Manual Empire of the Incas (Great Empires of the Past)

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And so it has gone for centuries. To the Quechua, the bridge is linked to earth and water, both of which are connected to the heavens. The rope itself is endowed with powerful symbolism: Legend has it that in ancient times the supreme Inca ruler sent out ropes from his capital in Cusco, and they united all under a peaceful and prosperous reign. Such dazzling objects scarcely need an introduction. How do we show that? When, more than a hundred years ago, the American explorer Hiram Bingham III came across part of the Inca Road leading to the fabled 15th-century site of Machu Picchu , he saw only the remains of an overgrown physical highway, a rudimentary means of transit.

Certainly most roads, whether ancient or modern, exist for the prosaic purpose of aiding commerce, conducting wars, or enabling people to travel to work. Not so the Inca Road. The Pachamama is life energy, and wisdom. To ride in a vehicle would be inconceivable: The road itself is the source from which the healers absorb their special energy.

Travel through Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile in the footsteps of the Incas and experience their influence on the history and culture of the Andean region. It was paved with blocks of stone, reinforced with retaining walls, dug into rock faces, and linked by as many as bridges, like the one at Huinchiri, made of woven-grass rope, swaying high above churning rivers. The Inca engineers cut through some of the most diverse and extreme terrain in the world, spanning rain forests, deserts and high mountains.

At its early 16th-century peak, the Inca Empire included between eight million and twelve million people and extended from modern-day Colombia down to Chile and Argentina via Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. Unlike other great empires, it used no currency. Labor—including work on this great road—was the tax Inca subjects paid. The last map of the Inca Road, considered the base map until now, was completed more than three decades ago, in Today his old village is barely recognizable. In Washington, D.

Among the six million Quechua speakers in South America today, many of the old ways remain. But in some cases, the indigenous people Matos and his team interviewed represent the last living link to long-ago days. Seven years ago, Matos and his team interviewed year-old Demetrio Roca, who recalled a mile walk in with his mother from their village to Cusco, where she was a vendor in the central plaza. Nowadays, about communities in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northwestern Argentina rely on what remains of the road, much of it overgrown or destroyed by earthquakes or landslides.

That compression of time and space is very much in keeping with the spirit of the museum exhibition, linking past and present—and with the Quechua worldview. Quechua speakers, Matos says, use the same word, pacha, to mean both time and space. The Quechua have persevered over the years in spite of severe political and environmental threats, including persecution by Shining Path Maoist guerrillas and terrorists in the s. But education needs to be improved too. Native communities are not strongly connected with their past. In other places, no. Still, he says, there is greater pride than ever among the Quechua, partly the benefit of vigorous tourism.

Some 8, people flocked to Huinchiri to watch the bridge-building ceremony in June last year. This story is from the new travel quarterly, Smithsonian Journeys , which will arrive on newstands July Continue or Give a Gift. Privacy Policy , Terms of Use Sign up. SmartNews History. History Archaeology. World History. Featured: The Suspect in City Hall. Science Age of Humans. Future of Space Exploration. Human Behavior. Our Planet. Earth Optimism Summit. The Incas were polytheists who worshipped many gods. These included:. The Inca Empire employed central planning. The Inca Empire traded with outside regions, although they did not operate a substantial internal market economy.

The economy rested on the material foundations of the vertical archipelago , a system of ecological complementarity in accessing resources [57] and the cultural foundation of ayni , or reciprocal exchange. The Sapa Inca was conceptualized as divine and was effectively head of the state religion. The Willaq Umu or Chief Priest was second to the emperor.

Local religious traditions continued and in some cases such as the Oracle at Pachacamac on the Peruvian coast, were officially venerated. Following Pachacuti, the Sapa Inca claimed descent from Inti, who placed a high value on imperial blood; by the end of the empire, it was common to incestuously wed brother and sister. He was "son of the sun," and his people the intip churin , or "children of the sun," and both his right to rule and mission to conquer derived from his holy ancestor. The Sapa Inca also presided over ideologically important festivals, notably during the Inti Raymi , or "Sunfest" attended by soldiers, mummified rulers, nobles, clerics and the general population of Cusco beginning on the June solstice and culminating nine days later with the ritual breaking of the earth using a foot plow by the Inca.

Moreover, Cusco was considered cosmologically central, loaded as it was with huacas and radiating ceque lines and geographic center of the Four-Quarters; Inca Garcilaso de la Vega called it "the navel of the universe". The four corners of these quarters met at the center, Cusco. These suyu were likely created around during the reign of Pachacuti before the empire reached its largest territorial extent. At the time the suyu were established they were roughly of equal size and only later changed their proportions as the empire expanded north and south along the Andes.

Cusco was likely not organized as a wamani , or province.

Rather, it was probably somewhat akin to a modern federal district , like Washington, DC or Mexico City. The city sat at the center of the four suyu and served as the preeminent center of politics and religion. While Cusco was essentially governed by the Sapa Inca, his relatives and the royal panaqa lineages, each suyu was governed by an Apu , a term of esteem used for men of high status and for venerated mountains.

Both Cusco as a district and the four suyu as administrative regions were grouped into upper hanan and lower hurin divisions. As the Inca did not have written records, it is impossible to exhaustively list the constituent wamani. However, colonial records allow us to reconstruct a partial list. There were likely more than 86 wamani , with more than 48 in the highlands and more than 38 on the coast. The most populous suyu was Chinchaysuyu, which encompassed the former Chimu empire and much of the northern Andes.

At its largest extent, it extended through much of modern Ecuador and into modern Colombia. The largest suyu by area was Qullasuyu, named after the Aymara -speaking Qulla people. It encompassed the Bolivian Altiplano and much of the southern Andes, reaching Argentina and as far south as the Maipo or Maule river in Central Chile. The second smallest suyu , Antisuyu, was northwest of Cusco in the high Andes.

Its name is the root of the word "Andes. Kuntisuyu was the smallest suyu , located along the southern coast of modern Peru, extending into the highlands towards Cusco. The Inca state had no separate judiciary or codified laws.

Inca Empire

Customs, expectations and traditional local power holders governed behavior. The state had legal force, such as through tokoyrikoq lit. The highest such inspector, typically a blood relative to the Sapa Inca, acted independently of the conventional hierarchy, providing a point of view for the Sapa Inca free of bureaucratic influence. Colonial sources are not entirely clear or in agreement about Inca government structure, such as exact duties and functions of government positions. But the basic structure can be broadly described. The top was the Sapa Inca.

Below that may have been the Willaq Umu , literally the "priest who recounts", the High Priest of the Sun. This weighting of representation balanced the hanan and hurin divisions of the empire, both within Cusco and within the Quarters hanan suyukuna and hurin suyukuna. While provincial bureaucracy and government varied greatly, the basic organization was decimal.

Each unit of more than tax-payers were headed by a kuraka , while smaller units were headed by a kamayuq , a lower, non-hereditary status. However, while kuraka status was hereditary and typically served for life, the position of a kuraka in the hierarchy was subject to change based on the privileges of superiors in the hierarchy; a pachaka kuraka could be appointed to the position by a waranqa kuraka. Furthermore, one kuraka in each decimal level could serve as the head of one of the nine groups at a lower level, so that a pachaka kuraka might also be a waranqa kuraka , in effect directly responsible for one unit of tax-payers and less directly responsible for nine other such units.

Francisco Pizarro. Architecture was the most important of the Incan arts, with textiles reflecting architectural motifs. The most notable example is Machu Picchu , which was constructed by Inca engineers. The prime Inca structures were made of stone blocks that fit together so well that a knife could not be fitted through the stonework. These constructs have survived for centuries, with no use of mortar to sustain them.

This process was first used on a large scale by the Pucara c. AD — in present-day Bolivia. The rocks were sculpted to fit together exactly by repeatedly lowering a rock onto another and carving away any sections on the lower rock where the dust was compressed.

Spanish Conquest of the Incan Empire

The tight fit and the concavity on the lower rocks made them extraordinarily stable, despite the ongoing challenge of earthquakes and volcanic activity. Physical measures used by the Inca were based on human body parts. Units included fingers, the distance from thumb to forefinger, palms, cubits and wingspans.

The most basic distance unit was thatkiy or thatki , or one pace. The next largest unit was reported by Cobo to be the topo or tupu , measuring 6, thatkiy s, or about 7. It seems likely that distance was often interpreted as one day's walk; the distance between tambo way-stations varies widely in terms of distance, but far less in terms of time to walk that distance. Inca calendars were strongly tied to astronomy. Inca astronomers understood equinoxes , solstices and zenith passages, along with the Venus cycle. They could not, however, predict eclipses. The Inca calendar was essentially lunisolar , as two calendars were maintained in parallel, one solar and one lunar.

As 12 lunar months fall 11 days short of a full day solar year, those in charge of the calendar had to adjust every winter solstice. Each lunar month was marked with festivals and rituals. Similarly, months were not grouped into seasons. Time during a day was not measured in hours or minutes, but in terms of how far the sun had travelled or in how long it had taken to perform a task.

The sophistication of Inca administration, calendrics and engineering required facility with numbers. Numerical information was stored in the knots of quipu strings, allowing for compact storage of large numbers. It is likely that Inca mathematics at least allowed division of integers into integers or fractions and multiplication of integers and fractions. These officials were called quipo camayos. Ceramics were painted using the polychrome technique portraying numerous motifs including animals, birds, waves, felines popular in the Chavin culture and geometric patterns found in the Nazca style of ceramics.

In a culture without a written language, ceramics portrayed the basic scenes of everyday life, including the smelting of metals, relationships and scenes of tribal warfare. The most distinctive Inca ceramic objects are the Cusco bottles or "aryballos". Almost all of the gold and silver work of the Incan empire was melted down by the conquistadors, and shipped back to Spain.

The Inca recorded information on assemblages of knotted strings, known as Quipu , although they can no longer be decoded. Originally it was thought that Quipu were used only as mnemonic devices or to record numerical data. Quipus are also believed to record history and literature. The Inca made many discoveries in medicine. Many skull surgeries performed by Inca surgeons were successful. Its leaves were used in moderate amounts to lessen hunger and pain during work, but were mostly used for religious and health purposes.

The Inca Empire

Coca leaves were also used as an anaesthetic during surgeries. The Inca army was the most powerful at that time, because any ordinary villager or farmer could be recruited as a soldier as part of the mit'a system of mandatory public service. Every able bodied male Inca of fighting age had to take part in war in some capacity at least once and to prepare for warfare again when needed. By the time the empire reached its largest size, every section of the empire contributed in setting up an army for war.


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The Incas had no iron or steel and their weapons were not much more effective than those of their opponents so they often defeated opponents by sheer force of numbers, or else by persuading them to surrender beforehand by offering generous terms. Roads allowed quick movement on foot for the Inca army and shelters called tambo and storage silos called qullqas were built one day's travelling distance from each other, so that an army on campaign could always be fed and rested.

These were set up so the Inca and his entourage would always have supplies and possibly shelter ready as they traveled. Chronicles and references from the 16th and 17th centuries support the idea of a banner. However, it represented the Inca emperor , not the empire. The royal standard or banner was a small square flag, ten or twelve spans around, made of cotton or wool cloth, placed on the end of a long staff, stretched and stiff such that it did not wave in the air and on it each king painted his arms and emblems, for each one chose different ones, though the sign of the Incas was the rainbow and two parallel snakes along the width with the tassel as a crown, which each king used to add for a badge or blazon those preferred, like a lion, an eagle and other figures.

Inca Civilization - Crystalinks

In modern times the rainbow flag has been wrongly associated with the Tawantinsuyu and displayed as a symbol of Inca heritage by some groups in Peru and Bolivia. The city of Cusco also flies the Rainbow Flag, but as an official flag of the city. However, according to Peruvian historiography, the Inca Empire never had a flag. In the Pre-Hispanic Andean World there did not exist the concept of a flag, it did not belong to their historic context".

Incas were able to adapt to their high-altitude living through successful acclimatization, which is characterized by increasing oxygen supply to the blood tissues. For the native Inca living in the Andean highlands, this was achieved through the development of a larger lung capacity, and an increase in red blood cell counts, hemoglobin concentration, and capillary beds. Compared to other humans, the Incas had slower heart rates, almost one-third larger lung capacity, about 2 L 4 pints more blood volume and double the amount of hemoglobin , which transfers oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

While the Conquistadors may have been slightly taller, the Inca had the advantage of coping with the extraordinary altitude. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Empire in pre-Columbian America. For a general view of Inca civilization, people and culture, see Andean civilizations. For other uses, see Inca disambiguation and Incan disambiguation. Main article: Kingdom of Cusco. See also: Chimor—Inca War. Main article: Neo-Inca State. Main articles: Inca society and Inca education. Main article: Quechua languages. See also: Religion in the Inca Empire and Inca mythology.

Further information: Incan agriculture , Vertical archipelago , Mit'a , and Qullqa. Main article: Government of the Inca Empire. We can assure your majesty that it is so beautiful and has such fine buildings that it would even be remarkable in Spain. Main article: Inca army. Inca Empire — Indigenous peoples in Argentina. Governorate of New Castile — Viceroyalty of Peru — Journal of World-Systems Research. Retrieved 16 September International Studies Quarterly. Retrieved 7 September University of Arizona Press.

Burkholder and Lyman L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America , 7th edition. New York: Oxford University Press , p. Retrieved 10 Sept The Incas: New Perspectives.

Inca origins and expansion

New York: W. Retrieved 10 August American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. Some scholars cite 6 or 7 pristine civilizations. Pre-Columbian Cities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McIver New York: Fawcett Columbine. Cuadernos de Historia in Spanish. Retrieved 10 January International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. Retrieved 16 February Duke University Press. Retrieved 10 October Francisco Pizarro: Conqueror of the Incas. Compass Point Books.

Technology, Disease, and Colonial Conquest. Boston: Brill Academic. The 10 million population estimate in the info box is a mid-range estimate of the population.. Issues for analysis" PDF. Brettell, Caroline; Sargent, Carolyn F. Abingdon, Oxon. Journal of Women's History, 20 3 , — Ancient Lives. New Moon, 4 4 , The Incas. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Hamilton, Roland. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Daily life in the Inca empire. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press. University of Texas Press. Retrieved 18 September Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas. Yale University Press. Human sacrifice: in history and today. National Geographic, Spanish version : 36— The Character of Inca and Andean Agriculture. The Hispanic American Historical Review.

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Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. In Dillehay, Tom; Netherly, Patricia eds. La frontera del estado Inca. Editorial Abya Yala. Ethnohistory, Vol. Spring, , p. The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January Archived from the original on 12 March Retrieved 24 September Obras del P. Edited and preliminary study By Francisco Mateos. Madrid: Ediciones Atlas. Thames and Hudson. Retrieved 13 February Empire of the Inca. New York: Facts on File, Inc. Science News. Retrieved 2 February Ancient History Encyclopedia. The Last Days of the Incas. Simon and Schuster.

Cambridge University Press. University of California Press. Inca Religion and Customs. Peru Under the Incas. The sling was the most deadly projectile weapon. Spear, long-handled axe and bronze-headed mace were the effective weapons. Protection was afforded by a wooden helmet covered with bronze, long quilted tunic and flexible quilted shield. Stow