The Incas, a powerful, enigmatic people, with a culture that continues to amaze scientists The history of the Incas began around 1100, when several tribes descended from the mountains and settled in Cuzco. Between 1438 and 1532, they founded the largest empire of the pre-Hispanic period. According to legends, four brothers formed the Inca family.
In search of food
Archaeologists who have studied the settlements of this people have divergent views, but it seems that the Incas came from the arid, mountainous regions, located in the central part of the Andes. For reasons still unknown, they left their hometowns. Arriving in Cuzco around 1100, they decided to stay here. The reasons were many and all related to ensuring daily living – the land was good to cultivate, and the mountains offered protection from potential enemies.
Cuzco is a rich valley, located at the confluence of two rivers: Huantanay and Tullumayo, surrounded by mountains with a height of 3,000 meters. Inca mythology attributes the founding of the city of Cuzco to Manco Capac, whom he considered a hero and also a god. He was the first Inca, a name later given to all kings. Manco Capac established the first rules for the organization of society, which was at first a small, powerless state.
The Inca kings managed, through conquests and assimilations, to incorporate much of western South America, centered around the Andes, and included much of the territory now occupied by Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
In 1533, Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor (called Sapa Inca), was killed at the behest of the conqueror Francisco Pizarro, marking the beginning of Spanish rule.
The civilization of the Sun
The Incas had three myths of origin. In one of them, Tica Viracocha from Colina de la Ventanas in Pacaritambo, sent her four sons and four daughters to build a village. On the way, Sinchi Roca (son of Manco and Ocllo) was born, and he led them to the Cuzco Valley, where they founded their new city. Manco became the leader, being known as Manco Capac.
In another myth, the sun god Inti ordered Manco Capac and “Mother Ocllo” to rise from the depths of Lake Tititaca and find the city of Cuzco. They went through underground caves until they found Cuzco, founding here Hurin Cuzco, the first dynasty of the Kingdom.
In the third myth of the origins, an Inca god of the Sun told his wife that he felt alone. She proposed to him to create a civilization that would worship him and keep him company. God received this advice as a wise idea and put it into practice. This is how the Incas were born from Lake Cazco, they inhabited the Andes and they worshiped their god.
The Inca empire had a solid structure, an administrative organization, and a social life so advanced that researchers were amazed when they discovered them.
Tahuantinsuyu was a federal system consisting of a central power, with Inca at the helm and four provincial leaderships with strong leaders: Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Contisuyu (SW) and Collasuyu (SE). Each province had a governor who oversaw local officials, who in turn were responsible for cities, mines, and agricultural fields.
The military and religious systems were separate, leading to a relative balance of power. Local officials were responsible for mitigating disputes and monitoring the performance of compulsory public service by each family.
In Inca art, architecture was by far the most important, and pottery and textiles reflected motifs that had reached their peak in architecture. The best example is Machu Picchu, the stone temple built through a process that does not involve the use of mortar.
The Inca road system was the one that ensured the success of agriculture, allowing the distribution of food over long distances. The Incas also built large deposits that allowed them to live a normal life (unlike neighboring civilizations) in the years when El Niño (a climate pattern that features the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean) swept over the area. .
They were doing brain surgery
The Incas also made a series of discoveries in medicine. They performed successful trepanations, which consisted of drilling holes in the skull to release the pressure of blood clots on the brain. Where the Incas had such advanced scientific knowledge, and especially why they disappeared, no one knows.
The Incas used coca leaves to alleviate hunger and pain. The messengers (Chasqui) used to chew coca leaves in order to have more energy, which was necessary for them to fulfill the task of transmitting messages throughout the empire.
They believed in reincarnation
The diet of the Incas consists of fish, greens and nuts, sometimes supplemented with meat (guinea pig). They hunted various animals for meat, furs and feathers. Corn was used to make a fermented alcoholic beverage called chicha.
The Incas believed in reincarnation. Those who obeyed the Inca moral code – ama suwa, ama llulla, ama quella (do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy) – were to live in the heat of the Sun, the others spent their eternity on cold earth. They still practiced cranial deformity by tightly wrapping the newborn’s head – this process did not cause brain damage, but only shaped the head.
Inheritance of the Incas
The most important languages of the empire, Quechua and Aymara, were used by the Catholic Church, after the Spanish conquest, to convert the Andes. In some cases, these languages have also been used to evangelize other linguistic areas. Today, Quechua and Aymara are the most widespread Native American languages.
The Inca legend has long served as inspiration for resistance movements in the region – the 1780 rebellion against the Spaniards led by Tupac Amaru II, as well as contemporary guerrilla movements such as the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) and Sendero Luminoso in Peru and Tupamaros in Uruguay.