The Inca The mountainous “sky people”
The Basics As far as the Inca were concerned, theirs was the greatest of all the world's civilizations. They may have been right. Their empire was the largest of the ancient world; their golden capital, Cuzco, the richest city in the Americas. Beginning in the 1300s, the Inca moved down from their Andean homeland to conquer the neighboring lands and peoples along the Pacific coast of South America. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s, the Inca Empire was at the height of its power. It stretched some 2,500 miles—the approximate distance from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles, California—and incorporated more than 12 million people speaking 20 different languages.
Location The Incan Empire was located on the western side of South Americamostly in Peru and Chile Although the Empire was huge, it can be easily divided into three geographical regions - mountains, jungle, and desert.
Location - Mountain Andes Mountains: North to south were the Andes Mountains - home of the Inca civilization. The mountains dominated Incan society. The mountain peaks were worshiped as gods. The Andes created a natural barrier between the coastal desert on one side and the jungle on the other. The snow-capped mountains were full of deep gorges. The Inca built bridges across the gorges so they could reach all parts of their empire quickly and easily. These mountain gorges were natural barriers. If an enemy approached, the Incas could simply burn the bridges.
Mountain Resource While it was tough to farm there, the Andes mountains did provide one very important resource, gold Gold was not only for wealth, but also for religion. The Incas, like many native people, worshipped the sun -- gold represented the tears of the sun. Created a life-sized field of corn out of gold, silver in temple courtyard
Location – Jungle Amazon Jungle: The Incas must have entered the jungle occasionally, as they did know about the many valuable things that could be found in the Amazon, like wood and fruit and natural medicines. But they never established settlements there. They had no desire to live in the jungle. The Incas expanded north and south instead.
Location - Desert Coastal Desert: Between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean is a coastal desert 2000 miles long and between 30-100 miles wide. The desert provided a wonderful natural barrier. Some scientists think it is the driest place in the world. It is not completely barren. There are fertile strips where small rivers and streams run from the Andes mountaintops to the sea.
Cuzco The ancient Inca capital is said to have been founded around 1100 AD. The Incas conceived their capital in the shape of a Puma with the river serving as the spine and the main city center the body. Almost every central street has remains of Inca walls, arches and doorways. Many streets are lined with Inca stonework, now serving as foundations for more modern buildings. Inca capital at Cuzco served as the administrative, religious, and ceremonial center of the empire May have supported 300,000 residents at the height of the Inca empire in the late 15th Century Tremendous system of roads came from Cuzco
Government Government mandated settlement ensured political stability use of road system strictly limited to government, military business all land belonged to Inca (the ruler), crops allotted to specific groups, government took possession of each harvest private property forbidden, crime nonexistent, citizens never starved no written records; oral tradition preserved through generations
Government Economy • Strictly controlled by government • Common people required to pay labor tax, called the mita • Government told each household what work to do to pay tax Mita • Paid by weaving cloth, working on government farms, mines, building roads • No merchants, goods distributed by government • Extra food, goods stored in government warehouses for emergencies
Pachacuti (1438-1471) Took throne form brother Inca Urcon Considered the founder of the Inca Empire Skilled warrior and chief religious leader Claimed he was divine, son of the sun Exercised absolute power
Burials, mummy bundles 500 year old Incan mummy • Chief ruler was a god-king who theoretically owned everything and was an absolute ruler • Dead rulers retained their prestige even after death • Remains were mummified and ceremonies often took place in their presence in order to benefit from their counsel • Were seen as intermediaries with the gods
Social structure The ruler, the Inca His wives, the Coyas, had supreme control over the empire. The High Priest and the Army Commander in Chief were next. Military Next came temple priests, architects, administrators and army generals. Merchants and Middle Class At the bottom were sorcerers, farmers, herding families and conscripts.
Religion Worshipped the sun god offered food, clothing, and drink rituals included forms of divination, sacrifice of animals The sacred objects and elements of nature of the Incas were called "huaca". These could be rivers, mountains or even man-made objects, like temples, stones. The Incas believed in afterlife. They cared deeply for their dead, whom they had embalmed before burial, mummified and had placed into tombs. They believed that the dead could hear them and would use the multitude of objects that were brought there.
Machu Picchu The site of Machu Picchu was not discovered by the Spanish during the Conquest. In fact, it wasn't known to the outside world until 1911 when an American Archeologist, Hiram Bingham, made the steep climb to a lofty saddle high above the Urubamba river. The city is clearly laid out in sections. There is a "royal" section where the stone work is the finest, the rooms are largest and running baths are nearby. The bulk of the food for the inhabitants was grown on the agricultural terraces of the city.
Incan Ruins Inca masonry (stonework) is some of the best in the world – they didn’t use anything to hold their stones together!
Agriculture They developed drainage systems, terraces and canals to expand their crop resources since they lived in highlands. Potatoes were the main crop Tomatoes, cotton, peanuts and coca were other crops grown by the Inca. Llama were used for meat, wool, hide, dung (fuel) and transportation. There was more than enough resources available for everyone.
Inventions / contributions The Incas invented a 16,000 mile long road system connecting 2,500 miles of land. This allowed the Inca government to maintain centralized control by moving military forces around the empire quickly, transporting food supplies where needed, and tying the widespread territories together Rest stations were built a day’s walk apart Runners were positioned at convenient intervals to deliver government messages
Inventions / Contributions An Inca Quipu Typically, a civilization must develop a form of writing before they can come up with one for counting or math. This was not true for the Incas. Because there were so many different languages spoken among the same tribe, they had to come up with a language they would all understand, which turned out to be mathematics.
Quipu The way a quipu was used was by putting knots in different positions on a string. These different positions represented a base 10 counting system. For the units digit, knots were placed near the end of the string. A space was left, then there would be knots for the tens. Another space was left for the hundreds, and so on. For example, the number 395 would have 5 knots near the end of the string, then a space, then 9 knots and another space, and finally 3 knots for the hundreds. The quipu could also represent a zero by putting no knots in that position. This meant that the spaces left between had to be very distinct so a zero was discernable.
Quipu Just having hundreds of strings with numbers on them would be confusing, so different colors of strings would be used depending on what the number represented. For example, stalks of corn may have been shown by a yellow string, and apples might have been shown by a red string. With this system, any time you saw a certain color string, you would immediately know what it was recording.
Inventions / Contributions A few more impressive facts … scientists now believe that the Inca performed some sort of brain surgery (based on skulls that have been found)!
Explorer – Francisco Pizarro In 1527 Francisco Pizarro lead 160 Spanish military to the Incan empire because Spain heard about a native civilization that had more gold than they could even imagine, of course they set out to find that empire and conquer it Pizaro killed 2,000 Incas and injured 5,000. His army overtook the 40,000 Inca army. Pizarro accepted more than 11 tons of gold to leave, but only did after killing off all of their leaders
Incas Today descendants of Inca are about 45% population of Peru combine farming, herding w/ simple traditional technology rural settlements three kinds: families living in midst of fields, true village communities w/ fields outside of inhabited centers, combination of two towns centers of mestizo (mixed-blood) population religion is Roman Catholicism infused with pagan hierarchy of spirits and gods