvelous architecture, textiles, ceramics and ironworks.
The Incans gave their empire the name, 'Land of the Four Quarters' or the Tahuantinsuyu Empire. It stretched north to south some 2,500 miles along the high mountainous Andean range from Colombia to Chile and reached west to east from the dry coastal desert called Atacama to the steamy Amazonian rain forest.
The Incas ruled the Andean Cordillera, second in height and harshness to the Himalayas. Daily life was spent at altitudes up to 15,000 feet and ritual life extended up to 22,057 feet to Llullaillaco in Chile, the highest Inca sacrificial site known today. Mountain roads and sacrificial platforms were built, which means a great amount of time was spent hauling loads of soil, rocks, and grass up to these inhospitable heights. Even with our advanced mountaineering clothing and equipment of today, it is hard for us to acclimatize and cope with the cold and dehydration experienced at the high altitudes frequented by the Inca. This ability of the sandal-clad Inca to thrive at extremely high elevations continues to perplex scientists today.
At the height of its existence the Inca Empire was the largest nation on Earth and remains the largest native state to have existed in the western hemisphere. The wealth and sophistication of the legendary Inca people lured many anthropologists and archaeologists to the Andean nations in a quest to understand the Inca's advanced ways and what led to their ultimate demise.
Inca society was made up of ayllus, which were clans of families who lived and worked together. Each allyu was supervised by a curaca or chief. Families lived in thatched-roof houses built of stone and mud. Furnishings were unknown with families sitting and sleeping on the floor. Potatoes were a basic Inca food. The Imperial Incas clothed themselves in garments made from Alpaca and many of their religious ceremonies involved the animal. They wore sandals on their feet.
In Inca social structure, the ruler, Sapa Inca, and his wives, the Coyas, had supreme control over the empire. The High Priest and the Army Commander in Chief were next. Then came the Four Apus, the regional army commanders. Next were temple priests, architects, administrators and army generals. Next were artisans, musicians, army captains and the quipucamayoc, the Incan accountants. At the bottom were sorcerers, farmers, herding families and conscripts.
Inca society continued uninterrupted in this way for hundreds of years. The appearance of light-skinned strangers during the rule of Atahuallpa, however, was to forever change things for the Inca. Deadly plague would soon sweep through the Inca empire. Those that survived had to face the swords and cannons of the invading Spanish. After leading the Spanish to more gold than they had ever before seen, even Lord Atahuallpa was strangled by his Spanish captors.
Every style of hand-weaving was practiced by the Incas. They used this instead of writing in some cases. They also made very artistic pottery.
Inca childhood was harsh by today's standards. When a child was born, the Inca would wash the baby in cold water and wrap it in a quilt. Later, the baby was put in a pit in the ground as a simple playground. By around age one, the baby could expect to receive very severe discipline.
At age fourteen, boys earned a loincloth in a ceremony to mark their manhood. Boys from noble families were subjected to many different procedures of endurance and knowledge. After the test, they received earplugs and a weapon, the color of which represented rank in society.
Inca education during the time of the Inca Empire was divided into two principal spheres: education for the upper classes and education for the general population. The royal classes and a few specially-chosen individuals from the provinces of the Empire were formally educated by the Amawtakuna (philosopher-scholars), while the general population were passed on knowledge and skills by their immediate forbears.
The Amawtakuna constituted a special class of wise men similar to the bards of Great Britain. They included illustrious philosophers, poets, and priests who kept the oral histories of the Incas alive by imparting the knowledge of their culture, history, customs and traditions throughout the kingdom. Considered the most highly educated and respected men in the Empire, the Amawtakuna were largely entrusted with educating those of royal blood, as well as other young members of conquered cultures specially chosen to administer the regions. Thus, education throughout the territories of the Incas was socially discriminatory, barring the rank and file from the formal education that royalty received. The Amawtakuna did ensure that the general population learn Quechua as the language of the Empire, much in the same way the Romans promoted Latin throughout Europe; however, this was done more for political reasons than educational ones.
Education of the Inca nobility
According to Fray Martin de Murua, a chronicler of the time, the education of the young novices (yachakuq runa, in Quechua) received from the Amawtakuna began at age 13 in the houses of knowledge (yachaywasi in Quechua) located in Cuzco. The Amawtakuna used their erudition to teach the young novices of the empire about Inca religion, history and government, and moral norms. They also ensured a thorough understanding of the quipu, the Incas' unique logical-numerical system which used knotted strings to keep accurate records of troops, supplies, population data, and agricultural inventories. In addition, the young men were given careful training in physical education and military techniques.
Most Inca novices finished their education at around age 19. After passing their examinations, the young men would receive their wara (a special type of underwear) as proof of their maturity and virility. Their education ended with a special ceremony, attended by the Empire's oldest and most illustrious Incas and Amawtakuna, at which the new young nobles, as future rulers, demonstrated their physical prowess and warrior skills and proved their masculinity. The candidates were also presented to the Inca sovereign, who pierced their ears with large pendants and congratulated the young aspirants on the proficiency they had shown, reminding them of the responsibilities attached to their station (and birth, in the case of members of the royalty) and calling them the new "Children of the Sun."
Some historians and authors have pointed to feminine schools ("Aqlla wasi", in Quechua) for Inca princesses and other women. It is believed the education given at the Acllahuasi in Cuzco was much different from that given at the other Acllahuasis in the provinces of the empire.
The women learned Inca lore and the art of womanhood as well as skills related to governance, but on a limited scale in comparison to the men. Other skills included spinning, weaving, and chicha brewing. When the Spanish chroniclers and conquistadors arrived they viewed these institutions as the Inca version of the European nunnery. Like the men, women were brought in to the Acllahuasis from faraway villages throughout the empire after being specifically chosen by Inca agents. After finishing their training, some women would stay to train newly-arrived girls, while lower-ranking women might be chosen to be secondary wives of the Sapa Inca, if he wished it, or be sent as rewards to other men who had done something to please the sovereign.
The general population of the Inca Empire did not go to formal schools like the Inca did, and they did not have access to the scientific or theoretical knowledge of the Amautas. The education of the common person was largely based on the knowledge transmitted by their elders, such as practical education in the aspects of agriculture, hunting, fishing, and stonework, as well as religion, arts and morality. This type of knowledge was passed on by the fathers and eldest family members through the generations. Even without the benefit of Amawtakuna knowledge, it was the general population that was responsible for building most of the Inca road system, rope bridges, water fountains, agricultural development, irrigation systems, massive stone buildings, fortress temples and the rest of the impressive architectural and engineering marvels for which the Incas are still renowned still today.
Women were an essential part of Inca society. Their principal role in society was to care for their children, cook, weave, make chicha beer and work at the fields; however, they had many other household duties, such as cleaning, to make their lives after marriage very busy.
Incan women were typically married at the age of sixteen. In Inca society, due to economic regulations, men of lower rank could only have one wife. The aristocracy, starting with the curaca, were allowed to engage in polygamy.
Trial marriages were typical within Inca culture. In this type of marriage, the man and woman would agree to try out being married to one another for a few years. At the end of this time, the woman could go home to her parents if she wished, and her husband could also send her home if he did not think it would work out. However, once the marriage was made final, they could only divorce if the woman was childless.
Women would almost always marry men in the same social class as them. However, while it was very rare for them to marry a man with a higher social ranking, it was still possible for some young women. The only way for a young woman to alter her social ranking would be if a man of higher ranking took notice of her.
In the Inca society, a wedding was not a joyous celebration. Instead, it was looked at more as a business-like agreement. Therefore, for the Inca, marriage was an economic agreement between two families. Once a woman was married, she was expected to collect food and cook, watch over the animals and the children. A woman's household obligations would not change after she became pregnant. When she did find out she was pregnant she prayed and made offerings to an Inca god, Kanopa.
Music was part of ceremony. Incas knew how to smelt and cast metals so they made many different types of instruments such as trumpets and bells out of materials such as brass or stone.
The Inca were a conquering society, and their expansionist assimilation of other cultures is evident in their artistic style. The artistic style of the Inca utilized the vocabulary of many regions and cultures, but incorporated these themes into a standardized imperial style that could easily be replicated and spread throughout the empire. The simple abstract geometric forms and highly stylized animal representation in ceramics, wood carvings, textiles and metalwork were all part of the Inca culture. The motifs were not as revivalist as previous empires. No motifs of other societies were directly used with the exception of Huari and Tiwanaku arts.
Inca officials wore stylized tunics that indicated their status. It contains an amalgamation of motifs used in the tunics of particular officeholders. For instance, the black and white checkerboard pattern topped with a red triangle is believed to have been worn by soldiers of the Inca army. Some of the motifs make reference to earlier cultures, such as the stepped diamonds of the Huari and the three step stairstep motif of the Moche.
Cloth was divided into three classes. Awaska was used for household use, having an approximate thread count of about 120 threads per inch, and usually made from llama wool. Finer cloth, qunpi, was divided into two classes: The first, woven by male qunpikamayuq (keepers of fine cloth) from alpaca wool, was collected as tribute from throughout the country and was used for trade, to adorn rulers and to be given as gifts to political allies and subjects to cement loyalty. The other class of qunpi ranked highest. It was woven in the Acllawasi (acllahuasi) by "aclla" (female virgins of the sun god temple) from vicuna wool and used solely for royal and religious use. These had thread counts of 600 or more per inch, unsurpassed anywhere in the world, until the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.
Aside from the tunic, a person of importance wore a llawt'u, a series of cords wrapped around the head. To establish his importance, the Inca Atahualpa commissioned a llawt'u woven from vampire bat hair. The leader of each ayllu, or extended family, had its own headdress.
In conquered regions, traditional clothing continued to be worn, but the finest weavers, such as those of Chan Chan, were transferred to Cusco and kept there to weave qunpi. (The Chimu had previously transferred these same weavers to Chan Chan from Sican.)
The Incan government controlled all clothing of their society. One would receive two outfits of clothing, one formal and one casual pair, and they would then proceed to wear those same outfits until they could literally be worn no longer. Since the government was in such strict control on their clothing, the Incans could not alter their clothing without the permission of the government.
Discoveries have been made about the Incan hairstyles through studying their ancient mummies. It is believed that women of this culture had very long hair that they would most typically braid. Men on the other hand, would still have relatively long hair, yet would occasionally cut it with a certain type of knife. It has been thought that certain hairstyles may distinguish one class from another.
The wearing of jewelry was not uniform throughout the empire. Chimu artisans, for example, continued to wear earrings after their integration into the empire, but in many other regions, usually only local leaders wore them.
Ceramics were for the most part utilitarian in nature, but also incorporated the imperialist style that was prevalent in the Inca textiles and metalwork. In addition, the Inca played drums and on woodwind instruments including flutes, pan-pipes and trumpets made of shell and ceramics.
The Inca made beautiful objects of gold, silver, copper, bronze and tumbago . But precious metals were in shorter supply than in earlier Peruvian cultures. The Inca metalworking style draws much of its inspiration from Chimu art and in fact the best metal workers of Chan Chan were transferred to Cusco when the Kingdom of Chimor was incorporated into the empire. Unlike the Chimu, the Inca do not seem to have regarded metals to be as precious as fine cloth. Nonetheless, the metalworks of the Incas were perhaps the most advanced in America. When the Spanish first encountered the Inca they were offered gifts of qunpi cloth.
Incan ceramics are usually very distinct and easy to recognize. The shapes of the vessels are highly standardized. The most typical Incan pottery would have a spherical body with a cone shaped base. This spherical body usually includes two vertical side handles with a tall neck and flaring rim. The Incans often would place animal heads on their pottery as well usually near the top of the vessel. There were also several other popular styles for Incan ceramics which included a shallow dish with a single bird head and handle, a pedestal beaker, and a single or double handled bottle.
Incans often decorated their ceramics with a multitude of images and colors. They usually decorated their pottery with bright colors of red, yellow, orange, black and white. Much like all other forms of Incan art, the pottery was often decorated with geometric shapes.
The Incans would put diamonds, squares, checkers, triangles, circles and dots on almost all of their ceramic work. Other common themes were animals and insects like llamas, birds, jaguars, alpacas, bees, butterflies as well as block-like humans.
As part of a tax obligation to the commoners, mining was required in all the provinces. Even though the Inca Empire contained a lot of precious metals, the Incans did not value their metal as much as fine cloth.
The Incans adopted much of their metal-working characteristics from the metalwork of Chimu. Because of their expertise in metalworking, after the fall of Chimu many metalworkers were taken back to the capital city of Cuzco to continue their metalworking for the emperor. Copper, tin, gold, and silver were all obtained from mines or washed from the river gravels.
Both copper and bronze would be used for basic farming tools or weapons. Some of the common bronze and copper pieces found in the Incan empire included sharp sticks for digging, club-heads, knives with curved blades, axes, chisels, needles and pins. All of these items would be forged by a metallurgist and then spread throughout the empire.
The Incans reserved their more precious metals for ornaments and decorations. Gold and silver were common themes throughout the palaces of Incan emperors. It was said that the walls and thrones were covered with gold and that the emperor dined on gold and silver service.
These golden plated services would often be inlaid with llamas, butterflies or other creatures. Even beyond the gold and decoration of the emperor's palace were the ornaments that decorated all of the temples throughout the empire. The temples of the Incans were strewn with sacred and highly precious objects. Headdresses, crowns, ceremonial knives, cups, and a lot of ceremonial clothing were all inlaid with gold or silver.
Many historians believe that the choice of gold was to distinguish the more sacred or holy pieces from others. The commonality of gold has much to do with the Incan religion surrounding the sun. Because of the beautiful reflection that gold casts, it gave the appearance of containing the sun, making the precious metal even more valued in a sun-obsessed society. Gold was reserved for the highest class of Incan society which consisted of priests, lords and of course the Sapa Inca or emperor.
The Incas are famous for their gold. They mined extensive deposits of gold and silver, but this wealth ultimately brought disaster in the 16th century, when Spanish soldiers came seeking riches for themselves and their king.
Gold, to the Incas, was the 'sweat of the sun' and Silver the 'tears of the moon.'
For fishing, trade, construction, transport and military purposes, the Inca built seagoing vessels called balsas by weaving together totora reeds. The largest of these vessels were 20 to 30 meters long, making them comparable in length to Spanish Caravels. This method of constructing ships from woven reeds is an ancient Peruvian tradition which long predates the Inca. There are depictions of such vessels in Moche pottery dating back to 100 A.D.
The population of Tawantinsuyu is currently unknown. There are estimates ranging from as few as 4 million people to more than 37 million. The reason for these various estimates is that, despite that the Inca kept excellent census records using their quipus, knowledge of how to read them has been lost. Almost all of them were destroyed by the Spanish in the course of their conquest.
At its peak, Ican society had more than six million people. As the tribe expanded and conquered other tribes, like the Paracas, the Incans began to consolidate their empire by integrating not only the ruling classes of each conquered tribe but also developing a universal language, calling it Quechua (pronounced KECH-WUN).
This ubiquitous integration encompassed the histories, myths and legends of each subject tribe; stories being intentionally combined, adopted or obliterated, or just accidentally confused. This practice was characteristic of the Incas quest for organization and structure. The Amautas, a special class of wise men who perpetuated traditions of the people, history and legend, redefined myths where and when necessary to establish miracles of faith or precedent or sanctions.
The Incan language was based on nature. All of the elements of which they depended, and even some they didn't were give a divine character. They believed that all deities were created by an ever-lasting, invisible, and all-powerful god named Wiraqocha, or Sun god. The King Incan was seen as Sapan Intiq Churin, or the Only Son of the Sun.
The Inca calendar had 12 months of 30 days, with each month having its own festival, and a five day feast at the end, before the new year began. The Incan year started in December, and began with Capac Raymi, the magnificent festival.
Most historians agree that the Inca had a calendar based on the observation of both the Sun and the Moon, and their relationship to the stars. Names of 12 lunar months are recorded, as well as their association with festivities of the agricultural cycle.
There is no suggestion of the widespread use of a numerical system for counting time, although a quinary decimal system, with names of numbers at least up to 10,000, was used for other purposes. The organization of work on the basis of six weeks of nine days suggests the further possibility of a count by triads that could result in a formal month of 30 days.
A count of this sort was described by Alexander von Humboldt for a Chibcha tribe living outside of the Inca Empire, in the mountainous region of Colombia. The description is based on an earlier manuscript by a village priest, and one authority has dismissed it as holy imaginary, but this is not necessarily the case. The smallest unit of this calendar was a numerical count of three days, which, interacting with a similar count of 10 days, formed a standard 30-day month.
Every third year was made up of 13 moons, the others having 12. This formed a cycle of 37 moons, and 20 of these cycles made up a period of 60 years, which was subdivided into four parts and could be multiplied by 100. A period of 20 months is also mentioned. Although the account of the Chibcha system cannot be accepted at face value, if there is any truth in it at all it is suggestive of devices that may have been used also by the Inca.
In one account, it is said that the Inca Veracocha established a year of 12 months, each beginning with the New Moon, and that his successor, Pachacuti, finding confusion in regard to the year, built the sun towers in order to keep a check on the calendar. Since Pachacuti reigned less than a century before the conquest, it may be that the contradictions and the meagerness of information on the Inca calendar are due to the fact that the system was still in the process of being revised when the Spaniards first arrived.
Despite the uncertainties, further research has made it clear that at least at Cuzco, the capital city of the Inca, there was an official calendar of the sidereal-lunar type, based on the sidereal month of 27 1/3 days. It consisted of 328 nights (12X271/3) and began on June 8/9, coinciding with the heliacal rising (the rising just after sunset) of the Pleiades; it ended on the first Full Moon after the June solstice (the winter solstice for the Southern Hemisphere). This sidereal-lunar calendar fell short of the solar year by 37 days, which consequently were intercalated. This intercalation, and thus the place of the sidereal-lunar within the solar year, was fixed by following the cycle of the Sun as it strengthened to summer (December) solstice and weakened afterward, and by noting a similar cycle in the visibility of the Pleiades.
Intihuatana, the hitching post of the sun, is possibly the last remaining seasonal sun dials in Peru. The rest were destroyed by the Spaniards, who as Catholics, found them to be paganistic.
The Ancient Geometric Measure of Time in Tiwanaku
Kepler's Kinetic law and the Proportional Clock
Geometrizing of the Tiahuanacan Solar Cycle, may be a particularly useful line of enquiry into many other ancient prehistoric cultures. It may explain how informations on celestial calculations was recorded and complex astronomical knowledge was transmitted, by being inserted in the enormous architectonics and planimetric structures, still to be seen today in various parts of the world.
The scientific reliability of this research finds indirect confirmation on the clock dial, since all system of time measurement in fact refers to the solar cycle, that is to say to mathematical and geometrical parameters that describe the terrestrial orbit. Thus, by applying Kepler's second kinematic law to the hours circle, we arrive at a geometric system for the figurative representation of time known as the Proportional Dial.
The Proportional Clock derives in turn from this dial and incorporates a new figurative dimension of time in Architecture and Urban planning.
In the heterogeneous Inca Empire several polytheistic religions were practiced by its different people. Most religions had common traits such as the existence of a Pachamama and Viracocha. The incas controlled religion to give the empire cohesion by having conquered peoples add the Inca deities to their pantheon.
Inca deities occupied the three realms:
Uku Pacha was the domain of Pachamama, the Earth mother, who is universal to Andean mythologies. Kanopa was the God of Pregnancy.
Con-Tici Viracocha Pachayachachic, The first god, creator of the three realms and their inhabitants, was also the father of Inti.
Many ancient Andean peoples traced their origins to ancestral deities. Multiple ayllus could share similar ancestral origins. The Inca claimed descent from the Sun and the Moon, their Father and Mother. Many ayllus claimed descent from early proto-humans that they emerged from local sites in nature called pacarinas.
The earliest ancestors of the Inca were known as Ayar, the first of which was Manco Capac or Ayar Manco. Inca mythology tells of his travels, in which he and the Ayar shaped and marked the land and introduced the cultivation of maize.
A prominent theme in Inca mythology is the duality of the Cosmos. The realms were separated into the upper and lower realms, the Hanan Pacha and the Ukhu Pacha and Hurin Pacha. Hanan Pacha, the upper world, consisted of the deities of the sun, moon, stars, rainbow, and lightning while Ukhu Pacha and Hurin Pacha were the realms of Pachamama, the earth mother, and the ancestors and heroes of the Inca or other ayllus. Kay Pacha, the realm of the outer earth, where humans resided was viewed as an intermediary realm between Hanan Pacha and Ukhu Pacha. The realms were represented by the condor (upper world), puma (outer earth) and snake (inner earth).
Huacas (sacred sites or things), were widespread around the Inca Empire. Huacas were deific entities that resided in natural objects such as mountains, boulders, streams, battle fields, other meeting places, and any type of place that was connected with past Incan rulers. Huacas could also be inanimate objects such as pottery that were believed to be vessels carrying deities. Spiritual leaders in a community would use prayer and offerings to communicate with a huaca for advice or assistance. Human sacrifice was a part of Incan rituals in which they usually sacrificed a child or a slave. The Incan people thought it was an honor to die for an offering.
There is archaeological discoveries supporting the presence of sacrifice within Inca society according to Reinhard and Ceruti: "Archaeological evidence found on distant mountain summits has established that the burial of offerings was a common practice among the Incas and that human sacrifice took place at several of the sites. The excellent preservation of the bodies and other material in the cold and dry environment of the high Andes provides revealing details about the rituals that were performed at these ceremonial complexes."
The Incas also used divination. They used it to inform people in the city of social events, predict battle outcomes, and ask for metaphysical intervention.
The Inca were a deeply religious people. They feared that evil would befall at any time. Sorcerors held high positions in society as protectors from the spirits. They also believed in reincarnation, saving their nail clippings, hair cuttings and teeth in case the returning spirit needed them.
The religious and societal center of Inca life was contained in the middle of the sprawling fortress known as Sacsahuaman. Here was located Cuzco, 'The Naval of the World' [we call it the Solar Plexus] - the home of the Inca Lord and site of the sacred Temple of the Sun. At such a place the immense wealth of the Inca was clearly evident with gold and silver decorating every edifice. The secret of Inca wealth was the mita. This was a labor program imposed upon every Inca by the Inca ruler. Since it only took about 65 days a year for a family to farm for its own needs, the rest of the time was devoted to working on Temple-owned fields, building bridges, roads, temples, and terraces, or extracting gold and silver from the mines. The work was controlled through chiefs of thousands, hundreds and tens.
The Incas worshipped the Earth goddess Pachamama and the sun god, the Inti. The Inca sovereign, lord of the Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca empire, was held to be sacred and to be the descendant of the sun god. Thus, the legend of the origin of the Incas tells how the sun god sent his children Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo (and in another version the four Ayar brothers and their wives) to found Cuzco, the sacred city and capital of the Inca empire.
Inti Raymi, the feast of the sun The "Inti Raymi" or "Sun Festivity" was the biggest, most important, spectacular and magnificent festivity carried out in Inca times. It was aimed to worship the "Apu Inti" (Sun God). It was performed every year on June 21, that is, in the winter solstice of the Southern Hemisphere, in the great Cuzco Main Plaza.
In the Andean mythology it was considered that Incas were descendants of the Sun, therefore, they had to worship it annually with a sumptuous celebration. More over, the festivity was carried out by the end of the potato and maize harvest in order to thank the Sun for the abundant crops or otherwise in order to ask for better crops during the next season.
Besides, it is during the solstices when the Sun is located in the farthest point from the earth or vice versa, on this date the Quechuas (native people of the Andes who speak "quechua" language) had to perform diverse rituals in order to ask the Sun not to abandon its children.
Preparations had to be carried out in the Koricancha (Sun Temple), in the Aqllawasi (House of Chosen Women), and in the Haukaypata or Wakaypata that was the northeastern sector of the great Main Square. Some days before the ceremony, all the population had to practice fast and sexual abstinence. Before dawn on June 21st the Cusquenian nobility, presided over by the Inca and the Willaq Uma (High Priest), were located on the Haukaypata (the Plaza's ceremonial portion), the remaining noble population were placed on the Kusipata (southwestern portion). Prior to this the "Mallki" (mummies of noble ancestors) were brought and they were located in privileged sectors so that they could witness the ceremony.
At sunrise, the population had to greet the Sun God with the "much'ay" ("mocha" in its Spanish form) sending forth-resounding kisses offered symbolically with the fingertips. After all that, people sang in tune solemn canticles in a low voice that later were transformed into their "wakay taky" (weepy songs), arriving like this to an emotional and religious climax.
Subsequently, the Son of the Sun (the Inca king), used to take in his two hands two golden ceremonial tumblers called "akilla" containing "Aqha" (chicha = maize beer) made inside the Aqllawasi. The beverage of the tumbler in the right hand was offered to the Sun and then poured into a golden channel communicating the Plaza with the Sun Temple. The Inca drank a sip of chicha from the other tumbler, the remaining was then drank in sips by the noblemen close to him. Later, chicha was offered to every attendant.
Some historians suggest that this ceremony was started inside the Coricancha in presence of the Sun representation that was made of very polished gold that at the sunrise was reflected with a blinding brilliance. Later the Inca, along with his retinue, went toward the great Plaza through the "Intik'iqllu" or "Street of the Sun" (present-day Loreto street) in order to witness the llama sacrifice.
During this most important religious ceremony in Incan times, the High Priest had to perform the llama sacrifice offering a completely black or white llama. With a sharp ceremonial golden knife called "Tumi" he had to open the animal's chest and with his hands pulled out its throbbing heart, lungs and viscera, so that observing those elements he could foretell the future. Later, the animal and its parts were completely incinerated.
After the sacrifice, the High Priest had to produce the Sacred Fire. Staying in front of the Sun he had to get its rays in a concave gold medallion that contained some soft or oily material in order to produce the fire that had to be kept during next year in the Koricancha and Aqllawasi.
Subsequently the priests offered the Sanqhu that was something like "holy bread" prepared from maize flour and blood of the sacrificed llama; its consumption was entirely religious as a Christian host is.
Once that all ritual stages of the Inti Raymi were finished, all the attendants were located in the southwestern Plaza's sector named Kusipata (Cheer Secto" present-day Plaza del Regocijo) where after being nourished, people were entertained with music, dances and abundant chicha.
Nowadays, the Inti Raymi is staged annually in Saqsaywaman on June 24th with the participation of hundreds of actors wearing typical outfits. It's a great opportunity to imagine the life at the Incas time.
1. Manco Capac - Sun God
2. Sinchi Roca
3. Lloque Yupanqui
4. Maita Capac
5. Capac Yupanqui
6. Inca Roca
7. Yahuar Huacac
8. Inca Viracocha
10. Topa Inca Yupanqui
11. Huayna Capac
The incredibly rapid expansion of the Inca Empire began with Viracocha's son Pachacuti, who was one of the great conquerors, and one of the great men in the history of the Americas. With his accession in 1438 AD reliable history began, almost all the chroniclers being in practical agreement.
Pachacuti was called considered the greatest man that the aboriginal race of America has produced. He and his son Topa Inca were powerful rulers conquering many lands as they built ther kingdom.
Pachacuti was a great civic planner as well. Tradition ascribes to him the city plan of Cuzco as well as the erection of many of the massive masonry buildings that still awe visitors at this this ancient capital.
The Aymara-speaking rivals in the region of Lake Titicaca, the Colla and Lupaca, were defeated first, and then the Chanca to the west. The latter attacked and nearly captured Cuzco. After that, there was little effective resistance. First the peoples to the north were subjugated as far as Quito, Ecuador, including the powerful and cultured kingdom of Chimu on the northern coast of Peru. Topa Inca then took over his father's role and turned southward, conquering all of northern Chile as far as the Maule River, the southernmost limit of the empire. His son, Huayna Capac, continued conquests in Ecuador to the Ancasmayo River, the present border between Ecuador and Colombia.
The Incas had a highly organized government based in Cuzco. The emperor lived there and was regarded to as The Inca, the main supreme the ruler. Underneath him were the nobles. They were talented and gifted and their skills provided for all of the Inca civilization.
Cuzco, which emerged as the richest city in the New World, was the center of Inca life, the home of its leaders. The riches that were gathered in the city of Cuzco alone, as capital and court of the Empire, were incredible, says an early account of Inca culture written 300 years ago by Jesuit priest Father Bernabe Cobo.
Inca kings and nobles amassed stupendous riches which accompanied them, in death, in their tombs. But it was their great wealth that ultimately undid the Inca, for the Spaniards, upon reaching the New World, learned of the abundance of gold in Inca society and soon set out to conquer it at all costs. The plundering of Inca riches continues today with the pillaging of sacred sites and blasting of burial tombs by grave robbers in search of precious Inca gold.
Not many people lived in the Incan cities. People lived in the nearby villages and traveled into town for festivals or business.
The city was mainly used for the government. All the records for nearby villages were reported by their leaders and recorded in the city by the quipucamayoc. About the only people who lived in the city were the metalworkers, carpenters, weavers and other crafters who made artwork for the temples. These people lived in the artisans' quarters. Outside of the cities were the government storehouses and soldiers' barracks.
In every major Inca city, the Sapa Inca had a palace for use when he visited the city. On those grounds were the convents for the Sun Virgins and houses for servants. The buildings on the grounds were single storied edifices, built of stone with a thatched grass roof. Their only entrance was to the courtyard that they were on.
The Incas had an incredible system of roads. One road ran almost the entire length of the South American Pacific coast! Since the Incas lived in the Andes Mountains, the roads took great engineering and architectural skill to build. On the coast, the roads were not surfaced and were marked only by tree trunks The Incas paved their highland roads with flat stones and built stone walls to prevent travelers from falling off cliffs.
Referred to as an 'all-weather highway system', the over 14,000 miles of Inca roads were an astonishing and reliable precursor to the advent of the automobile. Communication and transport was efficient and speedy, linking the mountain peoples and lowland desert dwellers with Cuzco. Building materials and ceremonial processions traveled thousands of miles along the roads that still exist in remarkably good condition today. They were built to last and to withstand the extreme natural forces of wind, floods, ice, and drought.
This central nervous system of Inca transport and communication rivaled that of Rome. A high road crossed the higher regions of the Cordillera from north to south and another lower north-south road crossed the coastal plains. Shorter crossroads linked the two main highways together in several places.
The terrain, according to Ciezo de Leon, an early chronicler of Inca culture, was formidable. The road system ran through deep valleys and over mountains, through piles of snow, quagmires, living rock, along turbulent rivers; in some places it ran smooth and paved, carefully laid out; in others over sierras, cut through the rock, with walls skirting the rivers, and steps and rests through the snow; everywhere it was clean swept and kept free of rubbish, with lodgings, storehouses, temples to the sun, and posts along the way.
The Incas did not discover the wheel, so all travel was done on foot. To help travelers on their way, rest houses were built every few kilometers. In these rest houses, they could spend a night, cook a meal and feed their llamas.
Their bridges were the only way to cross rivers on foot. If only one of their hundreds of bridges was damaged, a major road could not fully function; every time one broke, the locals would repair it as quickly as possible.
t is estimated that the Inca cultivated around seventy crop species. The main crops were potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, chili peppers, cotton, tomatoes, peanuts, an edible root called oca, and the pseudograins quinoa and amaranth. The crops developed by the Inca and preceding cultures makes South America one of the historic centers of crop diversity (along with the Middle East, India, Mesoamerica, Ethiopia, and the Far East). Many of these crops were widely distributed by the Spanish and are now important crops worldwide. Salsa was originated by the Inca people using tomatoes, chili peppers, and other spices
The Inca cultivated food crops on dry Pacific coastlines, high on the slopes of the Andes, and in the lowland Amazon rainforest. In mountainous Andean environments, they made extensive use of terraced fields which not only allowed them to put to use the mineral-rich mountain soil which other peoples left fallow, but also took advantage of micro-climates conducive to a variety of crops being cultivated throughout the year. Agricultural tools consisted mostly of simple digging sticks.
The Inca also raised llamas and alpacas for their wool, meat, and to use them as pack animals and captured wild vicunas for their fine hair.
The Inca road system was key to farming success as it allowed distribution of foods over long distances. The Inca also constructed vast storehouses, which allowed them to live through El Nino years while some neighboring civilizations suffered.
Inca leaders kept records of what each ayllu in the empire produced, but did not tax them on their production. They instead used the mita for the support of the empire.
The Inca diet consisted primarily of fish and vegetables, supplemented less frequently with the meat of cuyes (guinea pigs) and camelids. In addition, they hunted various animals for meat, skins and feathers. Maize was malted and used to make chicha, a fermented alcoholic beverage.
Everyone worked except for the very young and the very old. Children worked by scaring away animals from the crops and helping in the home.
About 2/3 of a farmer's goods would be shared by a tax system, and the rest were for keeps. Some of the goods would be distributed to others, goods would be received in return, and the rest was stored in government storehouses or sacrificed to the gods.
Each ayllu - clans - had their own self-supporting farm community. Ayllu members worked the land cooperatively to produce food crops and cotton. All work was done by hand because the Incas lacked wheeled tools and draft animals. Their simple implements included a heavy wooden spade or foot plow called a taclla, a stone-tipped club to break up clods, a bronze-bladed hoe, and a digging stick.
The inhabitants of the Andean region developed more than half the agricultural products that the world eats today. Among these are more than 20 varieties of corn; 240 varieties of potato; as well as one or more varieties of squash, beans, peppers, peanuts, and cassava (a starchy root); and quinoa, which is made into a cereal.
By far the most important of these was the potato. They grew over 20 varieties of corn and 240 varieties of potatoes.The Incas planted the potato, which is able to withstand heavy frosts, as high as 4600 m (15,000 ft). At these heights the Incas could use the freezing night temperatures and the heat of the day to alternately freeze and dry the potatoes until all the moisture had been removed. The Incas then reduced the potato to a light flour.
They cultivated corn up to an altitude of 4100 m (13,500 ft) and consumed it fresh, dried, and popped. They also made it into an alcoholic beverage known as saraiaka or chicha.
The Incas faced difficult conditions for agriculture. Mountainous terrain limited the land that could be used for agriculture, and water was sometimes scarce.
To compensate, the Incas adopted and improved upon the terracing methods invented by pre-Inca civilizations. They built stone walls to create raised, level fields. These fields formed steplike patterns along the sides of hills that were too steep to irrigate or plough in their natural state. Terraces created more arable land and kept the topsoil from washing away in heavy rains.
Although rain generally falls in the Andes between December and May, there are often years of drought. The Incas constructed complex canals to bring water to terraces and other patches of arable land.
They also made use of natural fertilizers. Guano, the nitrate-rich droppings of birds, was plentiful in coastal areas. In the highlands, farmers used the remains of slaughtered llamas as a fertilizer.
Camelids, such as llamas, alpacas, and vicu-as, were very important to the economy. In addition to carrying burdens, llamas and alpacas were raised as a source of coarse wool and of dung, which was used for fuel. The finest-quality wool came from the wild vicuŠa, which was caught, sheared, and set free again.
The Inca also raised guinea pigs, ducks, and dogs, which were the main sources of meat protein.
Study suggests ancient Peruvians 'ate popcorn' BBC - January 19, 2012
A new study suggests that people living along the coast of northern Peru were eating popcorn 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. Researchers say corncobs found at an ancient site in Peru suggest that the inhabitants used them for making flour and popcorn. Scientists from Washington's Natural History Museum say the oldest corncobs they found dated from 4700BC. They are the earliest ever discovered in South America.
Because everyone had everything they needed, people rarely stole things. As a result, there were no prisons. The worst crimes in the Inca empire were murder, insulting the Sapa Inca and saying bad things about gods. The punishment, being thrown off of a cliff, was enough to keep most people from committing these crimes. Adultery with a Sun Virgin wasn't worth it. The couple was tied up by their hands and feet to a wall and left to starve to death. If one made love to one of the Inca's wives, they would be hung on a wall naked and left to starve. Smaller crimes were punished by the chopping off of the hands and feet or the gouging of the eyes.
The main form of communication between cities was the chasqui. The chasqui were young men who relayed messages. Say the army general in Nazca needs to report a village uprising to the Sapa Inca in Cuzco. One chasqui runner would start from the chasqui post in Nazca and run about a kilometer to another chasqui, waiting outside another hut. The message would be relayed and the chain would be continued for hundreds of miles by hundreds of runners until the last runner reached the Sapa Inca and told the message, exact to the original word, because a severe punishment awaited a wrong message, which they knew since their training began in boyhood.
The demise of the Incan civilization, at the hands of the Spanish Conquistadors, occurred in the 1500's, after years of fighting left the already disarticulate anthology in more disarray.
With the arrival from Spain in 1532 of Francisco Pizarro and his entourage of mercenaries or conquistadors, the Inca empire was seriously threatened for the first time. Duped into meeting with the conquistadors in a peaceful gathering, an Inca emperor, Atahualpa, was kidnapped and held for ransom. After paying over $50 million in gold by today's standards, Atahualpa, who was promised to be set free, was strangled to death by the Spaniards who then marched straight for Cuzco and its riches.
Ciezo de Leon, a conquistador himself, wrote of the astonishing surprise the Spaniards experienced upon reaching Cuzco. As eyewitnesses to the extravagant and meticulously constructed city of Cuzco, the conquistadors were dumbfounded to find such a testimony of superior metallurgy and finely tuned architecture. Temples, edifices, paved roads, and elaborate gardens all shimmered with gold.
By Ciezo de Leon's own observation the extreme riches and expert stone work of the Inca were beyond belief: "In one of (the) houses, which was the richest, there was the figure of the sun, very large and made of gold, very ingeniously worked, and enriched with many precious stones. They had also a garden, the clods of which were made of pieces of fine gold; and it was artificially sown with golden maize, the stalks, as well as the leaves and cobs, being of that metal.
Besides all this, they had more than twenty golden (llamas) with their lambs, and the shepherds with their slings and crooks to watch them, all made of the same metal. There was a great quantity of jars of gold and silver, set with emeralds; vases, pots, and all sorts of utensils, all of fine gold - it seems to me that I have said enough to show what a grand place it was; so I shall not treat further of the silver work of the chaquira (beads), of the plumes of gold and other things, which, if I wrote down, I should not be believed."
Much of the conquest was accomplished without battles or warfare as the initial contact Europeans made in the New World resulted in rampant disease. Old World infectious disease left its devastating mark on New World Indian cultures. In particular, smallpox spread quickly through Panama, eradicating entire populations. Once the disease crossed into the Andes its southward spread caused the single most devastating loss of life in the Americas. Lacking immunity, the New World peoples, including the Inca, were reduced by two-thirds.
In the years following the conquest, the only chroniclers of the Incan culture lacked the objectivity and scientific interests needed for accurate accounts. In addition, they all held to a rigid belief in the literal truth of Biblical records. Thus, much of the myths and legends were held in revulsion, as either trivial or immoral, and failed to reach the annals of Incan civilization.
Those myths that did survive may have been distorted or diluted by those Incans who chose to adapt their stories for the Spanish Christian ears. No conclusion can be made about this mysterious myth other than that is an intriguing and complicated culture, whose form of communication, albeit surreptitious, is innately beautiful.
With the aid of disease and the success of his initial deceit of Atahualpa, Pizarro acquired vast amounts of Inca gold which brought him great fortune in Spain. Reinforcements for his troops came quickly and his conquest of a people soon moved into consolidation of an empire and its wealth. Spanish culture, religion, and language rapidly replaced Inca life and only a few traces of Inca ways remain in the native culture as it exists today.
What remains of the Inca legacy is limited, as the conquistadors plundered what they could of Inca treasures and in so doing, dismantled the many structures painstakingly built by Inca craftsmen to house the precious metals. Remarkably, a last bastion of the Inca empire remained unknown to the Spanish conquerors and was not found until explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911.
He had found Machu Picchu a citadel atop a mountainous jungle along the Urubamba River in Peru. Grand steps and terraces with fountains, lodgings, and shrines flank the jungle-clad pinnacle peaks surrounding the site. It was a place of worship to the sun god, the greatest deity in the Inca pantheon.
Manco Capac, was the name of the last of the Inca rulers, and the son of Huayna Capac. Manco Capac was supposedly crowned (1534) emperor by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro but was tolerated only as a puppet. He escaped, levieda huge army, and in 1536 laid siege to Cuzco, the Inca capital. The defense was commanded by Hernando Pizarro. Although the Incans had by now learned some European tactics of war they were outclassed by technical advantages. Manco Capac could not prevent dismemberment of his army at harvest time. The heroic siege, which virtually destroyed the city, was abandoned after ten months, but during the ensuing eight years the Inca's name became a terror throughout Peru. Manco Capac fought a bloody guerrilla war against soldiers and settlers. He was treacherously murdered in 1544, after giving refuge to the defeated supporters of Diego de Almagro, who had rebelled against Pizarro.
In 1541 the Wheel of Fortune turned against Francisco Pizarro, and the conquistador reaped a bit of what he had sown. After the fall of Cuzco in 1533, Pizarro and his brother cut their rival, Diego de Almagro, out of much of the booty. By way of compensation, Francisco offered him Chile, and the Spaniard marched off in hopes of conquest and gold. He returned two years later, having found no fortune, and helped suppress Manco. His quarrel with the Pizarros led to a battle between their factions at Las Salinas on April 26, 1538. Captured, the defeated Almagro was garroted on Hernando's order. Francisco, now governor, later stripped Almagro's son, also named Diego, of lands leaving him bankrupt.
The embittered young Almagro and his associates plotted to assassinate Francisco after mass on June 16, 1541, but Pizarro got wind of their plan and stayed in the governor's palace. While Pizarro, his half-brother Francisco Martin de Alcantara, and about 20 others were having dinner, the conspirators invaded the palace. Most of Pizarro's guests fled, but a few fought the intruders, numbered variously between seven and 25. While Pizarro struggled to buckle on his breastplate, his defenders, including Alcantara, were killed. For his part Pizarro killed two attackers and ran through a third. While trying to pull out his sword, he was stabbed in the throat, then fell to the floor where he was stabbed many times.
Alcantara's wife buried Pizarro and Alcantara behind the cathedral. He was reburied under main altar in 1545, then moved into a special chapel in the cathedral on July 4, 1606. Church documents from the verification process for remains of St. Toribio in 1661, however, note a wooden box inside of which was a lead box inscribed in Spanish: Here is the skull of the Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro who discovered and won Peru and placed it under the crown of Castile.
In 1891, on the 350th anniversary of Pizarro's death, a scientific committee examined the desiccated remains that church officials had identified as Pizarro. In their account in American Anthropologist 7:1 (January 1894), they concluded that the skull conformed to cranial morphology then thought to be typical of criminals, a result seen as confirming identification. A glass, marble, and bronze sarcophagus was built to hold the mummy, which was venerated by history buffs and churchgoers.
But in 1977, workers cleaning a crypt beneath the altar found two wooden boxes with human bones. One box held the remains of two children; an elderly female; an elderly male, complete; and an elderly male, headless; and some fragments of a sword. The other contained the lead box--inscribed as had been recorded in 1661--in which was a skull that matched postcranial bones of the headless man in the first box. A Peruvian historian, anthropologist, two radiologists, and two American anthropologists studied the remains. The man was a white male at least 60 years old (Pizarro's exact age was unknown; he was said to be 63 or 65 by contemporary historians) and 5'5" to 5'9" in height. He had lost most of his upper molars and many lower incisors and molars, had arthritic lipping on his vertebrae, had fracture his right ulna while a child, and had suffered a broken nose.
Examination of the remains indicated that the assassins did a thorough job. There were four sword thrusts to neck, the sixth and twelfth thoracic vertebrae were nicked by sword thrusts, the arms and hands were wounded from warding off sword cuts (a cut on the right humerus and two on the left first metacarpal; the right fifth metacarpal was missing altogether), a sword blade had cut through the right zygomatic arch, a thrust penetrated the left eye socket, a rapier or dagger went through the neck into the base of skull, and a pair of thrusts had damage the left sphenoid. The savage overkill suggests revenge as a motive rather than simple murder or death in battle.
The scholars concluded that these were indeed the remains of Francisco Pizarro. The two children might be Pizarro's sons who died young, the elderly female is possibly the wife of Alcantara, and the other elderly male Alcantara. The dried out body long thought to be Pizarro exhibited no sign of trauma as would be expected if it was indeed the corpse of the conquistador. They decided that the interloper was possibly a church official, and replaced the body with the conquistador's bones in the glass sarcophagus. Read more ...
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