Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Inca Civilisation

 Between 1200 and 1535 AD, the Inca population lived in the part of South America extending from the Equator to the Pacific coast of Chile. The beginning of the Inca rule started with the conquest of the Moche Culture in Peru. The Inca were warriors with a strong and powerful army. Because of the fierceness of their army and their hierarchical organization, they became the largest Native American society. The height of their reign in the 15th century came to a brutal end in 1535 when the Spanish conquistadors took over their territory.
Their cities and fortresses were mostly built on highlands and on the steep slopes of the Andes Mountains. The architecture of the Inca cities still amazes and puzzles most scientists. Stone steps lead up to the top of the cities, which consist of stone houses and religious buildings. The blocks of stones weigh several tons and they are fit together so tightly that not even a razor blade can fit through them. The central city was mainly used for government purposes, while the citizens occupied surrounding areas. Their homes were made from the same stone material and had grass rooftops.
The Inca society was arranged by a strict hierarchical structure. There were many different levels with the Sapa, high priest or ruler, and the army commander at the top. Family members were councilors to the Sapa and even women had authority in the Inca hierarchy. The temple priests, architects and regional army commanders were next. The two lowest classes consisted of artisans, army captains, farmers, and herders. Farmers provided most of the subsistence for the rest of the population. They had to pay tax in the form of gold, which were distributed to the higher classes.
The comprehension of how irrigation can benefit agriculture is evident by the expansion into the highland areas. They developed drainage systems and canals to expand their crop resources. Potatoes, tomatoes, cotton, peanuts and coca were among the many crops grown by the Inca. Llama were used for meat and transportation. There was more than enough resources available for everyone. Increased subsistence levels led to a growth in the Inca population.
Since population was increasing and the organization of the Inca became stronger, the need for protection became necessary. They built enormous fortresses on top of steep mountains that enabled them to see their enemies and defend themselves. One of the most famous Inca fortresses is Sacasahuman (pictured above), located in Cuzco, the Inca Empire capital. Even though the Inca never had access to the wheel, they built a sophisticated road system to connect the villages. The roads were paved with flat stones and barriers to protect the messengers, or chasqui, from falling down the cliff.
The highest point in an Inca village was reserved for religious purposes. This point was the closest to the sun, which represented their major god, Inti, the Sun God. The six major gods of the Inca represent the moon, sun, earth, thunder/lightning and the sea. Pachamama is the earth god, who is the mother of all humans. The Inca had shamans who believed in animal spirits living on earth. Heaven was depicted by the condor, the underworld by the anaconda, and the brother who resided on earth was the puma. The Sun Temple, located in Machu Picchu, Peru, was a religious calendar that marked the winter and summer solstices.
The Inca were not only fierce conquerors but they also had a violent punishment system. If someone stole, murdered, or had sex with a Sapa wife or a Sun Virgin, they were thrown off a cliff, hands cut off or eyes cut out, or hung up to starve to death. Prisons were of no use because punishment usually consisted of death.
Recent excavations of the Inca sites has revealed mummified bodies of the Inca royalty. They have been preserved by ice in the peaks of the Andes mountains.
The Incas had an army which consisted of 40,000 people. The Spanish army in the Americas, which was commanded by Francisco Pizarro, had only 180 people. How could an Army of only 180 defeat an army of 40,000 men? There are three main reasons for this.
1) Much of the Incan army died as a result of smallpox, which was carried to them via the Spanish Conquistadors.
2) The Spanish Conquistadors were able to convince other tribes, already under Incan rule, to side with them and over throw the Incan Empire.
3) The weapons used by Incan warriors ,though effective in tribal warfare, were no match for the Spanish arms.
By 1535, the Inca society was completely overthrown, and Pizarro moved the capital from Cuzco to Lima.


The Incas were a distinct people with a distinct language living in a highland center, Cuzco. They were an ancient people, but had been subject to the regional powers during the entire history of South American urban cultures. They began to expand their influence in the twelfth century and in the early sixteenth century, they exercised control over more territory than any other people had done in South American history. The empire consisted of over one million individuals, spanning a territory stretching from Ecuador to northern Chile.
Unlike the military empires in Central America, the Incas ruled by proxy. After conquering a people, they would incorporate local rulers into their imperial system, generously reward anyone who fought for them, and treated well all those conquered people who cooperated. So, in reality, the Inca "empire," as the invading Spanish called it, was not really an empire. It was more of a confederation of tribes with a single people, the Incas, more or less in control. Each of these tribes was ruled independently by a council of elders; the tribe as a whole gave its allegiance to the ruler, or "Inca." The "Inca" was divine; he was the descendant of the sun-god.
The social structure of the Incas was extremely inflexible. At the top was the Inca who exercised, theoretically, absolute power. Below the Inca was the royal family which consisted of the Inca's immediate family, concubines, and all his children. This royal family was a ruling aristocracy. Each tribe had tribal heads; each clan in each tribe had clan heads. At the very bottom were the common people who were all grouped in squads of ten people each with a single "boss." The social unit, then, was primarily based on cooperation and communality. This guaranteed that there would always be enough for everyone; but the centralization of authority meant that there was no chance of individual advancement (which was not valued). It also meant that the system depended too much on the centralized authority; once the invading Spanish seized the Inca and the ruling family, they were able to conquer the Inca territories with lightening speed. Conquered people were required to pay a labor tax (mita ) to the state; with this labor tax, the Incas built an astonishing network of roads and terraced farmlands throughout the Andes.
Agriculture was tough business in the Andes. The Incas actively set about carving up mountains into terraced farmlands—so successful were they in turning steep mountainsides into terraced farms, that in 1500 there was more land in cultivation in the Andean highlands then there is today. The Incas cultivated corn and potatoes, and raised llama and alpaca for food and for labor.
Of all the urbanized people of the Americas, the Incas were the most brilliant engineers. The Huari-Tiahuanaco performed amazing feats of fitting gigantic stones together, and the Nazca designed mind-numbingly huge earth-drawings that still exist today. But the Inca built massive forts with stone slabs so perfectly cut that they didn't require mortar—and they're still standing today in near-perfect condition. They built roads through the mountains from Ecuador to Chile with tunnels and bridges. They also built aqueducts to their cities as the Romans had. And of all ancient peoples, they were the most advanced in medicine and surgery.
The language they spoke was Quechua which they imposed on all the peoples they conquered. Because of this, Quechua is still spoken among large numbers of Native Americans throughout the Andes. They had no writing system at all, but they kept records on various colored knotted cords, or quipu .
The central god of the Incan religion was the sun-god, the only god that had temples built for him. The sun-god was the father of the royal family. There were many gods among the Incas, but the sun-god outshone them all. The Incas also believed that there was a heaven, a hell, and a resurrection of the body after death.
At its height, the Inca civilization crashed into the European expansion. In 1521, Herman Cortés conquered the Aztecs; this conquest inspired Francisco Pizzarro to invade the Incas in 1531. He only had two hundred soldiers, barely enough to walk the dog. However, he convinced the ruler of the Incas, Atahualpa, to come to a conference at the city of Cajamarca. When Atahualpa arrived, Pizzarro kidnapped him and killed several hundred of his family and followers. Atahualpa tried to ransom himself, but Pizzarro tried to use him as a puppet ruler. When that failed, Pizzarro simply executed him in 1533. Over the next thirty years the Spanish struggled against various insurrections, but, with the help of native allies, they finally gained control of the Inca empire in the 1560's.


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2 comments:

jjellyhead said...

The photo you have of the calendar is incorrect. That is actually a photo of the Aztec calendar, not the Inca calendar.

fragolegirl2002 said...

thats true its not an incan calender, I don't know much about that rock looking calender I would assume its aztec I have seen the calender before like on the album of los lonely boys which is a mexican american rock band, but I know nothing about that calender, all I know is that its not inca, aztecakuna incakunapash chikan kawsay charirkanchik, aztecs and incas we have different culture, language, and beliefs.