83. The Inca Empire ( Peru ) - Roman Empire of South Americas

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

What is The Inca Empire ?

"Land of the Four Quarters" or Tahuantinsuyu is the name the Inca gave to their 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. 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.

Incans have the One of the Wonders of the World , Machu Picchu at Mountain Height of 8000 m , and Modern day Engineers still baffling, how it was built, without using wheeled Vehicles or steel ?

Pic : Machu Picchu, One of the Wonders of the World.

Please see this Wonderful Video on Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu 101 | National Geographic


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Machu Picchu, Peru in 4K Ultra HD


I. The Origins and Vastness of Empire

The Inca civilization flourished in ancient Peru between c. 1400 and 1533 CE, and their empire eventually extended across western South America from Quito in the north to Santiago in the south, making it the largest empire ever seen in the Americas and the largest in the world at that time. Undaunted by the often harsh Andean environment, the Incas conquered people and exploited landscapes in such diverse settings as plains, mountains, deserts, and tropical jungle. Famed for their unique art and architecture, they constructed finely-built and imposing buildings wherever they conquered, and their spectacular adaptation of natural landscapes with terracing, highways, and mountaintop settlements continues to impress modern visitors at such world famous sites as Machu Picchu.

The Inca Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu, lit. "The Four Regions), also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The Administrative, Political and Military Center of the empire was located in the city of Cusco. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.

From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation, among other methods. At its largest, the empire joined Peru, western Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, a large portion of what is today Chile, and the southwestern most tip of Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia. Its official language was Quechua. Many local forms of worship persisted in the empire, most of them concerning local sacred Huacas, but the Inca leadership encouraged the sun worship of Inti – their sun god and imposed its sovereignty above other cults such as that of Pachamama.

UnderTopa Inca Yupanqui(1471–93) the empire reached its southernmost extent in central Chile, and the last vestiges of resistance on the southern Peruvian coast were eliminated. His death was followed by a struggle for the succession, from which Huayna Capac(1493–1525) emerged successful. Huayna Capac pushed the northern boundary of the empire to the Ancasmayo River before dying in an epidemic that may have been brought by a tribe from the east that had picked it up from the Spanish at La Plata. His death set off another struggle for succession, which was still unresolved in 1532, when the Spanish arrived in Peru; by 1535 the empire was lost.

The Incas considered their king, the Sapa Inca, to be the "son of the sun.

Pic :Incan Empire

II. Government & Administration

The Incas kept lists of their kings (Sapa Inca) so that we know of such names as Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (reign c. 1438-63 CE), Thupa Inca Yupanqui (reign c. 1471-93 CE), and Wayna Qhapaq (the last pre-Hispanic ruler, reign c. 1493-1525 CE). It is possible that two kings ruled at the same time and that queens may have had some significant powers, but the Spanish records are not clear on both points. The Sapa Inca was an absolute ruler, and he lived a life of great opulence. Drinking from gold and silver cups, wearing silver shoes, and living in a palace furnished with the finest textiles, he was pampered to the extreme. He was even looked after following his death, as the Inca mummified their rulers. Stored in the Coricancha temple in Cuzco, the mummies (mallquis) were, in elaborate ceremonies, regularly brought outside wearing their finest regalia, given offerings of food and drink, and 'consulted' for their opinion on pressing state affairs.

Inca rule was, much like their architecture, based on compartmentalised and interlocking units. At the top was the ruler and ten kindred groups of nobles called panaqa. Next in line came ten more kindred groups, more distantly related to the king and then, a third group of nobles not of Inca blood but made Incas as a privilege. At the bottom of the state apparatus were locally recruited administrators who oversaw settlements and the smallest Andean population unit the ayllu, which was a collection of households, typically of related families who worked an area of land, lived together and provided mutual support in times of need. Each ayllu was governed by a small number of nobles or kurakas, a role which could include women.

Local administrators reported to over 80 regional-level administrators who, in turn, reported to a governor responsible for each quarter of the empire. The four governors reported to the supreme Inca ruler in Cuzco. To ensure loyalty, the heirs of local rulers were also kept as well-kept prisoners at the Inca capital. The most important political, religious, and military roles within the empire were, then, kept in the hands of the Inca elite, called by the Spanish the orejones or 'big ears' because they wore large earspools to indicate their status. To better ensure the control of this elite over their subjects, garrisons dotted the empire, and entirely new administrative centres were built, notably at Tambo Colorado, Huánuco Pampa and Hatun Xauxa.

For tax purposes censuses were taken and populations divided up into groups based on multiples of ten (Inca mathematics was almost identical to the system we use today). As there was no currency in the Inca world, taxes were paid in kind - usually foodstuffs, precious metals, textiles, exotic feathers, dyes, and spondylus shell - but also in labourers who could be shifted about the empire to be used where they were most needed, known as mit'a service. Agricultural land and herds were divided into three parts: production for the state religion and the gods, for the Inca ruler, and for the farmers own use. Local communities were also expected to help build and maintain such imperial projects as the road system which stretched across the empire. To keep track of all these statistics, the Inca used the quipu, a sophisticated assembly of knots and strings which was also highly transportable and could record decimals up to 10,000.

1.Opulent wealth

To imagine oneself living in the world of the Inca, one would have to travel back 500 years into a magnificent society made up of more than 10 million subjects. 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, "for therein were many palaces of dead kings with all the treasure that each amassed in life; and he who began to reign did not touch the estate and wealth of his predecessor but .... built a new palace and acquired for himself silver and gold and all the rest."

Money existed in the form of work—each subject of the empire paid "taxes" by laboring on the myriad roads, crop terraces, irrigation canals, temples, or fortresses. In return, rulers paid their laborers in clothing and food. Silver and gold were abundant, but only used for aesthetics. Inca kings and nobles amassed stupendous riches which accompanied them, in death, in their tombs like Pharaohs and Nobles of Egypt. 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.

While some remnants of the Inca's riches remain intact, many were destroyed as looters melted them down for their raw metal

Pic : Incan Structures and Architectures

The first known Incas, a noble family who ruled Cuzco and a small surrounding high Andean agricultural state, date back to A.D. 1200. The growth of the empire beyond Cuzco began in 1438 when emperor Pachacuti, which means "he who transforms the earth," strode forth from Cuzco to conquer the world around him and bring the surrounding cultures into the Inca fold.

2. Road Network

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. By his account, 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."

III. The Incan Society , Religion and Language

The Inca Empire functioned largely without money and without markets. Instead, exchange of goods and services was based on reciprocity between individuals and among individuals, groups, and Inca rulers. "Taxes" consisted of a labour obligation of a person to the Empire. The Inca rulers (who theoretically owned all the means of production) reciprocated by granting access to land and goods and providing food and drink in celebratory feasts for their subjects.

Inca society was highly stratified. The emperor ruled with the aid of an aristocraticbureaucracy, exercising authority with harsh and often repressive controls. Inca technology and architecture were highly developed, although not strikingly original. Their irrigation systems, palaces, temples, and fortifications can still be seen throughout the Andes. The economy was based onagriculture, its staples beingcorn(maize), white and sweetpotatoes,squash,tomatoes,peanuts(groundnuts),chili peppers,coca,cassava, andcotton. They raisedguinea pigs,ducks,llamas,alpacas, anddogs. Clothing was made of llama wool and cotton. Houses were of stone oradobemud. Practically every man was a farmer, producing his own food and clothing.

1. Inca Religion

The Inca had great reverence for two earlier civilizations who had occupied much the same territory - the Wari and Tiwanaku. As we have seen, the sites of Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca played an important part in Inca creation myths and so were especially revered. Inca rulers made regular pilgrimages to Tiwanaku and the islands of the lake, where two shrines were built to Inti the Sun god and supreme Inca deity, and the moon goddess Mama Kilya.

Pic : Inti, Sun God of Incas

Also in the Coricancha complex at Cuzco, these deities were represented by large precious metal artworks which were attended and worshipped by priests and priestesses led by the second most important person after the king: the High Priest of the Sun (Willaq Umu).

Thus, the religion of the Inca was preoccupied with controlling the natural world and avoiding such disasters as earthquake, floods, and drought, which inevitably brought about the natural cycle of change, the turning over of time involving death and renewal which the Inca called pachakuti.

2. Incan Language

The Inca language Quechua lives on today and is still spoken by some eight million people. There are also a good number of buildings, artefacts, and written accounts which have survived the ravages of conquerors, looters, and time. These remains are proportionally few to the vast riches which have been lost, but they remain indisputable witnesses to the wealth, ingenuity, and high cultural achievements of this great, but short-lived civilization.